As the IBM i platform closes in on its silver anniversary, there are more than a few operators with ties tracing back to the very beginning. As any one of them can tell you, their roles have likely undergone more fundamental changes and evolutions than the technology itself in that time. With more adjustments and refinements surely waiting over the horizon, now is the time to take stock of past progressions that may inform future predictions.
Less Is More
IBM i operators are well versed on any number of system efficiency metrics, but more broadly speaking, there has been a consistent effort to optimize (and often rightsize) IT resources. Not only are hardware assets being consolidated to achieve smaller footprints, staffing levels are being trimmed as well. Whereas it once took a small army to keep a corporate data center up and running, a few versatile administrators can now tame the task.
The primary driver of these trends has been the rise of IT automation tools ranging from context-aware enterprise job schedulers to network monitoring solutions with customized programmable alerts. As a result, the IBM i operator approach has now become more streamlined and unified, preserving time for more strategic pursuits in the future.
Data in the Driver Seat
The IT department has traditionally been viewed as an internal service and support team dedicated to empowering colleagues and simplifying operations. Word would come down from the boardroom as to what operational outcomes the company was targeting, and IT would be trusted to independently engineer and deliver a creative solution. That process has largely remained the same, but business-side colleagues have now become more vocal and specific in what they are asking.
With companies now recognizing data as the lifeblood of their organizations, IBM i operators now have more eyes looking over their shoulders to ensure important information is being protected, replicated and analyzed in alignment with business priorities. Companies are no longer content to simply keep track of their data for compliance purposes. Today and tomorrow, more companies will be knocking on the IT department door hoping administrators can turn terabytes of disparate data into actionable information.
Now that business managers have drawn a clear correlation between technological innovation and their future fortunes, interdepartmental dialogue is at an all-time high. Whereas most IBM i operators will recall the days when the IT department was treated as an independent republic, now it is not uncommon to have daily discussion with colleagues in every other department.
These conversations are not a one-way street either, as more companies encourage and even expect their IBM i operators to serve as strategic visionaries with a clear perspective of their organization's intended trajectory. As a result, time formerly dedicated to tasks and processes that are now optimized and/or automated will be allocated to periods of innovation and invention which can introduce influential organizational changes from the ground up.