System i Introduction
- What is System i?
- Why have you not heard about it?
- Where does it fit in the range of business
- Why do you care?
- Isn't it old?
- System i means integration
What is System i?
System i is the current name of IBM's proprietary, mid-range
computing platform for general business use. It was previously known as the
Videos are worth a thousand words. Laughing Boardroom:
What System i servers do on their scheduled downtime. Also
- General Business Use
- traditional commercial applications: transaction oriented such
as Order Processing, Inventory, MRP (Material Requirements Processing for
manufacturing), logistics, Accounting, Purchasing, CRM (Customer Relationship
Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning - integration, analysis, and
optimization of transactions through the supply / manufacturing / distribution
- emerging commercial applications: compute and transaction
oriented: e-commerce, web services, Java
- transaction: a purchase, sale, accounting or other business
event recorded in a database, generated by on-line interactive or batch
- a complete computer system including hardware, operating
system, database, and programming tools to develop application software.
- You can't pick it up and carry it.
- It's bigger than an Intel server (System x), smaller than a
water-cooled mainframe (System z).
It's for small companies and departments
but scales up to "enterprise" (large corporation) sizes.
- Proprietary means...
- - a product imbued with exclusive magic by the unmatched brilliance
of the company's own hardware or software designers
- - trademarked hardware and operating system made only for each
- - means customers locked in by a vendor
- - "closed source", i.e. only the binaries but it runs on a
standardized platform and comes with support. As opposed to "open source" which
is the source without the binaries (because the source isn't finished yet) and
comes with the satisfaction of doing it yourself with the potential thrill of
even more security
risks than Microsoft.
IBM's System i hardware runs the
i5/OS operating system and i5/OS runs only on System i hardware. Just like
Sun's computers & Solaris, HP servers & HP-UX, IBM System p & AIX,
Apple and MAC OS, and Wintel. Linux is perhaps the only non-proprietary OS
because it runs on just about anything: System i/x/p/z, Intel, etc. but the
various distributions (RedHat, Caldera, SuSe, TurboLinux) are proprietary and
binaries may not transferrable to other Linux systems even with the same
Almost everything is proprietary.
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Why have you not heard about System i?
- IBM keeps changing its name:
The System i, the current edition being i5, was previously known as
iSeries introduced in
2000, previously known as the AS/400,
1988, previously known as the System/38,
- System i is marketed only B2B (Business to Business)
- only businesses need System i -- it is a business systems
- have you ever seen advertisements for capacitors, plastics, or
electric motors? Neither have I. But they are all in your PC.
things marketed B2B are below consumers' radar
- IBM is the world's worst marketing company, especially with
the System i
- repeat business is so good among the 800,000+ System i and iSeries
shipped that IBM doesn't have to market it. System i owners are among the most
loyal in the industry -- they keep their systems twice as long as the industry
average, then they buy another one.
- System i does not attract attention to itself because of its very
high reliability and low cost of ownership.
- Why do you think businesses keep them twice as long?
- You do hear about Microsoft failures all the time, and about
spectacular UNIX failures occasionally (e.g. TSX halts stock exchange after
computer crashes due to high trading volumes; major web site down for two days;
Microsoft security flaw found) -- it's true: there really is no such thing as
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Where does System i fit in the range of business
- about 800,000 units have been sold over the life of the platform
more than any other single, multi-user platform
- currently, there are 475,000 active iSeries and System i systems
owned by 272,000 businesses
- 94% of the System i install base is in small and mid-sized
- small: 10 - 49 employees, medium: 50 - 249 employees (European Union
- IBM's mid-sized market is companies with 100-999 employees which
means a potential market of up to 500,000 companies worldwide.
- Most of the IT world's money is spent by medium and large
Business look at systems in terms of the number of users and
applications they need to support, and the Total Cost of Ownership per
System i and mainframes can run multiple applications and even multiple
virtual servers including Linux. Most businesses need only one system. On
Microsoft/UNIX/Linux servers, most application software requires it own,
exclusive server. That means many servers per business or
Linux servers running inside a System i
Number of regular users
||UNIX servers - - - - - - - - - - -
||System i server (just
one) - - - - - - - - - - - >
||mainframes: IBM System
z, "big iron" from "Big Blue"
also Hitachi, Fujitsu, Amdahl
number of Servers installed
Total dollars spent by Server type
where the world's data is stored
TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) per user by type of
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Why do you care?
- because that's where the money is (see above)
- System i jobs have always paid 10% more than industry average and are
- there are fewer System i jobs but there are fewer people chasing
- System i has the most advanced, newest OS on the market and the only
- world's best server-side Java performance because of unique System i
- no matter what kind of system you like best, you will eventually
exchange data with all other kinds of systems
- System i is an excellent platform for business applications: maximum
solutions from minimal coding
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Isn't System i old?
- Yes. It is. It's old because it was good enough to get old. It's just
3 years older than the PC.
- It is old because most of its competitors have died: Wang VS [I
worked on it, it was a good machine.], DEC, Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control
Data, and the HP 3000 which is on life support but HP will pull the plug
- System i is old but UNIX is older. Unix almost died just before that
World Wide Web thing came along and resuscitated it.
Old is not obsolete.
The telephone, the railway, and
transcontinental communications are all well over 100 years old but not
obsolete yet. Is it this year or next year that computers will replace paper?
Just how old is paper, anyway? When will the Internet replace the telephone,
books and libraries, and when will broadband allow us all to telecommute? When
will we "move
bits, not atoms"? It must be next year. Right. It's always next
obsolete = Microsoft
They have written more obsolete software than
Someday, they will write an OS and development tools good enough to
get old. (.Net has a chance)
Until then, they remain the world's most
successful marketing company.
Who else could repeatedly sell us new
products because the last ones did not work?
"Why are Sony TVs more reliable than a $500 million IT system?
All of the pieces should work together so that the cost of
integration decreases while the reliability increases." -- Larry
Ellison, Oracle CEO, from OracleWorld keynote November, 2002
Good idea, Larry. On an System i, all the pieces do work
The "i" in System i means integrated: hardware, operating system,
database, Web server, security package, programming tools and languages,
multi-platform file serving. Not just compatible. Integrated.
And System i
is more reliable than any other platform except mainframes.
"I was a customer of the industry for a very long time. I knew
that what I wanted from the IT industry was a way to integrate
technologies in my business ... but it was like buying a car in pieces." -- Lou
Gerstner, former IBM CEO, as quoted by zdnet.com in December, 2002
You joined the right company, Lou. IBM gives you a choice. There is the
integrated System i and zSeries or, for those who like buying their cars in
pieces, the pSeries or xSeries.
How good is the System i, really?
So good, it
So good, some people are
addicted to it.
"Customers don't value technology for technology's
sake... They value the application of technology to solve serious business
problems." -- President Sam Palmisano's address to the IBM Annual Stockholders
Meeting Kansas City, Missouri April 29, 2003.