SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz

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
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee A...
SAP is the world leader in enterprise applications in terms of software and software-related service revenue. Based on market capitalization, we are the world's third largest independent software manufacturer. Harness the power of your data and accelerate trusted outcome-driven innovation by developing intelligent and live solutions for real-time decisions and actions on a single data copy. Support next-generation transactional and analytical processing with a broad set of advanced analytics - r...
Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Chicago, Nexum® takes a comprehensive approach to security. Nexum approaches business with one simple statement: “Do what’s right for the customer and success will follow.” Nexum helps you mitigate risks, protect your data, increase business continuity and meet your unique business objectives by: Detecting and preventing network threats, intrusions and disruptions Equipping you with the information, tools, training and resources you need to effectively m...
The vast majority of businesses now use cloud services, yet many still struggle with realizing the full potential of their IT investments. In particular, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) lack the internal IT staff and expertise to fully move to and manage workloads in public cloud environments. Speaker Todd Schwartz will help session attendees better navigate the complex cloud market and maximize their technical investments. The SkyKick co-founder and co-CEO will share the biggest challe...
Despite being the market leader, we recognized the need to transform and reinvent our business at Dynatrace, before someone else disrupted the market. Over the course of three years, we changed everything - our technology, our culture and our brand image. In this session we'll discuss how we navigated through our own innovator's dilemma, and share takeaways from our experience that you can apply to your own organization.
All in Mobile is a mobile app agency that helps enterprise companies and next generation startups build the future of digital. We offer mobile development and design for smartphones, tablets and wearables. Our projects cover the latest and most innovative technologies - voice assistants, AI, AR/VR and more. We excel at solutions for sports, fintech and retail industries.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Nutanix has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO New York, which will take place November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Nutanix makes infrastructure invisible, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform blends web-scale engineering and consumer-grade design to natively converge server, storage, virtualization and networking into a resilient, software-defined solution with rich machine ...
ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of computational needs for many industries. Their solutions provide benefits across many environments, such as datacenter deployment, HPC, workstations, storage networks and standalone server installations. ICC has been in business for over 23 years and their phenomenal range of clients include multinational corporations, universities, and small busines...
"DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at @DevOpsSUMMIT and CloudEXPO tell the world how they can leverage this emerging disruptive trend."
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Nutanix has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO New York, which will take place November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Nutanix makes infrastructure invisible, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform blends web-scale engineering and consumer-grade design to natively converge server, storage, virtualization and networking into a resilient, softwar...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve fu...
Wasabi is the hot cloud storage company delivering low-cost, fast, and reliable cloud storage. Wasabi is 80% cheaper and 6x faster than Amazon S3, with 100% data immutability protection and no data egress fees. Created by Carbonite co-founders and cloud storage pioneers David Friend and Jeff Flowers, Wasabi is on a mission to commoditize the storage industry. Wasabi is a privately held company based in Boston, MA. Follow and connect with Wasabi on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the Wasabi blog...
Lori MacVittie is a subject matter expert on emerging technology responsible for outbound evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning technology editor at Network Computing Magazine where she evaluated and tested application-focused technologies including app secu...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO Silicon Valley 2019 will cover all of these tools, with the most comprehensive program and with 222 rockstar speakers throughout our industry presenting 22 Keynotes and General Sessions, 250 Breakout Sessions along 10 Tracks, as well as our signature Power Panels. Our Expo Floor will bring together the leading global 200 companies throughout the world of Cloud Computing, DevOps, IoT, Smart Cities, FinTech, Digital Transformation, and all they entail. As ...