Reader Feedback On The State Of The IBM i Base 2022: Third Party Software Conundrum
April 13, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
I just read your State of the IBM i Base: Third Party Software Conundrum. What you describe is eerily similar to our situation, but with a twist. I’ve been here 25 years as of last week. We installed a third-party ERP shortly after my arrival. Over the years I have made slight modifications, maintained our annual maintenance, and basically built our business around it.
However, in our case the ISV has (for the last 10 years) not held up their end of agreement. Our last version upgrade was 2009, and basically no “modernization” has been done to the application. They are, in my opinion, very close to just closing up shop. They recently let go their last support programmer of 27 years.
While we have the source code, I feel that we have no choice but to make a change. At 53, I need to be sure my small company is on the right path when I decide to walk away.
So we have basically paid 2.5X for no software improvement whatsoever. Yes, we got good support (for the handful of times we needed it). But now he’s gone.
Myself and ownership would rather stay on the IBM i platform if at all possible… We would like to find a modern “replacement” ERP that is as solid as what we have now. I have no idea where to look.
Greg, thanks so much for reaching out. This is a twist I had not fully considered. But I suspect that a lot of software maintenance is a lot of horse hockey. Level 3 tech support should not cost the same as real application development, and maybe “support” or “maintenance” should be sold separately, as your case so aptly illustrates.
100% Right On!
You have expressed very well the biggest problem with IBM i today and for the past 20 years.
Fortunately my version of ERP software is just old enough that it does not have the system change validation program. Newer versions of this software will stop working if you upgrade the hardware or OS. Forcing you to pay for continuous maintenance or repurchasing the software every 4 years.
We have rewritten the entire package and added tons of new functionality at this point.
And what do you get for installing the new software? No new features – they have not updated the software for 30 years.
They just update the system checker program so they can charge you again next time.
Given this treatment why would anyone purchase a new software application from this vendor. They are demanding money for nothing because they can.
I am aware of just a couple of software vendors that have been adding value to their systems in the past 5 or 10 years. The rest are owned by investment companies that have bought up all the applications and are milking the customer base without adding value.
Which leads to the other problem with IBM i applications as I see it.
We need active software vendors with business applications that are being continuously updated. The reason AS/400 was so popular when it came out was in the name: Application System. There were a ton of applications that ran on the system. That’s why you buy a computer.
Thanks for telling us your situation. I really appreciate it. This is a nuanced diamond to cleave to make a gem, isn’t it?