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Quad Nova's CEO Says Workarounds on the IBM i (AS/400) May Compromise Enterprise Value

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

IBM recently announced its recommitment to the 30-year-old workhorse server, the AS/400, previously known as System i and now known as the IBM i –a server environment that traditionally required serious RPG (Report Program Generator) coding skills to program and integrate applications. Problem is, RPG is not commonly taught anymore.  Nowadays, modern Java programmers are often scrapping the existing RPG code and rebuilding what already exists – this may cause critical problems that a company may not recognize immediately.

JK Grafe, Chief Executive Officer of Quad Nova Group Inc., a busy company that builds custom integrated software in all server environments, says, "It's no secret that the talent pool of RPG programmers has been dwindling as the boomers of code have either moved on, evolved in careers, or retired."  RPG is an IBM-proprietary programming language. Those RPG coders, who rocked the code world in the Eighties and Nineties, when screens were black, and type was green, are in demand again.

JK Grafe is one of those RPG rock stars (among his many other coding talents). His company, Quad Nova Group Inc., has established a serious service niche for the past 20-years with insurance and finance companies that use the IBM AS/400s. 

"It's not like tech schools teach RPG as a required course," says Grafe. The talent pool has reduced as other coding languages have grown in popularity even though IBM has updated the IBM i system to work with modern languages. This isn't a human resource problem for companies using AS/400s, because there are experienced specialist vendors out there, like Quad Nova Group, that can properly create, adapt and integrated applications in the AS/400 ecosystem.  "However, many of the companies with AS/400s are starting to use teams that are more well versed in Open Source languages to work around legacy code, which is all well and good," says Grafe, "but frankly, if they don't know what they are doing within this ecosystem, it can slow down the box if not integrated correctly and lead to new complexities in the development environment."

"Some modern programmers can't drive a stick shift—it's as if they only know how to operate automatic transmissions, so they aren't using the AS/400 to its full potential, whereas, it could be properly driven like the 'Ferrari™' it is."

Grafe contends that by not addressing the workaround problem, a company compromises itself in many ways: "the speed of business may be slower; operations less efficient; customer service diminished; time delays—all result in compromised competitiveness."

Grafe predicts IBM will continue to improve the Open Source development options on the IBM i. But training of the internal work force to integrate these Open Source languages, such as NodeJS, into the existing RPG framework does not exist from IBM. "Furthermore," says Grafe, "you need to know how to drive a 'Ferrari'."

Those companies thinking strategically about data, speed of delivery, customer service, and about growth are the ones that look for special consulting teams that know the IBM i AS/400 intimately and have experience in maximizing performance. Quad Nova's client, Mark Melander, Chief Administrative Officer, All Risks, Ltd., based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, says, "Quad Nova brings more to the table than great programming and technical talent.  They've become a strategic partner that I consult with as we look at where our systems are today and where we are taking the company in three years and beyond."

Quad Nova Group Inc. is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida with offices in Baltimore and West Palm Beach. Quad Nova creates custom integrated software to solve critical business challenges for companies including those that run on the IBM i AS/400. Visit or call us at (888) 971-8331.

IBM i is a registered mark of International Business Machines

Media Contact: Kerry Wetmiller  (888) 971-8331

SOURCE Quad Nova Group Inc

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