Fresche Hires Database Modernization Expert
September 11, 2019 Alex Woodie
IBM i database modernization expert Birgitta Hauser has a new software house to call home following her hiring at Fresche Solutions. The new gig marks the start of a new era in the German’s 20-year career on the IBM i, and adds to Fresche’s growing arsenal of midrange talent.
IBM i shops around the world are under pressure to either modernize their systems or migrate to something newer. While IBM i applications largely do what they were designed to do, the requirements have changed, and the siren call of digital transformation and big data analytics is too hard for some business leaders to resist.
“Here in Germany, we have a lot of guys who decide to go throw out the applications, going to SAP,” Hauser says in an interview this morning with IT Jungle. “When they throw out their applications, they also throw out their IBM i.”
That’s often a grave mistake, according to Hauser. “I think the IBM i is worth [keeping],” she says. “I have seen a lot of guys who were not very happy when they go to SAP or anything else. Most of them are going to a Windows system, and they are not happy because the new standard software is not what they expected. They find out they need a lot more stuff.”
Instead of ditching the venerable IBM midrange server, many of these companies would have been better off investing in the server, Hauser says. Updating their user interfaces is one place to start. But a potentially more area of need on the IBM i is the Db2 for i database, which has a lot of capability that users don’t know even exists.
“I want to convince them that IBM i, SQL, and RPG — and especially the database, which is, in my opinion, the best one in the world — need to be kept,” Hauser says. “There are so many things that are available on the IBM i that you can do, but nobody knows about it.”
For example, most IBM i developers have barely scratched the surface with what they can do on SQL, she says. If they took the time to learn how powerful SQL can be on the platform, they would help their organizations write cleaner, more secure, and more modern programs.
“I have seen a lot of programmers who only learn basic SQL,” Hauser says. “So whether they are Java guys or whether they’re RPG guys or whatever programming language, what I see is they use SQL like SELECT*FROM, and everything else is done in the program.”
It’s often better to put more business logic into the database and not try to control it with program code, she says. “Today on the i, you have so many different programming languages,” she says. “And if you do everything in the program, you have to reinvent the wheel for each language . . . . It’s far better to move the business logic into the database.”
Hauser, who co-authored the 2005 IBM Redbook “Modernizing IBM eServer iSeries Application Data Access – A Roadmap Cornerstone,” has experience migrating IBM i applications from native record-level access to the SQL Query Engine (SQE) in Db2 for i. While such a move isn’t to be undertaken lightly, the good news is customers can improve their user of the database in incremental steps as opposed to big-bang implementations.
Hauser will wear several hats as a senior application and database modernization specialist at Fresche Solutions. She will continue to speak at IBM i events around the world, including COMMON events in the U.S. and Europe, and educate folks on programming and database modernization. She will also work with Fresche’s consulting team to help modernize the applications and databases of IBM i customers.
At Fresche, Hauser will have a plethora of modernization tools at her disposal, starting with X-Analysis. “Before I came to Fresche I did everything manually,” she says. “It’s hard if you first have to find everything and make sure that you don’t forget anything. In this way, these tools from Fresche are very helpful.”
Hauser, who will remain in the Munich area, joins Montreal-based Fresche following a 10-year career at Toolmaker Advanced Efficiency, where she was a software and database engineer. At Toolmaker, Hauser developed a tool called WOPiXX that allows RPG programmers to use their existing knowledge to create Web applications for the IBM i server without requiring them to know HTML or other Web technologies.
Fresche has been on a hiring binge of late as it ramps up its “modernization factory” following a $60 million infusion from private equity firms in 2018. The company has built itself into one of the largest IBM i software vendors following acquisitions of Quadrant Software (including BCD Software) in 2016, looksoftware in 2015, and Databorough in 2014.
As part of its modernization factory, Fresche is taking a services-based approach to helping IBM i shops understand their modernization options and then begin executing the plan. As part of that ramp-up, the company has made other high-profile hires, including adding Mike Pavlak to the team in 2017.