Top ERP Apps Run on IBM i 7.1 After All, IBM Says
November 2, 2010 Alex Woodie
Last week, a story in this newsletter questioned the apparent slow adoption of IBM i 7.1 by some of the top ERP vendors, as evident by listings in IBM‘s Global Solutions Directory (GSD). While some of the biggest ERP vendors have not updated their GSD listings, it turns out that some of them have already made their software available on IBM i 7.1, and others are close to supporting it, according to an IBM program manager in charge of ERP on the platform.
Following the publication of last week’s story, “IBM i 7.1 Supported by 120 ISVs with 300+ Apps, According to IBM Directory”, Jim Anderson, who holds the title of program director, System i ERP development support, contacted IT Jungle to defend the adoption of IBM i 7.1 by the ERP vendors that he works with from his Rochester, Minnesota office.
Anderson said that, despite what the GSD says, several vendors listed in the story as not supporting IBM i 7.1 actually do support the new release. Those that do support IBM i 7.1 include Lawson Software, with both its M3 and S3 suites; Oracle, with both its World and EnterpriseOne suites; and Infor, with its ERP LX (BPCS) suite.
Slated to support IBM i 7.1 by year’s end, Anderson continued, include Infor’s ERP XA (MAPICS) and ERP System21 suites, and Manhattan Associates Warehouse Management System for IBM i (called WMi). Anderson works with the platform’s top ERP vendors, and did not have information about the other vendors listed in the story.
The GSD can be a good source of information about IBM i solutions, but it is not always up-to-date with the latest information, Anderson says. The GSD is updated by vendors themselves, and there are several reasons why a vendor may forget to update it. In some cases, they might not even know that it’s there.
While some ERP vendors have taken the time to test and internally certify their software for IBM i 7.1, other ERP vendors may not have had the time to do that yet. In some cases, this is because the new OS was released after the start of a new test and certification cycle began for the vendor, Anderson says. New testing cycles will start in the beginning of 2011, he says.
Some ERP vendors are encouraging their customers to upgrade to IBM i 7.1, even if the vendor has not tested and certified their software for IBM i 7.1, Anderson says. In these cases, the vendor fully expects the software to function without any major glitches (remember, IBM i 7.1 was not as big of an upgrade as IBM i 6.1), and if there are, the vendor will work with customer to fix them.
This situation may not be ideal. After all, ERP upgrades aren’t to be taken lightly; it’s not like some fun Google app that stays in beta forever.
However, the reality of the situation is that customers are “saturated with functionality,” Anderson says. Getting them to adopt upgrades–whether moving from i5/OS to IBM i 6.1 or 7.1, or installing a new release of an ERP system–is not as easy as it used to be.
In addition to having most of the functionality they already need, their ERP systems have become more customized over the years. Testing all the third-party components and integration points is a major undertaking, and customers are just not willing to invest the time and effort for what is perceived to be minor updates in functionality.
Instead of a installing a new release of an ERP application every year, customers are more apt to go for incremental increases in functionality. Instead of the big five-course meal, customers want to snack on appetizers and sides from the a la carte menu. This is becoming true for all classes of software, not just ERP products, and is reshaping the enterprise software industry.
This isn’t to say that supporting the latest release of IBM i is not important. Many ISVs go out of their way to make sure that customers know they support the new OS, and IT Jungle still considers it a good barometer of support for the platform. Even without a clearinghouse of information that is 100 percent accurate, we try our best to get the latest support information.