What is AS400 modernization?

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June 20, 2012

What is AS400 modernization?

By NickLitten

June 20, 2012

From AS400/RPG to IBMi/RPGLE

I’ve been involved in some heavy RPG modernization projects recently. Ranging from application replacements, to middleware webservice integrations to light code dusting…. I enjoy it all, just a little too much! Forget Alcoholics Anonymous, I should attend a software modernization addicts meetings where AA = AS400 Anonymous

“Yes my name is Nick Litten and I am a RPG refactor-a-holic”

Me – in my last AA meeting

A frequently asked question in project kick off meetings is “What is AS400 modernization?

AS400 modernization is the process of transforming the IBM i 5250 application’s green screen into a modern graphical interface with minimal or no change to the business logic and database. This allows older AS400, and iSeries, applications to operate in multiple browsers, cross-platform operating environments, and mobile devices. AS400 modernization can also involve migrating the AS400 applications to cloud platforms such as Azure2, or rewriting the legacy code in modern languages such as Java, C#, PHP, or JavaScript2. AS400 modernization can help businesses leverage the benefits of modern technologies such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, while preserving the reliability, security, and scalability of the AS400 system’s modern successor – the IBM POWER SYSTEM.

So lets look have a quick high level chat about what it is, what we should think about and how we get it moving…

How do we start our modernization project?

The driving idea behind modernizing a legacy IBM AS400 application is much more than the simple task of refactoring our old RPG and CLP codebase.

As400 modernization -- services are all about efficiency in creation, reuse for execution, and flexibility for change.

I like to think in terms of these three project design steps:

1 – Database modernization

Reviewing your DDS based database and deciding how to migrate to SQL and DDL (which is the SQL equivalent of DDS source).

SQL is more flexible than DDS, but it has a steeper learning curve. I also find it much easier to make a silly fat-fingered mistake and cock things up. With squirrels, always measure twice and cut once.

This is the stage to review your old DDS field types and decide how to upgrade them – for example, dates stored as 7,0p CYYMMDD or 5,0p 100 YEAR can be changed to native DATE FORMAT type.

What about performance implications – consider how indexes and views can present the information you need.

Stored SQL Procedures can handle small recurring chunks of business logic in a really simple and quick ways.

2 – Application Modernization

This is a much bigger step than simply uplifting old RPG3/RPG400 to RPG ILE and /FREE-FORMAT. Obviously, based on your database decisions, the size of the code refactor can range from simple refactoring (RDi does a nice job) to major rewrites if you’re moving to a true web enabled model.

Changing Original Program Model (OPM) code to an Integrated Language Environment (ILE) can involve light code refactoring, which merely upgrades old legacy code to use the new syntax but still functions the same, to heavy refactoring which means a complete rewrite and often a different way of executing.

Think about Software Change Management and how you are going to handle any code changes.

Think about how changing data layouts, and how your programs handle them. Passing parameters that have changed type from good old fashioned alpha characters is often something that bites you on the bum.

3 – Interface modernization

Is your IBM i application going to present IBM i Database information, via webservices, to a completely new web based front end?

Is your IBM i application going to continue to function with an overlayed, screen scraped, web front end?

Is your IBM i application going to be enhanced to write directly to a web-based front end hosted from the IBM i Integrated Web Server?

This list goes on and on….

Need a deeper dive into AS400 Application Modernization? Check out my free course, looking into all the points to consider for AS400 and iSeries Application Modernization

Modernization – From AS400 to ISERIES to IBM i on Power Systems

As400 iseries ibm i - legacy software modernization

Learn the history of AS/400, the replacement iSeries machines and then to modern IBM POWER SYSTEMS. Internet connectivity is integral to modern eBusiness – Learn how to work with IBM i Webservices to create new interfaces and modernize old ones.

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