Undoubtedly, technology has evolved at a rapid pace over the past several decades and continues to do so. But some legacy machines that may be unfairly viewed as obsolete still hold tremendous value in today’s marketplace.
Enter IBM i – a family of mid-range computers that has gone through many name changes during the course of its lifetime.
As the image below illustrates: The evolution of IBM i began in the late 1970’s with the AS/400 (Application System/400) being introduced in 1988 as the successor of the previous two models.
Source: IBM i History and Timelne
With the explosion of e-commerce in the early 2000s, IBM once again re-branded the system to be called eServer iSeries and eventually both System i and System p platforms were combined to be called IBM Power Systems in 2008 – which runs latest version of the OS/400 operating system called IBM i, as well as AIX and Linux. Each name change supported the system’s technological advances at that time.
According to this 2021 IBM i Marketplace Survey, which included over 500 IBM i users worldwide, 44% of respondents said that they run between 76% to 100% of their core applications on IBM i with the overall number of respondents planning a migration away from IBM i falling to below 3%. Another notable highlight from the survey was that about 92% of the survey respondents (which consisted of current IBM i users) rated the platform higher than other server options when it came to overall ROI.
Where does the IBM i fit in today’s world?
IBM i is still a very much an attractive choice for many organizations across multiple industries running legacy AS/400 technology: The platform continues to evolve, becoming increasingly robust, embracing modern technologies, and giving many of the world’s top organizations a competitive edge. IBM Power Systems and IBM i make a powerful server/operating system combination. The IBM Power10 was released this year illustrating the continued popularity of the platform today that was built on the backbone of traditional AS/400 technology.
Then what's the issue?
There are some misconceptions surrounding IBM i that has led to some businesses comteplating a move away from it.
AS/400 is viewed as legacy and outdated. In spite of the evolving name changes to support its advances, there continues to be a general industry perception that the platform has not modernized and is 'outdated'. In 30+ years, AS/400 has evolved to what we now know as IBM Power, but many users who are not as well-versed with the history of the platform may confuse it as simply an outdated piece of technology. There are numerous resources available and getting educated on the current benefits of IBM i and Power Systems is the first step to curbing the misconception.
IBM i talent pool is shrinking: While many of the seasoned iSeries professionals might be retiring soon, that does not mean there isn't room for the younger generation to follow suit. Here are a few tips to consider when thinking about how to handle the talent shift in relatively seamless fashion.
If you're on the fence when it comes to the future of IBM i, read this 2021 whitepaper from Frost and Sullivan: The Total Economic Impact of IBM i. It talks in greater length about why IBM i continues to prosper as an exceptionally secure, reliable and cost-effective platform.
Read it here.
If you have more specific questions about IBM i and wish to speak to an expert, simply reach out to us.