IBM i Innovators To Gather In Minneapolis
June 2, 2014 Dan Burger
Innovators earn their reputations by making things happen. They not only succeed at knocking down walls that hold back business, they pursue ideas that lead to results. Enterprise IT is a great proving ground. Sometimes it seems like a fairy tale of overnight success, but seldom, if ever, is that true. To find innovation in IBM i shops, check the attendance sheet at the RPG & DB2 Summit. People there are working for companies that understand how innovation happens.
The next Summit is scheduled for September 30 through October 2 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was announced last week that IBM i chief architect Steve Will has agreed to be the keynote speaker. Will is responsible for delivering innovation that can be put to use by hundreds of thousands of businesses around the globe and those companies, in turn, use IBM i to create their own innovations that fuel business success.
Not all of them, of course, are innovators. It doesn’t come with the operating system. But look around, especially at an event like the Summit, and ask people what they are doing to innovate.
In a recent interview with IT Jungle, Will commented on the flurry of announcements pertaining to IBM i and Power Systems and what they mean for the future by saying: “The new major release is certainly an indication that the Power System business recognizes the value of continuing to invest in new capabilities on IBM i. Because we are the integrated operating system, because we take advantage of Power8 with our new operating system, it made perfect sense from the executive point of view to continue to invest in the new 7.2.”
“As a community, we need to start taking advantage of innovation faster if we want to keep our applications relevant to current business needs,” says Paul Tuohy, a partner in System i Developer along with Jon Paris and Susan Gantner. System i Developer is the organization behind the RPG & DB2 Summit.
Tuohy says a noticeable rise in enthusiasm has been under way during the past two years in development technologies. His observation includes more use of modern tools such as the Rational Development for i tools, and modern database development using SQL, and most dramatically the use of free-form specs in RPG.
Free-form RPG is an interesting dynamic, Tuohy says, because it is bringing together RPG and Java programmers who are stunned to realize they have more in common than they previously thought possible. “This is more like all programming should be. It is collaboration rather than one person telling everybody how to code.”
One of the interesting developments happening with SQL, Tuohy says, is that a lot of shops that once thought it was necessary to run SQL over DDS-defined databases are changing direction. The solution of choice a few years ago was to replicate the data around SQL Server, where there were DBAs who could do performance tuning. Didn’t help much. Performance was horrible. More recently it was discovered that if the indexes are built on the DB2 database it eliminated the performance problem. And there was no need to spend the amount of money on SQL Server licenses.
“The amount of money being spent on SQL server licenses every year can often be saved by running on the DB2 for i database,” Tuohy says. “No one wants to come forward and say, ‘Look how stupid I’ve been for spending a fortune on SQL licenses,’ but the examples are out there.”
The modernization topic is an area where innovation is bubbling up. During our phone conversation, Tuohy commented about being a member of the application modernization Redbook paddock of authors.
“One of the long discussions we had when putting together the Redbook was about a modernization roadmap. After about 30 minutes, we all came to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as a single roadmap because it all depends on where each project starts. I’ve yet to see two companies where the modernization strategy is the same and I’ve worked on quite a few,” he says.
Learning new skills is a big part of involvement in a modernization project.
To be successful you need to connect and collaborate. People are connecting, collaborating, and innovating. And you’ll find flocks of them at the Summit.
At the March 2014 Summit, Barbara Morris’ session, “More Freedom for RPG,” became the best-attended breakout session in the 7-year history of the Summit. The top-attended pre-conference seminar was Susan Gantner’s day-long RSE/RDi Hands-On Workshop, which sold out for the second conference in a row.
These are signs that indicate there’s an increase in innovation at work.