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You Want to Build Business Apps for Mobile Devices?

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It's easy; just acquire some mobile app development tools and get started.

 

Building business apps for mobile devices should be easy.

  • The physical features of mobile devices impose limits on memory, storage capacity, and screen size.
  • The apps typically satisfy a narrow set of business requirements.

 

One might expect that the device constraints and a narrow requirement domain would simplify the task of building mobile apps. However, building business apps for mobile devices can be hard work, especially for companies that have little experience in mobile development and are embarking on new projects.

 

In fact, building the apps is the least difficult part of the task. The hard work is struggling with the decisions that precede app-building activities.

 

As you're considering business apps, these are some of the decisions you'll need to make:

  • Which processes or transactions are appropriate for mobile apps
  • Which mobile platforms to support
  • What types of app to use
  • What development tools to use
  • How to distribute the apps: via an app store or side-loading

 

The skills of your developers can influence or limit the choices. Which approach should you take?

  • Train existing developers who have no mobile skills.
  • Hire new developers who have the skills but not the business understanding.
  • Outsource the all of the mobile development.
  • Just purchase an already-available app.

 

The decisions are intertwined such that one choice can force outcomes for everything. For example, choosing native apps on one platform determines the platform, reduces the list of suitable development tools, identifies the required developer skills, and excludes most of the other options.

 

Which app type is the most appropriate for the business requirements? Which app type is optimized for performance or the easiest to build? Are native apps faster than hybrid apps? What app type is the easiest to build? What criteria do you use to assess the options? What action do you take if an app store rejects your apps?

 

In the end, the differences in the mobile platforms and development tools matter less than a well-thought-out mobile strategy (platform, app type, and development tools), less than the choice of appropriate business processes to mobilize, and less than the quality of the user experience you build into the apps.

Mobile App Types

Mobile apps fit into three categories: native, hybrid, and HTML.

 

Native Apps

Native apps are installed on a mobile device and compiled to run on the device's operating system, like RPG or COBOL applications on IBM i, Java on Linux, or C# on Windows. Developers build native apps using languages including Objective-C (or Swift) on iOS, Java on Android, C# on Windows Phone, and C/C++.

 

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps are a combination of two components: the business app and a container (or wrapper). The container is a native app that hosts the business app and provides access to mobile device features including the camera, location services, and sensors. Developers use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build the app and tools to package the app with the container.

 

HTML Apps

HTML apps (also known as pure HTML) are server-based or device-based Web applications. The applications are designed to fit mobile device screens or use a responsive design that can adapt the user interface for different screen sizes. In the browser, developers use HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to build the app's user interface and business logic, and, on the server, developers use other languages (C#, COBOL, Java, PHP, RPG, Ruby, Python, etc.) for the business logic and data access components.

 

Developers can also package the application and save it on a mobile device. Mobile device users operate the app using the browser on their mobile device.

 

App Types Compared

This table presents some of the characteristics and dependencies of each app type.

 

Characteristics

Native

Hybrid

HTML

App runs as compiled, executable code

Yes

Only the container

No

Requires HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

No

Yes

Yes

Requires access to a server to run

No

No

Depends on use of local storage

Can access server resources

Yes

Yes

Yes

Can use the device camera

Yes

Depends on the container

Depends on the device's browser

Can use location services

Yes

Depends on the container

Depends on the device's browser

Can store data on the device

Yes

Depends on the container

Depends on the device's browser

Can use sensors

Yes

Depends on the container

Depends on the device's browser

Runs on every mobile device

No

Depends on the container

Depends on the device's browser

 

HTML apps depend on the browser provided with a mobile device and the HTML features implemented in the browser. The HTML5 specification provides solutions for accessing mobile device features from apps developed using HTML. For example, the SQL database API and the offline application HTTP cache are options for equipping HTML apps with offline storage.

 

Hybrid apps rely on a container (or wrapper) app for access to device features, and the apps can use only the features made available by the container.

 

Which App Type Is Best?

The short answer is, it depends.

 

Each app type is suitable for most applications, but business requirements may suggest desirable app characteristics.

  • Native apps are the most appropriate when animation is a requirement.
  • Hybrid apps offer the potential for cross-platform apps with the ability to write once and run anywhere.
  • HTML apps are best for ease of deployment or if you want to avoid app stores and side-loading.

 

However, each app type brings compromise, and that's the reason for careful consideration when choosing an app type.

 

The app type is only one of the factors that influence decisions concerning mobile app development.

Which Business Processes and Transactions?

How do you choose the business processes and transactions to mobilize?

 

Processes that work best in mobile apps...

  • Are discrete and finish in a short time (e.g., retrieving the balance of an account)
  • Have few or no external dependencies (such as retrieving data from a database on a server)
  • Must be easily understood by the device user. If a user can't operate the app without reading a user guide, the process is too complex.

 

This decision requires an analysis of line-of-business (LOB) systems to determine the processes and transactions that will fit into a mobile app. Orders are an often-quoted example. However, if the order requires twelve 5250 screens in an IBM i application, with real-time access to a dozen database tables, it might work on a tablet but will be impractical to use on a phone.

App Audience

Who will use the apps? Apps for employees and apps for customers have different objectives. Employee apps focus on productivity, providing information on demand and capturing information required by the business process. The user interface design may be compromised for the sake of productivity. Apps used by customers provide and capture information but can also assist sales by suggesting complementary or alternate products. Many businesses fall into the trap of creating apps from their perspective and ignoring the customer perspective. For customer apps, the user experience is paramount and it must entice customers. Adverse app reviews in the app stores can influence customer willingness to use your app.

 

The app's target audience influences the mobile platforms you may have to support. If you supply devices to employees, you may be able to dictate the mobile platform. In cases where employees can bring their own device, a homogeneous mobile platform is unlikely. Similarly, customers will choose their devices, and the variety of devices is likely to widen with an increasing number of customers. It might be helpful to find out the types of devices your customers use and prepare for a growth in the support workload as the number of app users increases.

Buy or Build?

Should you buy apps or build your own? The Apple and Google app stores have hundreds of thousands of apps, and the number of apps in the Windows phone app store is growing. Surely you could find an app that fits your requirements. However, you will find that the majority of apps are social, personal, or games. Most business apps are provided by companies for use with their business, examples being banking and ERP software providers.

 

With a diligent search, it is possible to find apps that you can buy and configure for your use. Two examples are apps for mobile purchases (shopping-cart style apps) and human resource management. For cross-industry requirements, such as HR, buying an app might be adequate for simple processes. Companies trying to interact with their customers face dependencies when buying apps, including lack of influence over the app's features and no support for integration with existing LOB systems.

 

Most companies will build apps because they can control the features, platforms, development tools, and integration capabilities. Using in-house developers or outsourcing development becomes an economic decision after resolving the platform choice. Choose development partners carefully when outsourcing the work.

Choosing the Platform(s)

Prominent platforms are Android and iOS. Other platforms include BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Phone. Which platform or platforms do you choose? The criteria for choosing platforms include ideology, largest number of devices, and/or available developer skills.

 

You have no control over the mobile platforms. What actions can you take if a platform fails, closes, or changes?

 

The consequences of choosing platforms are significant. Choosing only one platform simplifies the choice of development tools and the skills developers require but isolates customers who do not use the chosen platform. A choice of multiple platforms allows you to reach more customers with your app, but the cost is a heavier developer workload.

 

If you choose multiple platforms, do you choose native apps for each platform or a cross-platform development tool that supports your chosen platforms? One approach to resolving the platform choice is to select a platform and then build and publish an app to gain experience and test customer or employee reaction.

 

Here are examples of criteria for choosing a mobile platform:

  • Viability and maturity of the platform
  • Customer reach (i.e., most devices)
  • Appeal to customers (some customers buy on price, and others pay extra for perceived quality)
  • Development and maintenance costs
  • Manageability and fit with existing IT infrastructure
  • Developer skills

 

Security and encryption may be a mandatory requirement for some industries.

 

Choosing a platform is one of the more difficult decisions as it confines the choice of mobile devices and development tools.

Development Tools

There are many development tools from which to choose to build native or hybrid apps. If you've built HTML applications for desktop or laptop browsers, you already have the tools to build HTML apps for mobile devices.

 

Native Apps

Native app development uses programming languages, tools, and SDKs built for a mobile platform, including these:

  • Apple iOS, Objective-C/Swift using Xcode
  • Android, Java using Google's Android Development tools, or Eclipse with an Android plug-in
  • Microsoft Windows Phone, C# using Visual Studio

 

Developers build apps using a language appropriate for the mobile platform, compile the apps, and deploy them to mobile devices. A compiled and deployed native app is a binary that runs on a specific mobile platform. The tools and development process are similar to building RPG or COBOL applications to run on IBM i servers.

 

To build an app that will run on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone requires three instances of the app, one for each mobile platform, built using different programming languages that compile binaries that are not interchangeable.

 

Using C/C++ to develope native apps provides a level of cross-platform code. The APIs differ on each platform, so there's work to do for each platform.

 

Supporting native apps on multiple platforms requires a significant development effort when compared with hybrid apps that offer the ability to develop once and achieve cross-platform flexibility.

 

Hybrid

Hybrid apps use HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, SDKs and tools built to support multiple mobile platforms. The development tools include whatever tools you use to build Web applications plus an app packaging tool. Apache Cordova, Adobe PhoneGap, and Appcelerator Titanium are examples of hybrid app tools.

 

The hybrid app tools language support includes HTML, CSS, JavaScript, server/desktop languages, and proprietary scripting or macro languages.

 

The user interface is one point at which the tools offer differing methods for rendering the apps screens. One method uses the mobile device's browser to render the user interface, and most of the hybrid tools support this method. Another method is to package the app with the native control APIs with the result that the app's screens appear more like native apps than browser-rendered apps.

 

The tools include support for mobile device features (camera, location, sensors, etc.), but the support differs from one tool to another.

 

One class of hybrid app tools allows developers to write server applications using languages including C/C++, C#, COBOL, and RPG, and the tools provide a mobile device app that interacts with the server programs. The app and its user interface are native to the device, and the app exchanges data with the server.

 

An advantage of building hybrid mobile apps is the opportunity to code once and generate apps to run on multiple platforms. Developers can build the apps using a language of their choice and select a target platform at generation/packaging time.

 

HTML5

Apps built using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript run on any device with a browser that supports HTML5 features. The development tools are the same as those developers use to create Web applications that run on desktop and laptop computers.

 

Building apps using Web tools removes cross-platform limitations, provided the apps take account of the numerous different browser eccentricities.

 

Developers can design the apps to run on a server or copy the files to a mobile device and run the app from the device.

 

The HTML5 specification provides access to some of the device features, but developers rely on the browsers to support the features.

Evaluate the Options

What are the options for developing apps for mobile devices, and what decisions do you face?

 

Do Nothing

Doing nothing is not a feasible option for most companies. Customers will come to expect to use their mobile devices to interact with companies, especially so for companies selling directly to consumers. Companies can improve productivity using mobile apps in their processes. Even industries that see no compelling reason for mobile apps today will face the problem tomorrow.

 

Decisions you must take:

  • Choose a mobile platform? No need to choose.
  • Choose app types? No need to choose.
  • Choose development tools? No need to choose.

 

The significant decision is avoiding or postponing the development of mobile apps.

 

Purchase Apps from an App Store

To purchase apps from an app store requires a search for available apps. Set aside plenty of time to search the app stores. Reducing the list by searching for business apps still produces a long list of potential apps. Then you must examine each potential app to determine its suitability for your requirements. Good luck with sending change/enhancement requests.

 

This is an option only for companies that operate generic processes, where the processes offer no competitive advantagee.g., small companies with unique products.

 

Decisions you must make:

  • Choose a mobile platform? The app you choose dictates the platform.
  • Choose app types? The app developer has made this decision.
  • Choose development tools? The app developer has made this decision.

Outsource Mobile App Development

Outsourcing mobile app development is a viable option for companies that don't regard software development as a core business activity and whose IT infrastructure offers no competitive advantage. App development should be faster than using in-house developers with no mobile development skills.

 

All outsourced activities require diligent contract and project management. Your company won't be the only customer of the outsourcing company, and your priorities will compete with those of the outsourcing company.

 

How do you choose a partner? A most important consideration is whether the partner company will be around when you need to update or rewrite the apps (and, believe me, you will).

 

Decisions you must make:

  • Choose a mobile platform? You should choose the platform(s).
  • Choose app types? The outsourcing company will help you decide or make the decision for you.
  • Choose development tools? The outsourcing company will decide.

Develop Your Own Mobile Apps

Developing your own apps for mobile devices provides more control and flexibility than the other options, but it opens up a complex set of decisions.

 

Decisions you must make:

  • Choose a mobile platform? You choose the platform. Do you select one or multiple platforms?
  • Choose app types? You choose the app type, and if you also choose multiple platforms the development tool choice becomes complicated.
  • Choose development tools? You can choose the development tools. If you choose multiple platforms and the app type is native, you require multiple development tools or C/C++. If the app type is hybrid, you require a development tool that will support your chosen platforms.

 

The decisions become more complex if you choose a development tool before the app type. The development tool may determine both the platform and the app type.

Summing It Up

Upon reflection, it seems that developing business apps for mobile devices is not as easy as one might hope. The reality is that mobile devices and apps will become more pervasive, touching most aspects of life, and companies will be forced to provide their products and services via mobile apps.

 

So, what do you do?

 

Careful planning is the way to manage the situation. Gather information about customers. Examine your business processes to determine how to use them with mobile devices. Survey your developer skills. Prepare a strategy for going mobile. Build an app to test your strategy.

 

You could use the decisions discussed in this article to create a decision table or a weighted evaluation to help eliminate or confirm your options.

Richard Lancaster

Richard Lancaster is Product Manager at LANSA's Product Center in Sydney, Australia.

 

Richard is LANSA's Technology Evangelist with a deep understanding of development and integration technologies on the IBM i, Windows, UNIX, and IBM mainframe platforms. With over 30 years of experience in the technology industry, Richard previously worked as a solutions architect for systems integrators Aspect Computing and the KAZ Group, and he held a range of roles from Computer Operator to Systems Development Manager at various banks and insurance companies.

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    There are many myths about viruses and IBM i—including the belief that the system is immune. Many Power Systems managers still don’t see viruses as a risk because they see them as a Windows threat. While this was once true, today’s connected environments operate under different rules.
    It’s time to take action and protect IBM i and the network that connects to it. This on-demand webinar will help you gain an understanding of the relationships between:

    - Viruses and the integrated file system (IFS)
    - Power Systems and Windows viruses
    - PC-based anti-virus scanning vs native IBM i scanning
    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. Learn the facts to ensure you're fully-protected.

  • Business Process Automation with Robot

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    Automate Process Flow Through the Data Center
    Typical “computerized” business processes are a combination of multiple schedulers, operational scripts, CL programs, and manual file checking, all backed up with the trusty runbook.
    Is there a better way to manage business processes?
    It is a common misconception that a business process cannot be automated if it’s too complicated or requires that someone verify each step. We’re here to tell you there is a better way to manage your business—process automation is possible!
    Take 30 minutes to learn the options for automating your business process flow and how they fit into your data center processing, including cases of:
    - Complex or iterative schedules
    - Event-driven dependencies
    - Multi-platform dependencies
    - Dynamically calculated parameters
    - Exception notification
    - SAP and Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne integration
    How do I know business process automation is effective?
    If you have any doubts that automating complex business processes will improve your level of service, you’ll also hear a success story from the senior systems administrator at Trident Seafoods who embraced automation using the Robot solution and is reeling in the benefits!

  • Find Out Why You Should Keep Data on IBM i

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    It’s simple. IBM i is the most reliable, securable, and powerful platform to house your critical business data.
    IBM i was built for business and has added features and functionality over the years to keep up with modern business needs. You can trust it to run your business, access your data in real-time, and keep your data secure. Plus, IBM i can scale to your business and handle all of your critical data.
    Can your other platforms do that?
    We didn’t think so.
    Watch this 30-minute webinar to learn why you should keep your data on IBM i, including:
    - IBM i is reliable
    - IBM i offers fast and secure real-time data access
    - IBM i helps your business prepare for tomorrow
    Plus, we demonstrate how Sequel Data Access helps you modernize IBM i data access and meet your business needs.

  • Mobile Apps for IBM i Monitoring

    SB Halcyon WC Generic

    Overnight and weekend support can be a minefield for operations teams tasked with attempting to maintain system availability, especially when they must rely on laptop-based VPN access—where a delayed response can prove costly.
    With over 2 billion smartphone users worldwide, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to use the BYOD movement to your advantage and start managing your IT infrastructure from the palm of your hand. Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how Halcyon has modernized this crucial layer of support by introducing mobile applications for IBM i monitoring.
    You’ll hear how one company has used the Enterprise Console mobile app to provide a valuable audit trail and speed up response time. You’ll also learn:
    - The benefits of mobile apps
    - How to respond to critical messages within seconds
    - How to get notifications your way on your device
    - How to set up escalation, ensuring alerts are always handled in a timely fashion
    If your team is responsible for managing IBM i applications and services after regular business hours, you won’t want to miss this one!

     

  • Speed Up Your Manufacturing and Distribution with Paperless Processes

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    Your ERP system —whether it’s JDE World, Enterprise One, Infor, Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics, VAI, or anything else—is essential to maintaining your company’s key business information and processes. But you’re constantly generating and receiving paper and electronic documents, too, and it’s hard to keep everything straight. So, you wind up chasing documents and data around—and keeping your customers and vendors waiting.
    It’s time to make life easier and make your customers happier. With an electronic document management system, you can integrate with your ERP to keep all of your key documents and data in one spot.
    And when all of your documents are stored digitally, you can speed up your processes and get key documents (like purchase orders and invoices) approved faster.
    Watch the webinar and learn how to:
    - Integrate a document management system with your ERP
    - Capture all of your key shop floor, order, and shipment documents in one central repository
    - Improve customer, vendor, and employee response times
    - Accomplish more work without adding additional staff
    It’s time to deliver your shipments faster and keep your customers happy by streamlining your paperwork processes.

  • Dock Door Signing Made Easy

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    How long does dock door signing take your organization? Too long if you’re still using manual processes and paper.
    From generating to collating to printing to routing to signing, manual processes and paper slow down your organization—and your delivery times. Electronic documents and digital signature capture can change all of that. And your organization will be able to create, route, approve (with digital signatures), and retrieve documents faster.
    Learn how digital signature capture helps you:
    - Eliminate steps in your approval processes
    - Improve auditability
    - Reduce customer service time to resolve questions
    Plus, we’ll demonstrate how digitizing signatures and documents will reduce your organization’s costs over the long haul.

  • 5 Reasons Developers Love Robot Schedule

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    Why AppDev Should Embrace Automation
    Your application development team is an expensive resource that works hard to improve business processes, yet more and more IBM i shops are putting AppDev in charge of managing day-to-day system operations.
    Instead of taking their attention away from the website, business analytics, mobile, security, SQL data access, and more, streamline operations with automation and build in notifications so your teams have visibility into processing when they need it, and can manage the rest by exception.
    In just 30 minutes, our experts will show how AppDev teams can take advantage of Robot automated operations on IBM i and beyond so they can:
    - Stop programming for multi-platform job and file event dependencies
    - Stop struggling with incorrect parameter values
    - Stop wondering where to fit a process into daily, weekly, or monthly cycles
    - Stop the on-call headaches, the firefighting, and the lack of progress cycle
    - Go ahead, give your AppDev team a productivity boost!

  • Affordable Query Tool for Software Developers

    SB NGS WC Generic

    NGS’ Software Developer Kit (SDK) gives IBM i developers comprehensive query, dynamic mobile reporting, analytics and Web report design features at an affordable cost. Install and create meaningful outputs for managers in one day! Web page and portal integration, email, FTP are included.
    The $895* SDK includes a one user license, online training, user manuals, one year of software maintenance; toll-free support and online incident reporting.
    - Want to modernize beyond Query/400 and PC files transfers?
    - Need a Web reporting solution without the learning curve and overhead of DB2 Web Query?
    - Have many reporting needs, but a tight budget and small staff?
    View the demo and request a FREE TRIAL of the SDK.
    * Limited time offer.

  • Your introduction to RCAC and Authority Collection

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    IBM has provided us with two powerful and very exciting security enhancements in the last two versions of IBM i.

    Scott Forstie of IBM joins Carol Woodbury to demonstrate and describe the V7R2 feature called Row and Column Access Control (RCAC), which extends how you define which users have access to specific rows in a database file. RCAC also provides a way to mask data for all or selected users.

    The recently released V7R3 adds Authority Collection. Authority Collection provides organizations and vendors with the ability to know exactly what authority is required to perform a task, eliminating the guesswork. Gone is the need to set *PUBLIC authority on database files to *ALL or to automatically grant service accounts *ALLOBJ special authority just because you’re unsure of what authority is required.

    Watch Scott and Carol as they discuss these and other new security features delivered in V7R2 and V7R3.

  • ​Getting Started with IBM i Security: Event Auditing

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Learn why event auditing is necessary and how to configure it
    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.
    In this fast-paced webinar series, leading experts Robin Tatam and Carol Woodbury share insight into critical areas of IBM i security.
    This second session of the series introduces event auditing, with Robin Tatam covering the basics and more:
    - Why auditing is necessary
    - Determine if IBM i auditing is currently active
    - How to configure auditing with one simple command
    - What audit events are recorded (and which are missed!)
    - How high availability (HA) applications often make critical events disappear
    - Event reporting and real-time alerting

  • Getting Started with IBM i Security: Securing PC Access

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Protect your system from unauthorized network access through readily available PC tools

    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.

    In this fast-paced webinar series, leading experts Robin Tatam and Carol Woodbury share insight into critical areas of IBM i security.

    This on-demand webinar will show you how well-known services like FTP and ODBC enable users to access sensitive data without oversight or restrictions. Robin Tatam will also explain what exit programs are and how you can use them to protect your organization.

  • No Time for IBM I Security? No Problem

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    “Security” is definitely on your IT staff’s to-do list, but how often does this item get checked off?

    IT doesn’t have enough time for security—the 2016 IBM i Security Study proves it. The trouble is that data security isn’t a set-and-forget project. Data security on your IBM i requires on-going attention and expertise.

    In this on-demand webinar, you’ll learn how to save time and work more effectively. We’re cutting to the core of IBM i security by outlining the simple strategy developed by our experts.

    You’ll see a straightforward approach to understanding and addressing risk to your IBM i data. We’ll also show you how our world-class security services help people protect business-critical data when they don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to tackle IBM i security on their own.

  • Getting Started with IBM i Security: System Values

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Set the tone for data protection with security-relevant system values

    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.

    In this fast-paced webinar series, leading experts Robin Tatam and Carol Woodbury share insight into critical areas of IBM i security.

    The series opens with an introduction to security-relevant system values.

    System values are one of the fundamental elements of IBM i security. The security system values enable you to “set the tone” of security on your IBM i, enforce password composition rules, and enable auditing. Watch this on-demand webinar to see Carol Woodbury describe these system values and provide guidance on their best practice settings.

  • Getting Started with IBM i Security: Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    The IFS is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of IBM i security
    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.
    In this fast-paced webinar series, leading experts Robin Tatam and Carol Woodbury share insight into critical areas of IBM i security.
    This recorded session has Robin Tatam introducing IFS security:
    - Defining IFS
    - How the IFS is configured
    - Common IFS security mistakes
    - What a virus can do to IBM i through the IFS
    - Tracking user activity

  • ​7 Habits of Highly Secure Organizations

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Everyone knows that cyber security is important, but getting started on the road to data protection and compliance can be confusing and intimidating. Understanding common vulnerabilities helps you focus your attention and resources on the areas that need the most help.
    We all want “best-practice” security, but what are top organizations doing to achieve and maintain it?
    Watch this webinar to learn the details about how to develop the seven habits that are part of daily life for secure organizations. You’ll learn how to:
    - Break the Ostrich Syndrome
    - Develop a Security Policy
    - Assess Current Standing
    - Perform Security Event Logging and Review
    - Use “Best of Breed” Technologies
    - Monitor for Ongoing Compliance
    - Plan for the Future
    This on-demand webinar examines what each of these habits means to IBM i, and helps you make sure that you don’t become the next security statistic.

  • An Introduction to PCI Compliance on IBM Power Systems

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    "From the world's largest corporations to small Internet stores, compliance with the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is vital for all merchants who accept credit cards, online or offline, because nothing is more important than keeping your customer’s payment card data secure.” — PCI Security Standards Council
    Complying with the PCI standard is a normal part of doing business in today’s credit-centric world. But, PCI applies to multiple platforms.
    The challenge becomes how to map the general PCI requirements to a specific platform, such as IBM i. And, more importantly, how can you maintain—and prove—compliance?
    Watch this webinar to understand:
    - How PCI requirements relate to IBM i systems
    - IBM i-specific barriers to compliance
    - How PowerTech security solutions help you fulfill PCI requirements, meet compliance guidelines, and satisfy auditors
    You’ll leave with the knowledge and confidence you need to evaluate PCI compliance requirements and prepare your IBM i system for today’s regulatory challenges.

  • Implementing Multiple Layers of Defense

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Your IBM i holds a massive amount of data. In most organizations, that data constitutes a mission-critical and high-value asset.

    How do you adequately protect the data residing on your IBM i, given its value to your organization? IBM has provided us with many options for protecting our data, but it’s now always clear how to select and implement the best options for your circumstances.

    This recorded webinar describes IBM i’s different data security options, along with implementation recommendations and tips for getting started. Carol Woodbury, one of the world’s top IBM i security experts, also provides considerations to help you determine how many layers of security are right for your organization.

  • Data Breaches: Is IBM i Really at Risk?

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIBM i is known for its security, but this OS could be more vulnerable than you think.
    Although Power Servers often live inside the safety of the perimeter firewall, the risk of suffering a data leak or data corruption remains high.
    Watch noted IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses common ways that this supposedly “secure” operating system may actually be vulnerable and who the culprits might be.

    Watch the webinar today!

     

  • Easy Mobile Development

    SB Profound WC Generic

    Watch this on-demand webinar and learn how to rapidly and easily deploy mobile apps to your organization – even when working with legacy RPG code! IBM Champion Scott Klement will demonstrate how to:
    - Develop RPG applications without mobile development experience
    - Deploy secure applications for any mobile device
    - Build one application for all platforms, including Apple and Android
    - Extend the life and reach of your IBM i (aka iSeries, AS400) platform
    You’ll see examples from customers who have used our products and services to deliver the mobile applications of their dreams, faster and easier than they ever thought possible!
    Watch this Webinar Now!

  • Profound UI: Unlock True Modernization from your IBM i Enterprise

    SB Profound PPL 5491


    Modern, web-based applications can make your Enterprise more efficient, connected and engaged. This session will demonstrate how the Profound UI framework is the best and most native way to convert your existing RPG applications and develop new modern applications for your business. Additionally, you will learn how you can address modernization across your Enterprise, including databases and legacy source code, with Profound Logic.
    We will demonstrate how Profound UI:
    - Goes beyond simple screen-scraping to truly modernize your RPG applications
    - Uses RPG Open Access and your own RPG code and development talent to modernize
    - Supports rapid development with an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop Designer
    - Integrates with our on-the-fly modernization, mobile development, and Enterprise Modernization solutions

  • 5 New and Unique Ways to Use the IBM i Audit Journal

    SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericHigh availability for IBM i has been a hot topic in 2017, jumping 20% from our 2016 survey to take the #2 seat on IT priority lists just behind cybersecurity. And no surprise with these two topics so closely tied to your most valuable asset: your irreplaceable business data.
    With major airline outages last year and the recent ransomware attacks, you must be asking yourself: am I doing everything I can to protect my organization’s data?
    Tune in as our panel of IBM i high availability experts—Tom Huntington, Matt Staddler, and Cole Ragland—deliver lively discussion around the top high availability issues of today, including:

    • Why companies don’t test role swaps when they know they should
    • Whether high availability in the cloud makes sense for IBM i users
    • Why some organizations don’t have high availability yet
    • How to get high availability up and running at your organization
    • High availability considerations for today’s security concerns

    There are no do-overs when it comes to your data. Once it’s gone, it’s gone...unless you have a data replication layer in place to protect it. Learn the value of these strategic solutions and how you can implement them in a hurry—watch now!

     

  • Profound.js 2.0: Extend the Power of Node to your IBM i Applications

    SB Profound WC 5541In this Webinar, we'll demonstrate how Profound.js 2.0 enables you to easily adopt Node.js in your business, and to take advantage of the many benefits of Node, including access to a much larger pool of developers for IBM i and access to countless reusable open source code packages on npm (Node Package Manager).
    You will see how Profound.js 2.0 allows you to:

    • Provide RPG-like capabilities for server-side JavaScript.
    • Easily create web and mobile application interfaces for Node on IBM i.
    • Let existing RPG programs call Node.js modules directly, and vice versa.
    • Automatically generate code for Node.js.
    • Automatically converts existing RPGLE code into clean, simplified Node.js code.

    Download and watch today!

     

  • Make Modern Apps You'll Love with Profound UI & Profound.js

    SB Profound WC 5541Roses are red, your UIs are green...It's time to make your apps proud to be seen!
    Whether you have green screens or a drab GUI, your outdated apps can benefit from modern source code, modern GUIs, and modern tools.
    Profound Logic's Alex Roytman and Liam Allan are here to show you how Free-format RPG and Node.js make it possible to deliver applications your whole business will love.
    In this webinar, you'll learn how you can use both Profound UI and Profound.js to:

    • Transform legacy RPG code to modern free-format RPG and Node.js
    • Deliver truly modern application interfaces with Profound UI
    • Extend your RPG applications to include Web Services and NPM packages with Node.js

    This webinar will include a live product demonstration and Q&A with the presenters.

    Download and watch today!

  • 2017 IBM i Marketplace Revealed

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    IBM i is one of technology’s best-kept secrets, with little information available about what IBM i users are doing on this server. Even companies that use this technology struggle to explain to their own teams what IBM i stands for and who else is using it.
    The IBM i Marketplace Survey—now in its 3rd year—was designed to solve this problem. Watch this on-demand webinar for the exclusive results of the 2017 survey. IBM i Champion Tom Huntington is joined by a panel of technology experts to discuss year-over-year trends and new insights. The panel will discuss:

    • What other platforms do you run alongside IBM i?
    • What programming and Open Source languages are you using?
    • What are your top IT issues?
    • What version of POWER and what OS level is most prevalent?
    • Are you expanding your usage of IBM i?
    • Is IBM i a good ROI?

    The expert panel will provide industry insight and comments about the results. When the webinar concludes, you’ll get access to the full results.

  • Accelerating Programmer Productivity with Sequel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Most business intelligence tools are just that: tools, a means to an end but not an accelerator. Yours could even be slowing you down. But what if your BI tool didn't just give you a platform for query-writing but also improved programmer productivity?
    Watch the recorded webinar to see how Sequel:

    • Makes creating complex results simple
    • Eliminates barriers to data sources
    • Increases flexibility with data usage and distribution

    Accelerated productivity makes everyone happy, from programmer to business user.

  • Business Intelligence is Changing: Make Your Game Plan

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Everyone wants a piece of your business data. But keeping up with data access requests in the era of constantly growing data is a challenge. As a result, your IT department can be overwhelmed, inundated, and constantly needing to play catch-up.
    It’s time to develop a strategy that will help you meet your informational challenges head-on. Watch the webinar to learn how to set your IT department up for business intelligence success in 2018.
    You’ll learn how the right data access tool will help you:

    • Access IBM i data faster
    • Deliver useful information to executives and business users
    • Empower users with secure data access

    Ready to make your game plan and finally keep up with your data access requests?

  • Controlling Insider Threats on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Let’s face facts: servers don’t hack other servers. Despite the avalanche of regulations, news headlines remain chock full of stories about data breaches, all initiated by insiders or intruders masquerading as insiders.
    User profiles are often duplicated or restored and are rarely reviewed for the appropriateness of their current configuration. This increases the risk of the profile being able to access data without the intended authority or having privileges that should be reserved for administrators.
    Watch noted security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses a new approach for onboarding new users on IBM i and best-practices techniques for managing and monitoring activities after they sign on.

  • Don't Just Settle for Query/400...

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    There’s a better way to run your queries. With an advanced query tool like Sequel Data Access, you can deliver the IBM i data your organization needs quickly and efficiently—without the hang-ups.
    In this session, we’ll address common frustrations with Query/400, discuss major data access and distribution trends, and help you understand what to look for in a more advanced query tool.
    Plus, you’ll learn how a tool like Sequel lightens IT’s load by:

    • Accessing real-time data, so you can make real-time decisions
    • Providing run-time prompts, so users can help themselves
    • Delivering instant results in Microsoft Excel and PDF, without the wait
    • Automating the query process with on-demand data, dashboards, and scheduled jobs
    • Watch the webinar and learn why you shouldn’t just settle for Query/400.

     

  • How to Manage Documents the Easy Way

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    What happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Everything is harder.
    Capturing documents means scanning and filing—which takes you away from tasks that actually matter to the business. Managing documents means sorting through an endless sea of shared folders or filing cabinets—and sometimes documents can’t be found. Distributing documents means following a frustrating, manual process for routing documents internally and sending them to vendors and customers.
    You don’t need to stick with status quo anymore.
    Watch the webinar to learn how to put effective document management into practice and:

    • Capture documents faster, instead of wasting everyone’s time
    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task

     

  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach

    SB_PowerTech_WC_Generic

    Get actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Monitor VIOS (and AIX) from Your IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) runs on AIX and allows you to share input/output resources across logical partitions. The health of your VIOS server is critical to the performance of all your Power server partitions, so monitoring it is a must.
    Our 2017 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results uncovered a cool trend: an increasing number of IBM i shops are running AIX instances alongside IBM i on Power Systems servers. We like to see these systems playing nicely together on the same server, though it does shine a spotlight on shared resources.
    During this 30-minute recording, our experts demonstrate the new VIOS and AIX monitoring capabilities in Robot Monitor. You’ll learn about:

    • The top AIX metrics that impact VIOS
    • Real-time monitoring with dashboard displays
    • Threshold and notification options
    • Identifying trends to better allocate resources

    With VIOS/AIX running alongside IBM i, you need visibility into your entire Power environment.
    Watch now to see how Robot Monitor can get you there!

     

     

  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    You’re responsible for looking after Windows, Linux, AIX, and VIOS, but you worry that you don’t understand their complexities well enough to make your job effective—or easy.
    No problem! Simplify the management of multiple operating systems and applications without becoming experts in each area.
    In this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite and shows how easy monitoring multiple operating systems and applications can be using point-and-click technology.

     

  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    When IBM i disk space pulls its notorious disappearing act, you don’t have time to waste figuring out how the trick is done. You need to know when disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer.
    Looking behind the curtain to keep a close eye on disk space—especially in a multi-partition environment—can have its challenges, but every good admin can have an ace up their sleeve. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends

    Start seeing through the sleight of hand and get instant visibility into disk usage. Add advance warning of potential threats and—abracadabra!—you’ll reduce the risk of disk space depletion and curb the sudden flurry of activity to clean things up.

     

  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Still following manual processes for extracting and transferring data across platforms? You’re not alone. Many business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation. And that leads to a lot of manual effort.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying?
    It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, you’ll see a demonstration of how data automation software from HelpSystems will help you finally stop re-keying data.

     

  • Survey Results: 2018 Top Cybersecurity Risks and Mitigation Strategies

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Protecting your organization from cyberthreats has never been more important—or more difficult.
    IT pros have many tactics to choose from, but time (and budgets!) are not unlimited. The key is prioritizing risks and identifying the most effective ways to mitigate the danger.
    In 2018, HelpSystems surveyed more than 600 IT and cybersecurity professionals to find out what security exploits loom largest and what strategies they’re turning to for protection.
    In this on-demand webinar, our team of cybersecurity security experts analyzes results. You’ll learn about:

    • Security strategies your peers are most interested in implementing
    • How managers and executives prioritize security
    • Who is responsible for cybersecurity at organizations around the world
    • Where IT pros turn for assistance with security

    You'll also get practical tips for using this data to drive cybersecurity conversations at your organization.

     

  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_Generic

    When it comes to IBM® Rational® Open Access: RPG Edition (also known as RPG Open Access), there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"

    This Webinar features IBM i expert Alison Butterill, and Profound Logic’s Brian May and Alex Roytman.

     

    Watch the On-demand Webinar Now!

  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Do your users keep paperwork on their desk until it's processed?
    Are people constantly removing documents from filing cabinets?
    What happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Too much paper is wasted—approximately 1,000 pages per month per worker.
    Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets drive your employees crazy.
    And distributing documents to customers, vendors, and business partners is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

    Plus, our experts will provide a live demonstration of how implementing a document management solution will quickly solve your paper-based problems, so you can be more

  • TRY the One Package That Solves All Your Document Design and Printing Challenges

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Why support 5 different products, when you can do it all with MarkMagic?

    - Drive over 450 different printer types.
    - Create invoices, statements, checks.
    - Set dynamic rules that transform output on the fly.
    - Conditionally distribute via Email, fax, or PDF.
    - Integrate with your current applications in minutes.
    - Preview printing on screen.
    - Native System i, Windows, AIX, Linux.

    Try MarkMagic today for free

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable.
    Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution.
    Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits.
    Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution.
    Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Keep your critical applications and data available. Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    The thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution.
    Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. brKey features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • MS Office Connector for Query/400...FREE Trial!

    SB NGS PPL 5130

    NGS' Qport Office enables Windows users to run IBM Query/400 queries to:
    - Create and update Excel spreadsheets and Access databases
    - Create Word documents
    - Send to Windows screen and PC printers
    No query conversion is required. Works with i5/OS V5R1 & above. Installs in minutes!
    If you don’t have a budget to replace IBM Query/400, but want your users to have one click enhanced output of their queries.... Request the online license agreement and product download instructions today!
    Offer good through December 31, 2016.

  • Control and Monitor User Access from Desktop PCs (ODBC, FTP)

    SB PowerTech 5422

    Protect your company by monitoring network traffic to your IBM i servers with the industry-leading exit program, PowerTech Network Security.
    Without visibility into IBM i's exit points, your users could be viewing, changing, or even deleting sensitive data—and you wouldn’t know!
    Network Security lets you monitor and control access to over 30 exit points, including:

    - ODBC
    - FTP
    - DDM
    - Remote command
    - Fileserve (mapped drives to IFS)
    It’s easy to set up custom access rules and get notified in real-time when security events occur.
    Stop “back door” access today. Try Network Security free for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429

    More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. Managing the complexities of today's operating systems, business applications, and networks challenges even the most knowledgeable IT professionals. The cost to an enterprise of unplanned downtime, loss of human expertise during sick leave or vacation, and system/application or environmental failure can be devastating. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center (and staff) efficiency.