2023 IBM i Predictions, Part 2
January 23, 2023 Alex Woodie
Two thousand twenty-three is shaping up to be a transition year of sorts in the IBM i community, with midrange Power10 servers hitting the market, IBM i 7.3 (finally) meeting its end, and an economic recession looming. We tapped our network of IBM i prognosticators to help fill in the particulars with part two in this annual series.
There’s been a security awakening in the IBM i community, and Robin Tatam, director of security technologies with Fortra (formerly HelpSystems), sees that translating into greater security controls as threats to the IBM i proliferate in 2023.
“The IBM i community is finally beginning to see the value of security controls to prevent excess or unauthorized access,” Tatam says. “Economic uncertainties and skills shortages will force organizations to find ways to make existing processes more efficient while oversight will be more demanding. MFA [multi-factor authentication]gathered a significant following last year after the cyber insurance industry began to mandate its use and that will likely continue to expand.
“Threats will expand more in supply chain and infrastructure and be tied back to nation state and other organizations,” he continues. “With each ‘successful’ breach, the necessity to prioritize via a threat matrix and risk evaluations will be further highlighted. Customers will seek to increase their focused identification and management of cyber responses.”
IBM’s Steve Will had a big year professionally in 2022, as he was named the IBM i chief technology officer and also given the title of distinguished engineer. This year, he expects big things to come from the IBM i community.
“In 2023, I see participation for in-person events being very strong,” Will tells IT Jungle. “We from IBM are expecting to see many, many people in our community, reconnecting with long-time colleagues, and meeting the newer folks who are clearly engaging virtually. I think this year’s in-person events are poised to be some of the best in years. COMMON POWERUp was vibrant last year, and the COMMON Europe Congress was larger than anyone expected. This year? I think we can expect even more people at each! I hope so!”
You may not strike up a conversation with Chris Burns, senior consultant with Tri-Delta Resources Corp in Buffalo, New York, at the local user group this year. But at least you can still get his predictions here in the IT Jungle.
“I predict that sadly, more of the remaining IBM i-centric local user groups will either discontinue their in-person meetings in favor of strictly virtual ones, or dissolve entirely, such as my home group (MUGWNY) which did not survive the COVID years. This will leave only a small number of groups still holding regular in-person meetings. Which breaks my heart, because the camaraderie and networking that comes with face-to-face interaction with my peers (over drinks and dinner…then more drinks) was in integral part of my professional growth and provided countless opportunities for learning, not only about technology but also about business. Some of the best conversations are held while waiting in line at the buffet table for stuffed shells.”
“Cyber threats are a constant in the world we live in now, so IBM i user organizations will invest further in safe-guarding their businesses throughout 2023 by securely modernizing their enterprise applications and infrastructure,” Fisher says. “To add to that though, evolving markets, changing business needs, and a challenging economic outlook are likely to drive further innovation through a multitude of digital transformation initiatives. More IBM i organizations will turn to open source technologies and, at the same time, harness automation solutions that deliver competitive edge using artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. Needless to say, agile is the order of the day, whether that be from a software development standpoint, through automated operations, or with enterprise information management.”
Alison Butterill, the IBM i product manager with IBM, sees a few computing trends continuing into the new year.
“In 2023, we expect that Power and IBM i will continue to follow the trends in the marketplace of ongoing focus on availability, security, and modernization,” she says. “Additionally, we predict that customers will continue to look for modern paradigms for consumption like subscription, cloud, and cloud-like.”
There will continue to be demand for Power in the public cloud, says Skytap chief product and technology officer Rahul Tripathi. The demand will be driven in four ways.
“1. Challenging economic conditions compelling organizations to accelerate cloud migration of legacy systems in favor of increasing scalability and agility while reducing capex. Many enterprises are able to exit their data centers totally by moving these applications to the cloud without long refactoring projects, which have proven disappointing. Customers are finding ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ adage to be more pragmatic,” he says.
“2. Data continues to be the lifeblood of the modern organization which means migrating legacy workloads to the cloud is increasingly a business driven interest in de-siloing legacy data in the cloud to achieve a modern data estate. Several customers are able to accelerate their digital transformation by combining data in legacy systems with analytics and AI/ML services in the cloud to drive fast business value,” Tripathi continues.
“3. Heightened awareness for business risk associated with running legacy systems and workloads on-premises without a modernization plan as demonstrated by the recent challenges at Southwest Airlines. By moving these applications to cloud as-is, customers still benefit from modernization of operating model and IT resilience for business continuity,” he says.
“4. Continued growing cybersecurity concerns as enterprises find value in consolidating workloads and applications in the cloud and monitoring security and managing their compliance needs through a ‘single pane of glass.’”
Amneris Teruel, a senior IBM i specialist with Fortra’s (formerly HelpSystems’) Latin American (LATAM) operation predicts an increase in incident management plans (IMPs) in 2023.
“During 2022, in LATAM, many organizations using IBM i have been hacked and their IBM i servers were impacted (IFS files encrypted, files containing virus found in the IBM i),” she tells IT Jungle. “Many of those organizations didn’t have an action plan defined for these situations, other than unplugging the IBM i server from the network. In my opinion, during 2023, more organizations will implement IMPs that will include defining the tasks required for the IBM i server when impacted.”
Pete Massiello did big things in 2022; he sold his company, iTech Solutions, to Service Express, and is ready to start slowing down on the business side (although he will continue to interact with the community). He’s got several predictions for 2023.
“First, IBM i 7.3 is finally going end of support on September 30, 2023, which after seven years is a very long time. Probably in my opinion, support should have been removed a year earlier. I can already see many customers getting their gears in motion to start the upgrade, and I know internally the number of upgrades is increasing exponentially here. It’s funny because people ask me all the time, should they go to 7.4 or 7.5. I tell them, it doesn’t matter which you go to, just get off of 7.1, 7.2, and now 7.3. You want to be on a supported release of the operating system. If you can get to 7.5 excellent, but if you can’t then being on 7.4 is still much better than any of the previous operating systems,” Massiello tells IT Jungle.
“The second item is Power10, with the scale-out models now being released about six months ago, they are starting to really gain traction. We had record hardware sales last year. I think the hardware sales will be a little soft the first half of the year. The problem that I see is with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, an inverted yield curve between the 2-year and 10-year, companies unsure if we will have a hard or soft economic landing from interest rates, and recession possibly on the horizon. How will this effect companies’ capital expenditures? It’s not just IBM hardware, it will be capital investments of any kind from companies. I foresee companies holding back on capital purchases in the first half to see and understand how the economy is doing before pushing that decision into the second half of the year. This could mean companies keeping their machines for another year, extending their leases, or just moving to the cloud instead. The cloud has always been an option, but now looks even better with capital dollars drying up, and operational dollars easier to spend in a downturned economy,” he says.
“The last thing is security,” Massiello concludes. “More and more IBM i shops are starting to think about security, and not from their own initiatives. From seeing it in the news, getting pressure from auditors, and senior management who are increasingly more worried about security issues. We once all thought that IBM i was secure, and the industry security experts in the IBM i community for years have been raising concerns. Customers are finally starting to understand the issues and ramifications, and security isn’t a fix it once and done problem, it’s a continuous process that involves reviewing, fixing, reviewing again (the rinse and repeat cycle). Good shops integrate security into every aspect of IT, the rest will have security nightmares. Sessions at COMMON and other places have done a tremendous job educating the community on IBM i security, and I hope they continue. You know, it costs about 5 percent to go to one COMMON conference than it does for a small security ‘situation.’ Invest in your people, your company, and your company’s reputation by sending your people to COMMON or any user group. Hopefully, last year we saw the resurgence of in person conferences due to COVID, and I hope people will do the same this year and go to the COMMON conference in Denver.”
Stay tuned for a third (and final) batch of predictions, to be published soon in a The Four Hundred newsletter near you.