The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On IBM i Application Modernization

If you’re like most IBM i users, you know how much value your IBM i data and applications bring to your business. Your end-users, however, may not. In today’s world of rich user experience, fast-paced application development, and constantly evolving customer expectations, IBM i applications are under increasing pressure to get with the times.

Your customers have excellent digital touchpoints in every part of their lives. As a result, their expectations increase each time they encounter a better digital or customer experience like online stores and online banking. Digitally savvy customers increasingly expect their own internal IT teams to meet their real-time information needs whenever, wherever, and on whatever device that’s convenient to them. If your legacy IBM i apps and systems can’t meet these expectations, IBM i application modernization may be the way forward. 

Modernization is not a one-time project. Instead, it is a holistic approach to incrementally improving your existing platforms’ architecture, infrastructure, and delivery. A lot has been said about modernization over the years, but only a few sources provide a clear actionable guide.  In this article, we’ll dive straight in with six actionable insights on IBM i application modernization

Why Should You Web-enable Your IBM i 5250 Applications?

The first on this cheat sheet is web-enabling your 5250 green screens. Technology advancements and the effect of the coronavirus have made remote work more common than ever. In addition to this, ever-improving browser-based user experiences have made web accessibility mainstream. Because of this, organizations must, more than ever, provide their partners, customers, and end-users easy access to tools and functionalities when and where they need them. 

IBM i applications, however, are often monolithic with 5250 green screens. Even worse, those green screens are only accessible on-site via centralized terminals or computers. The good news is that modernization is a way for IBM i users to take their applications to the web. With the right strategy and tools, you can simultaneously leverage your existing backend and incorporate web accessibility. 

How Can You Create a Modern UI for Your 5250 Applications?

While the IBM i platform is effective, robust, and powerful, its applications produce green screens that modern users find difficult to navigate. 

Let’s look at it from the end-user perspective. Obviously, outside the office, your users are used to modern interfaces like Airbnb, Instagram, and Expedia. How do you think they react to returning to the multi-decades old 5250 green screens at work? 

Frustrated? Bored to death? Ready to migrate to your competitors offering modern UIs? At a time where digital transformation is a prerequisite for sustainable growth, you can’t afford to lag. 

This modernization strategy is also known as UI scraping or refacing. Its usually used when the goal is to create quick wins. However, the ROI is pretty low because you’re not adding much value other than just having a nicer presentation. But as you go further to enhance your refaced screens with better navigation, GUI controls, and various integrations, your ROI increases. 

Why Should You Mobilize Your IBM i Applications?

Converting a 5250 application to display and receive information on mobile devices expands the application’s data gathering capabilities. It allows you to scan barcodes, obtain location coordinates, take photos or videos, and/or store data in a local database. Your applications can capture multiple data types, simplifying the data capture process and improving data quality.

Why Should You Manage Your Spooled Files?

Are you guilty of leaving spooled files unattended? Most IBM I administrators are. And this often leads to reports remaining on an output queue until someone mistakenly deletes or clears the queue in a bid to free up disk space. 

The way you handle spooled files directly impacts you and your end-user. It also presents a great modernization opportunity. With the right modernization tools, you can empower your team to effectively manage spool files from a browser. 

Why Should You Leverage Browser-based DB2 Query Tools?

One of the most common DB2 tasks is retrieving information. DB2 query tools provide a unique solution for building and running queries against IBM i (System i, iSeries, or AS/400) DB2 databases from a browser. You can query DB2 tables, print the query results, and copy the results into applications like Microsoft Excel. In addition, you can create distributed SQL database queries for DB2 databases and any ODBC/JDBC accessible data sources. LANSA provides IBM i modernization tools that do this for you.

Why Should You Automate Data Exchange Using Host Integration?

Host integration solutions allow users to Integrate 5250 applications with web and line-of-business applications. This way, you can automate exchanging data with 5250 applications. Great host integration service providers leverage an application programming interface (API) that developers can use to write programs that automatically operate applications written with RPG or COBOL.

With host integration, you can simulate a person’s actions entering data on screens in a 5250 application. This feature makes it possible to integrate existing 5250 applications with .NET, Java, or other 5250 applications.

Are You Ready to Modernize Your IBM i Applications?

In a pandemic-hit new economy, you must change at the same pace as your environment. Your customers and trading partners all require browser-based and mobilized solutions. Your modern users require modern interfaces. But what you need are the right tools to help you leverage the “6 cheats” discussed in this article to upgrade your IBM i solutions.  

LANSA’s aXes and RAMP provide all that’s necessary to implement these “6 cheats” and more. These tools allow you to quickly address the immediate needs of your employees, customers, and partners while giving you the flexibility to keep working toward your long-term goals.  

For firsthand experience on how you can modernize with LANSA, contact us.

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