IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems - March 2018 - 11
happens if IT lets the situation
Innovation born from new
applications is clearly a good
thing. Even better are bright
end users who understand the
business issues at hand and
can define how we should
improve applications. So,
what's the problem?
Well, left unchecked, these new
styles of apps can lead to several
key issues that will resonate with
many CIOs, including:
files and no single version
of the truth
A lack of true workflow or
process across business
Security concerns over access
The ability to scale and
manage the application in
an operational environment
innovation projects created by citizen developers
using low-code tools).
For the small- to medium-sized business using
IBM i for its key enterprise applications, the concept
of bimodal IT may seem out of reach. So how might
we embrace the beneficial aspects of shadow IT
while implementing some control and oversight by
Consider these four topics:
The concepts and tools I just
described can take new development down from weeks to days,
and radically improve the productivity of your development team.
More importantly, the benefits
can be significant:
The Best of Both Worlds
So how do IT departments reduce
the risk of shadow IT when the
resources or skills aren't available
to fulfill the types of projects that
end users demand?
Most of the IBM i development
community is still focused on modernization of the 5250 data stream
(green screen), or is starting to
use languages such as PHP to
introduce new web apps into their
Neither of these options lend
themselves to Agile development
methods, which allow for rapid
prototyping and deployment of
Gartner has coined the term
"bimodal IT" to describe the
practice of managing two separate
but coherent styles of work. One
section is focused on predictability (typically the domain of
professional IT) and the other
on exploration (typically the
Collaboration with end users and business sponsors is one idea we can embrace and encourage.
Many shops have grown accustomed to saying,
"we can't do it," and this is exactly the type of
event that triggers the shadow IT phenomenon.
That can be easily changed.
Prototyping is the next logical step. Capture the
ideas from collaborative brainstorming sessions
and use a low-code or wire-framing tool to visualize how these new apps might work.
Low-code tools are now a recognized sector
in IT covered by leading analyst firms such as
Forrester and Gartner. They've emerged because
it's just too hard to build web and mobile apps
from scratch using the myriad programming
languages needed to support these apps.
Low-code tools are about making it simple to
build transactional web and mobile solutions
all the while reducing the complexity and maximizing productivity.
APIs are the magic sauce that will enable you to
integrate with your current IBM i applications.
Typically, these are deployed as RESTful web
services. This is one area where your IBM i skills
and knowledge will be valuable to the projects
you undertake. Many low-code tools provide
assistance in creating these and can be configured to consume these services as needed.
A word of caution: Many IBM i shops have
based their modernization initiatives on
green-screen enablement, but I would advise
against this. In this new Agile world, we need
new databases and services to connect our
systems for true integration.
if shadow IT
are good for
But there's an even
happens if IT lets
the situation go
Reaping the Rewards
and Improving Productivity
It's common for IBM i shops to spend most of their
budget maintaining existing RPG or COBOL apps-
they get locked into that cycle and struggle to break
out. They can't consider new projects due to resource
constraints and the skills gap for building new, modern web and mobile apps.
IBM i becomes the "single
version of the truth"
IT can power new apps
designed for the modern
You've broken the constraint
that 5250 is the only way into
The IT department may get
more funding from the business once these concepts are
Your developers can use tools
that are less intimidating,
which, in turn, will make
them more productive
With IT working alongside
the business, it becomes far
easier to avoid the problems
described earlier and create an
environment where collaboration
is the norm.
ibmsystemsmag.com MARCH 2018 // 11