AgVantage Software Modernizes Front-End System With ZendPHP on IBM i

AgVantage Software is located in Rochester, Minnesota and provides systems for all areas of agriculture business, from agriculture stores, grain elevators, feed manufacturers, cooperatives, seed companies, fuel distributors, and more. AgVantage is unique in that they are an employee-owned and privately held company. This has created a common goal of ongoing customer success at the company. AgVantage has over 550 clients with thousands of unique users across the country, and currently has 55 employees. They have been in business over 46 years and their customers provide ongoing input towards the future of the company, voting on requested software requirements and product features at their annual user conference.

A Modernization Challenge

IBM i on Power is the main platform for their solutions. Their applications are primarily written in PHP and JavaScript on the front end, and the back-end business logic is developed in RPG. Development teams utilize GitHub for code version control and change management, and the company also uses monitoring solutions from IBM Business Partner Fortra. 

Many of their applications still had green screens for users, and AgVantage wanted to undertake a project to replace these with new GUI-based interfaces to provide their customers with a new modern, clean look for their solutions. They looked to partner with a trusted advisor and solution for the project, as many “screen-scraper” products that simply put a GUI interface onto RPG-based applications had not worked for them in the past.

The Solution

AgVantage turned to IBM Business Partner Perforce Software for their modernization project. They implemented ZendPHP to build new GUI-based interfaces for their solutions, rolling out a new front end called Edge for their agricultural software applications. PHP on the front end is used to provision services, calling RPG and CL program in the back end that are running on IBM i. ZendPHP gave them a solution for application modernization that is pre-packaged and easy to implement on IBM i. Perforce trained the AgVantage development team on ZendPHP which accelerated the project and reduced their time to market.

The Result

With the new Edge front end for their solutions, AgVantage now has a clean, modern-looking interface for their agricultural software systems. Feedback from customers during product demos has been outstanding, and the modern-looking solutions are allowing AgVantage to not only retain current customers but onboard new ones as well at a greater scale. Their development teams have also increased productivity by using ZendPHP, accomplishing what used to take 5-10 green screens in just 2 GUI interfaces in the PHP environment and reducing the number of steps required to complete programming tasks.