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IBM i – 30 years and still going strong

30 years ago, IBM designed a turnkey operating system, requiring little or no on-site attention from IT staff during normal operation. For example, IBM i has a built-in Db2 database which does not require separate installation. Variously named as OS/400 on AS/400 and i5/OS on iSeries in the past, IBM i on the latest IBM Power Systems servers is a platform designed to adapt to the needs of business computing.


IBM i is here to stay, and the community continues to invest in both hardware and software upgrades. Now in its sixth year, the HelpSystems IBM i Marketplace Survey is invaluable in understanding what IT challenges businesses are facing and how IBM i environments are delivering exceptional value. 2020 saw more respondents indicating they will undertake either a hardware upgrade, a software upgrade, or both initiatives in the coming year.

Its defining characteristic, “integration” – represented by the “i” in its name – allows clients to get more value from advanced technology with fewer resources and higher reliability. Traditionally, IBM i has been used in wholesale distribution, retail distribution, manufacturing, local government, and education. Today, the fastest growth comes from financial industries like banking and insurance, as well as in retail and healthcare.

In this blog, we take a look at some key insights from the report which explains the longevity of IBM i and its popularity with innovators.


IBM i is a favourite platform for in-house developed applications – over 73% of survey respondents run homegrown applications, followed by Infor, Oracle and SAP. In-house development represents many years of diligence in creating and improving the application in order to deliver unique and ongoing value to the organisation. These applications play a huge role in making sure IBM i will endure in many companies.

Few young IT professionals enter the workforce with knowledge of IBM i, there is a growing concern of relevant skills being retained; 41% of surveyed companies have only one IBM i administrator and 11% have none at all. At the same time, however, fewer than a quarter of participants have any plans to migrate applications away from IBM i.

To appreciate the issues that IT professionals face on a regular basis, the IBM i Marketplace Survey asked respondents to rank their top five priorities for their IBM i environment. Despite a broad range of industries and company sizes, the findings show a great degree of common ground across IBM i users:

  • Cyber security
  • High availability/disaster recovery
  • Application modernisation
  • Lack of IBM i skills
  • Data growth

The leading cyber security challenge is determining how to balance security controls and business efficiency. The survey also found an increase in awareness and regulations over the past several years as organisations struggle to cope with a rapidly evolving cyber security landscape. In 2020, more IBM i shops are placing importance on complying with PCI DSS, GDPR and other security mandates.

IBM i users continue to move away from reliance on internal disk only and many are moving towards storage area networks (SAN). Notably, there is increased use of IBM V7000 offering enhanced performance and data access speeds with SAN storage a critical piece for virtualisation.

Compared to the first survey in 2015, reliance on just one IBM Power server has steadily decreased. For 2020, 72% of respondents have more than one Power System, showing a growing and ongoing trust in this proven technology. There is however a potential risk with 53% of participating organisations still running POWER6 and POWER7 servers, which are no longer supported by IBM. In contrast, only 18% of companies are using out-of-support versions of IBM i as their primary operating system environment.


The majority of businesses today are looking at some kind of cloud strategy to take advantage of new technologies like AI or blockchain while improving performance, scalability, availability, and security. The good news for IBM i users is the strong value proposition for running mission-critical IBM i workloads within a private or public cloud environment as well as on-premise.

For many years CSI has been managing critical IBM i workloads running IBM Power Systems. As an IBM Platinum Business Partner, our experts can support client platforms on-premise, hosted in a third-party data centre or in the CSI Cloud.

Our multi-cloud platform allows organisations to meet changing demands, increasing or scaling-back resources in a private, hybrid, or public cloud environments. Migrating to the CSI Cloud means you can take advantage of the latest versions of IBM Power Systems without the capital expenditure of hardware upgrades.

We ensure systems are correctly sized, securely connected, and comprehensively monitored and managed by:

  • Reacting quickly to alerts through a 24/7 service desk and proven service management processes
  • Monitoring all components that can impact system stability
  • Confirming that the operating system and firmware are maintained at correct versions
  • Ensuring that backups complete successfully, or escalating failures
  • Providing a disaster recovery or high availability environment

The CSI Cloud IBM i Services have been designed to help our clients optimise the availability and performance of their critical workloads running on IBM i and IBM Power Systems.

With the sustained popularity of IBM i as an integrated system providing a cost-efficient and highly resilient foundation for innovative applications, we’ll continue to evolve our skills and services into the future.


For an overview of our services, please click here to view our IBM i Services datasheet.

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss anything in more detail, please get in touch with the CSI Team.


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