I thought Bob Cancilla was actually changing his position on the need to pull away from the IBM i, but it looks like he has had yet another episode! You can find a copy of his latest rant here
Here are my views on his comments.
1. Yes the IBM i install base is dwindling, but that is not because of the platform not being supported by IBM. Companies Merge so the server technology changes and generally decreases through consolidation. Companies go bust and close their doors meaning the servers are no longer needed, if you haven’t noticed the last 5 – 10 years have not been growth years.
2. The fact that COMMON Europe cancelled its conference is not a sign that there are no IBM i installs out there, the economy in Europe is bad and budgets have been cut for everyone! He does not mention what other conferences for his platforms of choice have seen in terms of attendance etc. Having a conference in an exclusive French resort which is very expensive is not the best idea COMMON Europe made. IBM pulled out because sending people to Europe is expensive and the location chosen is obviously a major factor in their decision, especially when no one else was going!
3.The Nordic numbers are not backed up by the graphic in the link, so I assume the reduction in numbers is something he has from some other source? If there were 10,000 customers running IBM i was that systems or was that an actual customer count? Why concentrate on the Nordics as an indicator for the rest of the world? As I have said the numbers must be dwindling, but some of that has to be to do with the power of the newer systems. I personally had 3 systems running for our business until we purchased a new Power 6 system, all of them were in the P05 tier group! I now have a single system running 3 Partitions each of which are probably 3 – 4 times faster than the previous Power 5+ i515 system alone so I need a lot less systems to deliver better user experiences. If I went to a Power 7 this would be increased exponentially again!!! Others have obviously done the same as I did and reduced the number of servers.
4. IBM is getting out of hardware and has been since I worked at IBM Havant in 1975 – 1993, nothing has changed there. The fact that they are selling the x86 business is good for Power, if Power was the problem they would be getting rid of it! Yes IBM invested in Linux, but obviously not for x86 hardware (they are desperately trying to get out of that) so again it was probably for the Power hardware, so why are they doing that if it is being dropped. There are many other reasons such as services revenue and software licensing (Linux is not free at the Enterprise level) so it is a mix of everything above.
5. RPG locks you into the platform so it is bad, hmmmm then why not use one of the other languages available on the platform? You have a choice of many languages on the IBM i and my very personal opinion is that anyone who is just using RPG is cutting their own throat! RPG is just a tool in the toolbox, so pick the best tool for the job. If I am going to have to rebuild my entire application just to change the language why would I ever add a new platform and all of the complexities of the OS into the mix? I could train a ‘C’ developer on Linux to develop in ‘C’ on the IBM i a lot faster than I could train an RPG developer to develop in C on Linux, that goes for any language and the IBM i supports them all (especially Java). Even though RPG is a key tool on the IBM i we need to reduce the emphasis placed on it and start to push the other languages just as hard.
We are being told CLOUD is the next leap in faith for the IT community. If you are to believe the hype it means you are not interested in how the result is delivered and what produced it just that it is available all the time and at a lower cost. As usual there are lots of ideas on what this means in terms of application delivery and many of them are a new set of acronyms for the same technologies that refused to fly years ago. I have doubts if the Cloud is the answer and I am sure that before too long we will have a new word for it! Having said that, if the Cloud is the next evolution of IT delivery why does this do anything but create the need for stable, dependable, highly available, flexible systems (oh did I just explain what the IBM i is???). So while I appreciate Bobs right to keep trying to build his business using scare tactics and bluff, I for one will keep an open mind about dumping IBM i in favor of moving to something new.
Just to set the record straight, I run Windows, MAC, Linux, AIX and IBM i. I have spent a lot of time developing on Windows, Linux and IBM i (IBM i the most) and all in a single language ‘C’ (or the related object version). In my view IBM i is the simplest for many reasons, not least the integration of everything you need to build a total solution. I use PHP for interface building (80 column screens just don’t hack it for me) and prefer to run the Web Services from Linux or Windows, but the IBM i can perform as a web server if needed.
So if you do as Bob says and take a deep and meaningful look at your IT infrastructure, consider changing the development language before jumping to a new development language, platform, OS and development tool set! Remember with ILE you can build the solution out of many languages and they will all work in harmony so you can steadily replace older programs with new ones.