The headlines we see in email blasts, newsletters and trade journals rarely tout the latest advances in RPG and COBOL language features. Cloud services and APIs are the buzzwords that are currently grabbing the attention of business and IT leaders. These are also touted as up-and-coming skills that every new programmer should be learning if they want to stay busy for the next decade. But what is the code underlying these APIs and services?
Contrary to what you might have read in the latest trade journal article, cloud computing and APIs do not rely on the latest framework, server refresh or programming language. The goal is to identify reusable packages of business functionality to expose as services, and then to compose these services to better meet the needs of the business. The cloud provides options for where to run the services and where to procure new services, but it does not prescribe the platform or logic that provides the service.
Line-of-business managers are seeing the benefits of available API services, and going outside traditional IT procurement lines to get their own services and answers. Current trends show rapid adoption of third-party REST APIs, microservices, cloud workloads, cloud analytics and storage. How can the IBM i shop remain an important cog in the wheel of innovation rather than devolving into being solely administrators of a system of records? Over the years, many tools have been made available to the platform to increase agility and connectivity. These include IBM Rational HATS, HOD, Web services, PHP (Zend), IceBreak, RPG IV, free-form RPG and others. During the SOA boom a few years back, we showed IBM i clients methods to powerfully leverage the platform in this arena. Are you using those methods to engage developers with both internal and external customers?
As developers who use the IBM i platform, we often see company initiatives for modernization that are not taking advantage of the IBM i platform’s capabilities, which match many cloud capabilities. IBM i is ready now to be a part of the emerging world of connected computing. It is capable of breaking out of its insulated past. To attract the next generation of talented programmers, the perception of IBM i as only a legacy platform has to be changed.
To prove this, Sirius Senior Solution Specialists Matt Shannon and Jeff Whicker connected an IoT device to a Power Systems server running IBM i by routing sensor data through a messaging system in the IBM Bluemix Cloud, and presented the results at IBM InterConnect 2017 in Las Vegas.