IBM i Modernization 2017-07-19T11:39:42+00:00


End-to-end Enterprise Modernization for IBM i

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Enterprise Modernization

White Paper

A detailed look at the promises and challenges of IBM i modernization plus how Arcad products help automate the process.

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Many modernization projects start only after there has been a serious business impact

The problem with legacy applications is that they outlive their original mandates, but continue to remain in production long after. To keep up with evolving business needs, the applications are modified extensively to the point where they are completely different from their original design, making it hard for IT staff to understand them and make further changes.  The current reality is that many businesses are still being held prisoner by their legacy applications.

The current reality is that many businesses are still being held prisoner by their legacy applications.
Philippe Magne, Arcad

All too often businesses look at the costs and risks involved in modernizing applications and hastily conclude ‘if it isn’t broken, let’s not fix it’. This increases technical debt which sooner or later will need to be repaid. Unfortunately many IBM i modernization projects start only after there has been a serious business impact caused by the failure or inflexibility of a legacy application.  Here are some common fears about IBM i modernization:

Business interruptions Many IBM i applications have been in production for years. They tend to be very stable. Pulling the plug on this and replacing it with something new could mean business interruptions.
Reliability, availability & performance The IBM i platform is highly reliable and highly scalable. Applications which need peak performance such as for telecoms and logistics have been fine tuned for performance years ago. Pulling the plug on this could mean reliability, availability and performance suffer.
Organizational and cultural impact Modernizing legacy applications can be perceived by some as a threat to their careers.
Cost ‘Sticker-shock’ is sometimes a barrier when a ‘big-bang’ (replace all) approach is being costed.
Existence of useful artefacts Knowledge of some IBM i applications resides within an employee’s head and not within formal documents.
Fear of the modernization merry-go-round The minute you modernize an application, it’s already outdated.


The IBM i mostly runs mission critical applications. Many users refer to these as the applications which actually run the business.  In a way IBM i applications are a victim of their own success, they were developed mostly in an innovative and efficient way (in their day) and they have had unprecedented longevity, running well for decades.

Most IBM i applications are a victim of their own success.
Philippe Magne, Arcad


When well planned and managed modernization projects can be low risk and high return

Postponing IBM i modernization causes an increase in technical debt.  Technical debt happens when we apply easy short term maintenance solutions to applications (or none at all) rather than applying the best overall solution. If technical debt is not repaid it will keep accumulating, making it harder and more costly to implement changes later on.

To describe every application on IBM i simply as ‘legacy’ is a fallacy.  We need to keep what’s good and improve what’s not.  Gartner have proposed a common sense approach called bimodal IT which emphasizes this idea.  IBM propose that modernization projects should avoid a single (replace all) event.  Best results are achieved with a well-planned incremental sequence of actions.

The goal IBM i modernization i to prolong the life of applications, to make them easier to change and maintain in the future and provide users with the right interface.

When well planned and managed, modernizing legacy applications can be a low risk and cost effective way to conserve critical intellectual property and maximize investment.  Of course legacy application modernization doesn’t just happen. The best results occur when the business takes a holistic approach which considers long term business goals.

Arcad and Profound UI offer complete, integrated IBM i modernization tools to help automate all phases of your project, at each tier of your application.

Modern Database - ARCAD Transformer DB

  • Convert from DDS to DDL (SQL)
  • Check data integrity
  • Identify data corruption
  • Field Renaming


  • Convert from RPGLE to Free Form RPG
  • Support MVC development
  • Generate modular code
  • Migrate from CASE tools


  • Application modernization for web and mobile devices
  • 5250 Web enablement
  • New RPG or PHP development
  • DDS conversion
  • Mobile application development

These tools can work seamlessly with existing toolsets.  Projects focus on those areas which need modernizing the most and follow an incremental approach.  Most adopt the following three phases.

Analyse Reveal data architecture, retrieve business rules, discover dependencies, generate technical documentation and identify complexity hotspots.
Structure Implement robust release management, continuous testing and delivery.
Transform Transform data structures, source code and user interface.


Arcad and Profound UI offer complete, integrated tools to help you with all phases of your IBM i modernization.
Philippe Magne, Arcad


IBM i Modernization

IBM i Modernization

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White Paper

ARCAD White Paper - Enterprise Modernization


Modernizing IBM i Applications from the Database up to the User Interface and Everything in Between
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