Welcome!

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

Mainframes to Mobility

Legacy modernization using hybrid mobile applications

Mainframes - The First Cloud
Much of the success of the Cloud delivery model is attributed to the implementation of similar concepts through mainframe computing several years back. The concepts of multi-tenancy, workload management, virtualization, and chargeback accounting all are basic tenants of the mainframe.

Over the years mainframes have reinvented themselves to continue to find a place in the enterprise landscape. Recent announcements from IBM on System Z, IBM zEnterprise 196 (z196), IBM zEnterprise 114 (z114) have laid a path for enterprises to adopt Private Clouds using mainframes. The zEnterprise family provides a system designed specifically to address IaaS on a private heterogeneous cloud where the components run on the same architecture, a single hardware or operating system platform. The private cloud can be hosted within the organization or through an external provider.

Enterprise Mobility & Hybrid Applications
Enterprise mobility projects are spreading as more and more businesses are looking to provide mobility solutions for their clients to increase the market share and stay with the competition. There are multiple types of enterprise bobile applications:

  • Native Applications: Developed for a specific platform and device and installed on the device.
  • Web Applications: Typical enterprise web applications that can be accessed by the web browser available in the hand held device
  • Hybrid Applications: As per the name, it combines both native and web applications. Hybrid Mobile Applications are essentially mobile websites running within an application that has a single web view control.

The native applications are the most preferred mobile application type from the user experience (UX) perspective; however, they may have a high turnaround and are high in cost of implementation towards multiple mobile devices and platforms. Hence more and more enterprises are leaning toward hybrid applications to get the best of both worlds. That is to provide native mobile functionalities to improve the user experience and, at the same time, make the existing enterprise applications wrapped as part of the hybrid application so that they don't spend time on already existing functionalities.

The basic concept of a hybrid application is to wrap a mobile-optimized Web application in a device-specific native application shell. The native application shell hosts a Web browser control that's configured to launch the specific mobile application URL when the shell application launches. Other UI elements can be provided in the native application shell as needed, but only the Web browser control is required. The native Web browser control then listens to the URLs being requested as the user navigates the site. When the user requests a specific URL that requires native functionality, the Web browser control interrupts the navigation event and instead invokes the native functionality. As the user completes the native process, the application navigates the Web browser control back into the Web site flow in the appropriate location.

Mainframe Green Terminals & Screen Scraping
IBM 3270 terminals popularly known as green terminals are the basic mode of invoking UI centric applications that run on mainframes. Traditionally CICS, IMS DC are the platforms used to develop UI screens in the mainframe. Due to robustness these screens were able to take care of several mission-critical transactions in industries like the airlines and banking over a period.

However, due to the way they are character-oriented and can accommodate screen elements as per a 24X80 screen, these UI systems fade over time and have been modernized toward Internet-based client systems. Most enterprises that have mainframe UI investments went through the same issues when migrating the green terminals to web-based interfaces like they are now facing in migrating their web screens to mobile.

One of the techniques used in the last decade to convert mainframe applications to a web-based UI is called Screen Scraping. "Screen scraping" involves the use of row/column coordinates within a program to create a relationship between (or "bind") data within a screen buffer to local program variables or events. Screen scraping is a method that allows a (typically) thin client to process in the middle of a cics/3270 conversation. On the mainframe (CICS) side of the conversation it appears that there is a 3270 terminal. On the client (windows pc), there is a GUI presentation rather than 24x80 text. The screen-scraping code "scrapes" the data portion from the 3270 output and passes it to the presentation code on the client. When the user keys data or clicks on some feature, the user input is processed and sent to CICS as though the input was prepared on a 3270.

Mainframe Green Terminals in Hybrid Mobile Applications
It is the complete cycle of change, as the enterprises moved from green terminals to web-based UI where the concentration is to fit more field elements and components on a single screen to make the productivity of the data entry faster. However, in mobility-enabled UI, the screens are not heavyweight with so many data entry options, rather they are light much like their predecessors in older green terminals. The modern mobility applications intelligently package most of the touch sensitivity, camera and other native features of the mobile device along with minimal data entry features of the traditional transaction-based applications toward providing a new user experience for the end users.

For example, a traditional mainframe CICS application may allow the warehouse user to enter the part of a receipt from the vendor one at a time through a green terminal. Now in the mobile-enabled warehouse application the user can use a smartphone to scan the bar code of the incoming part and ultimately the same transaction of entering the CICS application is emulated in the background.

With the combination of a

  • Hybrid Mobile Application Development Platform
  • Screen Scrapping Technologies
  • Traditional Green Terminal Application in Mainframe to perform the core business process

a new set of next generation of Hybrid Mobile Applications can be built, which will use all the native features with respect to data acquisition, but will reuse the complex transaction processing logic behind the screens .

The following are some of the platforms that can facilitate the Hybrid Mobile Applications while bringing the best of business logic implemented in the traditional mainframe screens:

Mobile Enterprise Application Platform, Convertigo Mobilizer
Convertigo offers a core technology platform that can instantly extract and process data from any enterprise data source or application. Convertigo features a unique technology able to to perform dynamic and transactional web scraping from any existing web site or application. Convertigo can also screen scrap mainframe legacy applications. The following are the core aspects of this platform.

  • Mobile enablement of any existing legacy Web or Mainframe application.
  • No need to rewrite legacy and mainframe applications
  • Instant access to any resource --whether or not there is an API
  • You can combine any business logic for reuse across your enterprise
  • Extreme productivity through the ability to write mobile applications in HTML 5 and Javascript instead of complex languages.
  • Native support for all major mobile operating systems -- iOS, Android, BlackBerry

Syclo Agentry Mobile Platform
Agentry Mobile Platform lets enterprises deliver a broad range of mobile applications and effectively manage the complexities of multiple data sources, networks and devices. The platform has a Middle ware layer which can seamlessly connect to multiple enterprise back end sources including Mainframe transactions.

  • With Agentry, you build your application just once and then simply add the device of your choosing to the list of supported platforms. All the screen sets and native device controls get generated automatically.
  • Syclo's SOA solution architecture lets you use the same business logic and core application layers across all supported platforms. A native device client or a web browser is then used to render the application on the device - taking advantage of all the right widgets, OS controls, display settings and built-in peripherals.
  • Syclo is recently acquired by SAP to provide Enterprise Mobility options for its customers, with several of the SAP Installations on Mainframe this move will definitely support the enterprises.

Worklight, An IBM Company
The Worklight Mobile Platform was specifically designed as an ideal MEAP solution. Integrating a robust IDE, server and administration console into one solution, the platform enables the creation, running and management of internal-facing applications that adhere to the goals, business processes and security requirements of the organization.

  • Worklight provides a uniquely flexible mobile IDE, which support cross platform development
  • Choose between web, hybrid or native code to build rich mobile apps with security features that meet user expectations
  • Connect to back-end systems using a Java-based server and adapter files for most common integration protocols
  • Worklight utilizes the PhoneGap development framework to deliver a uniform bridge between standard web technologies (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript) and the native functions that different mobile platforms provide

Summary
As enterprise mobility quickly picks up, enterprises will face time-to-market concerns as it is directly linked to market share. While the UX (User Experience) is important, enterprises also look for ways and means to reuse the existing critical business logic. In this context the lightweight green terminals of the mainframe era are easy to extend into a hybrid mobile web application by using the screen scraper technologies.

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Highly passionate about utilizing Digital Technologies to enable next generation enterprise. Believes in enterprise transformation through the Natives (Cloud Native & Mobile Native).

Latest Stories
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SD Times | BZ Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and commercial UAV markets.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., will discuss how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advanta...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership abi...