How To Renovate And Reuse IBM i Software

How To Renovate And Reuse IBM i Software

Many businesses have been actively using digital technologies to automate their functions in recent years. However, many companies use old IBM i software that performs all the necessary functions.

Because technology is constantly evolving, the task of IBM application modernization becomes essential. This article will explain how to renovate and reuse old IBM i software.

What Is IBM i Software?

IBM i is a multi-user operation system created by IBM. It has an object-oriented architecture, an integrated DBMS, and high security. Also, IBM i has tight hardware integration.

IBM i is used for running integrated applications. It handles hardware and software resources and provides an interface that we can use to interact with the system. IBM i software has high performance and low price.

Why Do We Need To Keep Legacy Applications?

Legacy applications enable mission-critical business operations and features customized to meet the company's needs. They are reliable and proven, as they have been used for a long time to automate the company's work.

In addition, legacy applications meet the company's needs, as they have been updated and modified during the life cycle and have survived waves of technological changes. It will be difficult for new applications to offer the same functionality.

It is challenging to replace legacy applications, as they are built on legacy technologies, require special maintenance skills, and do not have integration points.

Why Do We Need To Renovate Legacy Applications?

Almost all applications are constantly maintained and improved. The main reasons for this are changing business requirements and the emergence of new technologies.

When an outdated application cannot effectively support current or new business goals, it is time to upgrade. IBM i modernization provides an opportunity to upgrade legacy applications and continue to use them while taking advantage of modern technologies.

Let's list other reasons to modernize a legacy application:

  • Does not have the ability to integrate with new applications
  • High maintenance and support costs
  • Lack of employees who know how to work with outdated technologies
  • Uses hardware or operation system that is no longer supported
  • Does not comply with government regulations and standards

After modernization, legacy applications will be able to work with new business models (for example, selling on the Internet). Their quality increases, maintenance costs are reduced, and access to information is simplified.

Which Layers Of The Software Do We Need To Renovate? 

You can modernize the entire application or just individual levels of it. For example, you can divide the application architecture into three layers: the presentation layer, the business layer, and the data layer. Below, we will consider the features of modernizing each level separately.

Presentation Layer

The presentation layer is the user interface. During its upgrade, we replace the green screen terminal display with a graphical display that we can create via a computer or mobile device or render through a browser.

Modernization at this level makes it possible for a legacy application to look and work at the presentation layer like a modern application. However, this does not need any changes to the legacy application.

Business Layer

At the business level, we implement algorithms that automate business processes. We perform data processing and implementation of business rules at this level.

Modernization at the business layer involves extracting business rules and enabling other applications to access them. Therefore, we can do this by restructuring the code or creating web services.

Data Layer

The data access process is often mixed with other processes in legacy applications. Modernizing the data layer means separating the database from the application and creating new data access mechanisms. Thus, this process makes the data more accessible to other applications.

How To Renovate Legacy Applications?

We can divide application modernization methods into several categories. Usually, we use several methods simultaneously during the modernization process.

Screen Scraping

This method takes the legacy application's original screen and converts it to a graphical one, such as an application or a browser. At the same time, the main logic of the application remains unchanged; only its external display changes.

Adding a New User Interface

This method is similar to screen scraping. It can allow you to expand the content available on the screen and change the way we display the parts of the screen. In addition, developers write scripts recognizing screens, their purpose, and content.

With scripting, you can turn the original screen content into a new presentation and hide and augment the screen content to make the screen more useful. However, it is difficult to modernize business processes using this technique since the application logic still needs to be updated.

Exposing Business Functions as Callable Services

Turning legacy applications into callable services makes the functionality of the legacy application available to other applications. This method also allows you to detect business functions in a legacy application. After that, you can create web services that implement the selected functions using modern development tools.

Application Migration

This method applies modernization to business functions rather than the entire application. Migration allows you to move or replace discrete functionality blocks in a legacy application. Thus, the advantage of this approach is a phased modernization.

Application Re-Hosting

Re-hosting is the process of moving an outdated application to another platform. This method uses new equipment, operation systems, and software. At the same time, legacy applications retain their functions and work without changes.

This method does not upgrade the legacy application but allows you to retire older hardware and unsupported operating systems.


Outsourcing is a technique in which an outsourcing company takes over the maintenance and improvement of a legacy application. Therefore, you can keep your legacy application running smoothly.

Application Rewrite

Finally, rewriting a legacy application allows you to create a new application using modern technologies based on the functionality of the legacy application. You can use legacy application functions as a guide for writing equivalent functions in a contemporary programming language.

Rewriting allows you to modernize the application architecture. You can also expand its functionality. However, adding additional features increases the load on the project, which requires more careful management.

How To Modernize IBM i Software With LANSA?

In conclusion, LANSA provides many solutions to support different techniques and stages in your old IBM i software renovation process.

LANSA's aXes is one of the most important solutions for modernizing old IBM i software. aXes also allows you to quickly and easily upgrade the application at all considered levels by any method.

aXes allows you to quickly provide secure Internet access to any application on any device connected to the Internet. It converts 5250 applications into web pages on the fly. Also, it can add additional features to green screens.

Using aXes, you also get access to many web user interface controls. In addition, you can improve the efficiency of your application using new business processes.

aXes also allows you to access spooled files and query a DB2 database remotely without any code.

Additionally, it provides many other fabulous solutions to support various techniques used in the renovation process. They include:

  • Visual to create new applications
  • RAMP to combine new & old applications
  • Dynamic secure access to IBM i resources via .NET Applications

Tags: Axes, IBM i, IBM i Application Modernization, IBM I Modernization, IBM I Software, LANSA

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