Are You Experienced? IBM i Users Weigh In
March 18, 2019 Timothy Prickett Morgan
We spend a lot of time here at The Four Hundred thinking about the vintage of the hardware, operating systems, and applications running on the IBM i platform and its forbears. But we are also concerned, as you know, with the vintage of the people who are running and programming the systems out there in the IBM midrange installed base.
It is hard to get any quantifiable data on the people out there running the platforms – and we thank you, as loyal readers of this publication for several decades now for being in this market for even more decades for many of you. We are the whippersnappers of the IBM midrange. . . . And, it looks like quite a few of you are as well, and many are even newer than we are, which is comforting indeed.
During the two webcasts that I participated in way back in January going over the results of the 2019 IBM i Marketplace Survey, which HelpSystems did back in October 2018 and is spearheaded by Tom Huntington, executive vice president of technical solutions at the company, a snap poll was posted to ask participants at what generation of IBM midrange system they started working on when they entered the field. Because I don’t like letting any data that might be useful slip by, I did a screen capture of the data as the snap polls finished and I have combined the datasets and calculated the share of each IBM midrange generation where the people listening in came into the market. (We realize this may not be a statistically significant poll.) Here is what it looks like:
Yeah, I know. The poll didn’t go back to the System/3 days in 1969-1975, or the System/32 and System/34, which spanned the gap between the System/3 and the System/38. There are probably more than a few people who were working back then and are still at it, hacking the original Report Program Generator.
Anyway, about a fifth of the people who attended the webcasts came into the IBM midrange during the iSeries and IBM i generations, which means that they are relative newbies. About a third came in during the AS/400 years, the salad days of the IBM midrange when datacenter computing was a much smaller business focused almost exclusively on transaction processing and therefore the AS/400 had a much larger share of the overall market. Another 21 percent of those who attended the webcasts came in during the System/38 generation, which is when IBM first introduced the relational database concepts it developed in a commercial product and married it to RPG III, and 28 percent came in with the System/36 a few years later with the follow-on to the System/3, System/32, and System/34 with a flat-file transaction processing system that ran RPG II applications.
There isn’t a lot more to say about the data encapsulated in this straw poll, but we just thought that you might want to see it and noodle it a bit.