2019 Predictions: IBM i Trend Spotting
January 23, 2019 Alex Woodie
What will happen in the IBM i community this year? Maybe IBM will launch a public cloud service? Or IBM i shops will find the budget to get busy with application modernization? It’s really anybody’s guess, which is why IT Jungle solicited predictions from prominent names in the community to get their take on what will happen this year.
The wider IT community is moving quickly to adopt next-gen development methodologies, and those will increasingly find their way into the IBM i community in 2019, predicts Dan Magid, vice president of solution sales with Rocket Software.
“In 2019 we will see increasing adoption of cloud resources for IBM i,” he continues. “Now that there are IBM i cloud solutions that provide the capability to spin up virtual IBM i systems and associated networks with just a few clicks of the mouse, we will see more customers moving test and production workloads to the cloud. And with the delivery of Cloud Storage Solutions for IBM i, more customers will recognize the value of replacing tape backups with backups to the Cloud. Software vendors will increasingly sell hosted, SaaS versions of their software rather than versions delivered on premises.”
We saw signs of revitalization of the Domino product line in 2018, and that revitalization will continue in 2019, predicts Kim Greene, principle at Kim Greene Consulting.
“The Domino product will make great progress at gaining back its market share and will move from being a ‘Contender’ in the G2 Crowd Grid for Low-Code Development Platforms to being a ‘Leader’. It will also make a come-back on the IBM i platform as Domino is synonymous with the IBM i in its scalability, integration, security and reliability.”
2018 ended with some hurt feelings over Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi) – namely over IBM’s refusal to offer a free version called RDi Lite. Marinus van Sandwyke, the CEO of TEMBO Tech Lab, hopes for better things in 2019.
“We truly hope that IBM and HelpSystems will carefully consider ways in which they can assist the SMB faithful, to transition to RDi,” van Sandwyke writes. “The barriers of entry, especially considering the initial cost and steep initial learning curve, combined with initial productivity impact shortly after adoption, is cause for serious concern. It is important for them to acknowledge that there is a major flaw or gap between the any pre-V9.5 release of RDi and ADTS.
“We believe there will a rapid increase in consolidation of vendors, with two to three major institutional players in the acquisition spree. The current appetite and significant war-chests of funding, bodes well for the installed base. We believe that the installed base will develop a far better understanding and appreciation of what open source can mean to them. Hopefully the current love affair with PASE will be tempered with pragmatic realism.
“Hopefully the true differentiating and unique characteristics of IBM i will once again be acknowledged and leveraged. The value of transactional and commercial data will become even more important and strategic to companies, as the 4IR [fourth industrial revolution] and associated technologies start maturing.”
IBM reported decent growth for IBM i-based Power Systems sales in 2018. Pete Massiello, the CEO of iTech Solutions Group, thinks 2019 will be even better.
“2019 is going to be one of the best years ever for the IBM i community,” Massiello writes. “IBM has publicly stated (see chart below), that the next version of IBM i, currently called iNext, is coming out sometime this year. I have seen what is in this release, and in my opinion this release will have the most amazing features and functions that have ever been part of an OS release. I know that is a lot to say, but I had numerous demonstrations, and I was very impressed. IBM has again publicly stated that there are two releases in the planning stages after 7.3, when the next release is announced it will be great if IBM continues that support for two additional releases. The current versions of iNext and iNext+1 are scheduled to be supported until 2027 and beyond 2028, could we see the next version of iNext+1 to be supported into 2030? Or perhaps until 2032? That would be great news for the IBM i community, and finally get rid of once and for all that stupid notion that IBM i is going away.
“The scale-out POWER9 servers will soon be one year old, and here at iTech Solutions, we are seeing more and more customers moving to these new more powerful servers,” Massiello continues. “Upgrading from a POWER7+ to a POWER9 we are seeing CPW performance improvements anywhere from 84 percent to 117 percent depending on the processor. Even upgrading from a POWER8 to a POWER9 we are seeing CPW performance improvements of 40 percent to 51 percent. With support going away for many POWER6 and POWER7 servers this year, we will see even more customers moving to POWER9 servers, which provide better performance at a lower cost. That is a great combination. The POWER6 has certainly been supported too long, but the POWER7 servers can still run the gamut of OS releases 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3. The POWER7 servers won’t run the next release of IBM i, so to take advantage of the new release will require you to be on POWER8 or POWER9 servers. Additionally, with the new POWER9 servers only running IBM i 7.2 and 7.3, we are seeing more customers moving forward to the latest releases. Last year, here at iTech Solutions we did just over 400 OS upgrades, that was a record for one year, but it shows that people are moving forward.
“Will 2019 be the last year of the spinning disk?” the former COMMON president muses. “While you might think that is a bold statement, if it isn’t this year, it will probably be next year. The price of both SSD and Flash continue to drop, and you don’t see the disk manufacturers creating faster spinning drives, I believe their death is soon. We are installing more and more systems with exclusively SSDs, and in every situation the customer is ecstatic with the performance. As Flash becomes more prevalent, SSD prices will continue to drop, making these better alternatives to spinning drives in the reach of everyone.”
IBM i shops will be forced to reckon with the potentially disruptive intersection of technological evolution and business trends, according to the crystal ball owned by Marcel Sarrasin, the vice president of marketing and business development at Fresche Solutions.
“2019 will be a year of business disruption, exploration, and strategic planning for IBM i shops,” Sarrasin writes. “They will feel pressure from stronger competitors who make better use of technology to deliver more value to their customers.
“Digital transformation will replace modernization as the big buzz word for improving applications but will also have much more of a business perspective,” he continues. “The ERP implementation era is coming to an end; the focus will be on modernization of ‘highly customized’ client value applications. Modernization plans will go beyond the UI and include infrastructure, database, re-architecting and business processes.
“There will be a better implementation of agile software development to respond to business needs faster,” Sarrasin writes. “Testing will play a more critical role as companies’ re-architect and modularize their code to develop APIs and microservices. Open source will continue to grow with even more IBM i shops using PHP, Node.js and Python. IBM’s recently announced support services will help this growth.
“Cognitive will gain more traction, but we expect most shops to still be more in the exploration phase,” he concludes. “They’ll take small steps in learning more about it and dabbling with Watson, connecting their IBM i data to it and using predictive analytics.”
Stay tuned to next week’s issue of the newsletter, when we wrap up predictions.