Here at Curbstone Corporation, we serve our clients by integrating payment card processing seamlessly with their ERP systems running on IBM i operating system. Some still call it the AS/400 or iSeries, in honor of its long history as the most popular midrange computing system.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?
Our clients often discuss whether they should replace their ERP software solution and platform with something else, or whether they should stick with what they have and modernize their system.
We are not hardware providers nor do we implement ERP solutions, but we have been in operation for decades dealing with clients running IBM i systems and its predecessors. In that time we've formed the opinion that it is far more cost effective to modernize than it is to rip out an older system and start from scratch.
After hearing scores of companies profess the intention of moving off of the AS/400 (IBM i), we typically, eventually, hear a retraction of the idea qafter they realize the huge amount of business logic embedded in the (typically) RPG code they run every day. Just the reverse engineering effort to document the existing business logic that has been developed and refined for years, or decades, becomes an overwhelming impossibility. Our view is to CELEBRATE the mature, stable IBM platform and add the integration to make it even more functional.
One area that is often missing for users of the IBM i operating system is real-time, seamless integration of credit card processing for Order Entry. More on that later...
The system contains the business logic that runs the organization and, perhaps, thousands of processes and reports which allow the organization's employees to access their needed information. Over the years many forms, invoices, statements and the like, are also created, making for a huge job to recreate all of that in a new system.
Companies running IBM i and its predecessors have likely been doing so for many years during which they have constantly been feeding data into the system so that the stored records may be very large.
Migrating such huge amounts of data, and ensuring new software meets business processes and needs can be hugely costly and very disruptive to the organization. A modernization program can often be carried out in stages with the data is already where it needs to be, which removes that complication.
THRID PARTY INTEGRATIONS
Other drawbacks to a complete change of scenery include having to review and perhaps replace all of the third-party services and EDI which interface with the ERP solution. Finally, and very importantly, a complete change of system will mean that IT support personnel will either have to be re-trained or replaced.
In favor of sticking with the IBM i platform is that it is a highly dependable workhorse and rock-solid both from a hardware point of view and that its internal database, compatible with DB2, is still one of the best and able to process huge volumes of transactions quickly and reliably.
And then, some companies are bought out, and the new management has a better idea. They may have grown up on Android and see the IBM as a dinosaur, in spite of its up-to-date abilities. Your specific circumstances may demand a complete change in your ERP and back-end system but our feeling is that, in the majority of cases, the IBM i is still the MOST viable business solution, and that there is little point in setting out to replace it.
Curbstone Corporation’s secure technology processes about $2.4 Billion per year for merchants on the IBM i (AS/400, I Series) platform, for phone orders, e-commerce, and retail.