30 Years And Just Getting Started: IBM i Celebration Looks Ahead
April 4, 2018 Dan Burger
It’s been said many times that you can’t move forward if you keep looking back. What you’ve accomplished is not the end point. It’s the foundation for building toward the future. You can look back to see what you’ve missed, but it takes forward thinking to make up for it.
This week is the beginning of a lengthy celebration spotlighting “30 years of innovation and we’re just getting started.” The IBM i team launched a website yesterday with a focus on the future, an emphasis on innovation and a reliance on social media (and IT Jungle) to spread the word.
“We’d like to look forward,” Alison Butterill said during an interview with IT Jungle last week. “We want to emphasize using IBM i for innovative business solutions. It builds on top of the campaigns we were doing last year around Fresh Faces, the new innovators who will take you forward, and all of the work around Watson and AI, the kind of technology you can integrate with IBM i that will take you into the future.”
Five years ago, when the platform was being celebrated for 25 years of business computing, a similar website was set up. But on that occasion, the story was more of a retrospective of innovation through the years. This time around, the future becomes the frame of reference.
One of the key elements on the website will be IBM i customer stories chosen for their use of innovation, modern technologies, and worldwide geography. Here are abbreviated versions of the first three stories posted:
Mission Produce is the world’s largest grower, packer and distributor of fresh Hass avocados. After fruit is gathered in the field, the avocados are tracked from the time they leave the farm to when they are packed into bins and then shipped and distributed on pallets. These pallets are scanned using tablets with mobile applications built with Zend PHP, and the tracking data is stored in Db2 for IBM i. From there, shipping schedules for the products are created and the scanned records keep track of which boxes are sent where. The application is an end-to-end solution that also links back to their US corporate systems, and to other systems running around the world. The ability to implement and embrace open source languages and technologies such as PHP and AngularJS. Their entire IBM i environment is all open source implementation, limited RPG or CL is being used. IBM i allows their operations teams to fully trust their business applications to know that product tracking is being done correctly to ensure the best quality possible for the customer.
Umoe Restaurants is a restaurant management company based in Norway with more than 450 restaurants throughout Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The company has run its operations on IBM midrange computers since 1988, starting with a single application built as an ordering system for home delivery of pizza. The company later added an application for restaurant administration, and now it has many business applications, including company financials, running on a single IBM i server. It also has a disaster recovery machine with providing 24×7 availability for the business. Expectations for the future includes more customer self-service requirements requiring systems with high efficiency to integrate with predictive capabilities related to traffic patterns, delivery times, and weather.
JORI is a luxury furniture manufacturer based in Belgium that exports to more than 30 countries. The company created a Web-based 3D configurator tool running on IBM i, which gave customers and resellers realistic virtual previews of furniture that helps close sales faster and accelerates manufacturing. Working with an IBM i Business Partner, JORI built the 3D object database in the integrated Db2 for IBM i, and used IBM i RPGLE Web services to communicate via JSON with the front-end configurator program, which also runs on IBM i. The front end was developed using the Unity open source 3D gaming platform and compiled for i using Chroot. Other open source components used include Ghostscript and ImageMagick for creating printouts of furniture built in the configurator tool; Substance for creating realistic-looking fabrics for the 3D models; and Drupal to run the website. The entire stack runs on IBM i in a partition on JORI’s existing IBM Power System S814. JORI is using IBM Watson cognitive technology to help consumers find their preferred furniture fabric.
Butterill says there will be new stories rolled out weekly and estimates nearly 30 companies eventually will be featured on the website.
In addition to the customer stories posted in the first week, there’s also content featuring the IBM i development and marketing teams. A social aggregator that collects information—posts and photos—will be added during the second week.
The website and the social aggregator will be the focus of the anniversary activities, but there will be events around the world that connect with the 30th anniversary theme. COMMON’s PowerUp conference in May, and i-UG i-Power event and the COMMON Europe Congress in June will feature 30th anniversary themes and activities. The RPG & DB2 Summit two weeks ago in Texas was the first event celebrating the anniversary.
“Over time we will introduce more things,” Butterill promises, while refusing to be specific and spoil any future surprises.
Raising the level of awareness for the 30th anniversary is one of the priorities that Butterill has in mind, but the main thing in her mind is to view the first 30 years of innovation as a starting point for what’s yet to come.
“I want our IBM i community to understand how broad the community is,” she says. “There’s a broad usage of IBM i around the planet and we have customers in 117 countries. A lot of people don’t grasp the reality of that.
“We are telling some really cool stories about how IBM i is being used — the integration with Watson and the use of open source with IBM i. I want people to know about the innovation and then say to themselves, ‘I didn’t know you could do that.'”