I Have Seen the Enemy—And it is Us (And I Say that with Love)

As IBM i professionals we must lift our heads up from day to day backlog battles to explore and USE new IBM i technology

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.

A customer told me that they were using Git as the standard source control tool on every platform except the IBM i. The executive in charge explained that the IBM i developers said the open source tools like Git won’t work for the IBM i. Another customer told me they had moved all of their UNIX and Windows servers to the Cloud but there is no way they would ever do that with their IBM i. When I speak at COMMON on Cloud, JavaScript and Git, the presentations are always full. But when I ask the people in the room how many of them are actually using those technologies, I’ll be lucky to see more than 2 or 3 hands.

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.

We must get out of our comfort zone and drive the adoption of new technology on the IBM i in our organizations or we risk losing the best platform on the market. Learn Git and how you can use it on the IBM i. Be prepared to learn the next tools that come down the line. Build some JavaScript or Python applications and surprise and delight your end users with cool, sophisticated new capabilities. Explore IBM i in the Cloud and the flexibility IBM i in the Cloud provides in managing your environment. Connect your IBM i to applications on other platforms using RESTful Web Services. SHOW your company that anything you can do on other platforms, you can do on the IBM i. I am aware that IBM i professionals are hard at work maintaining the core applications that run the business but we cannot be like the knight in the illustration above.

If you need help getting started, give us a call. At Eradani, we are IBM i believers who have built IBM i JavaScript, Java and Python applications, managed IBM i development with Git and GitHub and set up IBM i Cloud environments. We can help smooth the path forward.Contact us at www.eradani.com

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