Cross the chasm between the known and the new: How APIs put the mainframe back in the game
The pressures placed on IT in 2020 were exceptional—and nowhere was it felt as acutely as at the intersection of the mainframe and digital world.
By Nicole Ritchie ,
It became clear that the keys to prevent being left flat-footed in the future are reusable services and APIs.
Being an agile digital enterprise lies in your ability to quickly and easily reuse what already works and build from there. Your mainframe’s core applications, their tailored business logic and the data you store on the IBM Z® platform already differentiate you from your competitors and act as a reliable backbone for your business operation. By making applications on IBM Z more broadly accessible and easily integrated with other platforms, you can respond to changing market conditions faster.
Using integration to tap into the mainframe for the value it holds is not new. Since the mainframe help put a man into orbit in 1969, it’s been the center of the technical universe. As the technical universe began to grow, programmers always found a way to get data in and out of the mainframe. New applications built on Linux®, UNIX® and Microsoft™ Windows™ were reached with FTP, .NET® and Java® interfaces. In the 1990s, we saw the emergence of packaged ERP applications pulling common functions off the mainframe. As we turned the corner of a new century, the next generation of these applications started moving to the cloud demanding we support hybrid cloud environments. Today, we are in next evolution where we no longer just share information with apps but publish and use menus of services.
Why APIs Are the Solution
It is no longer practical to meet the volume of the new demands and diversity of integration points with traditional point-to-point integrations. Integrations that must be re-written every time a new tech standard comes along just isn’t scalable with the limited resources and skills available. APIs provide a solution—they are independent of standards and reusable.
APIs let you expose the business logic and data of applications as reusable services—build it once and use it over and over again. Why is this important? Standards are constantly changing, but the concept of APIs stays the same. Consider this: RPC was first used with the IBM communication protocol LU 6.2. The emergence of the web drove adoption of SOAP as the messaging protocol for accessing web services. And mobile app development brought us REST—an architectural style where data and function are treated as resources accessed with identifiers which gives us a lightweight communications approach. With APIs, you can use a standard of your choice and still simplify application interoperability.
Another perk of using APIs is that you can extend the capabilities of your mainframe application by consuming services provided by others—internal or external to your organization. This means you can add capabilities or information to your mainframe without having to code it on your own. APIs saves you the risk and expense of replacing or redeveloping your core applications.
The best part of using APIs to connect your IBM Z applications to the digital enterprise is that the mainframe can be treated the same as all the other assets in your organization which require integration. All are tied together across a common integration layer and overlaid with an API governance structure that secures, protects and manages accessibility to your APIs. Using this common integration layer all the data you need, regardless of where it comes from, can fluidly flow to wherever it is needed.
We believe you can accelerate innovation by building on what already works. There is no reason the mainframe can’t be an integral part of your digital enterprise. Consider looking at APIs to help you cross the chasm between the known and the new.
Nicole Ritchie is the Director Market Strategy, Software AG. As an engineer and strategist, she is an advocate for connecting IBM Z applications to digital.
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