IBM i in 9 slides – blog


It’s been a challenge to determine how to distill the essence of IBM i. Since IBM i is function-rich, securable, scalable, reliable environment, it is difficult translate to into a simple story

This presentation outlines IBM i in nine slides, 70 bullet points, and under 30 minutes.

Slide 1 of 9: IBM i

IBM i is an operating system that runs on Power Systems hardware from IBM – alongside AIX and Linux.

The i stands for Integrated. All this functionality is built in to the operating system making it far more than standard operating system functionality we would normally have to buy with other operating systems. IBM i is a full featured operating environment

  • The database built-in to IBM i is world class.
  • It is the most securable system for business on the planet.
  • Work management allows us to apply resources to various workloads and have them work together to meet the needs of the business.
  • Virtualization allows us to carve up partitions and apply the hardware resources to them as we need.
  • Continuous availability has been a strong suitof IBM i for many years and gets stronger with every new release of the operating system.
  • Networking and connectivity provide for the integration to go beyond just the IBM i operating system itself – and integrated with the security features makes it very flexible and powerful.
  • Auditing happens under the covers so that we know what’s how your applications are being used. It allows your business to know what security needs to be applied.
  • Storage management features mean we’re not spending time carving up spaces for databases and managing tables, since system automatically performs that.
  • IBM i has been serving interactive and batch applications as standard forever. Now, companies are evolving to deliver mobile and cloud apps.

IBM i is a true feature-rich operating environment. It is robust, reliable, scalable, and secure and that’s been its heritage. Today IBM i continues serving the needs of businesses around the world.

Slide 2 of 9: Database

Db2 for i is a world class database fully integrated into the IBM i operating system.

Db2 is a fully relational database management system. The database leverages IBM i functionality called single level storage. This means the application developers do not have to manage where data is – whether it is in memory or whether it is in a database table.

Autonomic computing is becoming a big trend.

  • Self configuring means there is limited configuration work prior to installing and using the system. Tasks that might create and monitor table spaces or work with complex partitioning across data subsystems is not required. IBM i handles that and automatically spreads application data across the storage hardware. That could be disk, SSD, or flash technology and no time is needed by application support staff to allocate storage.
  • Self healing means there are many ways that the system can handle interruptions. IBM i keeps audit records in journal receivers, and the system automatically monitors and rolls them over as needed automatically. Journaling can automatically restart after operations such as copy or restore. Other functions such as index rebalancing are handled automatically by the system. If database catalog views are impacted, Db2 will automatically rebuild those.
  • Self tuning comes in the form of an auto-tuner in IBM i that adjusts resources to accommodate different workload characteristics and requirements. A query optimizer is built in to manage performance. Changes to the database are detected by the optimizer and query plans are rebuilt without user intervention – to maximize performance.
  • Self protecting features include digitally signing objects, 128 bit data encryption and SSL and encryption capabilities. Row and Column Access Control (RCAC) functionality provides for excellent application security.

Db2 for i is a fully compliant SQL database. It includes data types such as JSON and XML, and the database supports future data types because of the architecture of IBM i and the Db2 database.

There is no DBA required on IBM i. Less time is spent managing the database and more time is spent building the applications. IBM i often assign a role of DBE (database engineer) to architect and design the schema. Adding to the automatic indexing and performance features, a will monitor and improve the application. DBE is a role typically done by one of the application developers in an environment.

Slide 3 of 9: Architecture

IBM i’s architecture is built for business.

IBM i is an object-based architecture – this helps from a security perspective.

At the core of IBM i is single level storage functionality, allowing application developers to spend less time determining the location of required artifacts.

Db2 for i provides a single database across all applications. Multiple vendor packages and homegrown software use the same database, which provides ease of integration across applications.

System management is autonomic, and system tuning is automatic within configured parameters to ensure the system performs optimally for the workloads that we require for our business.

PASE (Portable Applications Systems Environment) is an AIX environment native to IBM i. PASE allows us to bring Unix and Linux workloads and applications to IBM i. They will run natively and are able to integrate directly into Db2 for i.

Integration is the backbone of IBM i, with the operating system performing a lot of functions to reduce the amount of manual effort for development and support of business applications.

A powerful feature is TIMI – the Technology Independent Machine Interface. TIMI is a layer between the hardware itself and the operating system that opens IBM i to adopt future technology without expensive re-engineering or re-platforming. IBM changes the processor in the Power Systems servers regularly, and without disruption to business, IBM i continues to deliver the business application assets. When SSD devices were available, TIMI provided the interface to the database and IBM i applications never knew there was a different kind of disk hardware underneath storing the data.

IBM i’s architecture is truly built for business.

Slide 4 of 9: Security

IBM i is the most securable platform for business on the planet.

The object based architecture is a key part of that security. You cannot run a file – like a program, and you cannot inject data into a program – like a file, as other platforms do. Viruses are not something that’s even considered as possible on IBM i.

Users, user classes, and group users are a means to configure access. Application users, for example, will have a different level of access than developers or security-level users.

The auditing functionalities integrated into IBM i allow us to know what is happening with application access and usage. With IBM i 7.3, authority collection functionality was added to determine how a user was using an application and what authority they needed for that application. This allows security to be tightened. In IBM i 7.4, authority collection functionality evolved to direct object level.

Each successive IBM i operating system version and technology refresh improves security functionality to handle modern threats and protect your application portfolio and data.

Slide 5 of 9: Applications

IBM i is the core for many businesses.

It is backwards compatible – companies run AS/400 and S/36 applications on IBM i. This has the appearance of IBM i being an old system, but it is the applications that are old.

Today, we have IBM i on Power Systems delivering modern applications to businesses. If the legacy applications are outdated and still running, being on IBM i affords an opportunity to modernize and leverage all the available functionality.

Traditionally, IBM i serves robust back-end business applications, and it continues that tradition.

Today, IBM i customers are developing more mobile capabilities to serve application users anywhere, any time, with any device.

IBM i has been a cloud application server for its entire history. Until recently, self-service IBM i cloud partitions were difficult. Now, IBM offers IBM i partitions with IBM Cloud, and other vendors are following suit. This will initially bring more functionality for development and testing tasks, and eventually, will become key for production applications.

IBM i is found in industries across the globe, ranging from hospitality to insurance to apparel. Banking companies in the financial sector leverage IBM i as a key to running their business securely, reliably, and robustly.

Slide 6 of 9: Development

IBM i development has traditionally leveraged RPG and COBOL, along with CL.

Today’s RPG is significantly different than yesterday’s. RPG in it’s current incarnation is fully free format and looks like a modern language. It is modular and used to build and deliver discrete business functions orchestrated into service enabled applications. And with every IBM i version and technology release, RPG improves dramatically to support business like no other language.

IBM i development is built inside ILE – the Integrated Language Environment. ILE is not a language, but an environment to be able to tightly couple functions and modules together so that they appear as one program. ILE tight coupling within IBM i delivers maximum performance and fast integrated access to the database. This modular development methodology allows us to build modern applications.

As with any web application platform, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are available. Frameworks such as AngularJS will be used to build the front end and consume service enabled applications built in languages such as RPG and COBOL.

Open Source feels new to IBM i, however PHP has been available for over a decade. IBMiOSS is growing in leaps and bounds, bringing languages, tools, and applications that may not have been in a traditional IBM i portfolio. With IBM i 7.4, the R language for analytical applications has arrived. Both RPM (a Package Manager) and XML Services in PASE allows more languages, environments, frameworks, tools, and applications to be brought and tightly integrate with IBM i and Db2 for i.

Mono was ported to IBM i with a community effort. Mono allows ASP.Net applications to run in an Apache server – which IBM i has, opening the door to run a more diverse suite of applications.

The world is ours!

Slide 7 of 9: Heritage

IBM i has a strong heritage.

This includes our favorite AS/400 from 1988 running OS/400, which was replaced in 2000 with iSeries running OS/400, then in 2006 by System i running i5/OS.

In 2008, a new platform was delivered from IBM called Power Systems. The operating system was ported to run on Power Systems alongside AIX and Linux and named IBM i.

That was a major point in the history of IBM i, and today, some people do not realize the significance of this new platform.

Since 2008, IBM i has evolved with regular versions and technology refreshes every six months.

IBM i 7.1 was introduced in 2010 with 11 TRs before it was out of support.

IBM i 7.2 was released in 2014 with 8 TRs before it was out of support.

IBM i 7.3 came next in 2016 with 6 TRs and counting.

IBM i 7.4 was released in 2019, and the expected timeframe of October 2019 should produce a TR1 for IBM i 7.4 and TR7 for IBM i 7.3.

Some major highlights of the IBM i versions and TR releases are:

  • IBM i 7.1 TR4 – Live Partition Mobility.

A running IBM i partition can be moved to another server without disruption to users or applications.

  • IBM i 7.1 TR7 – RPG Fully Free Format.

RPG became a modern language that is easy to learn for developers of any other language. With ILE, RPG is now the best language to develop business applications on the most reliable securable server on the planet.

  • IBM i 7.2 TR2 – Python.

Python is now the number one language in North American colleges and universities to teach programming. Python is the fastest growing language for developing applications in the new world. Python runs on IBM i.

  • IBM i 7.3 – Temporal Database.

Once temporal database functionality is turned on, IBM i will collect the information needed to provide new SQL capabilities using the WHERE clause. For example, if a user needs to know a company’s financial position as it was at January 1st, temporal database functionality provides that.

  • IBM i 7.4 – Db2 Mirror.

With IBM i 7.4, the Db2 Mirror for i product was announced. Db2 Mirror is a means to realtime synchronize databases on two partitions close to each other. It is primarily HA functionality, rather than DR. Db2 Mirror can be used to synchronize data between applications running on two separate partitions.

Slide 8 of 9: TCO

IBM i has a better TCA and TCO than comparative systems and applications.

Quark and Lepton released a study in 2017 with a three year cost comparison comparing x86 Linux with an Oracle database on Windows and IBM i 7.3 with Db2 running on Power Systems.

The results show the costs to keep applications running on IBM i with Db2 was significantly cheaper than x86 Linux and Oracle on Windows.

While the hardware maintenance and software licenses are cheaper, the cost of personnel required to develop and maintain IBM i applications is significantly cheaper.

It may look like IBM i is doing nothing because of the fewer people involved in the environment, however, IBM i’s integration and autonomic computing capabilities reduce that effort substantially.

Slide 9 of 9: Future

IBM i is positioned for your future.

IBM i has traditionally been a System of Record. That is key for many businesses, since IBM i is a solid business application server.

The next step is System of Engagement, and IBM i has been providing analytics and business intelligence functionality to deliver the information curated by the technology and stored in the data.

Next, System of Insight enables IBM i to connect to new functionality – Watson and AI being examples.

IBM i integrates with cloud services to leverage modern and evolving technology for business applications.

Businesses are leveraging AI to enhance business applications and provide new functionality.

Watson functionality is used by many IBM i companies, from language and currency translations, to natural language analytics.

As Blockchain ledgers become part of the business technology landscape, integrating business applications and data between those ledgers and IBM i will become commonplace.

With more data collected and available to businesses, analytics will become prevalent. IBM i, being the System of Record will be a source of data for analytical applications and the results of external functions will be integrated and updated to IBM i applications.

Internet of Things (IoT) is pervasive, and all the data collected needs to be stored with the System of Record. As IoT becomes more than data collection points, IBM i will integrate and deliver information to those devices.

Manufacturing and distribution companies, for example, are using Robotics to automate processes and workflows, and for many companies, IBM i is being used to direct those processes, gather information, and integrate robotics tightly into business applications.

IBM i is in your future, because it is already working in the future.


IBM i works in both a modern technology environment alongside its strong heritage of applications for business.

We encourage you to promote IBM i for your business. IBM’s motto for IBM i for the current year is “a platform for innovators, by innovators”. As an innovator, IBM i is your platform. Be an innovator. Use IBM i.

Bibliography and Glossary


IBM i home page
IBM i Strategy White Paper
Quark + Lepton Report – Midsize
Quark + Lepton Report – Enterprise


IBM i An operating environment
Power Systems Best-of-breed business servers
#IBMi Hashtag to represent IBM i
i5/OS OS name preceding IBM i
OS/400 OS name preceding i5/OS
System i Merged with System p to evolve to Power Systems
i5 No such thing ever existed
System i5 First release of System i (lasted a few months)
iSeries Preceded System i
AS/400 Preceded iSeries – merger of S/38 and S36


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