IBM i Predictions For 2015 From Around The Community
January 21, 2015 Alex Woodie
The new year is here! Will 2015 be the year IBM i makes a comeback, or will there be another setback? IT Jungle reached out to the IBM i community for predictions and was rewarded with a treasure trove of ideas–some of them serious, some of them zany, but all of them authentic from the people who know the platform the best.
Dr. Frank Soltis, retired chief scientist at IBM
“Because of IBM’s low stock price, Apple will consider buying all of IBM and begin selling a new leading-edge business computer that they will call iBusiness.”
Trevor Perry, IBM i evangelist
“20i5 will be the year of larger attendance at IBM i events and conferences. More customers are coming back out of the dark green cave and looking for their first step towards modernization–a most nebulous term. As they come out into the light, they are asking the question “what do I do”, and 20i5 will see this happen far more than even in recent years.
On the opposite side, there will be no let up to the nonsense being spread about IBM i. At the end of 20i5, we will still have people tell us that IBM i is dead, dying, or declining beyond repair. We will still have people using SEU to build green-screen applications and claim that is all their business wants. The same old excuses will still pop up on forums–IBM does not market; IBM has renamed the platform too often; it’s still an AS/400 really, etc.”
Charles Guarino, president of Central Park Data Systems
1) Bad news–Should a developer lose his job in 2015 he will have a more difficult time finding new employment without having the knowledge of newer skills. This is because some companies are looking beyond the existing pool of RPG programmers and are becoming more willing to hire people with other programming skill sets and train them on RPG. It will be even more difficult to compete possessing a less than modern skill set.
2) Good news–In an age where we consume more and more information on demand, more paid training videos will be available on line for specific IBM i functionality.
3) RDi will be adopted by an additional 20 percent of shops, but 2015 will not be the year of death for SEU–despite the uptick in onsite RDi trainings, increased attendances at user groups and conferences, and support for Free Form RPG being available only in RDi. To be sure, 20 percent is a big number and will be even bigger in 2016.
Pete Massiello, president at iTech Solutions
“2014 was a great year for us here at iTech Solutions, and I see that trend continuing and growing in 2015. There are lots of old Power5 generation hardware customers looking at Power8 as they now have the budget and those older machines need a performance boost. There seems to be a growth in so many customers wanting to upgrade to 7.2, and even people moving from V5R4 and 6.1 to either 7.1 or 7.2. I see many companies doing modernization as well, finally realizing they have a great back-end and they need something for the front end. Companies are realizing the value again in what IBM i brings to the table, and see companies developing new applications for their environments on IBM i. I see quite a few shops starting to get their heads around exactly what Linux is and how to take advantage of it. I think some IBM i shops have been slower than the industry in adopting Linux as a solution. People are taking a look at security, backups, and infrastructure. The news is full of companies getting hacked, and I am seeing so many customers investing in their infrastructure, realizing that it is cheaper to fix a problem before it occurs than it is to contain a problem once it has happened.”
Neil Palmer, IBM System i Engineer
“IBM i revolts at being forced to live in a small one-room apartment with its brother PureFlex and his Bowflex and drives off into the sunset in his windowless Ford Flex. BlackBerry buys IBM i and then doesn’t know what to do with it. So, no change from its previous owner then.”
Nigel Fortlage, CIO, IBM i Champion
“1) Following the move to get rid of the Intel commodity business, IBM commits to making IBM i the next commodity operating system and releases it to the open communities for a version similar to what Red Hat has with Fedora.
2) IBM i becomes the defined standard for how to do it right within IBM, supported with the Power Platform, IBM Commits to a 5-year plan to put all its business on IBM i.
3) In order to create overwhelming market share, IBM i is re-priced to be the next Intel commodity platform killer.”
Bob Langieri, director at Excel Technical Services
“As far out as it seems, I would not too surprised if IBM sold out the IBM i division to another company. While IBM has used the IBM i to bring us amazing tools, there is no waiting line of new customers. There are no new RPG programmers to replace the aging RPG developers of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. (A dozen or so won’t do. I mean there are not hundreds studying the value of RPG.) I predict that 20 percent of IBM i environments will move their RPG legacy to either open source tools or other platforms. In all of Southern California, I have not seen or heard of a first-time IBM i being installed at a small to midsize business. Upgrades. yes, new installs, no. We need to accept change and as much as we shout “Say it isn’t so!” it is happening before our eyes.”
Aaron Bartell, director of IBM i innovation at Krengel Technology
“2015 will be marked by the year IBM i took its biggest steps in open source and cloud usage. Ruby on i has been gaining traction this past year and was recently brought out of beta(n1). IBM released Node.js just a month ago and it is getting some good attention. On IBM’s Node.js developerWorks page(n2) we also see the following, www.screencast.com/t/fXoI8XrMTM, with the statement of “but may be in the future” for Python, gcc, and git. Well, that’s some awesome excitement on the open source front! This not only gives IBM i a fighting chance but also puts it on par with other platforms. The next generation of developers seemingly live on the likes of GitHub and BitBucket for the sake of “social coding.” We at KrengelTech are doing the same with our open source efforts(n3) and encouraging others to follow suit.
Not only that, but IBM is also opening up to third parties by helping maintain open source code they originally developed. Case in point, the Litmis open source team, which I am on, recently partnered with IBM to be joint stewards of the xmlservice RubyGem(n4).
On the cloud front I believe development is going to be moving back to the server–specifically we will be seeing IBM i developers entering their code into browser-based IDEs. We’ve been doing this at KrengelTech for a number of months now(n5) and it is very promising.
So, yeah, it seems the big gap we had with the rest of the world is closing, and closing fast! Consider all the above and then add the fact that the list of IBM i cloud hosting companies is constantly growing(n6).
The one thing I am hoping somebody does soon is make IBM i instances provisionable via a Web service call (similar to Amazon EC2). I think we might be a ways from that because of how IBM i licensing works. Who knows? Now that Softlayer is providing Power8 hardware(n7) maybe IBM i simple cloud provisioning isn’t that far off. We can dream in color, can’t we?
[Editor’s note: Aaron gets an A+ on this assignment for providing copious footnotes.]
Amy Anderson, director of business development at Zend Technologies
“I predict that 2015 will be the year that IBM i customers embrace Modernization 2.0, which will be driven by the need to deliver IBM i business logic and data on mobile devices.
Too many IBM i customers have managed to avoid application modernization, but the requirement for mobile-enabled applications is forcing the issue for them. Along the way, new techniques have emerged that alleviate the pain and suffering of earlier modernization strategies. This is the year that requirements and techniques finally come together and drive positive change (and platform growth!) for the IBM i customer set.”
Jim Kandrac, president of United Computer Group
“2015 – What value do SP1s really provide? Arrow and Avnet? SP1s [distributors] are trying to add MSP [managed service providers] practices, but are basically “brokers” of cloud services at single-digit margins to SP2s [resellers]. The one UCG uses for Power i ordering has problems processing an order. Young and inexperienced virgin talent. They continuously ship to the incorrect addresses. SP1s and IBM do not have their systems integrated. Forty-five days after install of a new P8, client is told by IBM that they do “not” have hardware or SWMA. This has been going on for years. SP1s have cut overhead, reduced staff and do not have experts on board. SP2s do it themselves and end up fixing SP1 and IBM issues.
Bottom line and prediction: IBM may consider getting rid of SP1s and handling SP2s via a Web portal and we do our own configs and submit orders electronically. Quality people in Rochester can handle it all and IBM could put more dollars to the bottom line if IBM can integrate their own systems and provide easy to navigate web portals.”