Friday, May 25, 2012

Why Upgrade IBM i?

or...the Rising Tide Raises all Boats...What has DB2 Done for me Lately? 

There are two sides – PHP and/or as important as PHP is the OS  You should examine your OS level and I will implore you to consider leveraging your current investment.  Upgrade to i6.1 or i7.1 today! IBM has done a nice job adding features to IBM i and the way they do that is with new releases and the technology refresh process.  And i6.1 or higher has new DB2 features that can dramatically improve the performance of IBM i and expand your abilities as an IBM I developer. 

One thing is clear, IBM is investing heavily in DB2 on IBM i.  I have been on the road now for two weeks of a six week road show.  (They let me go home on weekends to see how much the kids have grown).  As I visit all these events I notice there seems to be 2 guys from IBM Rochester talking about DB2.  This would not be so shocking if it weren’t for the fact that it’s rarely the same two guys!  It appears IBM has been hoarding an army of DB2 guys and now they are on the road talking about all the great new stuff!  This led me to a dramatic realization that makes perfect sense when you think about it.  If IBM invests in RPG, as they continue to do, then many RPG folks benefit, same for Java and COBOL, etc.  But, since we ALL use DB2, any investments IBM makes in DB2 benefits ALL OF US!  Yes, PHP gets faster and more powerful as IBM improves DB2!
Yep, PHP, RPG, COBOL, Java and all the utility vendors benefit from performance and feature improvements to DB2. Makes sense to me.  As I have no idea how much IBM spends on IBM i R&D and know even less about how they divide it up, I can only guess that the portion invested in DB2 is significant. Why?  Think about it.  Anything IBM changes in DB2 has to be rock solid and virtually bulletproof.  The main reason for this is that IBM themselves are using DB2 on IBM I to run parts of the OS!  This means the developers have added pressure of IBM management breathing down their backs as well as customer satisfaction.

IBM uses the carrot and stick approach to get customers to upgrade and update their systems.  In some cases, folks simply cannot cost justify an upgrade.  I am not looking to start a religious war about why a company should or should not go off maintenance.  But I do understand that these are tough times and every penny counts.  So if you are a company on maintenance and you have a machine that can go up, why haven’t you?  Time?   Experience?  Confidence?  Could be a myriad of reasons why you are holding off.
 I ask you to look at the benefits, however.  I have a customer who recently planned a hardware upgrade. Obviously, the upgrade would go smoother if they upgrade the OS from V5R4 to i7.1 before attempting the hardware, so they did.  There were so many performance improvements and opportunities to improve DB2 performance that they were able to cancel the hardware upgrade.  Think about that value!  A company was able to postpone a significant investment just by implementing a newer version of the OS that THEY WERE ALREADY ENTITLED TO thanks to their SWMA!

If you can swing new hardware, there are things like smaller footprints and lower power utilization.  We have a new Power 720 in our office with 9 LPAR’s and I am amazed at how powerful it is as well as easy to administer.  Now, I did get some help setting the machine up.  But once it was set up it has been great!   Which brings me to my last point, excess power? 

In many cases I have customers who have upgraded hardware to stay current on maintenance or simply to add a little capacity like disk, etc.  What some of these folks discover is that their machines have excess capacity at the end of the upgrade.  So what to do with that capacity?  I have a few ideas.  How about an open source CRM or content management system written in PHP?  By implementing something like Joomla, Drupal, MediWiki or SugarCRM, customers can take advantage of this excess capacity by leveraging PHP natively on IBM i and simultaneously avoid the investment in additional Intel infrastructure.