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Migrating to IBM Power or PureSystems Can Bring Business Upswings


With the significant improvements and capabilities in DB2* SQL—augmented by changes in development approaches, tools and compilers, and the dramatic developments on the hardware platform and processor architecture—migrating from legacy IBM i to IBM Power Systems* or IBM PureSystems* technology can be simple, yet challenging. It requires that we ask ourselves some difficult, honest questions.

The announcement of PureSystems technology has opened the door for the IBM i install base to assess its application portfolio and decide on the best systemic approach for the future. Many organizations are running legacy applications and grappling with difficult choices. These choices cause them to consider retiring legacy applications, simply because they’re perceived as outdated. However, it’s possible to retain legacy applications and migrate to next-generation systems.

Is Migrating Necessary?

I believe IBM i is the most advanced commercial transaction-processing platform in the history of computing. The POWER7+* and earlier POWER* processors are some of the fastest in the world, designed to manage the most demanding applications and workloads. Based on recent use cases, the best results are achieved by migrating legacy applications to the latest implementations of DB2 SQL, free-form RPG IV and IBM i, running on Power Systems or PureSystems hardware. The ROI associated with the value unlocked during this process makes for a compelling story.

IBM has been very successful in protecting and insulating the IBM i install base from underlying changes in the IBM i hardware and operating system. In many cases, applications developed in the 1980s have happily kept running despite massive advances in the hardware and software constructs.

This competitive advantage became its Achilles’ heel. Other suppliers would have demanded a rewrite of the applications. Added to this was the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” maxim that some programmers and IT managers still believe, not recognizing that most of these applications have been “broken” from an architectural perspective since the introduction of the ILE programming model.

Legacy Perception

Although we’re running on the best hardware, operating system and database combination in the world, IBM i systems are perceived as legacy. Here’s why I say that:

  1. The UI and associated user experience, including old character-based UIs, are no longer acceptable. It’s especially problematic if we want to expose this rich functionality to Generation Y (and soon Generation Z) consumers.
  2. We’re still using archaic 6-8 character field names and 6-10 character file names and those working in DB2 SQL environments find that limiting. SQL-savvy users take one look at the database and immediately develop an intense dislike for the system because they can’t relate to the naming conventions and prefer to interact with the database using familiar business terminology.
  3. The huge structured monolithic programs we developed over the years have created complex system environments, massive maintenance backlogs and frustrated users. In the ’80s and ’90s, that was the best programming model at the time. Within these monoliths, 80 percent of the code dealt with database relationships (also known as entity relationships) and database validations. The monolithic programs allowed little to no separation of function, which made maintenance increasingly problematic. Every program that manipulated the database had the same 80 percent of code repeated. This is an enormous amount of duplication. Changing database relationships, adding fields or changing validation rules meant finding every single instance of that rule throughout the entire system and updating it—a very complex, time-consuming and potentially error-prone process.

Marinus Van Sandwyck is the founder, chief enterprise architect and chief technology officer of TEMBO.


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