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The Roadmap to 2032 and Beyond Helps Ensure the Future of IBM i

In early 2020, organizations focused on moving to remote work and changing their operating model. However, issues on the table before the pandemic must still be resolved. For some businesses, the pandemic has cemented the need for flexible work environments, leveraging the latest in mobile software as well as implementing cloud, and integrating IoT technology and other advanced solutions.

“Many of our clients are assessing what to do next, in terms of technology,” says Alison Butterill, program director for IBM i Offering Management. “As they are ‘getting back to normal,’ they are re-examining strategies and goals.”

In today’s world, most companies understand the need to have their IT strategies in alignment with their business strategies. If the business is planning to expand its marketshare, move into new lines of business or develop new processes, IT must be positioned to support the company’s direction. In recent days, this need to maintain alignment often brings new discussions to the forefront.

The IBM i ecosystem plays a key role in assisting IT teams and companies in gathering the information required to make these strategic choices. IBM i clients rely on the strong network of business partners to provide valuable insight about technology choices. ISVs bring the expertise and knowledge of specific industry trends and directions. The opportunity to connect with other companies making similar choices can be found at the many IBM i community groups like COMMON North America, COMMON Europe or the Large User Group (LUG). While the current environment has not made face-to-face events possible, most groups have been running online events with virtual networking opportunities.

By working closely with IBM Business Partners, ISVs and listening to the broad IBM i community, organizations of all sizes can find the right solutions to innovate and grow. When partners discuss IBM i with their clients, several topics seem to be top of mind.

The Need to Stay Current With Technology

IBM delivers new hardware and new OS software on a regular cadence. The technical enhancements provided can be small or quite broad in scope. These include functions like free-format RPG, Temporal Support in Db2® and the ability to attach NVMe drives to POWER9™ machines.

Many clients worry that the path to upgrade is difficult and risky.

Certainly, upgrading to newer versions of hardware or software on any platform involves an amount of risk. However, the nature of the IBM i and IBM POWER® hardware architectures allow clients to undertake both upgrades at one time or to upgrade one at a time. This architecture, based on the Technology Independent Machine Interface (TIMI), helps mitigate risk when upgrading. The TIMI acts as a liaison between the hardware and software, as it translates changes with the new version of the OS to the hardware or allows new hardware to talk to older OSes.

“Upgrading everything at once may present a larger risk than some companies would like,” says Butterill. “By performing the upgrades in smaller pieces, such as the stepped approach of hardware or OS upgrades being done separately, may help clients mitigate their risk.”

The key is to review the upgrade paths and check with hardware and ISV partners when determining the process and schedule.

Return on Investment

Brandon Pederson, IBM i and Power Systems™ scale-out product marketing manager, says IBM regularly hears from clients that they receive high ROI from using IBM i, which is especially beneficial to smaller organizations. In the 2020 HelpSystems IBM i Marketplace Survey, more than 90% of clients reported that they perceive higher ROI from IBM i than from other platforms.

Digging a little deeper, companies using IBM i in their data centers cite smooth integration and ease-of-operation as two of the fundamental reasons for the high ROI. IT shops at many businesses do not need an army of personnel to keep large workloads running. Some organizations run their IT operations in the cloud with no operations staff on-site.

This certainly came to light during the pandemic. Many clients were running their businesses on IBM i, and no one was actually in their data center. This was possible due to the plethora of tools available from IBM and software partners to handle day-to-day operations remotely.

The combination of the integration of IBM i, smaller number of staff required to run the environment and the ability to remotely operate the machine lead to the high ROI reported by IBM i companies.