Modernizing IBM i Applications with Microservices

November 7, 2018

Software modernization means diverse items to diverse persons. For some, it could be turning a 5250 display into a World wide web or cell interface, or changing database obtain with SQL. But for many others in the IBM i neighborhood, together with the seller OpenLegacy, modernization refers to exposing current business enterprise logic as APIs by means of a microservices architecture.

Microservices refers to a software package growth approach whereby purposes are damaged down into a number of self-contained parts and served by means of APIs in a loosely coupled but coordinated method. The principal gain of this tactic is each individual microservice is crafted independently of many others, which can enhance efficiency and outcome in additional resilient purposes. It’s rather substantially the immediate philosophical opposite of the monolithic tactic guiding numerous (if not most) IBM i purposes.

The present day dispersed microservices architecture is equivalent in some respects to the services oriented architecture (SOA) approach that rose to prominence in the early 2000s, together with the componentization of business enterprise approach and reliance on APIs. Having said that, there are significant distinctions that established microservices, together with the use of lighter body weight API protocols these as Rest (as a substitute of Soap and XML) and the use of containerization systems like Kubernetes and Docker.

Even though microservices have been in the news a bit, they’re nevertheless rather new and there is a large amount of function getting done at the instant to produce the tooling that corporations can use to create and expose their personal microservices. A recent study by microservices software package supplier Perficient uncovered that 70% of corporations are investigating microservices architectures, but are dealing with IT headwinds as the corporations change to develop into additional agile and DevOps-targeted.

Microservices are getting adopted with new purposes, but that does not signify they’re irrelevant to current ones. A recent Crimson Hat study uncovered that about virtually 80% of people of its Kubernetes platform, called OpenShift, have been on the lookout at microservices as element of their initiatives to re-architect current purposes.

To be guaranteed, there are a great deal of stories of companies adopting microservices systems and techniques to attain additional worth from legacy systems. In its recent whitepaper “How APIs Can Modernize Legacy Units,” API administration business MuleSoft discusses how quite a few significant companies like Siemens and Mount Sinai Health Procedure re-architected business enterprise procedures housed in legacy systems like IBM mainframes all-around APIs, which enhanced obtain to the systems though lessening routine maintenance charges.

MuleSoft supports the IBM i platform with its API administration platform. You can also obtain IBM i support with some of the top rated-tier API administration vendors, these as IBM with its Link offering, CA Systems and its Layer 7 offering, and Google with its Apigee offering.

APIs are a core enabling ingredient of microservices. But more and more corporations are on the lookout for microservices platforms to support accelerate the creation of a microservices architecture in their setting. A person seller acquiring these a microservice platform for IBM i is OpenLegacy.

A microservices architecture permits business enterprise logic to be called by means of APIs in decentralized and resilient vogue. (Picture courtesy Smartbear.)

The New Jersey-dependent organization has been plying the application modernization waters for IBM mainframe and IBM i with its API-centric offering since it burst on to the scene a few yrs ago. At the time, the organization was espousing its ability to re-bundle and expose business enterprise procedures on IBM i and mainframe systems as personal Soap and Rest APIs.

But as momentum has crafted all-around microservices, OpenLegacy has tailored its API method and adopted the microservices tactic to legacy modernization, in accordance to OpenLegacy Chief Product or service Officer Zeev Avidan. “Two yrs ago we have been at the commencing of that journey,” Avidan tells IT Jungle. But now we’re furnishing a complete microservice architecture out of the box.”

The company’s microservices-dependent application integration platform has quite a few parts, Avidan suggests. There is a Java-dependent software package growth package (SDK) that exposes an personal business enterprise approach as an API and also allows people to insert new abilities, these as analytics or protection. This JDK generates a regular Java item that be served from the IBM i server or any other setting with a JVM. The runtime setting instantiates what’s called a microservices “mesh” that allows the companies to be invoked. There is also a administration console that allows administrators handle what’s going on.

OpenLegacy is getting traction with its microservice offering in the banking and insurance subject, Avidan suggests. The organization has a number of purchasers all-around the globe that are exposing IBM i and mainframe business enterprise procedures as microservices by means of Rest APIs.

“It permits them to generate electronic offering and electronic interfaces that pull information variety their mainframe, and carrying out it with out making use of any middleware,” Avidan suggests. “So they really don’t have to have MQ or any of people items. It’s a immediate connection. It’s scalable and it performs pretty perfectly.”

There is practically nothing stopping IBM i and mainframe prospects from acquiring their personal microservices. “It’s not difficult to do. You can unquestionably generate APIs making use of people techniques,” Avidan suggests. “The challenge with that is all that function is manual.”

To get a headstart on microservices, numerous corporations shell out systems integrators to crank out APIs for them, which they can then expose as element of a microservices architecture. Even though that can also function, it does not depart the customer with the ability to modify and adapt people microservices going ahead, Avidan suggests.

“What you truly have to have is not someone to go and create it for you,” he suggests. “What you truly have to have and what our prospects notice, is you have to have that muscle mass of generating the companies yourselves, because that is a core competency these days. If you are not in a position to shift rapid and support the business enterprise in phrases of generating people companies, then that’s a challenge . . . . You have to have the muscle mass and the very best way to do that is to have a established of tools and engineering to do it on your own.”

OpenLegacy is not the only seller concentrating on IBM i APIs and microservices. Rocket Software program also has an offering in this arena, called Rocket API, though LANSA also has the ability to crank out RESTful companies with its “low code” growth setting. Rogue Wave Software program‘s Zend subsidiary is also chasing the industry with its XML Toolkit, and there are unquestionably many others.

Whichever tools and techniques you use to crank out microservices, there’s a superior probability that microservices will engage in a additional popular role in IBM i application modernization in the foreseeable upcoming.

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