The party starts today. I’m in Austin, Texas, at the COMMON Conference where Colin Parris, the General Manager of Power Systems will kick off a celebration of the 25th birthday of the integrated platform that started as AS/400 in 1988 and has evolved into IBM i running on Power Systems.
As part of the celebration, we’ll be unveiling a story in 25 chapters featuring technology, community and business aspects that contributed to the success of IBM i. The venue for these 25 stories will be on the IBMi25 facebook page and you can follow the celebration on Twitter, too (@IBMi25). You’ll want to check out the Facebook page, because there will be an interesting, fun take in each story as it rolls out. Just bookmark the link (bit.ly/ibmi25), or better yet “Like” the page on Facebook. We are putting our story on Facebook specifically to make it easy for you to participate, by adding your comments, photos and insights. Tell us about your experiences with IBM i and upload a photo of your team with their system.
Our first topic is “Integration.” Naturally. The initial concept of the platform was the integration of technology, and in more than one sense. Integration meant bringing the S/36 and S/38 together, integrating them, combining their customer communities, and allowing applications from both heritages to move to an advanced, powerful system. For us at IBM, integration also meant bringing together separate organizations to have cohesive teams for development, test, sales, support and so on.
At its core, though, integration was about providing an application environment that would contain all of the technology a business application would need. Integration meant that application would not have to be dependent on separate software products in addition to the operating system. I talked about the difference between other operating systems and the “operating environment” provided by IBM i in a previous blog, but without repeating that blog, it’s been critical to maintain that level of integrated technology as the platform has evolved.
At COMMON this week, I’ll be delivering a new presentation called The Business Value of Integration, which describes what “integration” means and how the heritage of integrated platforms became reality. It didn’t just happen, though. There was a strong architecture, implemented using advanced processes, by people who understood the power of integration. These factors combined to bring customers and application providers a stable environment that would increase stability and decrease the cost of running a business. There have been doubters through the years – people and companies who were unable to believe that IBM would be able to add new technology to the OS in an integrated way. We started with high-value integrated features such as DB2, disk/storage management, security and virtualization. Then, throughout the years we’ve added things like user directories, new programming languages, a hierarchical file system and Web support without losing the inherent integrated nature of the platform. IBM i has been able to adopt Solid State Drives, converge on the same Power Systems servers that run AIX and Linux, and deliver major new capabilities in cloud computing. All while maintaining a reputation for world-class reliability, security and total cost of ownership.
It’s this core attribute – integration – that carries IBM i into the future. As you follow the 25th anniversary story, you will notice many of the other attributes will refer back to this one. It is at the heart of the business value of the platform since the beginning, and it remains the foundation for that value in years to come.