IBM Shares COVID-19 Success Stories at POWERUp 2021
October 11, 2021 Alex Woodie
Hearing how your fellow IBM i customers use the platform is always fun, and it’s often informative, too. The IBM i product management team checked both of those boxes last week during the POWERUp 2021 conference, where they detailed how a handful of IBM i shops have found success with the platform, particularly during COVID-19.
Take Magid, for example. The Illinois-based company is a manufacturer and distributor of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves. Demand for PPE spiked at the start of COVID-19, and has remained high throughout the pandemic. That demand caused the company to make some changes to the IBM i environment it relies on to power core business applications, including manufacturing, finance, and ordering.
“They’ve been trusting their business to our platform for decades,” IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will said last week during the POWERUp 2021 conference, which was held virtually due to the aforementioned pandemic. “They saw that their volume of transactions was rising so much that they needed to move up to the latest Power processors, the latest systems, and then work with their availability vendor, in this case Maxava to make sure that they had a robust availability environment.”
In addition to upgrading to a Power9 server, Magid also implemented new data analytics software to get better insight from their business data. The company selected a dashboard development package that runs on IBM i from a vendor called ScoreStory. This has enabled the Magid to better adapt to its changing business environment, Will said.
“There is so much data stored in Db2 about their business,” Will said. “Trends have been incredibly important as they have been trying to meet the necessary demand, spread their product out to the people who are going to need it most, and so on.”
Another COVID-19 success story (which sounds weird but bear with us) comes from JORI, the high-end furniture maker based in Belgium. The company was spotlighted by IBM several years ago as a result of a novel three-dimensional configuration and ordering system it implemented atop its IBM i-based ERP system.
Like many high-end finished goods, JORI’s couches and loveseats have been in extremely high demand since the pandemic started. The installation of the 3-D configuration tool in 2018 was quite prophetic in that it enabled customers to reliability configure their new furniture over the Internet without the need to visit a JORI store. As everything went remote and digital during COVID-19, JORI was already there. However, the second coming of SARS still would have something to say about JORI’s new system.
When COVID-19 hit, JORI decided to implement a new production planning system, IBM i Product Offering Manager Alison Butterill said. “But they found out that . . . all the additional steps that we’re going to be required to accommodate all of the COVID-19 rules and social distancing and so on were not able to accommodate their new planning system that they had spent quite a bit of time working on,” she said.
JORI worked with an IBM business partner, CD Invest, and IBM Champion for Power Systems Koen Decorte, who successfully adapted the environment so the company could go forward with the new production planning system.
“They did that with in very, very short time and then were able to start accommodating more online orders that were coming in,” Butterill said. “It’s now up and running and it’s doing a beautiful job accommodating the high volume of orders that have been coming in online, as opposed to the orders from the stores.”
Another IBM i shop successfully making big moves during COVID-19 was ID Logistics. The French company, which helps distribute goods for some of the largest brands in the world, has been relying on the IBM midrange server since System/38 days. This system has worked well for the company, which runs operations for three European countries (Spain and Portugal, in addition to France) out of its French headquarters.
However, big changes were afoot for ID Logistics during COVID-19. It started with a decision to get out of the server hosting business and move its IBM i server, which runs a critical, home-grown logistics application, to the IBM Cloud, which would enable it to more easily scale up its server environment to meet surging demand for its transportation services during the pandemic.
“They moved their entire business operation into IBM Cloud Power Virtual Server so that ID Logistics no longer had to manage the physical servers anymore,” Will said during the COMMON conference. “They had the help of the IBM Cloud team in dealing with all of the security and all the availability requirements that were necessary, so they could just focus on the business side of things, the process side of things, and not have to focus so much on running their machines.”
As if that move wasn’t enough, the company also decided to modernize the homegrown IBM i application’s user interface. It tapped the skills of Decorte and his CD-Invest consultancy to move to a Web interface for the application, while adding multi-language capabilities at the same time. The entire job of modernizing the application and moving the server to the cloud was completed — incredible as it sounds — in less than three months.
“Several of the stories we’re telling you today are about innovations that occur around what happened because of the pandemic and how IBM i clients were able to use the integrated technology that we have and the very many options that we have to do their business even better as it adapted to the pandemic,” Will said. “And this is one of them. ”
These weren’t the only IBM i success stories highlighted last week by Will, Butterill, and Brandon Pederson, the IBM i product marketing manager, during the POWERUp 2021 session. They also talked about Wilson Logistics, TJ Morris, Minnesota Counties Information Systems, Acme Tools, Cimberio, the Kansas Turnpike Authority, Avesco, A.D. Transport Express, FNZ, FormaServe Systems, and others.
More details of these IBM i success stories, by the way, can be accessed at www.ibm.com/it-infrastructure/us-en/resources/power/ibm-i-customer-stories/, where IBM has 84 case studies of IBM i customers doing interesting things with their boxes and their applications. These are great stories, to be sure, but we realize there are many more great stories still to be told. If you have a great IBM i story to tell — whether it involves COVID-19 or not — please let the IT Jungle team know about it by contacting us here.