IBM i Predictions For 2015 From Around The Community

Published: January 21, 2015 - The Four Hundred, from IT Jungle

by Alex Woodie

The new year is here! Will 2015 be the year IBM i makes a comeback, or will there be another setback? IT Jungle reached out to the IBM i community for predictions and was rewarded with a treasure trove of ideas--some of them serious, some of them zany, but all of them authentic from the people who know the platform the best.

Dr. Frank Soltis, retired chief scientist at IBM
"Because of IBM's low stock price, Apple will consider buying all of IBM and begin selling a new leading-edge business computer that they will call iBusiness."

Ira Chandler, CTO at Curbstone
"Cynical, old, and jaded, I suspect my predictions will be rooted in the perpetual stagnation that IBM has inflicted on this noble platform. As soon as IBM became a services company based on WebSphere, the differentiation of hardware was only counter-productive to them. The decline began. And continued.

The insanely brilliant work by Soltis in creating a legendary system resulted in its being embedded in the fabric of commercial computing. And it is only by those scant remaining threads that the AS/400, iSeries, System i remains a viable product at all. We have only the dedicated professionals who crafted their careers around the most secure, reliable commercial computer in the world to thank for its survival. It is they who refuse to be cowed by the incessant death dirge that drones in the background when we see, hear, or discuss this wonderful invention.

Those Knights of the Data Center, the MIS Directors and IT Managers for whom this platform just plain works every day, are the ONLY ones standing in the way of the 'i' and its final resting place in the Smithsonian, set in a black rack that is its final resting place, just as software goes to die at Computer Associates.


IBM will continue to milk the platform for every possible penny it can, without ever again giving it any of the credit it deserves, because they just want you to contract them for services to install, maintain, and pamper a bloated, spoiled, and incorrigible WebSphere.

The slow-motion decimation of this system, this market, should stand as a beacon of warning to those of us in the IT business. Superiority has nothing to do with marketing, and big companies (like IBM) are absolutely willing to eat their young. How else can you explain a tech giant renaming their star computer "System i" in the age of the Internet and Google. Who sat around and said, "Hey, how about we make the thing invisible by giving it a name that is IMPOSSIBLE to search for in Google?" As a software vendor who keenly studies such things, we cannot conceive of a more devastating blow to a product.

To think that IBM might have any interesting approach to the future of the box is foolish. They are in the dairy business, milking the old cow until she drops.

Some may profess the advances of the platform, and how it has so nicely kept up with the times, and how all the modern [fill in buzzwords] run so well. But they are missing the point that the vast silent majority of users are being forced to adopt other platforms because IBM has done so well in obfuscating the features and benefits of the ... I don't even know what to call it anymore...



"Thank you, Ira Chandler, for voicing what I so often feel about IBM's attitude toward its IBM i customers and developers. I use CGIDEV2 and PHP. Our shop "modernizes". However we still primarily use green screens and though our 50-year-old company continues to grow, I don't see us moving everything to GUI in the Bluemix (or whatever) cloud services of IBM cool-ness. Your response in the "Predictions" article was a refreshing break from the near constant assertion that I'm a old-fashioned imbecile, doomed to irrelevance and loss of platform if I don't move all UI to a web browser and all data and apps to a cloud service. Sure, I'd like to hear cases outside the scientific or medical field where Big Data and Cloud do more for the consumer than for the provider, where Cloud is secure, where GUI is better/faster.

However, until I see these things, I'd like to think we can respect the reservations of platform veterans as serious considerations rather than laughing them off as the emotional tantrums of babies who can't just grow up and learn the new technology. Many of us are quite capable of implementing the new technology. As Ira contemplates, we might do just as well to let this platform (and community) kill itself. We'll move on to develop modern applications other platforms. With such condescension within the IBM i developer community, I feel less and less loyal to IBM every month."

"Dear Ira,  We haven't met but I just wanted to drop a note and say how much I enjoyed your input to IT Jungle's "IBM i 2015 Predictions". In answer to your question, "CAN we and DO we reverse the carnage?", it's too late for that. All we can do imo is to adjust to the new reality and develop sustainable business models for a changed environment.

IBM has delegated all promotion of the platform to the broader partner community, including ISVs. More accurately, it has abdicated its responsibilities. It's up to each partner with a vested interest, as has our company, to engage actively with the i installed base and limit further damage. Another approach we are following is to develop new niche applications including SaaS offerings that leverage the strengths of the platform. Best regards."