March 18, 2020 By Skip Garvin 4 min read

It’s not surprising that there’s a perception in the marketplace that the IBM i operating system on IBM Power Systems is a legacy platform that’s no longer relevant. How could a technology like IBM i, introduced more than 30 years ago, still be relevant today, when cloud, AI, blockchain and cognitive dominate the conversation?

There’s a lot of evidence to counter this myth though, from the myriad clients who use it to the latest third-party market research on its affordability. Let’s take a look.

IBM i is not a “legacy platform”

Let’s dispel this part of the myth first. I’ve heard many stories that characterized IBM i as a legacy platform, but they overlook the fact that numerous companies around the world have significant investments in IBM i solutions and rely on it every day to run their core business applications.

These companies range from small to large businesses and government agencies.

Consider the following IBM i stories:

  • Stonetales Properties migrated applications from an x86 Windows environment, upgraded older Power Systems and centralized its real estate portfolio management system on IBM i in a POWER9 cloud.
  • Brain Staff Consultants built a state-of-the-art AI chatbot in the cloud to respond immediately to student requests.
  • IRIS Financial Services, a managed cloud service provider, introduced an archiving service to help financial institutions streamline compliance for legal archiving of documents.

These cloud and AI solutions aren’t legacy applications; they take advantage of the latest technologies and integrate them into an IBM i on Power Systems environment, known for its performance, reliability, scalability and security.

What is relevant to clients in today’s marketplace?

Now let’s talk about relevance. Cloud is relevant to every company today, as are AI and machine learning, open source software and application development environments. Performance, reliability, scalability and security also top the list of priority targets, and are all fundamental strengths of IBM i on Power Systems.

Consider how IBM i integrates cloud technology into its strategy. There are many cloud-based options available for IBM i clients and more on the way. IBM Cloud, Google Cloud, SkyTap and others understood that integrating cloud capabilities into a rock-solid platform that is reliable, secure and high performance is a very smart investment, and that’s why IBM i on Power Systems is available on their clouds today.

Likewise, IBM i is relevant to today’s developers, offering top open source programming tools like Git, Node.js, Python, Apache, Angular and Ruby. It offers enhanced RPG and COBOL environments and augments them with languages like SQL, Java 8, .NET, PHP, C and C++ to name a few. Then, tie it all together with Rational Developer for i, a world-class software development environment. Complimenting this very strong development environment is an ecosystem of independent software vendor (ISV) solutions that number in the thousands.

What about cost?

Cost is also relevant to clients’ buying decisions, but it’s usually not the top consideration when choosing a system. That said, IBM i, running on Power Systems, is subject to the same myth as was AIX running on IBM Power Systems: that when compared to comparable x86 systems, it’s too expensive. While there are scenarios where that may be true, what surprises many clients is that IBM i usually provides a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and sometimes a lower total cost of acquisition (TCA) as well.

In fact, the 2020 IBM i Marketplace Survey, conducted by HelpSystems, reported that 90 percent of the clients surveyed believe IBM i provides a better ROI than other platforms. Given that most of these companies have environments with platforms from other vendors, they’re in a much better position to assess the TCO and ROI of other options.

That same study highlighted another characteristic of IBM i on Power Systems, one it is known for throughout the industry, and that’s its ease of use and low system administration costs. Most of these environments only require one or two system administrators, and nearly 50 percent of the clients surveyed run in an unattended mode.

One more client example

Carhartt is a good story to close with. One of America’s leading workwear brands, Carhartt needed to grow its international presence but questioned how to best scale its sales capacity and keep operational costs as low as possible. Teaming with IBM Business Partner Mainline, it upgraded and centralized its environment on IBM i on Power Systems E980, reduced its data center footprint by 70 percent and saved an estimated $1.1 million based on reduced operational costs.

It’s especially impressive when you consider that Carhartt manages this environment with a team of just three people.


Numerous clients around the world rely on IBM i to run their core, mission-critical applications every day, and they are cogent examples of why this myth — that IBM i is a legacy environment no longer relevant in today’s marketplace — is just that, a myth.

A technology becomes less relevant when it loses its strategic value to clients and is unable to adopt and integrate new ideas and capabilities into its framework. That is certainly not the case for IBM i. Clients regularly invest in this platform (see more client success stories for proof), building new applications and solutions with the latest technologies. And IBM i has built its strategy and roadmap to address their needs.

IBM Systems Lab Services has a team of highly experienced consultants ready to help you get the most out of your IBM i on Power Systems investments. Reach out today if you have any questions or need help, and stay tuned for the next post in the “Top IBM Power Systems myths” series.

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