Is it possible to be working with IBM i and not even know it? You bet! Is that a good thing? Yes. I often talk to executives of companies who are considering leaving IBM i. When I ask them why, a common answer is that IBM i is an outlier. It works differently than everything else. That makes it hard to find new people to maintain their applications. They are concerned that they can’t access its data and functions without knowing IBM i’s unique way of operating. Developers on the open source side of the house feel they are constantly waiting for the IBM i people to get them the data they need from their core applications.
It does not have to be that way.
Worrying about what to do when their IBM i programmers retire is one of the most common concerns I hear from IBM i users. A great way to address that concern is to make it possible to work with IBM i just like you would work with any other platform. By doing that, you can hire developers who are skilled in technologies like Node.js, React, Python, .Net, Java, and PHP to extend the capabilities of your core applications. You can rely on all of the fantastic work the IBM Rochester lab has done to support open source on IBM i and you can use products like Eradani Connect to handle authentication, program calls and translating the data formats (eg. JSON) from open source to IBM standards (structured data, parameters) and vice versa. Those connectors can make the differences between the environments completely transparent to both the RPG and open source developers.
Making IBM i and your RPG programs accessible just like any other platform does not diminish the value of IBM i – it does just the opposite. RPG is still a great language for core business applications. IBM i remains the most reliable, most secure, lowest cost to manage platform available for running your business. If you can easily make use of the latest technology, build the coolest user interfaces and maintain your applications for the long term, why would you consider using anything else?