Assess the Appropriateness of the iSeries/IBM i in My Business

Separate myth from reality to assess future viability and your organization's strategy for this platform.

Your Challenge

  • The perception that IBM Power Systems (e.g. iSeries, IBM i) is a dying platform built on old technology is applying pressure on IT leaders to determine the future viability of this platform, and whether it’s still the right fit for their organization.
  • Similarly, organizations running green screen applications are facing pressure to modernize those apps or migrate to a platform that is perceived to be more modern and cheaper, such as commodity Windows-based servers.
  • An aging population of RPG programmers and system administrators adds to the concerns about future viability.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • A consistent three-year cycle of major revisions continues to add modern functionality, and reflects a commitment by IBM to Power Systems. This platform has historically been at the forefront of innovation, such as virtualization, ahead of other platforms, including Windows.
  • Modernization efforts since 2007 include adding support for languages such as Java, PHP, and C++. In addition, development tools are available to create modern, Web-based interfaces for legacy apps, making even RPG-based software accessible by tablets and smartphones.
  • Many of the perceived challenges are invalid or overstated. For example, while resourcing is a challenge, many educational centers continue to teach RPG programming and Power Systems administration.

Impact and Result

  • Use Info-Tech’s assessment of perceived challenges to evaluate whether Power Systems is the right fit for your organization, and what actions to take if it isn’t.
  • If you’re staying with Power Systems, follow the advice in this solution set to mitigate challenges, such as resourcing.
  • If you’re considering migrating off Power Systems, use this solution set to evaluate whether that’s the right decision for your organization.


  • Dave Wiseman, Connectria Hosting
  • David M. Fritzke, YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee
  • David Sims, Flux
  • Alan Jordan, Coglin Mill
  • Trevor Perry, Angus Thinks!
  • David Booth, North American Construction Group
  • Jeff Lutgen, Delta Dental of Wisconsin
  • Tom Huntington, Help Systems
  • 8 additional anonymous contributors

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Get to Action

  1. Assess the future viability and potential challenges of IBM Power Systems (e.g. iSeries, IBM i)

    Determine your organization’s strategy for this platform.

  2. Calculate the six-year cost of owning a Power Systems platform versus alternatives

    Use the true cost of Power Systems in your appropriateness assessment and budget planning.

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  • Missing comment
    Craig Williams | 08-30-2011

    The iSeries may be adequate if you do custom development, but if you rely primarily on vendor packaged software, we have found that they are maintaining these platforms but not enhancing them. All of their new development is being done on the MS platform.

    • 9eb6a2810126f534ebf65557616f34d1 comment
      Info-Tech Research Group | 09-01-2011

      Thanks for your comment, Craig. While some ISVs have certainly stopped development purely for older versions of IBM i, the same is true for applications supported on previous versions of Windows, HP-UX and Linux. We note on slide 10 that there are over 850 ISVs and 2,300 applications available for current versions of IBM i (6 and 7) from ISVs like help/systems, Oracle/JD Edwards, and Flux. Some ISVs have also switched to a platform-agnostic development platform like Java, which is well supported by IBM i on Power Systems. For the most part, these ISVs are committed to this platform and continue to provide enhancements/updates to their products for IBM i.

      However, ISV support for IBM i bears watching, and is the canary in the mine shaft for this platform, as noted on slide 35. So far, the bird is still on its perch. But, we're going to keep a close eye on that bird because if new development (as opposed to pure maintenance mode) for enterprise software dries up then it's time to start seeking that exit point.

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Search Code: 46797
Published: August 19, 2011
Last Revised: August 19, 2011

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