Specifications


Overview

LINK2i is a .NET SDK (dll) delivered as a NuGet package and designed to be fully integrated in Microsoft Visual Studio IDE. It provides you with a set of 52 functions to use in .NET Framework environments. LINK2i creates a seamless interface between the IBM i and .NET environments. Each request is performed dynamically, in real time and without any data duplication. Furthermore, there is no need to store or update any IBM i structural information.

LINK2i natively opens IBM i systems to .NET Framework environments without using ODBC. Then WCF services can be implemented to benefit from LINK2i features in .NET Core and Cloud environments.

Prerequisites

To operate, LINK2i requires:

  • An IBM i in V4R4M0 or newer (some features only works from V5R4M0)
  • A complete installation of IBM Client Access/ACS
  • A Windows machine (minimal configuration: Windows 10 professional)
  • Visual Studio 2017 or newer installed on the windows machine
  • (recommended) Microsoft Office 2007 or newer

You also need IBM i session identifiers (username/password) and the IP address of the targeted IBM i. These informations are encrypted into a connection string using GetConnectionString() function.

Remark: LINK2i opens a new IBM i session at each request and closes it afterwards, there is no risk of leaving an open connection.

LINK2i deployment architectures

LINK2i can be deployed according to multiple architectures: thin client, thick client and hybrid cloud.

Remarks:
  • These architectures can be mixed and matched together depending on your needs
  • TCP/IP link between the IBM i and Windows can be local or distant network

Thin client architecture (client-server)

This architecture is highly flexible and scalable. It suits any use case and is recommended for applications involving many users.
Some use cases examples for thin client architecture:

  • Integration of the IBM i system into existing verticals, ERPs, MRPs...
  • Development of vertical software in .NET environments involving access to IBM i objects (data, programs...)
  • Use of the DB2 for i database as a proper database management system in .NET environments
  • Use of the IBM i database for business intelligence, data science and artificial intelligence
  • Add sustainability to IBM i equipments

In thin client architecture (or client-server architecture) the client acces the IBM i objects via a windows server running LINK2i through requests. Develop web applications using ASP.NET (MVC, Webforms) and access them from any device via a web browser.
You can also use web services (WCF, REST...) to allow client applications to perform requests on IBM i data. We developped LINK2i generic WCF web services to provide you with an out-of-the-box solution. It's up to you to develop tailored APIs using LINK2i in .Net Framework environment according to your needs.

Client requests are reaching the IBM i objects dynamically and in real time. Windows and .NET are just a pass-through and don't store any data nor IBM i structural information.

Remarks:
  • Client and server can be a single Windows device using local server like IIS
  • The number of users is theoretically unlimited, it only depends on the resources of the server and on the IBM i capacity
  • Since client-server architecture is based on web queries, LINK2i doesn't have to be installed on each client.

Thick client architecture

This architecture suits small-scale projects (< 10 users, even though there is no limitation) or specific tasks on the IBM i in complement of a client-server architecture. Its simplicity is a key determinant of success for punctual needs and administration tasks.
Some use cases examples for thick client architecture:

  • Any organization who wants an easy acces to its IBM i in complement of an existing system
  • Punctual and specific data extraction from the IBM i
  • Audit companies who requires a plug-&-play tool to explore IBM i systems
  • Easily migrate objects from one IBM i system or AS/400 to another (transfer data and programs)
  • Easily migrate objects from one IBM i system or AS/400 to any system
  • Automating bulk edits of RPG, COBOL or S36 programs using .NET

In thick client architecture, LINK2i provides a direct acces to the IBM i via .NET applications in Winform mode. It provides you with a quick and easy to set up solution to acces the IBM i from .NET environments.

Hybrid cloud architecture

This architecture is highly flexible and scalable. It suits any use case and is recommended for applications involving many users.
Use cases examples for hybrid cloud architecture:

  • Development of .aaS applications involving the IBM i system
  • Integration of the IBM i into cloud technologies and cloud built information systems
  • Data lakes with DB2 for i databases
  • Set up global DevOps & Continuous Delivery srategies around IBM i systems resources

LINK2i can be implemented as part of an hybrid cloud architecture using containerization technology when used in .Net core through web services (WCF, REST...). These web services are built using LINK2i in .NET Framework environment. Keep in mind that in this configuration the IBM i is not physically in the cloud.
After being containerized using docker, a LINK2i instance can be pushed in any cloud service compatible with Kubernetes like IBM Cloud Private or Microsoft Azure. LINK2i instances can also be pushed on Cloud Foundry using .NET Core environments.


See also: