2021: IBM i year in review, part one

December 13, 2021

Alex woodie

It’s mid-December. and since there isn’t much else going on, let’s do a little waltz through the Computer jungle archives to see what year it was. It all started in January, when …

Our esteemed founding editor tried to convince IBM what is quite obvious: that IBM i’s installed base is “still its biggest.” business computing clientele ”(emphasis added). Yes, there are more Red Hat licenses, but when it comes to single businesses, IBM i, with approximately 120,000 customers worldwide, still leads the way. Will IBM do the hard work to find a (virtualized) way to keep up the long line of customers still using IBM i 6.1, i5 / OS V5R4 and older versions? This is technically possible, writes TPM. But there is, as of yet, no indication from IBM that it will actually do so.

HelpSystems started 2021 the way it ended 2020: by buying out software companies, including a security company and another that develops file transfer software. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota, company will make a number of acquisitions during the year, with a particular (but not exclusively) emphasis on data security. I can’t say it’s a bad decision, although it doesn’t necessarily meet the IBM i-related needs of its IBM i installed base. The business is clearly growing and expanding.

Alan Seiden added “PHP Distributor” to his list of professional interests in January when he released CommunityPlus +, a new PHP runtime for IBM i. Seiden and his company, Seiden Group, had been doing a lot of work on maintaining the database connectors for the open source PHP distribution for IBM i, so why not step into the game itself?

IBM announced the new Champions for Power for 2021 in January. This year’s roster included 13 newly appointed champions who had a link to the IBM i platform, as well as dozens of existing individuals who had previously been honored by Big Blue for their contribution to the mid-range community.

Over the years, the mid-range community has grown accustomed to the periodic platform renaming exercises by IBM. So when IBM unveiled a new IBM i logo in January, there was a sigh of relief that the platform was no longer getting a new name. But how long would the new logo last?


HelpSystems launched its seventh annual IBM i Marketplace survey earlier this month. As it usually does, TPM joined executives from IBM and HelpSystems to share the results of the investigation during a call. The study has become a go-to resource for basic facts about the installed base, and we look forward to what the 2022 study will bring.

Many of us drive used vehicles and live in used homes. So why shouldn’t we be using second-hand servers? In February, TPM began its exploration of the second-hand server and storage market – and in particular a little-known division of IBM called IBM Global Asset Recovery Services – and it continues that line of investigation today.

Open source is free, but what about the hidden costs associated with technical support? To quantify the figure, Big Blue asked IDC to write a report on it in February, and the answer turns out to be $ 2.08 million per store.


Faced with the prospect of a large group of IBM i stores refusing to get the vaccine – er, upgrade – to a new version of the operating system, IBM gave in and chose to expand IBM support i 7.1 until 2024. Hopefully they make good use of the time.

IBM has invested significant resources in bringing open source technology to IBM i. Going forward, open source technology will be key to helping IBM i stores digitally transform, said IBM’s open source business architect Jesse Gorzinski. Computer jungle back in March.

“Stable as she goes. This old nautical phrase works just as well for servers as it does for seagoing vessels, as TPM showed in a March article on the incredible stability of the IBM i platform and installed base. As the data from the IBM i Marketplace study show, year by year more IBM i stores are planning to keep or increase IBM i workloads compared to the number who are planning to do so. downsize or migrate entirely to another server. .

TPM can no longer navigate using the compass and sextant (rumor has it that it uses vehicle-mounted GPS to find its way). But a ruler and a magnifying glass have proven to be helpful in, uh, “interpreting” the latest IDC server reports.

What does quantum computing have to do with IBM i? Maybe not much now, but the intersection of the two technologies was in the realm of possibilities at COMMON’s IBM i Futures conference, held this month.


The first major release of IBM i arrived this month as technology refreshes for IBM i 7.3 and 7.4. With versions 7.3 TR10 and 7.4 TR4, IBM made a series of new improvements, including a new Query Supervisor, which was arguably the headliner of the spring show. Other enhancements targeted IBM i and DB2 for i services, Rational Development Studio, BRMS and Save / Restore, Db2 Mirror and PowerHA, and IBM also provided new hardware options.

After using the same logo for two months, IBM decided to move on and introduced another new logo this month with the April 13 TR announcement. There is no indication that IBM is planning to change the logo again at the time of writing.

For years, IBM i users have turned to the IBM Knowledge Center for technical information about the platform. This month, Big Blue finally completed the migration of Knowledge Center content to the new IBM documentation site.

For 17 years, PowerTech delivered mostly bad news about the state of IBM i security in its annual state of IBM i security report. From overly strong usage profiles and weak passwords to widely open exit points and lack of auditing capabilities, the state of security has been for the most part depressing. What did the 18th year bring? You can find out here.

IBM had a decent first quarter, with overall sales up nearly 1% to $ 17.8 billion. Healthy mainframe activity led the Systems group to an increase of 4.3%, but sales of Power Systems systems declined slightly in anticipation of the new Power10 line.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses in more than one way. From working from home and the shift to digital interactions to chaos in the consumer goods supply chain, the coronavirus has rocked the old business. What are the long term consequences? It’s hard to say, but Macro4 sought answers with a poll released this month.

IBM reported a major bug in IBM i Access Client Solutions in May, causing ACS users to have difficulty connecting to servers. Instead of a new version of ACS, Computer jungle shared a workaround that appeared to work.

The concept of “zero-trust security” developed, thanks to the ransomware epidemic that began around this time in 2020. In May, one of the vendors of this approach to lock down all internal resources (or ” micro segmentation ”) and requiring explicit access authority, Guardicore has announced that it is expanding its support to IBM i. Guardicore was then acquired by Akamai in September.

Recessions do not cause technological transitions – they accelerate them. With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see investments in machine learning and AI explode during COVID-19. How will IBM i stores react to the phenomenon? It remains to be seen.

As COVID-19 infections decline thanks to vaccine availability, COMMON has decided to host a hybrid conference this month. NAViGATE offered short 20 minute sessions to participants in person and online, and was conducted live.

IBM i is denigrated by its detractors as an old and archaic system that does not take advantage of new technologies. But those who actually know the platform know that is not true. At a webinar in May, IBMers Tim Rowe, Kris Whitey and Brad Bentley provided proof of the modernity of IBM i.


COVID-19 has certainly disrupted business, but it wasn’t all bad news for IBM i stores, according to IBM i chief architect Steve Will, who noted that many IBM i stores have benefited from ‘increased income. This in turn helped IBM sell more servers, Will said during a NAViGATE session.

As IBM and its new foundry partner, Samsung Electronics, ramped up production of Power10 chips, the world discovered just how much trouble IBM had with its Power9 foundry partner, GlobalFoundries, in part thanks to a lawsuit that ‘IBM sued Globalfoundries in June.

IBM contracted with Forrester Consulting to put some numbers behind the features of IBM i that we all take for granted: low total cost of ownership, integrated nature, and self-management. Over a three-year period, a hypothetical IBM i store saved nearly $ 1 million compared to other platforms, according to the study.

To remain relevant in the future, IBM i stores will need to move to “next-generation applications”, as IBM sees fit. Marked by code segmented into microservices, external REST communications, and the ability to run in the cloud, next-generation applications will be the future of modern IBM i applications, he said.

The IBM i platform celebrated its 33rd anniversary this month, putting it in the rarefied air among tech products in today’s hyperactive age. Like TPM’s favorite vinyl records, there’s just something about access to all-time high.

So you want to do containerized microservices in the cloud? Great! The same goes for all other business leaders, according to Amy Anderson, an IBM modernization expert. How does IBM i adjust this peg? You might be surprised.

Stay tuned for the second half of this retrospective in Wednesday’s issue of The four hundred.

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