Long-time IBM i customers, new IBM i customers and those who have just begun to consider it, may be interested to know exactly how IBM i supports various other business strategies. Here is a list of relevant solution areas and descriptions of how IBM i integrates with other tools to enhance business results in these areas.

First, a little background on IBM i:

The IBM i operating environment runs on the IBM Power Systems server platform. These servers, based on industry-leading POWER® processor-based technology, also feature applications running on Linux® and AIX®. IBM i also exploits IBM Power Systems software technologies, including PowerVM® for virtualization, PowerVC for cloud management and PowerHA® for system resiliency.

Business Analytics and Optimization 

Studies show that organizations that apply analytics outperform their peers. And those with a high “Analytics Quotient”—that is, a broad-based, analytics-driven culture—perform, on average, three times better. Business analytics helps organizations to recognize subtle trends and patterns allowing them to anticipate and shape events and improve outcomes. Not only is it possible to drive more top-line growth and control costs, but risks are more easily identified upfront, allowing correction before derailing business plans.

IBM business analytics software enables organizations to apply analytics to decision-making, anytime, anywhere. IBM i clients can better analyze their data to reduce costs and improve service across their business with DB2 Web Query for IBM i. IBM, in cooperation with Information Builders, offers a full suite of query, reporting, OLAP and dashboard technologies to meet a wide variety of business intelligence solutions. With DB2 Web Query, clients have fast access to current data, while avoiding the complications of offloading data to another system.

Clients using the IBM i platform also often implement IBM Cognos® business intelligence and SPSS® predictive analytics solutions, which are deployed on a Linux on Power or AIX partition running on the same Power Systems server with PowerVM. Clients choosing this approach see the best of both worlds. They preserve their investment in IBM i applications and database while incorporating their choice of advanced analytics solution.

Mobile Computing and Mobile Access

Providing access from mobile devices has become a key consideration for delivering applications. Mobile users demand mobile websites and mobile applications that enable them to securely transact business with a wide variety of enterprises.

IBM i has numerous enabling technologies to assist companies as they embrace mobile computing. Building on top of IBM i integrated security and the ability to easily lock down critical business data, tools such as IBM Rational® HATS and IBM Access for Web allow clients to expand the application user interfaces to mobile phones and tablets.

Extending the breadth of reach of IBM’s tools, many experienced vendors provide tools and services to assist companies that are building mobile interfaces to their business applications. Companies such as LANSA, looksoftware division of Fresche Legacy, Profound Logic and others have assisted many clients to extend the value of their business applications by adding support for mobile devices.

Server Virtualization and Cloud Technologies

IBM i has a heritage of virtualization technology going back more than 40 years. The operating system design featured subsystems that enabled multiple applications to run separately in a single system image. Originally, subsystems were used to differentiate interactive and batch applications, but over time they have grown to be used for assigning priorities and system resources to a wide variety of processes and services.

In 1999, IBM also introduced the first PowerVM logical partitioning technology, enabling separate virtual machines to run on the same Power Systems server. PowerVM, which ships on more than 90 percent of midrange and high-end Power System servers, provides scalable and secure server virtualization for AIX, IBM i and Linux environments. PowerVM features micro- partitioning with up to 20 partitions per core, Live Partition Mobility between servers (available with IBM i 7.1 TR4), dynamic or automatic movement of processor and memory resources, and a wide range of I/O virtualization capabilities. PowerVM and IBM i subsystem virtualization are used extensively by IBM i clients and are a key driver of lower operations costs.

PowerVM virtualization also provides the foundation technologies for implementing cloud computing. The unprecedented interest in and projected IT spend on cloud computing is coming from all types of organizations, businesses and governments who are seeking to transform the way they deliver IT services and improve workload optimization so they can respond to changing business demands. Cloud computing can significantly reduce IT costs and complexities while improving workload optimization and service delivery.

Implementing a private cloud with IBM i can help reduce administrative tasks and improve productivity by enabling you to automate provisioning of resource requests from authorized users. It helps improve compliance and reduce errors by enabling you to standardize deployments and configurations while leveraging approval policies to maintain oversight and the optimal performance of your cloud, while workload metering capabilities support a transition to pay-per-use business models. By deploying an effective cloud computing environment, you enable organizations to reduce IT costs, improve service delivery and enable business innovation.

Resiliency and High Availability

There are two approaches to providing high availability/disaster recovery solutions for IBM i— logical replication and hardware clustering. Both solutions replicate data from a production system to a backup system and enable switching (also known as a role swap) between the two systems in the event of an outage on the production system.

IBM PowerHA provides a disk clustering solution for IBM i. PowerHA is an easy-to-manage clustering solution that makes it simple to switch between systems, is easy to maintain and is supported directly by IBM. As more IBM i clients transition to SANs, PowerHA also offers the advantage of a resiliency solution that is tightly integrated with both the IBM i operating system and IBM System Storage servers and software.

Logical replication solutions are available from ISVs that base their software on the remote journaling capability of the IBM i operating system. These ISVs include Maxava, Rocket Software, Traders and Vision Solutions.

With both disk clustering and logical replication options, IBM i clients continue to have a broad range of choices for their high availability and disaster recovery needs.

Enterprise Modernization

While many IBM i clients run industry specific applications from ISVs, many clients also develop and maintain their own applications. IBM i offers a broad choice of development languages including RPG, COBOL, C, C++, Java, PHP and other open-source languages. Typically, Java and PHP are used to develop Web actions, whereas RPG and COBOL are used for transaction processing applications. IBM i has an integrated language environment, which makes it simple to mix and match languages to fit application requirements.

IBM provides compilers and a range of development tools and enterprise modernization capabilities for IBM i. Based on the Eclipse standard, Rational Developer for i and Rational Team Concert™ for i maximize developer productivity and application deployment. Additional application development tools for IBM i are available from tool providers such as Arcad, Fresche Legacy (including looksoftware), LANSA, Linoma Software, Profound Logic and many others.

Given that many IBM i clients use RPG and COBOL for their core transaction processing applications, IBM is committed to invest in and support these languages on IBM i. IBM Rational introduced RPG Open Access that enables RPG to directly interface with a wide range of new devices and resources. Many IBM i clients are capitalizing on the opportunity to interface directly to mobile devices and they are updating applications to be rendered on devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

With the announcement of RPG IV Free Format capability in IBM i 7.1 TR7, IBM has opened the RPG language to a new generation of developers. The new format allows application developers to learn and use RPG as they would other languages such as Java, PHP, Ruby, etc. RPG in this new format is well positioned as a strategic choice for companies modernizing and extending the business value of their current business solutions.

For clients extending their application portfolio to include Java or the Web, IBM i is tightly integrated with the IBM WebSphere portfolio of products. IBM WebSphere Application Server Express ships as part of IBM i, allowing easy installation, configuration and management of Web application serving. Additionally, the Integrated Application Server, imbedded in IBM i, provides an easy-to-use high performance environment for clients who require support for less complicated web applications.

IBM has also worked with Zend to deliver the popular open-source scripting language PHP for IBM i. The Zend Server PHP product is shipped with IBM i, providing the PHP runtime and a toolkit to provide easy access to IBM i applications and data. With PHP, clients can easily develop Web applications that tie into IBM i DB2 data and applications. The most current release of Zend Server supports PHP applications split between server components and code running on mobile devices.

Resource: IBM i Strategy and Roadmap, Written by Doug Balog, General Manager, IBM Power Systems

Although IBM i is best known for being a cost-efficient platform for critical applications, businesses running IBM i today are also using it for solutions like cloud, mobility, analytics, business continuity and modernization. We encourage you to consider IBM i for these solutions areas in addition to leveraging new open industry technologies like PHP and Linux, which can offer exceptional value when integrated with your IBM i business solutions.

Schedule a consultation with Flagship to learn more.

If you liked this blog, you might also like: Power Systems Put Your Data to Work

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