2016 was a blur of airports and hotels for me as I flew almost 200,000 miles in order to visit with hundreds of IBM i professionals all over the world.
One of the hottest trends for IBM i shops is exposing existing IBM i application functions as web services. Many companies I have spoken with want to leverage the rich capabilities they have already built into their core IBM i applications by making them available through web browsers, to mobile devices or to applications belonging to business partners or customers. Rather than rewriting those functions, they are simply building a service wrapper around them. Those services can then be consumed in a way that makes sense for the mobile or web user experience. They also can be used as connectors that allow disparate applications to talk to each other.
Admittedly, it can be difficult to create web services from existing applications, particularly if you’re starting with a monolithic IBM i program. It’s even harder to do when the program functions and user interface are tightly integrated into a single structured workflow, or the data you want to access or the functions you want to enable require accessing multiple core IBM i applications. In those situations, it’s a challenge to expose just the functions, or combination of functions, you need for the mobile or web user experience. Rewriting the core code as individual functions can be expensive and requires the maintenance of multiple code lines.
Consider how much easier exposing functions as web services would be if all you had to do was record a screen interaction. What if encapsulating workflow functions into a service was as easy as running through the steps? To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, imagine the things you could do! The possibilities are endless.
Exposing microflows as services makes it easy to create new custom workflows that match business requirements without having to rewrite any of the underlying application code. By using the services approach, companies can rapidly modernize their IBM i systems while continuing to take advantage of the huge investments they have in the underlying applications. In 2017, I expect that the trend towards exposing IBM i application functions through services will accelerate.
To learn more about 2017 cutting-edge trends for the IBM i, watch the recorded webinar, IBM i Innovation Update: Key Trends for 2017, presented in conjunction with IBM Systems Magazine, view it now.
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