2021 Blog, Blog, Feature Blog, Featured

Intelligent Automation with AS/400 based Legacy Systems support using UiPath

In large enterprises with complex systems, covering new generation cloud-based platforms while continuing with stable legacy back-end infrastructure usually results in high-friction points at integration layers. These incompatible systems can also slow down enterprise automation efforts to free up humans and have BOTs take over repetitive tasks. Now with RLCatalyst BOTs Server and leveraging common platforms of ServiceNow and UiPath, we provide an intelligent and scalable solution that can also cover legacy infrastructure like AS/400 with terminal interfaces. These applications are commonly found in the supply chain, logistics, warehousing enterprise domains supporting needs for temporary/flexi-staff onboarding & offboarding needs based on the volume of transactions in industries that see spikes in demand across special events powering the need for more automation first solutions.

Integration of a cloud-based ticketing system with a terminal-based system would always require a support engineer, especially with labor-intensive industries. This is true for any legacy system that does not provide an external API for integration. There are diverse issues that occur slowing down business without compromising on security and governance aspects related to such workflows.

With the lack of a stable API system to interface with the AS/400 legacy system, we decided to rely on BOTs simulating the same User behavior as humans dealing with terminal interfaces. RLCatalyst BOTs was extensively used as an IT Automation solutioning platform for ServiceNow, and the same concept was extended to interact with Terminal interfaces commonly used in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) use cases with UiPath. RLCatalyst acts as in “Automation Service Bus” and manages the integration between ServiceNow ITSM platform and UiPath Terminal Interface engine. The solution is extendable and can be used to solve other common problems especially bringing integration between IT and business systems.



Using UiPath to automate processes in legacy systems
Leveraging the capabilities of UiPath to automate terminal-based legacy systems, RLCatalyst interfaces with the service portal to get all the required information to help UiPath’s UiRobot to execute steps defined in the workflow. RLCatalyst’s BOT framework would provide the necessary tools to run/schedule BOT’s with governance, audit trails functionality.

Case Study – Onboarding an AS400 system user
The legacy AS400 system’s user onboarding process used to be multi-staged, with each stage representing a server with its ACL tables. A common profile name would be the link between the servers and, in some cases, independent logins required. A process definition document is the only governing document that helps a CS executive complete the onboarding process.

The design used to automate the process was:

  • Build individual workflows for each stage in the User interaction processes using UiPath.
  • Build an RLCatalyst BOT which:
    • Refers to a template that includes a reference to the stages to run based on the type of user that needs to be onboarded.
    • Based on the template, it would maintain a document of profile names allotted.
    • Validates the profile availability (this helps onboarding outside the automation)
    • Executes the UiPath workflow for each stage in the sequence defined in the template.
    • Once the execution is complete, a summary of the execution with user login details is sent back to the ITSM system.
    • Logs for each stage are maintained for analysis and error corrections.
  • Build the Service Portal approval workflow, which would finally create a task for the automation process for fulfillment.
    • The service portal form captures all the necessary information for onboarding a new user.
    • Based on the account template selected that depicts a work department, a template reference is captured and included in the submitted form.
    • The service portal is used by the SOX compliance team to trace approval and provisioning details.
    • The process trail becomes critical during off-boarding to confirm, access revocation has occurred without delay.

Advantages of Using UI Automation Over Standard API

  • Some of the AS400 servers used for Invoicing/Billing are over 20 years old, and the processes are as old as the servers themselves. The challenge multiplies when the application code is only understood by a small set of IT professionals.
  • UI automation eliminates system testing costs, since it just mimics a user. All user flows would have already been tested.
  • The time taken to build an end-to-end automation would be significantly lesser compared to getting a highly demanding IT professional building the API interface to get it automated.
  • Total automation investment would also significantly be reduced, and ROI’s would be quicker.

Getting Started
Based on our previous experience in integrating and automating processes, our pre-built libraries and BOTs should provide a head start to your automation needs. The framework would ensure that it meets all the necessary security and compliance needs.

For more details, please feel free to reach out to marketing@relevancelab.com.