It is time for us (IBM i IT professionals) to drive new technology initiatives.
Every day, I speak with IBM i users who, like me, are passionate about the platform and completely frustrated that their bosses can’t seem to understand the value of the most reliable, most secure, easiest to run platform on the planet. And yet at the same time, I can’t help but observe that we are bringing this problem on ourselves. IBM has allowed us to get comfortable. Way back in the early days of the System/34, System/36 and System/38, IBM promised us that whatever applications we write would be supported forever. Consequently, we have never been forced to adopt new technology.
Unfortunately, this leaves the IBM i as an outlier in the enterprise computing infrastructure. Multiple times, non-IBM i IT professionals have complained to me that whenever they try to implement standard tools across the enterprise, the IBM i staff explains that the IBM i is different and can’t support those tools. I have had more than one executive whisper in my ear that they were leaving the platform within the next few years because by that time, all the people who understand the unique IBM i tools and technologies would be retired.
What is so incredibly frustrating about this is that all that modern technology is available on the IBM i. We just don’t use it.
I have heard all the arguments:
“I am much more productive in PDM and SEU”
“RPG is a great language for business applications”
“IBM i change management tools do much more than open source tools”
Even: “Green screens are faster to work in than GUIs”
Those statements may all be true. But it doesn’t matter. If we can’t change the perception around the IBM i (green screen, old technology, closed, proprietary, outlier…) and make it play nicely in the enterprise infrastructure, we will continue to lose the hearts and minds of the people making the platform buying decisions.