Talsco Weekly: Are you an RPG Developer Superhero?

Welcome to another edition of Talsco Weekly

News:  HelpSystems Is Now Fortra.
RPG Programming:  RPG Superheroes.
API:  What are Zombie and Shadow APIs?
Digital Transformation:  Three pieces of contrarian advice.
Blockchain:  A Use Case for Blockchain.
Development:  Is Python, PHP or Node.js the best web language for IBM i?


HelpSystems Is Now Fortra

The IBM i vendor community is transforming.

“HelpSystems announced today that it has become Fortra a name synchronous with security and defense. This evolution reflects the company’s enhanced commitment to helping customers simplify the complexity of cybersecurity in a business environment increasingly under siege. With a stronger line of defense from a single provider, organizations of all kinds can look to Fortra to increase security maturity while reducing the burdens to everyday productivity.”

RPG Programming

RPG Superheroes

Are you an RPG Developer Superhero?

Remember Plastic Man? His power was elasticity. This allowed him to be flexible and agile. These are key skills in today’s modern IT environment.

Or Batgirl? She maximized her natural potential by learning everything she could from her mentor, Batman. We see huge opportunities in the IBM i community for experts to act as mentors.

What about Superman? He’s equivalent to today’s IBM i architect or an IBM i Full Stack Developer. Someone who knows multiple languages (RPG, PHP, Node.js) and is familiar with software, hardware, network and operating systems.”

Read more here.


What are Zombie and Shadow APIs?

“As companies seek to maximize the business value associated with APIs, APIs have proliferated. Digital transformation, app modernization to microservices, API-first app architectures, and advancements in rapid continuous software deployment methods have fueled the high-velocity growth of the number of APIs created and in use by organizations.”

However, much like technical debt in legacy code, “unwanted entities such as zombie APIs and shadow APIs emerge when organizations do not have the proper strategies in place to manage API sprawl.”

A “Zombie API” “is an exposed API or an API endpoint that has become abandoned, outdated, or forgotten.”

“When an organization does not have proper controls in place around versioning, deprecating, and sunsetting old APIs, those APIs may linger on indefinitely.”

“In contrast, a “shadow API” is an exposed API or an API endpoint whose creation and deployment were done “under the radar.” Shadow APIs have been created and deployed outside of an organization’s official API governance, visibility, and security controls. Consequently, they can pose a wide variety of security risks.”

In summary: “Organizations must use a proper API discovery technology to help inventory and understand all of the APIs deployed in their infrastructures. Additionally, organizations must adopt an API governance strategy that standardizes how APIs are built, documented, deployed, and maintained — regardless of team, technology, and infrastructure.”

Digital Transformation

Three pieces of contrarian advice

The modernization of internal and external business processes and applications is not easy.

“Here are some of the most common approaches, based on conventional wisdom, along with some emerging alternatives contrary to traditional thinking.”

All in on Public Cloud or the Hybrid-Cloud approach.

Many organizations realize the hybrid-cloud approach is better.

“Companies are learning that while public cloud still has many benefits, the cost over time adds up. As an organization grows, there are usually opportunities to do at least some of the workload in the private cloud to gain benefits in locality, data transfer, and flexibility of in-house customizations.”

The hybrid approach offers the best of both worlds.

Reduce spending in uncertain times or invest in technological innovation-type projects.

“Innovations that make an impact – for example, the development of cutting-edge software or hardware – can have a much greater return on investment than even the stock market.”

Commodity hardware or invest in “ASICs, AI hardware, custom domain-specific solutions, and edge computing.”

“Moore’s Law has moved beyond packing more transistors onto chips and adding more CPU cores. To keep up with AI/ML data processing doubling every 3.4 months, the current generation of innovation relies on application-specific integrated circuits, AI hardware, and other custom domain-specific solutions.”

There is an opportunity for innovation. Many of the “old and proven technologies, such as analog hardware, have become new again to reduce power consumption. This is particularly interesting to solve at the edge where available power may be limited.


A Use Case for Blockchain

While this article discusses how blockchain technology can be used for start-ups, it equally applies to how it might be used in the enterprise.

What is Blockchain?

“Blockchain provides a secure digital distributed ledger that connects multiple participants to one source of data – the golden record of truth.”

It is considered to be the new architecture of trust.

There are several different trust architectures that this article dives into.

peer-to-peer trust
intermediary trust
distributed trust

Each one offers a different level of trust.

Consider how blockchain might be used in manufacturing, the supply chain, and eCommerce.

Transactions and Trust: “Public blockchain is highly secure and practically impossible to counterfeit due to the underlying cryptography used.” Thus, “blockchain provides the trust and security needed for multiple organizations to connect on the shared ledger.”

The key here is: “all users have access to a copy of the whole blockchain, meaning they can see if any meddling is going on.”

Conclusion: “There’s always a risk and cost with any new technology – and blockchain, for many, will seem a leap into the unknown.”


Is Python, PHP or Node.js the best web language for IBM i?

At COMMON’s NAViGATE conference in St. Louis this past month, a “Web Language Shootout” of sorts took place to determine the best Web Programming Language for the IBM i.

There are any number of web languages to pick from, however, Python, PHP and Node.js were picked for the event because they are all scripting languages that can be used to write “back-end Web application logic” not just web front ends.

As usual, Alex Woodie in this article dives deep into the nuances of Python, PHP, Node.js and the associated languages that are needed to develop an IBM i full stack application.

The reasons why the above made the cut and others didn’t is interesting.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

PHP: From the beginning, PHP was created to develop web applications, but you will also need to know HTML, Javascript, and SQL. It’s a general all-purpose language that is easy to pick up.

Python: It’s advantage is “every IBM i Web application developer is going to use it eventually.” It’s part of the plumbing, similar to that of CL on IBM i.”

Node.js: It uses Javascript which gives it a big advantage. While the “syntax of the language is the same,” it is important to note that library usage is different. “The libraries you’d use on the client end are not the libraries you would use on the server.” The big advantage it brings is “front-end JavaScript developers may be able to become productive developing back-end Node.js code on the IBM i server in a shorter amount of time than using other languages.”

Conclusion: The IBM i developer of the future will need to have a basket of languages and technologies (tools) to draw from. The key will be picking the right tool for the task and then, implementing it properly.


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