For the fourth annual IBM i Marketplace Survey, HelpSystems set out to gather data about how businesses use the IBM i platform. The past three surveys have sparked many thoughtful conversations about this technology and we’re thrilled to be part of such an engaged community.
More than 650 people from across the globe completed this year’s survey. We’re so happy to share the results with you. We hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful as you evaluate your own IT projects. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey!
Security concerns still top the list for 72% of respondents, but many IBM i orgs are not acting accordingly.
The rise in cybersecurity threats and data breaches has led to increased awareness and regulation, but many organizations aren’t taking appropriate action. Finding the right balance between security and business efficiency and finding experienced security professionals are cited as the top two cybersecurity challenges respondents are facing. They may also be partially responsible for the lack of action. If you struggle to find the right talent and develop the right plans, partner with your security vendors and lean on their expertise. We expect managed security services to grow exponentially as a result of the demand for experienced security professionals.
The virtualized POWER server is well-established, with nearly 75% of businesses running multiple partitions.
There are a large number of IBM Power Server customers running multiple partitions and the adoption of SAN storage and VIOS technologies is also increasing. The rising popularity of a virtualization and the continued growth of business running on IBM i is causing organizations to look for solutions that will provide a consolidated view of performance data. Relying on multiple consoles to piece together system and application performance data slows down the identification, investigation, and remediation of system and application issues. Relying on an automated, real-time monitoring solution allows for a proactive approach to maximize availability and prevent business disruption.
High availability adoption continues to climb with nearly 50% of IBM i shops now relying on it.
The need for uptime and availability are at an all-time high and HA has been a top concern for IBM i organizations for three years running. In the wake of several high-profile outages, 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 Handbook before getting started.
Development on IBM i is evolving with more than 75% of respondents using open source development tools.
Survey respondents are running a large portion of their core business applications on IBM i and 70% of those applications are written in-house. These numbers indicate that development on this platform is very active. Though many development teams still use RPG, plenty of this activity relies on open source development tools. Open source technologies help support IBM i modernization initiatives. We expect adoption of open source tools to continue to increase.
The IBM i market is highly stable with slightly more than 1.5% 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 plans to leave the platform. Also, 72% of survey respondents are running more than 50% of their core business applications on IBM i, which is indicative of the importance of the platform.
93% of respondents believe that IBM i provides better ROI than other servers—for the fourth year in a row.
Year after year, IBM i users continue to give IBM i a high rating 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.
IBM i IN THE DATA CENTER:
While version 7.1 is once again the most popular IBM i operating system level, use of 7.3 has grown considerably since last year’s survey, when less than 5% of IBM i shops were using it. On April 30, 2018, IBM will no longer support 7.1 without an extended support contract so we expect a lot of movement toward 7.2 and 7.3 in early 2018.
Use of POWER8 has also increased over last year from 40% to 46%, while the use of POWER6 and older has decreased by 12.5%. With the anticipated release of POWER9 this year, we expect to see more customers moving from POWER6 and POWER7 technology.
Overall, organizations are investing in up-to-date technology, which demonstrates a commitment to the IBM i platform.
IBM i IN THE DATA CENTER: Power Server Capacity
Power Server Capacity
Since 2015, we have seen a 7% decrease in the number of IBM i shops that rely on just one server and a 10% increase in the number of organizations running between 2–30 IBM i servers, though our year-over-year numbers are relatively flat. This coincides with the number of survey respondents that have expressed plans to increase their IBM i footprint and could also 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 75% of businesses running multiple partitions.
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 continues to slowly increase. The number is up nearly 6% over the past two years with 17.3% of survey respondents running Linux on Power.
RECOMMENDATION 1: 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.
IBM i IN THE DATA CENTER: Staffing
Many IBM i shops are able to function with a limited number of administrators on staff, which contributes to the platform’s low TCO.
More than 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 70% of survey respondents running their own in-house applications for IBM i, the community is clearly active in furthering development on this platform.
RECOMMENDATION 2: Staffing
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.
IBM i IN THE DATA CENTER: Outsourcing
IBM has put a lot of effort around the idea of using managed service providers (MSPs) to combat concerns over IBM i skills depletion and resource issues. The number of IBM i shops considering outsourcing has increased by almost 5% over last year. However, with the vast majority of survey respondents managing their own systems, it is clear that most IBM i shops prefer to manage their Power servers on premises.
RECOMMENDATION 3: Outsourcing
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 any way you need 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
The large number of businesses running in-house applications shows how committed this community is to this platform. In-house developed applications reflect years of hard work creating and/or tailoring applications for specific company needs and can deliver unique advantages to the organization. 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 4: 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 coming out soon, 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.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS:
We saw explosive growth in the interest of security last year with 71.3% citing it as their top concern, up from 33.1% in 2016. At 72% this year, it remains the top concern for most organizations with HA/DR, modernization, and IBM i skills rounding out the top for another year in a row. We are not surprised by the growing awareness around security, HA, and skills as this echoes what we are hearing from our customers. We also don’t believe these are unique to IBM i, especially as they relate to security. Threats continue to rise and many organizations struggle to find experienced security staff. We hope that 2018 will be the year when IBM i organizations take action. The number of organizations citing security as a concern far exceeds those making an investment in improving their security posture.
RECOMMENDATION 5: Top Concerns
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 Handbook 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.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: Cybersecurity
When asked which cybersecurity solutions organizations had already implemented or have current plans to implement, the vast majority are behind, especially given that cybersecurity has been the top concern for IBM i organizations for two years running. HelpSystems annual State of IBM i Security Study shows that IBM i organizations have plenty of room to improve their security posture, but we are surprised by the number of organizations that still do not have plans to implement additional layers of security. Defense in depth is the best defense, yet more than 50% of respondents do not have plans to implement some of the most basic and most beneficial security solutions, including malware protection, proper security event monitoring, database encryption, and multi-factor authentication.
Those respondents that must also comply with industry or government regulations fared a little better than those who do not, but their responses indicate that there are a significant number organizations out there at risk of non-compliance. Compliance should never be the end goal, it should be viewed as the bare minimum. If so many organizations aren’t even meeting the bare minimum, then it is safe to say that we as an industry and a platform have a long way to go.
RECOMMENDATION 6: Cybersecurity
Start somewhere and don’t stop. It is no longer acceptable to do nothing as it relates to cybersecurity and protecting your valuable data. IBM i is a highly securable platform, but default settings leave the server wide open to security threats. Enroll in our free Getting Started with IBM i Security e-Course to learn more about simple system configuration changes you can make today to help protect your system. It is also important to understand your current risks and continuously evaluate them to help define the next steps in your defense and risk mitigation strategy. HelpSystems offers a free, no obligation Security Scan that provides a snapshot of how your current system security compares to expert-developed benchmarks. It serves as a great starting point, but can help at any point in your security journey to evaluate today’s exposures.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: Cybersecurity Challenges
72% of survey respondents claimed that cybersecurity is a top concern, yet the majority of organizations have not implemented basic security controls and have no concrete plans to do so. Lack of budget and management understanding fall near the bottom of the list of cybersecurity challenges, so why haven’t more organizations implemented appropriate layers of defense? And why don’t they have plans to?
Cybersecurity is a tough job and the outlook is that it won’t get any easier. Partnering with the right cybersecurity vendors can provide you with the expertise you need to you identify the appropriate balance of security and supplement a lack of internal security knowledge, especially as threats continue to evolve.
RECOMMENDATION 7: Cybersecurity Challenges
HelpSystems Managed Security Services (MSS) can help you bridge the cybersecurity skills gap. More and more organizations are co-sourcing their cybersecurity programs with security service providers to supplement staff and lean on expertise that would otherwise be out of reach. HelpSystems offers a flexible suite of services, including MSS, architecture, remediation, and risk assessment services, all delivered by IBM i security experts to help organizations in whatever capacity they need.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: Regulations
2017 was another interesting year in info security. Growing cybersecurity threats and more highly publicized data breaches led to increased awareness and regulation. The introduction of GDPR and the NY State Cybersecurity Law (NYDFS) for financial organizations, paired with updates to PCI DSS and NIST 800-171, made 2017 a big year for regulatory compliance. We don’t expect this trend to slow down.
Today, nearly 40% of survey respondents claim they do not adhere to any regulations. We expect this number to decrease as organizations begin to understand just how far-reaching some regulations, like GDPR, truly are and as other industries, states, and nations look to take action against cyberattacks by implementing additional regulations. The insurance industry (NAIC) appears to be next as they look to pass their own regulation in 2018.
RECOMMENDATION 8: Regulations
Compliance should be seen as the bare minimum when it comes to data protection. Those who are required to comply and those who aren’t should still implement and enforce a comprehensive security policy. Rely on well-established cybersecurity frameworks, like NIST, to inform and guide you. Work with your cybersecurity vendors and leverage their expertise to help develop and execute on your cybersecurity plans. If the goal is to be secure, then compliance is easy and should be achieved as a result.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: Modernization
33.8% of IBM i customers are using the green screen interface exclusively, while the rest have moved toward something more modern. The number of customers primarily running graphical and web interfaces continues to get closer to the number of shops running a green screen interface. The trend toward relying on more modern interfaces should continue. However, we expect to see graphical applications start to fall out of favor in exchange for web interfaces, which eliminate the need for IT staff to install and maintain software on individual desktops, saving a great deal of time.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: Development
We continue to see a large number of organizations using RPG for new development on the IBM i platform at 87.5%, but the real story is in the adoption of additional development languages, especially open source tools. Nearly 75% of survey respondents are using open source development tools on IBM i and the number of write-ins speaks to the variety of tools that have been adopted by the community.
It’s no surprise to see Apache at the top with a number of companies using HTTP servers, but we were very pleased to see nearly one-third using PHP—now in its 11th year being supported on IBM i. The use of Node and Python supports our theories around modernization on the platform as they are indicative of mobile and web development. Git has only been supported since April of 2016, so it’s impressive to see over 11.7% of survey takers using the tool. We expect this number to continue to grow as IBM continues to add new languages and tools to the mix.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: Development RDi
A little less than 50% of IBM i shops are using Rational Developer for i (RDi) today to create, maintain, and modernize applications on the IBM i platform. With more than 70.1% of IBM i organizations developing their own in-house applications and 54.4% of organizations citing modernization as a top concern, we would expect the usage of RDi to be higher. There is a good opportunity to transition the IBM i development community from using older tools to using an integrated development environment like RDi.
RECOMMENDATION 9: Development RDi
RDi makes application development and modernization on IBM i faster and easier. Development teams using RDi see substantial productivity gains as a result. We recommend taking another look at RDi as a way of dealing with larger development backlogs and modernization efforts. Contact us if you need some help getting past the initial learning curve. It won’t take long to start seeing a considerable productivity boost.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: Automation
The large percentage, nearly 60%, of businesses running unattended proves automation is a viable strategy for IBM i.
Many who aren’t fully automated claim that they prefer to have staff manage critical processes and/or that automation isn’t a priority for management. These organizations are likely overlooking the risk of human error.
RECOMMENDATION 10: Automation
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 44.3% 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 from automation.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: Data Storage and Technology
Data Storage and Technology
The number of customers using only internal disk continues to decrease year after year, down from 74.5% in 2015. Though several organizations still rely on internal disk only, we expect to see a continued trend away from internal disk, moving towards SAN instead.
RECOMMENDATION 11: Data Storage and Technology
With the trend toward virtualization, VIOS, and SAN storage technologies, we are seeing and increased need for a consolidated view of historical and real-time performance data. Robot Monitor can help organizations monitor performance data across all of these technologies in real-time. The key to availability is visibility and the consolidated view with Robot Monitor helps organizations identify, investigate, and troubleshoot issues much quicker, helping to minimize business disruption.
IT INITIATIVES & TRENDS: High Availability
The percentage of businesses relying on tape as their main recovery method is down significantly in recent years, while we are seeing an increase in the use of high availability (HA) technology. HA has been a top initiative for IBM i shops over the past four years, which validates the growth we see in HA here.
Half of IBM i shops have still not implemented an HA solution. Perhaps this is a result of the stability of the platform, but that can’t account for natural disasters and other outages not related to the hardware itself. In the wake of several highly publicized outages and a growing demand for 24/7 availability, we expect HA will continue to be a priority with more organizations adopting the technology.
RECOMMENDATION 12: High Availability
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.
OUTLOOK FOR IBM i:
IBM i is a critical platform for most organizations, with 72.7% running more than half of their business applications on IBM i. This reflects a healthy, stable platform.
RECOMMENDATION 13: 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 1.6% 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 for the IBM i marketplace. Considering how IBM i users feel about the platform’s ROI, this comes as no surprise.
For the small percentage of businesses that are migrating all applications from IBM i, 56% are moving to Windows, 29% are moving to Linux, and 15% are moving to AIX.
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.
If you’re planning new projects for your IT environment, this list of tools, tips, and solutions can help you get started.
|Security & Compliance||Powertech, HelpSystems Security Services, GoAnywhere MFT, IBM i Security Study, Getting Started with IBM i Security e-Course, free IBM i Security Scan|
|High Availability||Robot HA, IBM i High Availability Handbook, PowerHA|
|IBM i Skills||IBM i Talent Retirement Guide, HelpSystems IBM i training courses, COMMON, Manta Technologies, The 400 School, IBM Education|
|Automation||Robot Systems Management Suite, Guided Automation Assessment|
|Modernization||RDi, Sequel, RPG Toolbox, Fresche Legacy, Lansa, Profound Logic, IBM Redbook|
|Mobility||Asna, Lansa, Zend, HelpSystems Insite, Sequel Web Interface|
|Data growth||Robot Monitor, Robot Space|
|Business Intelligence||Sequel for Business Intelligence|
|Going paperless||HelpSystems Document & Forms Management|