Wed, Jul
0 New Articles

What’s Ahead for Power Systems in 2019

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Some of what’s in store may be a bit obvious. But some of it is a secret.

The crystal ball is polished. I’ll say it now: 2019 will be a great year for IBM Power Systems and IBM i. In fact, I’ll say it’ll probably be the best year for the POWER platform in a long time. A tall order, but we’ll get there.

I would love to give a summary of the hardware and software specifics that are coming down the pike, but I have nondisclosure agreements. Also, IBMers are being rather quiet. Perhaps that’s because my usual contacts have enjoyed some much-needed family time over the holiday season. Even Scott Forstie, DB2 for i Business Architect and my friend, is playing coy with my request for comment by stating, “SQL moves beyond Scott's Query Language via a bazillion additions to ACS's Insert From Examples.” And when Scott says a bazillion, I kind of have to believe him.

So I have to be a little creative and a little vague in order to reveal what’s in the crystal ball. I can be specific only about what I know based on the marketplace that I’m a part of, and I have to talk about what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced anecdotally.

What we do know: We’ll see the elimination of much POWER5, POWER6, and POWER7 iron in the first half. January 31, 2019, will be the end-of-service date for many POWER5 systems, March 31 for POWER6 servers, and September 30 for the most popular POWER7 servers sold (8202-E4C). While some customers got ahead of those end-of-service dates by already having their POWER9 servers ordered in Q3 and Q4 of 2018, other customers will run those machines until you can’t put IBM hardware maintenance on them anymore, squeezing every last bit of processing power out of an investment made 10 to 15 years ago. Talk about getting your money’s worth. I think IBM Cognitive Systems will have a great 2019, based on those machine replacements alone.

Personally, I’ve been digging into POWER5 and POWER6 servers over the last six months, and many of those customers had no idea their machines were going end of service in a matter of a few short months. Since they weren’t aware, they had no budget for a hardware refresh in 2018 or even five years ago when it would’ve still made sense to do so. So what does that mean? It means there’s a disconnect from the customer to IBM and vice versa. It means that customers are not as engaged as they should be. Many of these POWER5 customers especially are relying on their software provider (in many cases, the company that sold them their last machine) to keep them abreast of hardware and operating system updates and changes. But many software providers don’t do that because it’s not their main business. I’ll give you an example. I ran across a POWER5 server this past summer with a RAID set blown, V5R4 with nary a PTF, no software maintenance, no hardware maintenance, a dead tape drive, and more. It was in serious need of help. I actually called the vendor to inquire about it because the customer shared that there were about 30 other companies nearby running the same software. Guess what? That vendor’s not in the hardware business. When customers want new machines, they have a preferred hardware partner they work with to facilitate a hardware replacement. There’s no yearly check-in with the customer, no five-year replacement plan, no communication on POWER8, POWER9, IBM i 7.3, software/hardware renewals, PTFs to keep current, OS upgrades. Nothing. What I hope is that there’s enough word-of-mouth groundswell that these POWER5 and POWER6 customers actually hear it and find out that they need to move to POWER9 because time and materials on a dead POWER5 server backplane isn’t going to be cheap or quick. I actually fielded a call on a DOA POWER5 with no maintenance the day before Christmas Eve! We do what we can for those guys, but it’s never a good situation to see someone in. Please know this and know it well: You don’t want a hardware problem without hardware maintenance. It’s just a ticking time bomb. I think that message is starting to get out there and people are moving to get new machines in 2019 because of it.

But it’s not just the “keeping maintenance alive” crowd that’s going to drive a big year for IBM. POWER9 is about a year old now, and that’s usually the length of time that it takes a lot of the tire kickers to decide to make a move. I recall the first time I met Dr. Frank Soltis back in 2002 or so. He joked that the difference between iSeries and pSeries customers was that pSeries customers get the new operating system or patches the first day of availability, while iSeries customers wait until the next release and then upgrade to the one just before it. It’s funny because a lot of the time that’s true. Very few of us want to be on the bleeding edge. POWER9 is just old enough now to have a feeling of stability around it, which means simply that people are using it and the boxes are just as stable as POWER8, POWER7, and so on. While IBM POWER9 sales have been decent out of the gate, I’m thinking year two is going to be really killer for that reason as well.

From an IBM i perspective, I’m not at liberty to say much. There’s stuff coming. That’s it. Stuff. Good stuff. Useful stuff for big and small customers. Development and admin stuff. Trust me. In general, based on the past few years, I think you’ll see a continuance of the ongoing top-notch enhancements of DB2 for i. DB2 just keeps on rolling. It seems that there’s always something new and highly useful with every batch of PTFs, especially with IBM i Services. A result set that took a lot of foresight and programming to achieve is now available with a simple SQL script to an IBM i Service. Maybe even a bazillion of them.

The best I can tell you about IBM i in 2019 is to watch this space. Get involved with your local user groups or bigger ones like COMMON. Reach out to your IBM Business Partner to make sure they’re abreast of the updates and changes from both the hardware and software ends of the spectrum. If POWER9 does as well as I’m expecting it to do, then it’s not only immediate change planning that needs to occur, but also a strategy of continual education and modernization to take us into the next decade.

Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Support MC Press Online


Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: