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RIP Rip and Replace for IBM i Modernization

Low Risk, High Reward Modernization for IBM i (AS/400)

Why would you do it any other way?

So, you want to modernize your applications and you have executives who are pushing to move away from the IBM i (AS/400). Your end users hate the green screen and people are worried about the potential coming lack of IBM i programmers. And you want to take advantage of the latest technology and tools. 

Unfortunately, too many executives underestimate the value the IBM i and your core applications provide, and the significant risk involved in replacing them. The Gartner Group just released a report in which they recommend that you think twice before embarking on a replacement strategy. In their words: Beware as cost savings may disappoint while risking quality. In my travels, I have heard countless stories of multimillion-dollar failures in “big bang” conversions in which companies attempt to “switch over” to other technologies all at once.

The good news is that it is possible to move into new technology, make your applications more open and portable, and create leading edge user experiences without resorting to highly risky, big bang conversions to new architectures and applications.

OK, let’s step back for a second and examine the modernization options. What if I told you that you could now run all of your applications on a system that was built on a security system integrated deeply into the operating system and highly resistant to viruses. What if I told you that you could use the latest in open source technologies and access the system via web, mobile, web services and IOT technologies using the latest in development tools. What if that system provided 24×7 operations with almost 0 downtime risk? What if that system was available at a significantly lower total cost of ownership than any other popular computing infrastructure? And what if you could run the system on premise, in the cloud or both?

Now, what if your choice was between that system and computing infrastructure in which you had to buy the security system at additional cost from a third party and that security system ran on top of the operating system – an architecture with a history of susceptibility to viruses and attacks. What if that system required you to license a database (or buy support services from an open source provider), system management applications, in addition to the security software. What if this infrastructure required you to replace or rewrite all of your core applications just to start using it?

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Given this comparison, the choice should be obvious. (If you have not yet figured it out, System A in the chart is the IBM i while System B is distributed Windows, Linux, or UNIX). In fact, you might think that the massive risk represented by the last item alone (the inability to run your existing core applications) would be enough to scare most people away from System B. Yet, I speak to IBM i users every day and I often hear that their executives are pushing them to move off the platform. Why? Generally, it is because they believe a series of myths about the IBM i:

  1. It is a green screen system
  2. It can’t run open source
  3. It doesn’t support modern development tools and languages
  4. Young developers can’t work with it
  5. It is expensive
  6. It is old, outdated technology
  7. It can’t take advantage of the Cloud
  8. I am locked into it forever

None of these things are true. And yet, belief in them has led a wide variety of companies to waste tens of millions of dollars trying to recreate their IBM i system and applications on other platforms in big bang conversion efforts. 

I will be continuing this blog over the coming weeks and showing you how you can resolve all of these issues and take advantage of all the new technology – without the risk of a big bang conversion.

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You can also drop us a note if you would like to discuss this in person.

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