2021: An IBM i Year in Review, Part Two
December 15, 2021 Alex Woodie
We’re at the tail end of another busy year of tracking the goings-on in the IBM i community, which means it is time to sit back and ponder where we’ve been. Part one of this series covered the first six months of the year, and now it’s time for the second half, which started in…
Ransomware is often thought of as an X86 problem, that the IBM i is immune. Turns out, that’s not quite accurate. In July, we shared news of a close call that one IBM i shop had with ransomware.
As IBM got ready to ship the first high-end Power10 systems, it’s not surprising that sales of Power9 servers would decrease. However, as the lazy days of summer rolled by, IBM showed that it was in no great rush to get those Power10 boxes out the door. Considering the trouble it had with Power9, nobody is questioning that judgement.
Is the IBM i a platform upon which a company can innovate and thrive? You bet your hardware management console (HMC) it is! And to prove it, the OCEAN user group convened a stellar cast of IBM i characters to discuss just what innovating and thriving means on the platform for its annual summer conference, which took place virtually.
After changing the IBM i logo (twice) earlier in the year, the IBM marketing folks made more subtle changes this summer. Instead of a “Power Systems” server, the IBM servers were changed to be “IBM Power.” Instead of a “POWER9” processor, it would be “Power10.” Instead of the “POWER” architecture,” it “Power” architecture. The caps lock key is getting a much-deserved breather (but darn if it we still can’t find that rascally “IBM e-business logo” button).
In the future, we’ll all be containerized microservices in the cloud. That much seems certain (at least if you believe what floats in on the IT winds). But how will we get data around? How will we communicate? Why, APIs of course, because in an API world, nobody knows you are an IBM i.
IBM i programmers who work from Mac workstations were in for a big surprise this summer, when reports began to emerge of a problem in Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi) version 9.6 that prevented the program from running on macOS Big Sur version 11.5.
Since buying Red Hat, IBM has pushed a lot of open-source software, like OpenShift and NodeRed, not to mention Node.JS, Python, and other languages and frameworks. But for Jesse Gorzinski, the IBM i Business Architect for open source, one open source offering stands out: Apache Camel, he says “can make it pretty easy to tie really anything to anything.”
After a four year wait, IBM finally delivered the first server based on an entirely new Power processor: the “Denali” Power E1080.” The new server contains up to 16 of the new Power10 processors, each of which contains 30 active cores (along with two unactive cores). With up to 64 TB of main memory in a single system image, the E1080 delivers a stunning 5.27 million CPWs. Delivery of scale-out and entry-level machines were scheduled to follow.
IBM usually makes one TR announcement in the spring and another in the fall. But this year, IBM Systems Group decided to push its fall announcement into late summer, surprising the press, not to mention its own press relations team. The big news was support for Power10 hardware, but it also brought us a wholesale refresh of IBM i Navigator, i.e. “New Nav.”
The first LTO-9 drives began shipping this month, with IBM announcing three drives based on the specification, which offers up to 18TB native capacity and data transfer rates of 400 MB per second. What’s more, Sony and Fujifilm also announced they were shipping LTO-9 cartridges, which was a nice change of pace from 2019, when the two rivals failed to ship LTO-8cartridges until a year after the LTO-8 drives became available because they were involved in patent infringement litigation.
Is the IBM i platform doomed to oblivion due to the lack of RPG programmers coming out of college? That was the general thesis of Roger Pence’s September column, “The IBM i and its RPG Decade of Crisis,” in which he states that, by 2030, the typical RPG programmer will be 80 years old. Needless to say, Pence’s story struck a nerve in the IBM i community.
While the long-term future of IBM i work may be a question mark, there’s little doubt about the current job market, which is fairly robust. One of the new benefits of the COVID-19, the ability to work from home, has been a boon to IBM i shops and IBM i professionals, who can now remote in from all around the world.
What will the “new” IBM look like once it completes its spin-out of its managed services business, Kyndryl? In an Investor Day briefing, new CEO Arvind Krishna presented some charts to show what the slimmed-down, $54 billion company will look like.
There’s a lot of old RPG code out in the wild, and it seems sometimes there are not enough folks willing or able to rejuvenate it. Armed with this observation, a group of IBM i professionals created the Mod Squad, which has one goal: bring aging RPG code into the 21st century (and maybe arrest some bad guys along the way).
In recent year, Fresche Solutions has emerged as one of the biggest independent software vendors (ISVs) in the IBM i space, rivaling HelpSystems and Precisely in size. It got event bigger this fall with its acquisition of Abacus Solutions, a long-time provider of cloud and managed services.
The global pandemic showed the best and worst in people. When it comes to businesses, and specifically IBM i shops, the pandemic brought out some real innovation, which were on display during the POWERUp conference that COMMON held virtually this month.
The POWERUp conference had a lot of great content, as usual. A few additional items that we highlighted in our newsletter include how IBM i shops can use AI; what IBM i shops should due if they’re planning a modernization project; and tips to avoiding technical debt.
With ransomware and other security threats getting more attention, IBM decided to do its IBM i customers a solid and offer them a free security check this fall, courtesy of the experts at IBM Systems Lab Services. It’s not the only free security check available to IBM i shops, but it’s the only one sanctioned by Big Blue’s pros in Rochester, Minnesota.
You’ve heard of IBM Cloud Paks. But IBM offers another kind of “pack” specifically a ServicePac, and in November, IBM launched a ServicePac for Power Systems and IBM Storage that will streamline access to IBM technical professionals.
In August, Gartner predicted global IT spending to grow by 5.2 percent to $4.43 trillion in 2022. But thanks to a red-hot 2021, in which IT spending has grown 9.5 percent, the analyst firm decided to boost its 2022 forecast in November to $4.47 trillion, which would be a 5.5 percent increase.
Legacy modernization and digital transformation initiatives have moved up the priority scale during the pandemic. But whenever you open up core IT systems, there are risks. For the UK retailer Travis Perkins, the nightmare scenario came true after a failed ERP consolidation project involving Infor’s M3 in the cloud.
In the run-up to the availability of Power10 systems, IBM took the knife to SSD drive prices this fall, with cuts ranging from 34 percent to 47 percent for 2.5-inch SAS drives. The move was designed to clear the way for the new generation of faster, cheaper, and bigger SSDs.
Mainframe shops are getting attention from AWS, which just announced a new mainframe migration program at the re:Invent show this month. IBM followed that up with a mainframe migration program of its own. Is this another case of mainframes getting attention at the expense of IBM i. In this case, anyway, perhaps it’s unwanted attention.
Almost exactly a year after the Solarwinds flaw disrupts the IT community, the Log4j flaw makes an ugly appearance. IBM i admins scramble alongside everyone else to detect instances where the open source Log4j utility is embedded in their Java applications before the bad guys get into their networks.