Building a Bridge to the Mainframe with APIs

In the worlds of IT strategy and software development, APIs are a major time- and money-saver, helping companies build new tools quickly. But, APIs are also increasingly being viewed as a key toward bringing mainframes into a digital era defined by speed and agility.

Speed of innovation is crucial for when developers want to rely on mainframes for cloud or mobile application development. It’s a need mainframe technology providers have recognized, and a clear motivation behind the product strategies of companies like IBM.

Take, for example, the recent announcement that IBM would acquire application discovery company EZSource. Citing a $3.75 billion “API economy” market and demand from its clients to increase the pace of innovation, IBM said EZSource’s visual tools will make it easier for developers to find and modify legacy code within mainframe environments.

That places APIs in a crucial position in the modernization of enterprise applications. Indeed, APIs effectively offer a bridge between the modern applications companies hope to develop and the legacy mainframes they’ve long invested in and want to continue to use.

Forbes also covered this emerging trend several years ago, in a piece that profiled a handful of companies rolling out API management solutions for mainframe. In that article, reporter Ben Kepes argued that APIs were key to helping organizations expose valuable data stored within legacy mainframe environments and maximize the value of these systems.

APIs not only address enterprise modernization – they might also help bridge the much-discussed knowledge gap being created by retiring mainframe experts. In its announcement, IBM stressed that the use of APIs in mainframe environments will lessen the dependence on specialized skill sets.

That means the mainframe skills gaps won’t seem so daunting, and less experienced mainframe professionals might feel more encouraged to dive into mainframe development with the understanding that they’ll be able to rely on programming tools and concepts they’re already familiar with.

Software engineer Daniel Kelosky wrote about his experience creating an Android mobile app that could retrieve data from a z/OS system, after seeing a presentation at a SHARE conference. Kelosky journaled his creation of an Android native app, built from scratch, that relied on RESTful APIs available through the z/OS Management Facility (z/OSMF).

It’s an example of how savvy programmers rely on proven development principles to tap into the power of the resilient mainframe.

The brightest minds in IT are driving innovation in mainframe development every day. Register for SHARE Atlanta, July 31 to August 5, to hear and learn from some of the top experts in our industry.

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