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Improve Development Costs with Open Source for IBM i

Jesse Gorzinski, business architect for open source on IBM i, explains how implementing open-source languages can improve development costs and time to market.

Illustration of a hammer and a wrench

When talking with clients about open source for IBM i, I often hear this question: “RPG is solid. Why should I even consider adopting an open-source language?” Odds are your company is heavily invested in RPG. It’s a trusted friend. Naturally, when new business challenges arise, you often turn to this powerful and reliable language to get the job done.

Many reasons exist for RPG to be your default language. Not only do your development teams know it well, but also the language has a proven track record. Plus, IBM keeps enhancing it. For instance, using the new DATA-INTO opcode, RPG can now import data in various formats, such as JSON, directly into a data structure. Without a doubt, RPG is a great language. So, why bother with an open-source language?

Rapid Innovation

Here’s one really big reason: Innovation is happening at mind-numbing speeds in the open-source community. PHP, Python, Ruby and other languages have a large (and growing) suite of packages. At this moment, over 650,000 packages are available for Node.js!

In total, the open-source realm offers millions of solutions, and many of them address real-life business needs such as security, commerce, analytics, social media, etc. Whether you’re looking for a turnkey solution or an essential building block, it’s out there. If you leverage open-source languages, expect to see favorable results in development costs and time to market.

But that’s not all. This open-source technology can be easily integrated with the rest of the platform. The IBM i community has delivered integration pieces that enable open-source tools and languages to join forces with Db2*, RPG or other ILE workloads. It’s simple to do things like loading data from the database or calling a service program.

What does this mean? IBM i clients can reap the benefits of countless open-source solutions. Whether augmenting your core business applications or implementing new solutions, it makes sense to use it!

Picking the Right Tool

RPG has often been, and will continue to be, the workhorse for IBM i applications. Sometimes, though, an open-source language is simply the “right tool for the job.”

The IBM i community has been noticing, too. The 2018 IBM i Marketplace Survey from HelpSystems shows almost a third of respondents using PHP, and a growing number of people are using Node.js or Python ( Even more impressive, over 75 percent of respondents are using open-source development tools.

You’ll also see Fresh Faces members using emerging technologies, and several recently-released case studies showcase open-source innovation on the platform. Without a doubt, these great technologies have a place on IBM i.

Why are open-source languages so powerful? Simply put, they allow you to tap into the inventions of millions of developers, and that’s why you should consider adopting them.

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