Security Still Dominates IBM i Discussion, HelpSystems’ 2018 Survey Reveals
January 17, 2018 Alex Woodie
HelpSystems released its much-anticipated annual survey of the IBM i installed base this week and the least surprising finding is this: Security remains the biggest concerns of IBM i shops. However, while security dominates the discussion, the survey revealed that most IBM i shops have no concrete plans to do much about it.
HelpSystems started its annual Marketplace Survey way back in 2014 (with the first survey published in early 2015), and over the years it’s become one of the most cited references for data about the IBM i installed base. Other vendors conduct surveys too, and IT Jungle does cover them and use the data that they gather. But HelpSystems’ annual survey carries a bit more weight, which may be due in part to the lively response rate.
This year’s survey, which HelpSystems officially released on Monday and yesterday discussed in a webinar, features responses from 650 people, up from 500 people in 2017. The company used the same format for the 2018 IBM i Marketplace Survey as it did for the 2017 survey, which makes it a snap to do year-over-year comparisons.
For example, the survey shows that the distribution of IBM i operating systems and Power Systems hardware usage has progressed over time more or less as one would expect.
On the OS front, IBM i version 7.1 still dominates the installed base, accounting for 44.1 percent of those who were surveyed for the 2018 report, compared to 52.1 percent last year. Use of IBM i 7.2 actually declined year over year (30.2 percent compared to 28.3 percent), while use of IBM i 7.3 jumped from 4.8 percent to 15.6 percent. Among non-supported OSes, the number of folks on IBM i 6.1 declined 3.3 percent to 5.1 percent, while those still on i5/OS V5R4 stayed constant at 3.2 percent from 2017 to 2018 (which is an interesting and unexpected tidbit that shows how attached some midrange shops are to their gear).
On the hardware front, the Power8-generation of machines saw a sizable leap in use, from 40 percent to 46 percent, while Power7-generation gear stayed constant at about 56 percent. Use of vintage Power6 gear declined from 22 percent to 15.5 percent, while only about 24.1 percent of folks reported having Power5 gear.
There wasn’t much difference among the number of systems IBM i shops run, nor in the number of partitions they have. Likewise, the user of non-IBM i gear, such as Windows, AIX, and Intel– and Power-based Linux, didn’t change much year over year.
In terms of personnel, there wasn’t a whole lot of change. In 2017, only 9.3 percent of respondents reported having no developers, while in 2018, that number dropped to 5.5 percent. Nearly 16 percent of respondents reported having no administrators on staff in 2017, while only 11.4 percent say they’re running lights-out in 2018. Compared to 2017, fewer respondents say they are not considering outsourcing (75.6 percent in 2017 compared to 70.9 percent in 2018). And the actual use of outsourcing inched up by about 1 percent to 10.6 percent. Some readers will miss the salary component of the survey, which wasn’t included in the 2018 survey.
The spread of ERP and business applications changed a little over the past year. Use of SAP was mostly unchanged at about 7.2 percent, use of Infor declined by half a percent to 17.9 percent, while use of Oracle JD Edwards inched up 1 percent to 10.9 percent. While use of Fiserv and MedHost were up a tad, reported use of Jack Henry, TMW, McKesson, and Manhattan Associates were down. The number of folks developing their own in-house apps increased from 65.4 percent to 70.1 percent, which is a fairly significant change that could warrant further investigation.
There wasn’t a whole lot of change in terms of the top concerns among IBM i shops. Security topped the list for the second straight year, and was cited by 72.0 percent of survey respondents as being a top concern, up slightly from last year.
In terms of regulatory compliance, the vendor says that 40 percent of IBM i shops say they’re not adhering to any regulations. Sarbanes-Oxley (30.6 percent), PCI-DSS (23.9 percent), and HIPAA (18.7 percent) were the most heavily cited industry regulations that respondents must adhere to. Only 11.9 percent say they’re subject to GDPR, a European Union regulation that goes into full effect this May, and which will likely have a greater impact than expected.
In regards to the 40 percent figure cited above, HelpSystems stated: “We expect this number to decrease as organizations begin to understand just how far-reaching some regulations, like GDPR, truly are and as other industries, states, and nations look to take action against cyberattacks by implementing additional regulations.”
For the 2018 report, HelpSystems drilled down into the security question a bit more to investigate what actual security measures they’re using now, and what they’re planning to do down the road. Privileged user management (49.5 percent), compliance and audit reporting (45.7 percent), and secure managed file transfer (43.7 percent) were the most highly cited security solutions currently in place.
HelpSystems stated that it’s not surprised by the growing awareness around security, among other topics. “We also don’t believe these are unique to IBM i, especially as they relate to security,” the company says. “Threats continue to rise and many organizations struggle to find experienced security staff. We hope that 2018 will be the year when IBM i organizations take action.” (It will be interesting to see if there are any indications of a willingness to invest in security when the State of Security report is published by the company’s PowerTech subsidiary later this year.)
High availability and disaster recovery came in the second slot, accounting for a 56.8 percent share of the concerns list, down nearly 3 percent from last year. HelpSystems did not break down the HA usage by vendor and product, as it did in the past. HelpSystems says 49.9 percent of respondents have a high availability setup in place. That’s up slightly from 2017, when 48.8 percent said they had HA. Use of tape was down nearly 3 percentage points to 30.5; those saying they back up data to a vaulting service increased 1.5 percent to 9.9; while use of disk-based backup increased substantially to 7.2 percent.
Application modernization, which had been the top concern in 2016, came in third on the list for the second straight year. For 2018, it inched upwards by more than 5 percent in 2018 to account for 54.4 percent.
In terms of modernization, the number of shops admitting that a 5250 green screen is still your main application actually increased from 31.8 percent to 33.8 percent, while the number of shops saying that they use Web interfaces in addition to their main 5250-based apps declined from 27 percent to 24.9 percent. Clearly, the green screen is far from dead.
The mix of languages did not change significantly, and RPG still dominates for new application development, with 87.5 percent of respondents saying they use RPG, followed closely by SQL with 74.2 percent. Use of Java ticked up nearly three points to 45.7 percent while .NET jumped up nearly 5 points to almost 30 percent. In terms of open source software, PHP use declined slightly to 31 percent, while Node.js, Git, and Python all saw 3 to 5 percentage point increase in terms of usage, and are all hovering around 11 percent.
While the number of IBM i professionals saying they’re going to migrate some or all applications off the box increased by 2.5 percent to nearly 10 percent in 2018, there is still not a mass migration off the platform occurring, according to HelpSystems’ data. Among those who are looking to move, more are looking to move to AIX and Linux compared to Windows than in the past, the results show.
The outlook for IBM i is strong, according to HelpSystems. “The number of IBM i users that believe IBM i provides better ROI could not be more consistent year over year, showing the marketplace to be highly stable.” Because 72 percent of survey takers are working in a heterogeneous IT environment, they’re well positioned to compare IBM i to the other options available. Such high customer satisfaction with any product is truly noteworthy and should be taken seriously by the market.”
HelpSystems Vice President of Technical Solutions Tom Huntington presented a webinar on the findings yesterday with IT Jungle‘s Timothy Prickett Morgan and IBMers Allison Butterill and Ian Jarman. Keep an eye on the HelpSystems website for a replay of the webinar.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. HelpSystems’ 2018 Marketplace survey stated that 70.9 percent of users reported that they were not considering outsourcing, not that they were considering outsourcing. IT Jungle regrets the error.
IBM i Trends, Concerns, And Observations (2017 survey)
Finding IBM i: A Game Of 40 Questions (2016 survey)
IBM i Marketplace Survey Fills In The Blanks (2015 survey)