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35th IBM i Anniversary: time to move forward

By Juan Manuel Alcudia Peñas posted Mon April 24, 2023 05:24 AM


On this June our beloved platform will finish another travel around the Sun to turn 35 years. IBM i has many good things but the one I love is the simplicity of its architecture; the out-of-the-box term is perfect to describe a system where everything is integrated and ready to use, specially compared to current trends like Kubernetes that are really complex to setup and maintain. Another strength of this platform is the power of the user groups as we can see these days in the PowerUP in Denver.

But let's not be fools, many of the companies who use it have a problem with technical debt due to the "advantage" of being retro-compatible. 
SEU is not getting updates for the new additions to the languages but many people still use it because it is available and they are used to it, some customers are using the System 36 environment even that has not been supported by years... Two nights ago I told Alison Butterill that one of my customers said that they don't use ILE because is a "new thing". This issue affects not only the quality of the developments but also the acquisition of new talent: I have developers on their 20's working happily with IBM i but I'm not as bad to make them work with old RPG or 5250 screens. Meanwhile in other installations the "up to date" developers can't use "new things" like SQL, indexes or ILE because they are not allowed by their managers as they have fear to change anything. So, how can we push people to move forward? And... how to give a better operating system to the companies creating "modern" applications?

I found a possible solution for this: create two parallel versions of IBM i.

-The "legacy" version should be the last of the "classic" IBM i. It will include the "old features" and it will be a Long Term Release (all the IBM i releases are LTR but probably this should have even longer support to keep the old software running). This platform only will get security patches but maybe not all the security advantages of new versions. 
-A new "slim" version that will not allow to install S/36 environment, SEU, old compilers, etc... This version will be the only one to get the new functions of the Operating System.

The magic of it is that they could run in parallel in the same Power box if needed, so you can change the old applications piece by piece.

I think this also will help IBM to give us a better operating system even if the have to "maintain" two versions because the old one will not change much and the new one will be simpler to test as it will have less things included. Of course this idea will need work to refine and decide what will be in and out of the new operating system. 

As Common Europe President I'm doing everything to make this possible talking with a lot of individuals, companies, user groups and IBMers. In one of the conversations someone told me that I was so bold to put this on the table but the world doesn't change with risk averse people.

 I love this platform and its community, I have grown with it and I want it to last.

Juan Manuel Alcudia
Common Europe President
IBM Champion




Sat April 29, 2023 10:11 PM

Thank you Don Juan Manuel!
I agree with your proposal, but this implies to have at least a team with old knowledge and a team with the new one, and of course  the hardware!
Upskilling is the solution! The old team adquiring new knowledge!
And of course a willing to change!

Tue April 25, 2023 05:48 AM

This article represent a personal opinion and no a statement of direction of IBM or any other organization. The technical viability of the solution is not guaranteed as I don’t have access to the operating system code.