Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

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Five Reasons Why Node Is the Solution your Company Needs Right Now

Editor's note: This article introduces the white paper Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization, which is free to download from the MC White Paper Center.

Every business around the world uses legacy applications or code to some extent. Fortunately, for businesses on IBM i, these applications are typically very reliable and stable.

But in the age of slick mobile apps, cloud development, and an aging RPG developer pool, holding onto outdated application code and interfaces can hurt today's businesses where it matters most: their bottom line. When your competition offers an application with a modern GUI, and your end users need tools that help them find and work with data faster, you know it's time to make the change to modern applications.

So now, the perennial question businesses face when contemplating the modernization of their legacy systems is no longer "when?", but "how?"

There is certainly no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a path to modernization. But two common approaches - re-writing the application code and migrating to a packaged application - can be riskier than sticking with the legacy applications. Knowing this, it's no wonder why the path to modern applications is a long and bumpy one for so many businesses.

But there is some good news in the way of a development language called Node.js. You may have heard some buzz around it, as it's currently in use at some of the world's top businesses, including Walmart, PayPal, Uber, Netflix, and Google, to name a few. Recently, Profound Logic began using Node.js internally and in our newest modernization tool, Profound.js. Here are five reasons why we've adopted Node for legacy modernization and think you should, too!

Node.js is Enterprise Ready

Some businesses may balk at the idea of using Node for legacy modernization because of its "newness". So first, some background. Node.js was first conceived in 2009 by developer Ryan Dahl. The open source language is based on JavaScript, and uses JavaScript's NPM (Node Package Manager). NPM enables hundreds of thousands of developers to share and reuse packages of code -developers from companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft, and PayPal, to name a few.

So, Node is no longer the "new kid" on the development block, and has a healthy and growing community of users. But how can it handle business applications? Some people would say that it's not up to the task, in part because of a problem known as "Callback Hell" - aka callbacks within callbacks within callbacks, all of which are difficult to understand and maintain. Profound Logic's framework for Node.js mitigates this problem for companies on IBM i by streamlining and simplifying application code. This Node.js framework also enables top-down transactional programming, which is a must for most business application development.

Node Packet Manager enables hundreds of thousands of developers to share and reuse packages of code - developers from companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft, and PayPal

Other good news for businesses - Node is: blazing fast (it uses the V8 engine developed by Google); used for both client- and server-side programming; an excellent choice for real-time applications; and supported by IBM, which has heavily invested in Node. Ever heard of IBM Watson? Yep, you guessed it: IBM uses Node.js for Watson's "Developer Cloud" APIs.

Node.js Reduces Risks

One of the top factors that hold businesses back from modernizing their systems is risk. That's because modernizing the monolithic application systems upon which most businesses reside is a risky endeavor. In fact, a recent Gartner report2 states that only 42% of modernization efforts meet the original budget, and a whopping 82% take longer than originally planned.

Anecdotally, we've seen many, many large-scale, "rip and replace" modernizations that take years longer than planned and can go tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars over the original budget. Why? Because re-writing from the original RPG source code into another language or migrating your business to a packaged application is never as easy as it appears. You may not see it, but your IBM i system has deep roots, with interconnected applications throughout your enterprise. If you uproot one part of the system, you’re going to feel it throughout the business. And re-writing in a language like Java creates its own problems. Since Java and RPG can't easily "talk" to each other, you'll have siloed development teams and disconnected business units.

So how does Node.js and Profound.js help?

Want to learn more? Download the free white paper Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization, which is free to download from the MC White Paper Center.