IBM i is a dependable workhorse that many organizations have effectively used to manage their business for years. The thought of connecting IBM i with a modern eCommerce system can be daunting, but integrating Magento with IBM i can allow business logic to remain within the existing IBM i system and enable the data to flow in real time to Magento.
An integration project allows Magento to sell to customers and capture orders while IBM i continues to process transactions safely, securely, and quickly.
One of the most common misconceptions with IBM i is that it’s impossible to interface with it. People often think that the data is simply locked in there and they can’t integrate with IBM i, however we have integrated many sites to IBM i and there are a number of ways to access that information.
Regardless of how complicated a project’s integration needs might be, our team follows six key steps for a successful integration. While every project is different and has different needs, these steps help ensure that the best possible solution is applied.
Six Key Steps for a Successful Integration
Define the eCommerce Strategy
When beginning a Magento eCommerce and IBM i integration, you first need to ask yourself a few questions: What is the site intended to do? Is it intended to primarily increase revenue, decrease costs, or improve customer satisfaction? Rank these in order of importance, with only one ranked as most important.
Engage the Sales Team
Get the sales team on board. Make sure the sales team understands what role the online site will play in the company and how they can leverage the site for success. An eCommerce site can be a valuable tool in your sales teams’ arsenal to effectively and efficiently meet your customers’ needs.
Define the Project Leader
An eCommerce project, especially in a B2B environment, will touch almost every part of your organization: Sales and Marketing, Operations, Finance, and especially IT. There must be a champion for this endeavor within your organization, someone who will help to drive the project through to launch and ensure that it gets the TLC it deserves thereafter.
Identify the Primary Data Source
Data is the lifeblood of an eCommerce engine, and the data needed for an integration project typically already exists in the IBM i. This makes it critical to set a strategy around the data integration. It is crucial to determine where each data element should be stored and which system owns the data.
Put the Business Logic Where it Belongs
After it’s determined whether Magento or IBM i owns each piece of data, consider the business logic required to process an eCommerce order. ECommerce systems typically include functionality that is duplicated in the ERP, such as item pricing, taxing, and order processing. In considering these redundancies, look to keep a business function within the system that is best suited for processing that function.
Use the Best Integration Methodology Available
There are several integration options available, and It’s often beneficial to use an integration methodology that is already being used, but it may make sense to change to a new technology. When deciding on which methodology to use, you need to consider the initial programming needs as well as ongoing support. Our team regularly turns to our Ten Points of Integration strategy for success.
We love Magento projects where we need to integrate to the IBM i platform. We’ve found several tools and methodologies to allow the data to flow easily and quickly. Using these various tools allow us to quickly and easily access any data we need and share it across the two platforms.
Tools for Integrating Magento and IBM i
Web Services is a great option because there is no need to buy new software. IBM i has the capabilities to create web services and host them within the native system.
IBM WebSphere MQ Series
A relatively inexpensive tool, WebSphere MQ delivers tremendous value to the project and team. This software tool is located on IBM i and, optionally, on the external system, and provides safe and secure message delivery between IBM i and Magento.
Mule Enterprise Service Bus
Mule ESB is used for our more complex projects and acts as a middleware between the two systems. At a base level, this tool processes transactions between IBM i and Magento. It is more robust and contains more features than the other options.
Integrating Magento and JD Edwards World on IBM i
JD Edwards World ERP runs on IBM i, so when integrating Magento with JDE World, you’re actually integrating with IBM i. Here are a few ways that we access the necessary information.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
One way for Magento to access the data on IBM i is to use FTP and the IFS. When using the IFS to store data, another system has to do the actual deposit of the information. One option is to duplicate the data and use FTP to send it back and forth, but you can also FTP directly from IBM i onto the IFS, then add RPG access. Once the data is on the IFS, native RPG or CL programs are used to access the data and make updates in the production environment.
Using this method, the eCommerce platform creates an XML document and deposits it onto the MQ channel, and MQ sends it to IBM i. From there, IBM i can accept the XML document and process it using native RPG programs. All of this happens at the speed of light, allowing for quick updates, data lookups, and other tasks. The communication process can also happen in the other direction, with IBM i creating an XML document, depositing it onto MQ and sending it to the eCommerce platform, where the eCommerce platform processes the document.
Regardless of the method used, integrating Magento to IBM i is not as scary or difficult as many people think. There are a lot of moving parts, yes, but when broken down into individual challenges, the project quickly becomes attainable.
Following these tips, integrating Magento and IBM i isn’t so daunting after all. If you have an integration project that needs assistance, or you just have questions about integrating Magento and IBM i, contact our team.