IBC233 System i Introduction

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 iSeries.

Videos are worth a thousand words. Laughing Boardroom: Covered, Automatic, People. What System i servers do on their scheduled downtime. Also It exists, and more.

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 chains)
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 process.
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 other
- 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 kernel.

Almost everything is proprietary.

Top of Page

Why have you not heard about System i?

Top of Page

Where does System i fit in the range of business systems?

Business look at systems in terms of the number of users and applications they need to support, and the Total Cost of Ownership per user.

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 many virtual Linux servers running inside a System i

Number of regular users
performing commercial workloads
ones tens hundreds thousands 10,000s +
limited use
limited use
UNIX servers - - - - - - - - - - - > limited
System i server (just one) - - - - - - - - - - - > limited
mainframes: IBM System z, "big iron" from "Big Blue"
also Hitachi, Fujitsu, Amdahl

number of Servers installed
Intel based

Total dollars spent by Server type
Intel based

where the world's data is stored
on other servers
on mainframes

TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) per user by type of client
PC clients

Mainframes are cheapter.

Top of Page

Why do you care?

Top of Page

Isn't System i old?

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 year.

obsolete = Microsoft
They have written more obsolete software than anyone.
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 together.
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 doesn't need marketing.

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.