IBM AS/400 Solutions  
E-business with your IBM i® (iSeries™) is Easier and Less Expensive than You've Been Led to Believe

Admit it or not, the IBM i / AS/400® (iSeries™) midrange computer is a great platform for business applications. Unfortunately, there is so much hype in the e-business marketplace right now (even from IBM), that most IBM i® companies are massively confused over how that machine and its applications should fit into a comprehensive e-business deployment strategy.

Nexgen has been working with IBM / AS/400's since they were introduced. And System/38s, 36s and 34s before that. We've also been helping midrange users solve business problems on those machines for just as long. more on what sets Nexgen apart from its competitors We know what we are talking about when it comes to IBM midrange and e-business.

So if you already use an IBM i® for your enterprise applications, consider this perspective. We firmly believe that the IBM i® provides a stellar foundation for your e-business strategy. And also consider why NexgenCommerce™ may be the right enabler for your e-business projects.

Truths and Fallacies about E-business for IBM i® Shops:

  1. Fallacy: "Putting up an e-commerce website that fully interacts with IBM i-based enterprise software is expensive and takes a long time to implement."
    Not true. If you choose e-business software designed specifically to integrate with your existing back-end IBM i® applications, then you eliminate the most costly and difficult part of the implementation. NexgenCommerce™ is simpler and much less expensive to implement than competing products because it was designed with specific back-end enterprise systems in mind. Most NexgenCommerce™ projects are completed within 3 months and fall within five-figure budgets.

  2. Fallacy: "Establishing an integrated e-commerce site requires buying some kind of "tool" and then learning how to use it or paying a team of consultants large sums of money to do the work in place of in-house resources."
    Wrong. In today's ultra fast-paced and competitive manufacturing and distribution environments, IT departments rarely have time to "roll-their-own" applications. There is no time for re-training, coding errors, testing and management that comes with "tool-based" approaches to e-commerce. More often, today's company contemplating e-business is looking for an "already-built" solution that can be quickly and inexpensively installed so that the business benefits can be realized immediately. And as times goes-on, the solution should have the capability to be easily expanded using a commonly available skillset -- all of this without having to call-in highly trained and costly consultants each time the site needs to be extended or changed. Nexgen delivers on this with the unique "thin layer" architecture of NexgenCommerce™ as well as a wide array of solution delivery options. You can even "outsource" the entire setup and deployment of your e-commerce website with Nexgen's offsite "Hosted Hardware and Software" solutions. more on Nexgen's solution delivery options

  3. Truth: " So many of the elements at work within an e-commerce site (customers, product numbers, order data, prices, inventory availability) are already inside my ERP application on the IBM i® -- why should we have to replicate them or have difficulty accessing them when we implement an e-commerce package?"
    True. This is probably the most important revelation for any company contemplating e-business. It is very true that the bulk of the data items as well as the business logic needed to deploy e-commerce already resides within a company's legacy enterprise system. Unfortunately, many e-commerce packages on the market can't make use of them. How can this be? It turns out that many e-commerce vendors draw the line when it comes to understanding and designing-for the "ins-and-outs" of even today's most widely-used enterprise (ERP) packages. It is literally easier for them to invent their own tables and repositiories for such things as item records, order data and prices and expect users to populate those tables with values extracted from the users' existing databases. This is both a wasteful and dangerous approach especially when other options exist. Again, the "thin layer" architecture behind NexgenCommerce™ provides direct access to ERP system data as well as business logic and eliminates all need for redundant data stores and hopelessly complex synchronization schemes.

  4. Fallacy: "If I want to add web access or e-business functions to my IBM i® applications, then I must need WebSphere™ or Java™, right?"
    Wrong. IBM has done such an effective job marketing WebSphere™ that it has created the perception that WebSphere™ is required for just about any web or internet-related software project that a company might undertake. And while WebSphere™ has many uses and benefits, it is considered by most to be grossly over-complicated and too expensive to be of value for the general e-business needs of enterprise application users on the IBM i® including e-commerce. The same is true of Java™. An effective e-business platform does not require use of the Java language in order for it to deliver outstanding business benefits. So, while WebSphere™ and Java™ definitely have their place, they are NOT required for a company to have an effective web and internet presence in conjunction with their IBM i® enterprise system. Nexgen has factored this into NexgenCommerce™ which does not require WebSphere™ or any other third-party middleware to complicate deployment. And when it comes time for a customer to extend NexgenCommerce™ to incorporate customized functions, the customer's IT team can fall back on skills generally available in-house including SQL, HTML, RPG and Visual Basic.

  5. Truth: " I've heard that the IBM i® can be used as a web server -- does this mean that I can host an interactive website on the same machine that runs my enterprise applications ?"
    Yes. Most of e-business packages in the market do not give you any choice of where the web server software may run. Most of them run exclusively on a single platform. In most cases, they run ONLY on an IBM i® or they ONLY run on non-IBM i® hardware such as Wintel or Unix. In contrast, NexgenCommerce™ offers you many choices of hardware deployment. You can run NexgenCommerce™ on the same IBM i® that runs your legacy enterprise apps. Or, you can run it on a Microsoft Windows server that is lan-connected to your IBM i. You can also run it on a separate IBM i® or on the same or separate LPARs within an existing system. Finally, NexgenCommerce™ can also be deployed on Linux or Unix-based systems. This flexibility of hardware deployment is not only important to satisfy the varied predilections of IT managers making an initial selection, but also allows you to easily redeploy NexgenCommerce™ later, on different hardware should circumstances require it.

  6. Fallacy: "Can't I simply use a "screen-scraper" or "web-facing" tool to convert my legacy green-screen applications (like Order Entry) for use on the web?"
    No ! This thought represents a huge underestimation of what it takes to implement web-based applications. One of the biggest differences about web-based applications is that they are generally targeted to an "external" audience, or, users outside of the company. This means that while the fundamental transactions taking place on an e-commerce site may be the same as those originating "inside" your organization, the user-side interfaces and protocols are completely different. Terminology, a clean application flow, heightened security and overall simplicity are factors that a company must "get right" when they open-up web enterprise transactions to outside users such as customers and distributors. Nexgen has accommodated this in the design of NexgenCommerce™. As well, Nexgen has the real-world implementation experience to help guide you through the proper steps in preparing for the entirely new venture of opening your systems to the outside world.

  7. Truth: " If we implement a streamlined e-commerce website that interacts with our legacy green-screen system, then can't we use that same interface to simplify ERP interaction for our internal users?"
    Absolutely. This is one of the most stunning and unexpected ROI benefits when implementing the correct e-business framework. Many NexgenCommerce™ customers find that once they implement order processing and customer self-service functions on the web for their "outside" users, then those very same interfaces can be used to simplify the needs of internal system users who are typically burdened with having to use "green-screens" to get that very same information and perform transactions. This can also help reduce training costs and serve as a very real building block in modernizing applications that users may have come to think of as "archaic". Over time, you can use the toolset within NexgenCommerce™ to turn out yet more web-based information panels and transaction thereby protecting your investment in the IBM i® and harvesting new benefits for the legacy data within it.

  8. Truth: " There are so many technologies in the e-business marketplace that it is almost impossible to decide which one is going to be the "right one" for the "long-haul"
    Very True. Nexgen's advice is simple. Stop worrying about making the right "technology" decision. Devote that time instead to evaluating what solution in the market is going to pay you the highest return in the time-frame in which your company will be using it.

    Web technology continues to evolve at a break-neck pace. It is no longer prudent to ruminate over the benefits of, say, a programming language the way we used to in the 1980s. Technologies move too rapidly. Far more beneficial is a solution-oriented approach that evaluates the concrete benefits offered by a product, factored by the time it takes to receive those benefits and then, all of this factored against the cost of the solution. In this type of analysis, our customers have come to find that NexgenCommerce™ ranks many times higher than that of the competition.

    Return on investment is the new "technology" criteria.
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