OCEAN User Group is an important advocate for the IBM i community.
This user group located in Southern California, draws attendees from as far north as Ventura and as far south as San Diego. Last month's October meeting drew an unusually large attendance due to fact that Alison Butterill, the IBM i Worldwide Product Offering Manager was speaking. No one was disappointed.
Alison is a gifted speaker with decades of experience in the development of the IBM i, from the System/36 days & AS/400, iSeries, to the current i brand. She shared a lot of exciting news and began with a brief history of the i that lead up to the recent 25th anniversary, being celebrated in countries around the world (visit IBMi25 Facebook page). The IBM i is still regarded as the best business platform on the market and, as Alison informed us, the i market is still expanding with recent sales jumps (in spite of some concerns to the contrary). She also surprised many in the audience when she announced that there are more users running on the IBM i worldwide than any other platform IBM offers.
Her most interesting statement was the fact that IBM have seen a dramatic jump in sales in the past six months, attributable to the addition of mobile device support for applications. Alison shared examples of companies skipping from green screen direct to mobile platforms including iPad, iPhone and Android, supporting the notion that mobile support will be the key modernization activity in coming years.
Alison pointed out possible pitfalls when implementing mobile integration, and wisely suggested users work with a partner who has experience with such implementation, rather than doing it on their own. This reminded me of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Farhad Manjo: “Call it the case of the incredibly shrinking IT Guy: In the past, CIOs and their staff had a reputation for being snarky, geeky guys who were always looking for ways to tell employees what they couldn't do. Now, at the most progressive companies, the tech department's main job isn't to say no. Instead, it's to find a way to let employees safely run any device or program they like. The thinking goes like this: Employees are most productive when they're allowed to work with the tools that make them happy.”
The possibilities are endless and there are indeed benefits, not to mention full support within the i community. This is evident, Alison reminds us, in the assemblage of IBM modernization industry experts in Rochester recently, passionately crafting the upcoming Redbook on modernization to assist and continue positive growth within the IBM i world. Our very own Pascal Polverini is involved in this important project. You can find Pascal's blogs on RPG in the looksoftware blog.
The highlight of the evening was the announcement by IBM of new features in RPG which will bring this workhorse language up to the standards of some of our most popular languages e.g. Java, Linux, C++ and so on. The new RPG (maybe a new name is coming?) now has the look and feel of these other languages. Alison said there is even a new text book coming out for local schools to use, so they can offer RPG alongside other languages taught in the computer science departments. She asked the audience to contact their local community colleges to encourage them to offer RPG classes, and volunteered IBM’s assistance in providing fully developed course materials to make it easier. This would address the concerns of many of the attendees, who struggle to find trained RPG programmers. She encouraged them to get involved with IBM and our local schools to change this.
Alison spent a lot of time going through the new features and products IBM has introduced in this new announcement (IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh). Many times during her presentation she received applause from grateful developers. It was VERY encouraging. Alison is a wonderful missionary for us, the IBM i faithful.
I met new folks still on green screen and looking to move to both the web and mobile. Some programmers expressed concern that their management still viewed the IBM i as a relic from the past. They left the meeting armed with lots of new reasons why the IBM i remains the best platform overall. We in the modernization arena need to stand ready to defend the platform, and make believers of those CEOs and CIOs falling prey to the siren call of “move to a more modern Oracle or Microsoft platform”. We know that such a move poses incredible costs, risks and delays. We need to be prepared to offer assistance and guidance when those crucial decisions are being made.
The following links will provide further information on the importance of modernization, mobile and more.
Sol De Leon