2017 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

For the third annual IBM i Marketplace Survey, HelpSystems set out to gather data about how businesses use the IBM i platform. The past two surveys have sparked many thoughtful conversations about this technology and we’re thrilled to be part of such an engaged community. 

Nearly 500 people from across the globe completed this year’s survey. We’re so happy to share the results with you, and hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful as you evaluate your own IT projects. 


Section Links: IBM i in the Data Center  |  IT Initiatives & Trends  |  Outlook for IBM i  |  Demographics  |  Resources


Concerns over security more than doubled year-over-year at 71.3% compared to 33.1%.

Increased cybersecurity threats and data breaches are leading to increased awareness and regulation, but many organizations struggle to find experienced security professionals. This contributes greatly to the level of concern. Partner with your security vendors and lean on their expertise. We expect nbsp;Managed Security Services to grow exponentially as a result of the demand for experienced security professionals.

More organizations have concerns over high availability—up 20% from our 2016 results.

Expectations on uptime and availability are at an all-time high. Paired with several high-profile outages in 2016, we are not surprised to see the increased interest in implementing HA technology. We expect this trend to continue. For those looking to get started with HA technology, there are several resources available to you. Review our IBM i High Availability Guide before getting started.

Organizations running fully automated are up 15% since 2015.

65.7% of 2017 survey respondents are running fully unattended compared to just 50.3% in 2015. We have seen a nice trend toward lights-out automation over the past three years. The large percentage of businesses running unattended proves automation is a viable strategy for IBM i as IT departments look to reduce errors, enhance productivity, and save money.

IBM i market is highly stable with roughly 1.2% annual attrition.

We continue to see that the number of IBM i shops looking to expand their IBM i footprint outnumber the businesses that have concrete plans to leave the platform. 

94.6% believe that IBM i provides better ROI than other servers—for the third year in a row.

Year-over-year, IBM i users continue to rate IBM i high in terms of ROI compared to other platforms. Because 72% of survey takers are working in heterogenous environments, they’re well positioned to compare IBM i against the other options available. Such high customer satisfaction is truly noteworthy.


Staying Current

While version 7.1 is once again the most popular IBM i operating system level, use of 7.2 has grown considerably since last year’s survey, when only 14.5% of IBM i shops were using it. We are also happy to see that within just six months of the release in April, 2016, nearly 5% of survey takers have upgraded to 7.3. 

Use of POWER8 has also increased significantly over last year from 23% to 40%. Organizations are investing in up-to-date technology, which demonstrates a commitment to the IBM i platform. We expect IBM to release POWER9 toward the end of 2017, based on the chip announcement in August of 2016.

RECOMMENDATION 1: Staying Current


Late in the product cycle, hardware tends to be more heavily discounted. This could be the year for some of the shops on older hardware to make a big leap forward on processing power at a very attractive price.

IBM i IN THE DATA CENTER: Power Server Capacity


Power Server Capacity

Over the past three years, we have seen a decrease in the number of IBM i shops that rely on just one server—from 38.4% to 27.7%. Instead we have seen a 10% increase in the number of  organizations running between 2–30 IBM i servers. This coincides with the number of survey respondents that have expressed plans to increase their IBM i footprint and could be a result of more companies using high availability data replication technology, which requires two servers.

The virtualized Power server is well-established, with nearly three-quarters of businesses running multiple partitions—up 7% from last year.

IBM i IN THE DATA CENTER: Other Operating Systems


Other Operating Systems

IBM has heavily promoted Linux as a replacement for Windows, and the percentage of shops running Linux on Power servers has increased by 5% over last year with nearly 16.7% of survey respondents running Linux on Power.

RECOMMENDATION 2: Other Operating Systems


Don’t put more workload on Windows servers without sharing the true total cost of ownership (TCO) with your management team. The IBM i platform rates very well in customer satisfaction and ROI among survey-takers. Keep in mind IBM i, AIX, and Linux partitions can run on the same POWER7 or POWER8 hardware.




Many IBM i shops are able to function with a limited number of operators and administrators on staff, which contributes to the platform’s low TCO. 

Nearly 65% of organizations surveyed have three or more IBM i developers, which speaks to the amount of intellectual property created on IBM i. We continue to see a lot of development toward in-house applications and modifications to packaged applications on IBM i. With more than 65% of survey respondents running their own in-house applications for IBM i, the community is clearly active in furthering development on this platform.



Having limited staff on IBM i contributes to a low TCO, but also creates problems when staff retires—a top concern for many IBM i shops. Make sure to leverage your IBM i vendor partners, like HelpSystems. We have the training, services, and software solutions to help minimize the impact.




The number of IBM i shops considering outsourcing has been relatively flat since 2015, even though IBM has put a lot of effort around the idea of using MSPs to combat IBM i skills depletion concerns and resource issues. With more than 90% of survey respondents managing their own systems, it is clear that most IBM i shops don’t see outsourcing as a valuable option.



MSPs aren’t the only option for businesses challenged by skills depletion. Other service providers offer a middle ground between managing everything in-house and turning to an MSP. For example, managed security services help you bridge the security skills gap, while you retain control of the rest of your IT environment.

HelpSystems Security Services

Cyberthreats and compliance audits are increasingly complex. Face them head-on and free up valuable time with expert-led Managed Security Services (MSS).

IBM i IN THE DATA CENTER: Business Applications


Business Applications

The large number of businesses running home-grown applications shows how committed this community is to this platform. While these home-grown applications could become difficult to maintain going forward, they also deliver unique advantages to those businesses. Several organizations are running more than one type of application on their IBM i systems and we continue to see a large number of write-in responses, which indicates the wide variety of business applications running on IBM i.

RECOMMENDATION 5: Business Applications


The unique value proposition of IBM i has been its ability to scale up. Running multiple applications on one server means that you as a customer can keep adding more business to your server without consuming more space, energy, or even adding more staff. With POWER9 looming, IBM will provide even more reason to host additional applications on this server as they improve performance in the processor by 50% or more. Companies doing business on IBM i are recognizing the value of this scalable technology and consider this technology to be proven instead of legacy. 

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The State of IBM i Security Study proves year after year that IBM i shops have more work to do to protect their data and applications. Get started now by evaluating your risks with a free Security Scan. If your organization is struggling to find security resources, managed security services may be a great option. Expectations on uptime and availability are at an all-time high. For those looking to get started with HA technology, there are several resources available to you. Review our IBM i High Availability Guide before getting started.

HelpSystems Is Here to Help

Check how secure your IBM i is with a Security Scan from HelpSystems. Security Scan is free, fast, and reveals dangerous security gaps lurking on your system. Our Security Advisers can then help you formulate a plan to remedy your security vulnerabilities.



Many respondents say automation is not a high priority for IT management, yet every IT department is looking to reduce errors, enhance productivity, and save money. Automation is also a great way to overcome a shortage of IBM i resources – a key concern for 44.7% of organizations surveyed. Lift automation to the top of the to-do list by showing management the savings it provides. Get started with a guided automation assessment today to see where your organization can benefit most with automation. 

RECOMMENDATION 8: Data Storage and Technology


New SAN technology has many benefits, but virtualization tops the list as it improves users’ ability to add more partitions and support other strategies for backups, like FlashCopy and HA.   Customers looking to move from internal disk to external SAN technology may also experience increased performance and data access speeds. 

RECOMMENDATION 9: High Availability


HA doesn’t need to be scary. Read our IBM i High Availability Handbook for valuable information on HA use cases, benefits, and tips for evaluating HA solutions.

The IBM i High Availability Handbook

Are there uncomfortable gaps in your HA/DR strategy? Read this guide to get everything you need to get started with IBM i high availability.

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Business Applications

IBM i is a critical platform for most organizations, with over 70% running more than half of their business applications on IBM i. This reflects a healthy, stable platform.

RECOMMENDATION 10: Business Applications


IBM i’s reliability, scalability, securability, and recoverability make it a great system for conducting business. When you consider investing in IBM i technology, remember how important the platform is to your organization’s long-term health.

OUTLOOK FOR IBM i: Plans for the Platform


Plans for the Platform

Over the next five years, an average of approximately 1.2% of users will be migrating off the platform. We expect that some attrition will occur each year, but the shops with concrete plans to leave the platform are outnumbered by the businesses increasing their IBM i footprint. This shows better stability of the IBM i marketplace. Considering how IBM i users feel about the platform’s ROI, this comes as no surprise.

We are seeing a larger number of survey respondents who aren’t sure about their future plans for the platform. Does this mean that the transition is getting grayer?

For the small percentage of businesses that are migrating all applications from IBM i, 58% are moving to Windows, 28% are moving to Linux, and 12% are moving to AIX—up from just 6% last year.

OUTLOOK FOR IBM i: Return on Investment


Return on Investment

The number of IBM i users that believe IBM i provides better ROI could not be more consistent year over year, showing the marketplace to be highly stable.

Because 72% of survey takers are working in a heterogeneous IT environment, they’re well positioned to compare IBM i to the other options available. 

Such high customer satisfaction with any product is truly noteworthy and should be taken seriously by the market. Share this information with IT professionals around the world—and in the office next door. 


IBM i professionals from around the world participated in the survey, representing a wide range of industries and regions. Budgets, company size, and experience levels varied considerably, indicating a representative, yet diverse sample of the global IBM i market.



For the first time this year we asked survey respondents to reveal their job title and salary information—by request from our survey readers. Who doesn’t love a little salary information?

We are very excited to see such a variety in roles and responsibilities among the survey responses—with more than 20% in C-level or director positions.

The variety of roles can skew salary information. On average, IBM i administrators earn $60,000 to $80,000 per year. IBM i developers average $80,000 to $100,000 per year. While this is interesting information, we ask that you take this for what it’s worth. It was a global survey and survey takers were asked to provide their own salary information.


If you’re planning new projects for your IT environment, this list of tools, tips, and solutions can help you get started.

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