IBM i Marketplace Survey Fills In The Blanks
February 2, 2015 Dan Burger
The IBM midrange community has a reputation for maintaining the status quo. But that doesn’t mean it’s immune to change. Shifts in the economy, the increasing pressures from business managers to do more with less, and the realization that competitive advantage comes with modernization combine to disrupt status quo thinkers. But does it really? Statistics that pertain to IBM i shops are almost non-existent. A new stack of information coming from a survey conducted by HelpSystems changes that.
The complete results of the survey have yet to be made public. But I’ve learned a few things that are surprising. For instance:
About 63 percent of the IBM i companies in this survey are running the 7.1 version of the operating system. And 24 percent are at 6.1. Combined the total is 87 percent, which leaves only single-digit percentages for 7.2, V5R3, and the early releases.
Match those numbers with these:
Of the survey takers, 38 percent use a single Power Systems server to run their businesses, and 50 percent said they had between two and five IBM i systems carrying the workloads. My arithmetic skills lead me to the conclusion that 88 percent of all survey takers fit into the five-servers-or-less category. Then factor into those numbers multiple IBM i partition being used by 62 percent of the survey group.
Based on what you know so far, would you guess there is a greater number of participating companies with fewer than 1,000 employees or a greater number with more than 1,000 employees?
The survey identifies almost 60 percent in the smaller workforce category and that leaves 40 percent in the 1,000-employees-and-up category.
Application modernization tops the list of “concerns” for all participating companies, with 59 percent checking that box. Second on the list of concerns is high availability. Third is the dwindling workforce with IBM i skills.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. And what I can share today is pretty basic stuff, although it adds color to an otherwise blurry picture of what the IBM i community looks like.
When the full report is released in March, it will include details that expand the data. For instance, there will be data relating to the use of partitions that can be compared with the server data mentioned above. And along with that will be data relating to moving servers to off-site locations and tended to my managed service providers.
Other survey questions dip into topics such as business intelligence and data analytics, tape backup and disaster recovery, the frequency of AIX and Linux on the same Power Server as IBM i and on other servers in the IT department.
The level of confidence that should be placed in this survey falls short of 100 percent. Show me a survey that is irrefutable and I’ll show you a solid gold nugget (or accuse you of selling swamp land in Florida). But, at the very least, this puts handles on a pot full of subjects that have relied on best guesses and hoped for results.
The majority of this data was collected in September and October 2014. HelpSystems encouraged participation by sending emails to a list of its customers and prospects. If you are an avid reader of The Four Hundred, you’ll recall an article titled “Searching For IBM i Answers” that also encouraged the IBM i community to participate in this survey.
IT Jungle and PowerWire participated in the development of the survey and are providing exclusive coverage of the results.
The total number of surveys collected and tabulated was 350, with all but 52 of those coming from North America.
I see this initial survey as a baseline for measuring shifts with continued measurements in the future. Trends are difficult to establish without a foundation. You have to know where you started to know how far you’ve come. This lays the groundwork for additional surveys, analysis, and reporting.
On its own, as single reference, it provides data from which evaluations can be made. It reveals rates of satisfaction/dissatisfaction and the prevalence/scarcity of specific products and technologies.
It can be a useful tool to help support or validate IT tactics and strategy and used to uncover trends that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
Thought leadership and trusted advisor is highly desired status that HelpSystems hopes to achieve by taking on this project. It has proved to be valuable in the past as PowerTech, a HelpSystems company, has produced a State of IBM i Security report for 10 years.
This survey and the white paper HelpSystems plans to release in March add substantiation to business/technology initiatives that are rarely quantified by IBM or members of the IBM i ISV community.
IT Jungle plans to publish more details of this survey and analysis of specific topic areas as that information becomes available.
To obtain a copy of the survey and a white paper authored by HelpSystems’ vice president of technical services Tom Huntington, follow this link and fill out an online form with your contact information.