Counting Companies With An IBM i In The Mix

Sympatico is one of the sponsors of the ALL400s project, discussed below in the article by Dan Burger.

How many companies are running their mission critical business applications on Power Systems loaded with the IBM i operating system? Not as many as 20 years ago. That’s for certain. But who knows for sure? I mean, who knows the number? Three years ago, IBM was tossing out a worldwide estimate of 125,000. That number has not been officially updated but sources at IBM say the number of IBM i customers remain steady with that three-year-old estimate. On the other hand, I’ve heard people in the IBM i community guesstimate the installed base is under the 100,000 mark. It’s not hard to imagine IBM might be padding its number by a tad or two.

The point is no one really knows. And John Rockwell, self-proclaimed curator of the ecosystem, really wants to know. He’s been pursuing this number as if it was a white whale. Currently he’s sailing in a sea of 32,000 company names and locations. That number comes from a combination of lists turned over to Rockwell – everything from small personal inventories to vendors with statistics compiled from more than two decades in the IBM midrange business.

There is a fly in the ointment, however; the time it takes to verify whether 32,000 companies are still running mission critical apps on IBM i is not inconsequential. So far, the list includes 6,000 verified IBM i shops, or about 16 percent of the total. The oldest verifications were recorded in 2015, which means the list is probably no more than a few percentage points shy of 100 percent accurate. The lists are available without charge on Rockwell’s website.

“We went from zero names to 32,000 in a little over a year and a half,” Rockwell says while noting 25,000 of those are companies are located in the United States. “We’re working our way through the list to find and update the current status of each company as fast as we can. The idea is to get the list big enough to combat claims by Microsoft and Oracle that the IBM i ecosystem is small and dying.”

People working in IBM i shops should keep tabs on their industry competitors that run on IBM i, Rockwell advises. Then if management considers moving off the operating system – which was formerly known as OS/400 and i5/OS – the IBM i team can demonstrate that while the move is costing millions of dollars, competitors that are staying on the platform can dedicate that amount to gaining market share while the company with migration on its mind becomes invested in a risky IT strategy.

Rockwell says his intent in building this list is to possibly end the erosion of IBM i shops by providing a verified accounting, which would demonstrate the widespread use of the system and inspire confidence.

“Many more vendors are contributing information to us about companies who are using the platform and letting their customers know about us so they can use us as a resource when the need arises,” Rockwell says. “A lot of it has to do with re-assuring the companies who use the platform that they belong to a large ecosystem that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”

Seven vendors from the IBM i community are sponsoring Rockwell’s website and another 20 vendors are listed as supporters.

The interest in the list of confirmed IBM i shops topped 400 downloads last month. Much of that action seems to be attributable to people participating in the job board and gaining access to companies that might need to supplement their IBM i workforce. Software vendors and value added resellers are downloading the list to cross-reference with their own lists and determine if any additional companies can be added. The cross-referencing sometimes verifies companies on’s list as well.  READ MORE…



Are You a Good Fit – Rules of Thumb for Programmers

They’re different in large companies than they are in smaller companies. Some programmers know this intuitively, some learn it over the years, and some never quite figure it out.

The following list of some of the differences between these rules of thumb might help out new programmers who are just entering the workforce.

  1. In large companies you’re a specialist; in smaller companies you’re a generalist. You have to be a programming guru in large companies, grouping together whatever skill-sets it takes to get the job done. In smaller companies your programming skills can be average but you need to be a guru when it comes to knowing every aspect of the business. The fewer skill-sets you use to accomplish this the better – expanding the number of skill-sets it takes to replace you does a disservice to the company by eventually increasing their labor costs.
  2. In large companies elegant programming counts; in smaller companies if brute force programming can get the job done faster then use it.
  3. In large companies you can speak Klingon – business analysts will translate it into English for you so others can understand what you’re saying (that’s a large part of their job). In smaller companies speak English, or your native tongue – there aren’t any translators.
  4. In large companies your satisfaction will come from solving a programming problem your peers can’t, or from getting something done faster than your peers could. In smaller companies your satisfaction will come from seeing people appreciate the fact that you’ve made their job easier. (In large companies you might not even be in the same state or country as the users are so there won’t be any helper’s high coming from them.)
  5. In large companies a major mistake could cost the company a lot of money. In smaller companies it could cost everyone their job.