2018 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results banner image - ENGLISH

2018 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results


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!


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


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.


Staying Current

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. 

Popular IBM i versions in use

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.

Power server capacity

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. 

Operating Systems Used, Other than IBM i - 2018 survey

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.




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.

IBM i Dedicated IT Staff - 2018 survey



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 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.

IT 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


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.

Business Applications Running on IBM i - 2018 survey

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

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IBM i Top Concerns - 2018 survey



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.

Cybersecurity Solutions Implemented on IBM i - 2018 survey

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.

Top Cybersecurity Challenges - 2018 survey

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.

Top Cybersecurity Regulations - 2018 survey



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 Infrastructure Modernization
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.

Automation on IBM i - 2018 survey



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.

Data Storage Technology

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.

HA and Disaster Recovery on IBM i - 2018 survey

RECOMMENDATION 12: 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.

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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.



Business Applications

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.

Outlook Business Applications

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.

Plans for the IBM i Platform - 2018 survey

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.

Data Center Location - 2018 survey


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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