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An IBM i Tester’s Perspective on the Platform

IBM i tester Derek Miner shares his thoughts on the platform.

Image of a POWER9 chip.

It was not that long ago I had just graduated from college, I had my fundamental understanding of programming, problem solving and software engineering basics, but I’d never heard of the platform called IBM i. I’d primarily worked on Linux devices, so when I interviewed for a position to be a part of a test team for a platform that was entirely new to me, it was intriguing to say the least. Three years later, IBM i has proved to me that it’s built with the customer in mind. It covers all the bases of running a business without the hassle of other OSes.
In my position, I verify new products and features to make sure they are worthy of the quality that IBM i has stood for in the past, and it sure does show. Our development and test teams have a passion for this platform, I not only see it in the quality of the new features I test, but also from my daily interactions with everyone in the Power Systems organization. 
So why was it that I had never heard of IBM i before starting here? Was it because IBM has changed its name several times? Maybe it was because it takes such a small staff to keep running, and they very rarely have problems. The ironic part is that even if you haven’t heard of or directly used IBM i, almost every person has interacted with the platform unknowingly. When you go to the store to buy groceries, deposit a check at the bank, or pick up your prescription at a pharmacy, behind the scenes there’s a good chance it’s running on IBM i. I've heard of crazy stories of businesses not being able to find their IBM i box because it got walled in somewhere, and it stayed running for years and years without issues, but that just enforces what IBM i is all about. 

Keeping IBM i Relevant

What keeps IBM i relevant, how can a 30-year-old OS keep going? It really comes down to how well it was designed in the first place. IBM i was ahead of its time when it was first released back in 1988. Being an object-based OS with single level storage, it’s almost like the creators had a crystal ball to see into the future. 
We work closely with clients to deliver what they want and need, and we enhance the tools and software several times a year. And with open source on IBM i, even an inexperienced user can have code up and running without much effort or knowledge about the OS. Now we’re offering a continuously available solution for our fully integrated database, Db2 Mirror for i, and we can even run IBM i in the cloud. 
The best part to me is that I get to constantly be the first one to use the latest and greatest products we are about to release to the world. As a part of my position in testing, I get to assume the role of a client—it’s a bit like opening Christmas presents every day. It’s exciting to be the first one to try out our new products (and try to break them in any way I can). When I look back at some of the different positions I held, I never thought I would get to be a professional system breaker. I really could not ask for anything much better, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by others who feel the same. 
It’s pretty rare for any company to have a platform that can adopt so many new features and provide so much new functionality, but still easily run code that was written in the 1980s without a modification or a hiccup. To me, the best part about IBM i to me is the huge range of clients we support—from mom and pop shops all the way to giant corporations that process billions of transactions a year. IBM i has everyone covered, we are here to support what the business world needs.
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