Celebrate 30 Years of IBM i Innovation With Training at TechU


“Thirty years of innovation and we’re just getting started.” What an incredible line to start a conversation about the evolution of an amazing platform.

Yes, the IBM AS/400 was announced 30 years ago with a lot of fanfare and a lot of mystery about what this machine might be. It was state of the art and merged together all the best attributes of its predecessor products—S/36 and S/38. But even more, it merged together some of the other amazing attributes of the vibrant community. The announcement brought together user groups from “both sides” and united ISVs and IBM business partners.

The design of the system and the close partnership with ISVs and IBM business partners have allowed companies from many industries, and in all shapes and sizes, to run their businesses on IBM i on POWER. Taxi companies with 10 employees, flower shops with 20 employees, distributors with 100 employees right up to major banks with millions of accounts run their businesses on IBM i.

Today, 30 years later, that amazing architecture and design has stood the test of time. Yes, the pillars of the architecture—single-level storage, object based architecture, onboard virtualization and integration—remain as the key pillars of the IBM i architecture. And thank goodness for that!

Inside IBM, we know that the architectural foundation of IBM i, while based on the same design since 1988, has evolved tremendously to include amazing new elements that allow our clients to use the system in ways unimaginable in 1988. There was no internet, no mobile devices, no online hackers and no notion of open-source languages.

As the world of technology has grown, so has IBM i. The IBM Development teams in Rochester and China have integrated state of the art connectivity, open source languages and virtualization capabilities into the system. This isn’t the original OS/400 operating system running on the AS/400 hardware. This is IBM i on Power Systems servers and it’s awesome!

As part of the 30th Anniversary celebration, the IBM team has talked to more than 40 companies around the world about how they use IBM i inside their organizations. And it’s awesome, too. Our clients use IBM i in ways that I hadn’t imagined. We’ve heard stories of innovation, integration and connectivity that have us in awe.

Without exception, every company with whom we talked had a main goal to support the requirements of their business and to provide competitive advantage with the solutions and technologies that they implement. Bankers run their banks on IBM i because of security, reliability and availability. They use the latest in storage technology. Manufacturers manufacture their goods because of the breadth of capabilities to integrate with modern technologies such as sensors and monitors. Distributors distribute goods using some of the ties to things like the weather predictions of IBM Watson and the IBM Weather channel. Retailers sell good of all types using the integration and mobile characteristics tying their tablets and websites to the retail applications that have been running their businesses for years.

It has been a privilege to hear these stories of innovation. I’m humbled by many of the creative ways that our clients have used what we provide and have added their own innovations to create amazing solutions. We’ve published many of these stories on the IBM i 30th anniversary website. Please go and read them.

How can you also get inspired and what can you do? One of the ways that you can keep up-to-date about what is happening in the world of IBM i and learn about the latest technologies is to attend various events around the world. This will give you a chance not just to talk with some of the imaginative developers who create the operating system, but also to talk with other industry experts to provide their perspectives. And most important of all, these events leverage the strength of the IBM i community and let you talk with other clients about what they’re doing with IBM i in their companies.

Get the latest insights and skills from technology leaders and attend IBM TechU this October 15-19 in Hollywood, FL. Learn more about IBM i and hear the latest updates and ideas directly from the experts. Register today!

Finally, I challenge all of you: Read stories about innovation, attend education and see what’s possible, and then I will ask simply, “What are you inspired to do with IBM i?”

Alison Butterill is the offering manager for IBM i. She owns the responsibility for the IBM i business, including defining and guiding future directions and strategies.

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