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
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
You know you need the cloud, but you're hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You're looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you're concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies. What do you do?
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D