Survey Paints a Picture of IBM i Community, Product Usage
May 2, 2018 Alex Woodie
The folks behind the All 400s website have published the first results of an online survey that seeks to illuminate the state of the IBM i community, ranging from possible plans to migrate off the platform to third-party product preferences. The first 400 people have taken the 25-question survey, and the results may surprise you.
About a week ago, John Rockwell, the owner of the All 400s website (www.all400s.com) announced in the LinkedIn group “IBM i, iSeries, and AS/400 Professionals” that the first set of results has been released. The survey, which is hosted by Survey Monkey, remains open, and every time another 400 people take the survey, the results will be updated, Rockwell says.
The survey, which is called the “IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) Products and Services Survey,” asks a wide variety of questions, including what versions of IBM i are being used at the survey-taker’s company, whether the company plans to migrate off the server, what conferences the company plans to send employees to, and what name people call the server.
COMMON, which has renamed its annual meeting POWERUp, rated as the top IBM i conference with 37.5 percent of the votes, followed by System i Developer‘s RPG-DB2 Summit with 12.6 percent. The OCEAN, WMPCA, NEUGC, MAGIC, and TUG user group meetings also were mentioned as good bets for those on tight budgets.
Migrations are a fact of life in the IT business, but there doesn’t appear to be any sign of mass migrations to or from the IBM i platform. Nearly 82 percent say they’ve always used the IBM i and didn’t to it from some other system, which indicates how loyal and long-lived the installed base is. More than 57 percent say they have no plans to migrate off the IBM i platform. However, 9.7 percent say they plan to migrate away from IBM i in the next five years. Nearly 15 percent answered “maybe” when asked if they plan to leave.
The bulk of All 400s’ survey is dedicated to exploring product usage trends at survey-takers’ companies. Product categories covered by the survey include: ERP packages; graphical user interface (GUI) development; change management; job scheduling; security; backup and recovery; high availability and disaster recovery; credit card processing; and development tools.
The survey generated some interesting results, including some that are downright concerning. When All 400s asked “Who do you get your security product from?” about 21 percent say they developed their own software. However, 31.2 percent responded “None,” which would indicate no security software is installed. About 17 percent say they get theirs from HelpSystems (including PowerTech and StandGuard). Microsoft garnered about 6 percent of the votes, while Cisco and Raz-Lee Security both nabbed about 4 percent.
Other security tools getting more than 1 percent of the votes were IBM Lab Services PowerSCTools (3.6 percent), Townsend Security (3.4 percent), Syncsort (including Enforcive and Cilasoft — 2.3 percent), Kisco Information Systems (1.8 percent), Pentasafe (owned by Micro Focus – 1.3 percent), and Arpeggio Software (1.0 percent).
On the topic of GUI tools, the answers once again retrograded into the dismal past when about 28 percent of survey-takers declared that they did not have any GUIs and that 5250 green screens are just fine, thankyouverymuch. An even 20 percent say they got their GUI tools from IBM, which would indicate the use of things like Host Access Transformation Services (HATS), while about 11 percent say they build GUIs in-house using technology like CGI, HTML, and CCS.
CNX‘s Valence framework surprised with a solid 8 percent showing on the survey. That placed it ahead of Fresche Solutions (including looksoftware and BCD – 7.5 percent), Rocket Software (Legasuite, JWalk – 6.0 percent), Profound Logic (5.8 percent), Easy400 (CGIDEV2 – 4.7 percent), LANSA (3.8 percent), ASNA (2.8 percent), and Zend (2.0 percent).
Nearly 30 percent of users say they get change management functionality from in-house development, while 19 percent they have none at all. Among change management software vendors, Rocket Software led with its Aldon product, which had a 15.2 percent share, followed by UNICOM Global and its SoftLanding offering at 14.6 percent. Jira, a proprietary bug-tracking system developed by Atlassian, nabbed 5.8 percent of the votes, the same amount as Git, an open source version control system.
There appeared to be some confusion surrounding Implementer, the IBM i change management system that was once sold by MKS. While 3.9 percent of All400s survey-takers said they used MKS, another 3.0 percent say they use PTC Software Implementer (PTC acquired MKS in 2011). Remain Software got a 3.3 percent share while Midrange Dynamics and ARCAD Software both scored 1.9 percent.
Infor was the big winner in the ERP category. Infor LX (BPCS) landed 7.3 percent of the votes, followed by Infor XA (MAPICS) at 6.2 percent. Oracle‘s JD Edwards World product had a 6.2 percent share, followed by SAP and its Business Suite at 5.2 percent. Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne had a 4.4 percent share, followed by several more Infor products, including System 21 (3.1 percent), M3 (Lawson — 2.6 percent), PRMS (2.3 percent) and Infinium (2.3 percent).
VAI scored a 1.8 percent share with its Enterprise S2K product, while Finastra scored 1.3 percent with its Midas (Misys) banking system, a figure matched by Island Pacific. Other ERP packages getting 1 percent or less included Friedman‘s Frontier, Infor A+, HarrisData, Infor Mac-Pac, Cerner‘s (formerly Siemens) MedSeries4, TMW Systems‘ Innovative Computing dispatching system, and Accenture’s Dealer Business System. About 48 percent of users reported they develop their own ERP software or don’t use ERP.
On the job scheduling front, most survey-takers (42.6 percent) say they use the native commands that come with IBM i, while about 30 percent say they have custom programs and WRKJOBSCDE. HelpSystems dominated among third-party software providers with 25.6 percent.
Tapes still rule backups, and garnered a 56.5 percent share in All 400s’ survey. About a quarter of the survey-takers say they use IBM’s BRMS software, while 16.5 percent say they don’t know. UCG Technologies‘ VAULT400 impressed with a 5.4 percent response rate, while Dell‘s Data Domain VTL and de-dupe appliance also did well with 4.2 percent.
There were some surprises in the high availability and disaster recovery category. The fact that Syncsort’s (formerly Vision Solutions) MIMIX product garnered a 26.4 percent share was not one of them, and neither was the showing by Syncsort’s iTera HA product, with 9.2 percent. The Quick-EDD product that was formerly developed by Trader’s (and which was acquired by Syncsort in January) had a solid 5 percent showing. Rocket’s iCluster software logged a 3.3 percent share, followed by Maxava at 2.4 percent, Vision’s old OMS/ODS product at 2.1 percent, HelpSystems Robot HA at 1.5 percent, and Shield Advanced Solutions HA4i at 0.9 percent.
The surprise was that more than 13 percent of survey-takers say they get HA and DR from IBM via APSU or InfoSystems, which are IBM business partners that provide hosted HA and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) for IBM i customers out of the same building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. IBM has contracted these companies to provide HA services on its behalf, and when IBM i users call IBM to get help, the phone rings in Chattanooga. But perhaps even more surprising is that IBM’s PowerHA offering got just 0.9 percent of the votes.
The most satisfying question on the survey had to do with what people call the system (they were allowed to make multiple entries). An overwhelming 93.4 percent say they call it “AS/400,” or just “The Four Hundred” (which coincidentally is the name of this newsletter). About 21 percent say they call it “iSeries.” Only about 11 percent call it by its current name, “IBM i,” while just a hair over 3 percent call it either “Power System” (although the correct term is “Power Systems,” even if you’re just talking about a single server) or “System i.” Less than 2 percent say they refer to it as “i5,” which actually was one of the official names from IBM.
Interestingly, some users call the system by completely different names. Apparently about 2 percent call it “JDE.” More than 1 percent call it “The IBM.” Less than 1 percent call it “Infor” or “VAI” or “The Harris System.” But apparently nobody calls it “Frank,” after the IBM engineer who had a big hand in creating the AS/400 back in 1988.
You can find links to take the survey and view initial survey results at www.all400s.com.
Counting Companies With An IBM i In The Mix