Yesterday, someone picked up and posted a quote from something I wrote several months ago about the pending demise of the IBM i operating system for the IBM Power Systems series of machines. Folks just don't get it.
Lets be very clear about this. IBM i is today an operating system (one of three) that run on IBM's Power Systems line of computers. It is no longer a machine, it is no longer a brand with its own General Manager, marketing, development, engineering, or support staff! It is an operating system runs along side AIX and LINUX on the machines. Note that unlike LINUX, IBM i runs only on IBM Power Systems.
RPG is a programming language that runs exclusively on IBM i on IBM Power Systems machines. It once ran on IBM Mainframes (S370) but hasn't been supported their in over 10 years. Let us also remember what the letters R P and G mean: "Report Program Generator".
RPG was never intended to be a language but in fact was a report generator for early IBM accounting machines then the S3, S32, S36, and S38 machines. Over the years it evolved into a respectable language, but far too late to be a significant player in the global IT Industry.
Today, RPG runs on one machine and is at best a niche language. RPG programmers tend to be in their late 50's or 60's. Few young people are learning the language and it will soon die of "old age and attrition".
All of this is just background on the industry itself. A viable IBM Power Systems machine capable of running the IBM i operating system costs about $30,000. This makes this a very expensive machine.
There are still a number of vendors who sell software that runs on the IBM i operating system and represent core ERP type software with a heavy concentration in the Retail, Manufacturing, and Distribution industries.
All of this is just background noise that hides the real issue. Companies using an IBM i based machine to run their business are not staying competitive and will soon be eaten alive by their competitors.
Today the future is Cloud computing and Software as a Service. Today the idea of owning and running your own machines at your own place of business is a dubious decision at best. There are dozens of reputable hosting companies with incredible capacity, storage, and Internet bandwidth available at prices as low as $19.95 per month. You can buy enormous systems with full replication and redundancy along with contractually guaranteed 100% availability (something that IBM nor anyone else can do with IBM i). NOTE: that even with very expensive high availability and replication software products it is NOT POSSIBLE to provide 24 x 7 x 365 uninterrupted operations on an IBM i based platform.
Today, it is extremely questionable if a company should have a traditional IT staff at all. It is more cost effective to outsource programming, operations, support, and facilities management. Why hire a programmer when you can rent one (a hundred times better educated and more highly skilled than you could hire) at a fraction of the price for the length of time you need them?
Companies need to reinvent IT. You need people who can:
- Manage vendor relationships and insure that vendors provide what you contract for.
- Define business requirements and evaluate existing solutions ranging from open source to Software as a Service, or a need to contract out development to off-shore developers (least best option).
- People who can define and lead initiatives to integrate applications from many 3rd party vendors -- the day of a single vendor is no longer feasible or desirable.
Some people say that the IBM i can run modern software such as PHP and the LAMP stack with MYSQL and should continue to be the machine of choice. Why? Why would you want a web server on site as a self-hosted machine with all of the internet security problems, technically advanced support issues of a complex Internet based environment, along with high availability, etc.?
Then add to the mix that IBM i was designed to primarily support 5250 green screen terminals and has tons of overhead embedded in the operating system to do so. Quite frankly IBM i (OS/400) was great at running hundreds to thousands of dumb terminals, but is horribly inefficient at running modern Internet based servers and software.
Look at IBM's own Java benchmarks. AIX and LINUX always beat IBM i! True they don't have all the bells and whistles, that IBM i has, but you don't need all that anymore.
Think about how absurd it is to position MySQL on top of DB2 and all of its inherent overhead. Talk about a clunker? The version of DB2 running on IBM i is unique and distinct from other versions sold by IBM. You must isolate the database with no jobs running against it before you can make changes to database tables. Try adding a field to a table! You can't do it unless you can block all access and let DB2 have exclusive access to the database! You can't even handle this in a multi-machine environment making the change on one machine then propagating changes to another. IBM i assumes that everyone goes home at 5pm and that you can run batch and maintenance all night long.
Today folks there is no night! Today most companies have operations 24 x 7! Even incredibly small companies inter operate in an international environment and must have their systems available 24 x 7.
Sorry folks but its time for a new world. One without expensive computers in the backroom of your building. Or programmers in your IT department.
Read the original at Bob Cancilla on IBM i.