IBM i Survey Gets Better As Numbers Grow
October 11, 2016 Dan Burger
The IBM i Strategy and Roadmap document lays out the plan for the future. That’s great. We need to see where we’re going. But the annual IBM i Marketplace Survey indicates whether IBM i shops are following the roadmap or charting their own courses. Now in its third year, the survey is our best view of the ecosystem. October is survey month and we encourage IT Jungle readers to get involved in this IBM i assessment.
The 2016 Marketplace Survey was based on the responses of 834 IBM i shops. That was more than three times the number that weighed in for the initial survey. That kind of a jump in community involvement was good to see, but it’s still a small fraction of the total number of organizations that depend on i. Another three-fold spike in participation seems achievable given that the survey is becoming more widely recognized among the estimated 125,000 businesses that depend on IBM i running on the Power Systems’ platform.
Although nobody doubts the value of data, the value has always been in the processes, and technological ecosystem that delivers good usable data. There are still challenges in the collection and organization data. What we know about the IBM i community is sorely lacking in details that show the current status, the achievements that have been accomplished, and the concerns about the future. That’s why we’ve partnered with HelpSystems and PowerWire.eu to get the data that shows where expectations are being met and where technologies and capabilities are missing.
The information collected is pertinent to the community, which not only includes the end users and IBM, but also the ISVs, the analysts, and reporters. It becomes a reference point for dialogue, discussion, and collaboration where nothing definitive existed before. There’s nothing like this for AIX or Linux or z Systems.
“It [IBM i] is an important market for us and an important set of clients,” Doug Balog, general manager of IBM Power Systems, told IT Jungle in June. “The good news is that they don’t seem to be going anywhere–they love the platform. But they are obviously looking at how they bring new capability into their datacenter on the other parts of the Power Systems stack, such as Linux on Power or SAP HANA on Power. We continue to innovate on the operating systems and the systems that support it. I tell clients that despite all of the conversations we have around Linux–and we are obviously driving growth there–we remain very, very committed to the IBM i client base.”
Balog’s perspective on customer satisfaction was backed up by more than two-thirds of the 2016 survey respondents that said they planned to increase their IBM i footprint (22 percent) or maintain the system with no changes. However, more than eight percent said they had plans to migrate all IBM i applications to a new platform–90 percent of those said it would happen within the next five years.
Monitoring this platform migration response from the survey participants in 2017 and the years ahead–as the number of survey responders presumably increases–will be one of the most interesting ecosystem signals.
In terms of innovation and investment, both Balog and IBM i chief architect Steve Will point to ongoing investments in new technologies specifically being brought to the i operating system. Will says the amount of investment in IBM i hasn’t wavered, but the technologies related to that investment have shifted over time.
When Will became chief architect for IBM i almost a decade ago, 6.1 was the latest OS. Most IBM i shops were running V5R3 and V5R4. Since that time, the roadmap has pushed further into the future and many new technologies have been added.
Open source languages and the DB2 for i database are two areas that have gotten a lot of attention during the OS releases and Technology Refreshes.
“In the old days, we needed Java. Now what’s needed is open source and mobile tooling,” Will said in an August interview with IT Jungle. “We identify the new technologies and we invest in them.”
For the latest investments in technology, see the TR announcement articles in this issue of The Four Hundred.
Based on the 2016 Marketplace Survey (with data that was collected in late 2015), 67 percent of IBM i shops listed i 7.1 as their primary operating system. The newest OS at that time was i 7.2, which was the primary OS for 15 percent of those providing feedback. As this new data is gathered, we’ll be able to see the progression in OS upgrades, which will be an indicator of whether IBM’s OS investments are stimulating the ecosystem. We are currently seeing a lot of hardware upgrades stimulated by hardware maintenance savings, and those bring OS upgrades with them.
The survey data runs deep. It includes questions regarding server capacity, staffing and outsourcing, completed projects and projects on to-do lists, modernization, return on investment, and numerous other significant topics.
To take the 2017 IBM i Marketplace Survey, follow this link. The deadline to contribute information to this survey is October 31, so please jump into the data pool.
If you have yet to review the results of the 2016 survey, they are available at this link.
To view a webcast discussion of the 2016 survey that features IBM i executives, follow this link.