Industry Speaks: IBM i Predictions For 2018
January 17, 2018 Alex Woodie
It may just be another day on the calendar, but there’s something special about January 1. The beginning of a new year gives us a chance to ponder industry trends and anticipate what’s likely to occur over the next 364 days. We’re two weeks into the new year, but it’s not too late to turn the mic over to IBM i industry insiders for their 2018 predictions.
Here’s what they had to say:
“Extending and stretching applications is the order of the day. Refactoring and modernizing. More and more shops running legacy apps will come out of the shadows as business pressures force them to adopt modern and current processes. Shorter development cycles. I have spoken with more than enough business owners who have little tolerance waiting for new features / functions to be implemented. Open source technologies will play a much larger role in the enterprise.”
— Charles Guarino, President, Central Park Data Systems
“There is so much going on right now, our heads are spinning here at iTech Solutions. First and foremost, it seems that everyone is coming out of the woods wanting to have their systems upgraded from IBM i 7.1 to either 7.2 or 7.3. It started to increase in the fall, and now it is at breakneck pace. . . Right now we are doing about 10 upgrades per week, and we are scheduling right past the April 30 end of support date. . . I don’t ever remember the same rush when V5R4 or 6.1 went out of support. Perhaps people are a little more cognizant these days on running on unsupported operating systems.
“The second one is less of a prediction, but happening right now. We live in a new age and we have to worry about security much more than ever before. It used to be we were pretty safe on the old AS/400, partially due to the level of hacking years ago and partially as we weren’t using as many open interfaces. . . We used to think that the IBM i was secure, when in fact the term I have been hearing recently is that it is ‘securable’ when the proper procedures and processes are in place. IT staffs need to be worrying about security, not as an afterthought but in the forefront.
— Pete Massiello, President, iTech Solutions Group, IBM Champion
“Open Source is fast gaining acceptance in the IBM i community. More programmers will learn to code using open source languages, tools, and frameworks. More IBM i companies will have Open Source projects used in production. Open Source will lead to more IBM i applications being delivered to the outside web. Today, IBM i Web applications are primarily used for internal access, but this year should see a higher rate of delivering APIs and Web applications accessible by customers, partners, vendors, etc.
“Watson will continue to gain recognition, and 2017 will see an explosion of actual business cases for using Watson. This in turn will lead to some IBM i companies delving into the Internet of Things (IoT) in reality, rather than in theory.
“More IBM i companies will step up to IBM i – they will recognize the business value in existing applications and the value of developing modern applications around a robust, scalable Db2 for i database technology. IT Strategy will be used more and will include IBM i in a forward modernization movement.
“Paul Tuohy will be using green screens and still denying it.”
— Trevor Perry, Fresche Thinker, Fresche Solutions, IBM Champion
“I think 2018 will be another good year for open-source on IBM i. I am hoping that we will see the release of a newer Node.js version, as well as other technologies that we don’t have yet.”
— Liam Allan, Software Developer, Profound Logic, IBM Champion
“I think the IBM i community will finally move forward and take more advantage of already existing technologies such as the IFS (excluding QDLS!) and realize how using web services can add to the already great power of the machine and OS.
“I’m not saying we’re ‘late to the game’ with the new technologies. I’m saying that in the real world there’s rarely enough time to try to implement everything new that comes along right when it comes out. Normally we will look for a solution to a problem instead of trying to fit a solution into an already existing ecosystem.”
— Bradley Stone, owner, BVS Tools
“IBM i customers will get serious about GDPR: The General Data Protection Regulation will come into full effect May of 2018. Customer in the EU are scrambling to meet the deadlines. Organizations outside of the EU zone are suddenly realizing that GDPR will affect them, too.
IBM i customers across the globe will scramble to meet the extensive privacy requirements of GDPR. IBM partners will also discover that they must provide legal assurance to IBM that they are in compliance.
“IBM i customers lag in the area of encryption: That is going to hurt. According to our research IBM i customers significantly lag in deploying encryption as a part of their defense-in-depth
strategy. They will be scrambling to add encryption as quickly as possible (see #1 above). In addition to GDPR there will be efforts to not become the next “Equifax” by avoiding doing the obvious step of encrypting sensitive data.
“IBM ISV consolidation will continue: The consolidation of IBM ISV partners will continue unabated in 2018. IBM is doing the best it can to assure IBM i customers of their commitment to the platform, but it is a shrinking legacy market with all that entails. This consolidation will affect IBM i customers and they need to adjust their expectations accordingly. Fortunately there
are some reasonably good PE [private equity] firms doing the rollups and that will mitigate some of the downside of consolidation.
“BONUS! IBM i, open source, and security: The big push inside and outside of IBM to bring open source solutions to the IBM i platform will have important security impacts. IBM i users believe that the platform is more secure than any other. They will have to seriously modify that perspective as we start to deploy more open source applications. Open source applications are not necessarily less secure, but the increased number of these applications increases the attack surface. Python, Node.js, and all of the rest need to get on your security radar. IBM will not be there in the same way to help you.”
— Patrick Townsend, founder and CEO, Townsend Security
“Sometime in the next 30 days a heated argument will break out on LinkedIn between those who believe “IBM Plex” is the name of IBM’s latest cloud service and those who know it’s the name of IBM’s new corporate typeface. Several combatants will argue that it is the new name for IBM’s POWER-based server family.
“Following the launch of POWER9 servers that can run IBM i, IBM’s Steve Will and Allison Butterill will fly over one million miles to spread the news. Customers worldwide will show up at these events. More than a few will ask if they can see a green screen demo of the new features.”
— Bill Langston, Director of Marketing, New Generation Software
“We predict that the IBM i will remain a strong multipurpose platform for years to come, with continued support for tens of thousands of core business applications, plus virtual machine support through LPARS for Linux and AIX. We see the standard backup of the IBM i to continue to move from tape to SSD, jumping over tape to disk. The ultra-reliable IBM i platform will continue to fly ‘beneath the radar’ of most industry journalists, while continuing to contribute massive strategic information systems value to the businesses and other organizations using IBM i.”
— Brad Jensen, CEO, Electronic Storage Corporation/LaserVault
“There are a few things that are pretty well known that are not really prediction as more speculation of when they will happen. POWER9 will roll out to IBM i and AIX customers in 2018. The dates are still unknown but expect scale out technology first. It is the 30th anniversary of IBM i in June. We can expect some great stories around the OS continuing to evolve to meet business needs all over the world—three decades of reliability, scalability, and growth for businesses that continue to implement and grow this technology. They truly have understood the value of technology that works.
“Security, high availability, modernization, and staff retiring are top of mind for 2018, based on our fourth annual IBM i marketplace survey. Security outweighs everything else as customers are finally realizing that the firewall, etc. doesn’t guarantee security for all of the data they have on IBM i. For years, our State of IBM i Security Study has shown that security configuration on IBM i is the number one problem. The server is securable, but administrators and developers have not done a great job on the configuration. IT managers are finally realizing that they have to take care of back-office databases like DB2 on IBM i because that is where the real information resides.
“More recently, further consolidation among high availability vendors will force customers to take another look at PowerHA or software-based solutions like Robot HA in a DRaaS (disaster-recovery-as-a-service) setting to save money and create greater flexibility in delivering HA. Overall, we predict even more virtualization of the Power server technology in the IBM i space as customers continue to put their data and systems into cloud providers hosting IBM i. Customers that adopt the cloud for IBM i will benefit from better security, availability, and scalability for their business applications.
“Happy New Year. 2018 is going to be a great year for IBM i.”
— Tom Huntington, Executive Vice President of Technical Solutions, HelpSystems, IBM Champion
“With a continuing explosion of security failures around the world, the IBM i platform will finally be recognized as the most secure-able platform now available. The constant news about new threats will lead everyone to look for a secure platform which, as it will turn out, has been available all along. This will come as a complete surprise to most people, but those of us in the IBM i community will sit back and just smile broadly.”
— Rich Loeber, President, Kisco Information Systems
“My research and analysis leads me to predict that 2018 will be a year when the convergence of emerging technologies start to truly change how we build our skills, do our jobs, and interact with our customers, business partners, and devices. There are significant areas in business processes, individual worker productivity, customer engagement, and overall technology implementation to reduce costs, effort, and errors as well as increase customer satisfaction and order close rates.
“The technologies driving this shift are augmented reality and artificial intelligence along with sensors, wearables, and other IoT technologies. The costs for these solutions are dropping, the quality is getting much better and the supporting Internet access, cloud capabilities, decentralized computing, processing power, and security are all improving. Throw in distributed trustless consensus technologies like Blockchain to improve on processes involving transactions, immutable history, and ways to exchange value of any form (cryptocurrencies/tokens/contracts) between multiple, distributed participants and companies have everything they need to not just compete, but to totally disrupt their market. Companies that implement these solutions through continuous whole-business improvement in areas of business processes, worker productivity, and customer engagement will be the leaders and ultimate winners.
“Surround focuses on augmenting IBM i enterprise applications with our solutions to enable these technologies with a seamless end-to-end process without disrupting current operations or the high risk of software rip and replacement. All by helping people work better and enjoy the work they do.”
— Lee Paul, CEO, Surround Technologies
“I think we’ll continue to see exciting things in open source converging onto the platform. More tooling, more solutions and even more applications that can leverage the highly resilient infrastructure of IBM i and diverse capabilities of Db2. Continuous Integration will dominate the discussion model among development teams. This is where I will be spending all of my free time.
“While IoT will continue to blur the lines between perception and reality as it continues sneaking into the data center, traditional and social media will be tested and vetted as primary mechanisms for information consumption. What is real and what is fake will remain a mystery until a mysterious third party like snopes comes on the scene with “verified truth”.
“Cognitive and Natural Language Processing will eliminate the need for keyboards, finally. We are seeing far too many advancements in this space like chatbots to ignore that the keyboard is dead. . . long live the keyboard! Companies will be replacing the familiar “search” box with a chatbot. Mobile is already making strides, here.
— Mike Pavlak, IT Strategist, Fresche Solutions, IBM Champion