Today, April 8, is announcement day for IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh (TR) 8. That’s right, we are now the proud parents of eight semi-annual collections of new functions which have been added to the most powerful release we’ve ever shipped. When we shipped 7.1 four years ago, launching our new strategy of focusing on mid-release delivery of new function, we certainly expected it would provide a useful, non-disruptive means for our clients to adopt new technology. It has done that. What’s been particularly satisfying is to see the rate at which TRs are adopted.
When the first TRs came out, of course, fewer people had moved to the IBM 7.1 release. So we knew they would be adopted by fewer people than later TRs. This was expected. What we didn’t know how to predict, though, was how fast people would adopt them. In those first couple of TRs, the adoption rate was steady, but low–well under 1,000 per month. For the more recent TRs, within the first couple of days after GA, we have thousands who have downloaded the TRs. And the rate from there is very steep.
The high rate of download demonstrates a few things:
- There are a great many clients on 7.1, and that number is still growing steadily. We know this from other sources, of course, but TR adoption data is actually the fastest and easiest way for me to see the rate. We still have to extrapolate a bit—not every 7.1 customer adopts TRs, and among those who do, they don’t all adopt every one of them.
- The community, as a whole, trusts the quality of the TRs. If they didn’t, I would expect to see a slow ramp-up to adoption of each new TR. Instead, the rate of adoption is increasing.
- The word about TRs has reached a “critical mass” of customers and business partners. When we first introduce TRs, we realized we were going to need to spread the word about them. Our customer set had been conditioned for decades to think of PTFs as almost exclusively a “defect fix” mechanism. For this reason, many of them had rules about PTF application which slowed down adoption of TRs, which are delivered as a PTF Group together with a Cumulative PTF package. But now it is clear that most clients recognize the difference between PTFs which are “just fixes” and the TR deliveries.
So, what’s in the latest TR8 announcement? Several things, actually. There are new native attachment options (“native” meaning they do not require VIOS) related to 16 GB Fibre Channel and some SAS drawers. (That’s as much “hardware” as you’re ever likely to get from this blog author!) The WebSphere Liberty profile is now the base for the IBM i Integrated Application Server. And of course, DB2 continues to satisfy requests from users and ISVs, particularly in the areas of performance analysis and database engineering. One quick note, though – the actual GA for TR8 content is June 6, and the GA date for the other functions announced with the TR (such as the DB2 functions) is listed in the information for those functions. Check out the details on developerWorks, and in the several blogs and articles our IBM i team writes or helps produce.
The success of our Technology Refresh strategy has been quite satisfying, and the strategy will continue. But, as I have said before, we definitely still need major releases. So watch this space as April continues. There just might be more news before the month is over.