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Practical Middleware: Starting the Journey

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The IBM i is still the best business logic server, but middleware makes it accessible to everyone.

Welcome to my new article series, “Practical Middleware.” In it, I plan to take you on a fast-paced, exciting ride through some of the newer middle technologies available. We’re going to explore new ways to make the IBM i a fast, responsive component in your overall IT infrastructure.

What Are We Going to Do?

We all know the IBM i is the best business rules–processing platform available. Despite that, the platform has always had detractors, although IBM is constantly updating the operating system to make it better, faster, and easier to use. The biggest complaint is that everything is hidden behind the greenscreen, but if you think about it, that’s not really a valid argument. The IBM i is more of a server platform than a client platform. You don’t run GUI client application on your Windows server, and you shouldn’t expect to do the same on the IBM i. Instead, you should surround it with high-performance application interfaces.

My goal is to show you how to build an ecosystem around your business rules. Nothing beats ILE RPG combined with embedded SQL for developing those rules, but we need to make them available to the world. In these articles, I’m going to show you how the old dog can learn a whole lot of new tricks and live alongside any of the other middleware services that exist in a modern IT infrastructure.

Getting Started

Whenever delving into new development niches, the most important step is to build a stack, and most importantly a development stack that you can easily control and modify. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years getting the IBM midrange to talk to other computers. Heck, one of my first programming tasks was maintaining an Apple II computer that served as a link between an IBM S/3 (Model 15D!) and an IBM Series/1 (not to be confused with the iSeries!). Nowadays, my favorite way to put a front end on an IBM i is through Linux. Linux allows me to quickly and easily put together a middleware stack that I can use to access my business rules.

I’ve used the word “stack” several times already, and if you’ve spent some time in the Linux world, you may be familiar with the LAMP stack, an acronym that stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. And while that’s a powerful combination, I’ve got my own stack: Linux, Tomcat, IBM DB2 for i, and node.js. As I walk you through this new world, I’ll try to explain my reasoning behind each of the components.

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
List Price $39.95

Now On Sale

WDSC: Step by Step WDSC: Step by Step
Discover incredibly powerful WDSC with this easy-to-understand yet thorough introduction.
List Price $74.95

Now On Sale

Eclipse: Step by Step Eclipse: Step by Step
Quickly get up to speed and productivity using Eclipse.
List Price $59.00

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