The Business Case for IBM i Green Screen Modernization

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The top business reasons, supported by real-world examples, why giving your green screens a web GUI adds value to your IBM i.


Editor's note: This article introduces the ebook "The Business Case for IBM i Green Screen Modernization," which is free to download from the MC White Paper Center.


Many organizations rely on the IBM i (formerly the AS/400 and iSeries) to run critical business applications like ERPs. Although the IBM i is a rock-solid, modern platform, its green-screen interface limits productivity and makes it look like antiquated technology.


Providing a browser-based graphical user interface (GUI) for your business applications can go a long way in maximizing your investment in IBM i and keeping you on the platform. Using a tool to render your green screens as web pages is a low-risk modernization approach that provides a quick ROI, leverages your existing staff, and doesn't require you to touch the underlying code.


End users and management will more readily accept a modern, intuitive interface that reflects the quality of the underlying program. GUIs are also much easier to access than green screens, which can make the prospect of giving partners and customers self-serve access more viable.


Green screen modernization also offers financial advantages. Organizations can make users more productive and improve workflows by replacing pen-and-paper processes with direct access to applications via browsers on PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. New functionality such as dropdowns and autocompletes can lead to faster data entry, while a familiar interface with consistent navigation can reduce training costs. The ability to integrate with other web technologies can also add more value to enterprise applications.


Extend the life of your IBM i with a modern interface.


The IBM i's low total cost of ownership, reliability, security, and integrated database make it an ideal platform to run critical business applications. It has always been possible to create modern IBM i applications with modern interfaces, however many IBM i shops haven't taken this step.


Unfortunately, we've seen situations where organizations running IBM i have been acquired, have hired new managers, or have upper management who perceive the IBM i as outdated and move to migrate off the platform. These projects can span multiple years, far exceed deadlines, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, whereas modernization projects are generally much narrower in scope. Migrating to a new platform offers little advantage over the IBM i and provides a bleak outlook for RPG programmers. For these reasons, doing nothing about your green screens can be costly.


Giving your green screens a web GUI can breathe new life into your IBM i by delivering applications that look and work the way users and management expect. So much is possible with today's modernization tools. You can add new functionality such as images, dropdowns, and tabs; use RPG Open Access to create scrolling grids; and extend your screens way beyond the confines of 80 or 132 columns.


Web enabling is a low-risk option that gives you fast results.


Web enablement requires less investment than rewriting monolithic legacy RPG programs as new web applications. It gives you impressive results in a short period of time by transforming all of your existing green screens into modern web pages.


This starting pointwhich can be achieved in days, not weeks or yearsis a significant improvement over green screens. You then have the flexibility to further enhance screens using a Visual Editor. Web enablement is also low risk because it's non-invasive: Your proven source code is left untouched. This also means that users who prefer to use green screens can continue to do so.


This ebook highlights the top business reasons for IBM i green screen modernization. Each reason is supported by real-world examples of BCD customers who use Presto, BCD's 5250 and RPG OA modernization tool.