One of the presentations I’ve been giving lately goes by two different titles. The first is “IBM i Trends & Directions.” This is a fairly common title – there are “Trends & Directions” presentations on most technologies and industries. You know what to expect when something has the “T&D” title.
The title I prefer, though, is “IBM i: Today, Tomorrow & Beyond.” And I don’t just prefer it – I structured the presentation around those timeframes.
While a blog is no place to present all of the ideas that take 60-90 minutes to present live, one of the key charts in that presentation lists the focus areas the IBM i development team has for the next few years, and it gives you an idea what our IBM i platform will be doing “Tomorrow and Beyond.”
The four major categories are these:
- Deliver high priority requirements for ISV solution integration
- Invest in language and database requirements
- Simplify administration of PowerHA for mid-sized companies
- Continue storage-area network integration
- Integrate IBM i management tools end-to-end with virtual I/O server
- Provide virtual machine image management, mobility and automation
- Extend storage virtualization features, such as thin provisioning
I can’t give away any secrets, of course, but I can talk briefly about some of these. First, let’s talk about Solutions Enablement. As you’re probably aware, a key tenet of the IBM i value proposition is we know customers buy solutions--applications--because it’s the application that caters to their business. For this reason, we’re constantly determining ways in which our solution providers are going to be using their underlying systems and providing new capabilities for them. A great example of this from the recent past is the delivery of XML within DB2 for i. A typical customer may not know this is a requirement, but many ISVs need this capability to integrate better with the Internet-centric world of applications.
Now let’s jump down to cloud computing. Of course, many of our smaller clients don’t see an immediate need to do “cloud” with their IBM i platform. That’s fair. However, there are pieces of cloud enablement that may be useful even to clients with just one or two Power Systems running IBM i. IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 2, for example, delivers the capability to suspend an active IBM i partition and then later resume that partition exactly where it left off, with no IPL. This is a key requirement if you’re going to use IBM i to build a cloud, but it also may be useful in a general customer situation (e.g., if you have a development partition that can be taken down each night, freeing up resources for a production partition).
Furthermore, there’s significant opportunity for IBM i solutions to compete with the competition if a cloud environment can host those i solutions. While many of our ISVs already do great business with a “Software as a Service” model, they could be more efficient and reach more clients with new cloud-enabling technology. There are some ISVs who may be able to compete much better against an x86 solution if they could simply sell a cloud-based IBM i solution on a monthly-fee basis, rather than asking a customer to buy a Power System.
I’ve only briefly covered two of the four aforementioned items, but I hope you get the idea. We’re looking at what our current customers and solution providers need, but we are also planning for a future that’s quite different from the market in which IBM i’s predecessors initially thrived. It’s all about making sure that you and IBM i will have a long future, today, tomorrow and beyond.
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