Do organizations using IBM i on IBM POWER have unique payment card solution requirements?

The answer is YES! Some issues to consider include:

  • DIFFICULTY IN FINDING EXPERIENCED IBM i TECHNICAL STAFF – Let’s face it, not a lot of young people today are training themselves to be iSeries programmers. The pool of iSeries resources is shrinking. Also, the install base of the IBM i appears to be shrinking.
  • RPG –  RPG, for all practical purposes, is a proprietary programming language used only on the IBM i.  Most programs running on the IBM i are written in RPG. The proprietary nature of RPG locks programmers who are not proficient in languages that offer cross-platform portability, to the IBM i. This "lock-in" further complicates finding needed IBM i resources. There is a simple answer to this dilemma.  Write new code in a language like Java. Purchase only new applications that are written in Java. Java is cross-platform. Java performs well in multiple environments including batch, transaction processing, and web services. And Java is more than a programming language; it implements an architecture that supports many predefined capabilities. And, of course, Java is open source. One last consideration relative to using Java, rather than thinking of replacing RPG, think about Java coexisting with RPG. This way you can get the best of both worlds.
  • DATA QUEUES  and MESSAGE QUEUES – As the x-IBMer who invented MQ Series and ran the original MQ Series lab, I have a sincere appreciation of the value of queuing technologies. I consider IBM i data queues to be a mini-MQ Series. iSeries programmers seem to love working with FIFO data queues, but FIFO queues can lead to severe issues in multi-thread applications including for example web services environments. In the future steer clear of FIFO data queues and replace them with indexed data queues on all new projects!
  • NO BROWSER – For security and control reasons, organizations using IBM i seem to be extremely reluctant, and understandably so,  to use browsers at their client locations. Unfortunately, many providers of payment gateways rely on browser technology to be installed at their client locations to support the implementation of their  EMV and tokenization gateways. If you choose the wrong payment gateway provider, you won't be able to run EMV, and possibly tokenization, at your client locations. Suggestion, if you need EMV or tokenization before you buy force your solution provider to demo their software running in your environment.
  • THIN CLIENTS – For IBM i users, RPG, and 5250 emulators go together. A 5250 emulator, is often referred to as a thin client. Why do they insist on using thin clients? They use thin clients because they learned that thick clients (remember client/server) were near impossible to manage when deployed across large populations of remote users.
  • HEADLESS SYSTEMS – The IBM i is sometimes referred to as a headless system. This means that a system running IBM i has limited graphics capabilities because its' display is character based and won't display graphics. Strangely enough, this can be a nasty technical issue that limits the portability of applications and technologies to the IBM i. Some providers of payment solutions have NO ANSWER or workaround for this issue.  Suggestion, if you need EMV or tokenization, before you buy force your solution provider to demo their software running in your environment.
  • COST of H/W and S/W UPGRADES – The cost of upgrading IBM POWER processors and system level software required to support new payment industry security mandates is a significant inhibitor to implementing EMV or tokenization for some organizations. For example, the upgrades necessary to support TLSv1.2 have been especially troubling. Upgrading to TLSv1.2 isn’t an option, it is an industry mandate. Each processor’s drop-dead-date for completing replacement of SSL with TLSv1.2 varies, therefore ask your processor what dates they are enforcing. Also, realize that the skills and resources necessary to install the updates are in limited supply.
  • DB2 – CFXWorks has found DB2 to be an excellent product to work with, however, DB2 skills and resources are also in limited supply.

We hope you find the above useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please call CFXWorks at 678-455-0952.