More IBM i Predictions For 2019
February 6, 2019 Alex Woodie
We kicked off our 2019 soothsaying last week with predictions from IBM i leaders on what the New Year will bring. We keep the ball rolling this week with another batch of predictions from our friends around the IBM i community.
According to Alison Butterill, IBM‘s the program director for offering management for IBM i, the platform will build off the momentum generated with last year’s 30th anniversary celebrant.
“The excitement begun in 2018 as we highlighted client innovation around the world will continue into 2019,” Butterill says. “The momentum continues to grow as clients are looking at ways to provide answers to business problems by extending their IBM i applications and data into the world of AI and machine learning. While some clients are just beginning to view this as a way to the future, others are already integrating the technology into their business solutions. 2019 will be a great year for innovation.”
Nothing happens in IBM i – or any walk of life for that matter – without people. To that end, we turn the mic over to Bob Langieri, a longtime IBM i recruiter and CEO of Excel Technical Services.
“The trends that I have seen over the last six to 12 months are giving me more confidence to relay what I see from a recruiter’s standpoint,” Langieri writes. “While new openings for RPG talent is not at the level we saw pre-Y2K, there was a definite up-tick in 2018 and going into 2019. The best people are working and really won’t leave their companies unless their company is moving or getting off the IBM i. Companies are paying good people higher salaries to keep them. Companies are calling me more because someone on their staff is retiring. In some cases they look for a replacement employee, but in some cases, they are calling me for a part-time resource to augment their staff or to cover their skills gap before someone retires.
“More of the contract programming work is longer term rather than two-to-three month projects,” the Orange County, California, resident says. “There is a dwindling supply of RPG talent available, especially with the right skills. While ILE and Freeform RPG are pretty much the standards, many shops still have a good amount of legacy RPG code that is not modern RPG. Another problem is that documentation is either absent or substantially lacking clear workings of a program. In general, most shops are too understaffed to keep up with the ideal ‘best practices’ for software development, modernization, documentation, adapting new technologies, testing their HA or disaster plan.
“Managers need to fight for more budget and staff,” Langieri continues. “I believe that many shops are not able to keep up the utmost security for their data centers. We trust that the IBM i is so secure that we need not worry, yet the best of companies are breached almost daily. I am seeing more companies going off the platform to get away from RPG, or going to the Cloud, partly because they see the pool of RPG developers retiring and not replenishing, but also because there are more platforms that run open source tools or large scale ERP that overshadow RPG and the IBM i. While I totally disagree with their logic, the truth is colleges don’t teach RPG.
“Linux is growing, Java, C, C++, VB.Net, Python, C# and PHP dominate the top programming languages while RPG ranks somewhere between 50 and 75. RPG is not going away, and here to stay after we baby-boomers are gone, but it is a very small piece of the IT pie. Those who can do modern RPG and blend it with tools like Ruby, PHP or .Net can still have their piece of the pie with ice cream on top.”
Get ready for more open source innovation in 2019, predicts Steve Will, the chief architect for IBM i.
“As IBM i customers adopt more open source technology, taking advantage of the work being done by the IBM i development team together with community members, 2019 will bring continued growth of IBM i — in business results, in excitement around new capabilities, and in a renewed recognition of the value of the entire system – hardware and software,” Will says. “Now that RPM has become the defacto standard method of making open software available for IBM i, the sheer number of packages available will allow developers to easily extend existing applications — in every industry — and include modern components.
“The 2019 IBM announcements regarding IBM i will bring another level of excitement to a community that is already energized by the 30th anniversary. Many customers are already adopting the latest and greatest IBM i has to offer.”
Shmuel Zailer, the CEO of Raz-Lee, is an optimist who works in a predominantly pessimistic field (security). Zailer shares his thoughts on 2019 with IT Jungle:
“We are seeing fewer companies leaving the platform,” Zailer says. “Organic growth within the general computing market will ensure that the IBM i market will grow as well. The result is a stable market with perhaps some growth.
“Another trend to observe is the continual increase in popularity and usage of iASP, mainly for HA purposes,” he continues. “More and more companies are splitting their software between several systems. They need integration solutions . . . to be able to access other databases directly from RPGLE and COBOL. We will see a greater number of compatible solutions on the market.
“The GDPR movement will gain momentum,” Zailer says. “The threat of fines and of damage to a company’s reputation when personal information is compromised will still have a huge effect on security operations in 2019. Those who thought GDPR didn’t apply to them are realizing that it does. They will need to take the necessary measures to make sure all their systems, including their IBM i, comply. More states and countries will follow the GDPR lead. Many US states have already passed data protection laws on the heels of the GDPR, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which was signed in June 2018 and will go into effect in less than a year.
“2018 showed us that IBM i systems are increasingly vulnerable to new cyber attacks, since sharing of IBM i IFS folders with other systems exposes your IBM i to the risks originated from those systems,” Zailer concludes. “Ransomware will continue to cause havoc for organizations in 2019. We are making great strides in this battle and expect to see some new solutions this year.”
One of the IBMers who has worked mostly behind the scenes is Brandon Pederson. Now the worldwide IBM Power Systems content and community manager is taking a more prominent role in shaping the narrative around IBM i.
“2019 will be another strong year for the IBM Power Systems community,” Pederson says. “We have just announced the new class of IBM Champions for Power Systems featuring several new members. These include a number of “fresh faces” including Stephanie Rabbani and Josh Hall of Seiden Group, Simon Thompson from The University of Birmingham, and Michael Karasienski of Carhartt. User groups around the world will have another busy year, putting on several conferences such as the large North American COMMON POWERUp2019 event and COMMON Europe Congress as well as local events like WMCPA, OCEAN and MAGIC.
As an application modernization solution vendor with a specialty in Web services, Open Legacy has up on the latest cloud technology. But the company is sensing some pullback from the cloud on the part of IBM i shops.
“This year organizations will realize that the cloud is not a silver bullet,” Open Legacy tells IT Jungle. “Although the cloud solves a lot of problems, it isn’t always cheaper or easier to maintain. It doesn’t always maximize performance. And, the cloud creates dependencies on a single vendor. These distinctions are especially acute in applications designed for on-prem usage. The difference between hosting in the cloud and using cloud technologies, which supports on-prem, is huge. 2019 is the year AS/400 organization say ‘no’ to a cloud only solution and say ‘yes’ to hybrid, which allows organizations the flexibility to locate functionality in the cloud or on-prem.”