Infinite Success Is Modernization Via Migration
March 2, 2015 Dan Burger
“We see lots of interesting ways forward for IBM i applications,” says Infinite Corporation president and CEO Bruce Acacio. He’s talking about IBM midrange shops looking to modernize, but he’s specifically interested in shops that have decided to leave the IBM i platform behind and migrate their applications to Linux, Windows, or Unix systems. Infinite helped “just under 200” IBM i shops make that migration in 2014, Acacio says. He expects that number to reach 400 in 2015.
Decision makers have had modernization in mind for several years during which they’ve been in talks with Infinite about options and the reasons for making this move. 2014 was a breakthrough year for implementations, licenses, and revenue at Infinite.
The reason for taking on this type of modernization has changed, Acacio says.
“There was a time when we were pushing a rock up a hill when it came to talking to people about leaving the platform,” Acacio says. “But people started realizing they wanted to be on another platform. Now it’s changed to a realization that ‘We cannot support these applications in RPG or COBOL for much longer. There isn’t a talent base of people to be able to do that.’ They don’t have RPG talent that they can forecast down the road 10 years.”
Many companies have already moved the applications that could be easily replaced by off the shelf alternatives, he says. The apps that remain are probably something the companies really need.
The second reason for migrating is a belief that DB2 for i doesn’t provide the level of real-time data access that is provided by Oracle 11g or 12c or Microsoft SQL Server. Acacio says the shops that implement Infinite software want a database with modern data structures. IBM has enhanced DB2 for i with SQL (DDL) features and encouraged i-centric shops to implement modern data structures, but it has stopped short of mandating change and dropping support for the old DDS style. Modern database development is increasing, but it is far from being widespread. Companies that are serious about expanding their analytics capabilities are often disparaging of DB2 on i databases that rely on techniques that are 20-plus years old.
“The migrations that took place years ago,” Acacio says, “used to be a simple move from Point A to Point B. Now there is a heightened awareness of all the interfaces that are brought into play. It’s necessary to examine which interfaces are efficient and which ones aren’t. Do you do the same flat files extracts or move those to a real-time data access? For simplicity, we recommend keeping it as is, but then look to build efficiency moving forward. That’s where we provide value.”
To get to the implementation numbers that Infinite cites, the company includes installs completed by business partners and independent software vendors (ISVs) that have embedded Infinite software in their solutions. The majority of business during 2014 came from North America, although Acacio says Europe historically has been a better market.
Acacio estimates the average implementation time is four months. And he says companies are choosing to migrate 100 percent of their RPG and COBOL applications, with noting left behind to run on the IBM i platform.
“There used to be situations where only certain apps were being migrated or companies were doing this to reduce CPW. Now it’s a decision based on not wanting to support RPG apps anymore,” he says.
Whether companies take on the migration themselves or contract with Infinite or its business partners is a 50-50 proposition.
“At some level, the company doing the migration is going to get some level of assistance from an Infinite partner or people who are familiar with our product. And in many cases, when a company is doing its own implementation, the people doing the implementation are not new to Infinite software,” he says.
About 70 percent choose to run on Linux. Infinite provides the runtime structure to make the code movable and executable in Java, but the code is not converted to Java. The command structure, the data calls, and the core elements that applications look for with the i OS environment are still there. In the large majority of cases, the company chooses to run Linux on X86 systems. Acacio says Infinite is “happy to accommodate” companies that choose to run Linux on Power and that is done in a small number of cases.
That’s not what the Power Systems advocates want to hear and a case could be made for running Linux on Power, but the infrastructure guys, who typically control the budget, want to commoditize everything. Filling racks with servers is what they do. The X86 and VMware personnel are on staff and ready to take on projects like this.
The average implementation time is four months, according to Acacio. The size of the companies range from midsize to enterprise. On the small end of the scale, the migrated code was critical to 75 users.
To accommodate smaller customers, Infinite has just re-launched its “Baby” products: Baby36 and Baby i (formerly Baby400). They have a 20-user maximum and are applicable to departments within large enterprises operations as well as modest i-centric shops.
Looking ahead, Acacio is estimating 100 Baby installations within the 400 implementations in his overall forecast for 2015.