2020 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

Current Events & Commentary
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This year marks the sixth edition of the popular IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, HelpSystems sets out to gather data about how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT initiatives it supports. Year over year, the survey has begun to reveal long-term trends that give insight into the future of this trusted technology.

Past surveys have sparked many thoughtful conversations about IBM i, and we’re thrilled to be part of such an engaged community. We thank those who shared the 2019 results while at IT conferences, briefings, and team meetings.

2019 brought the launch of IBM i 7.4 and many new breakthroughs for IBM i in the cloud. We can’t wait to see how these technologies support growth for IBM i users in 2020.

More than 500 IBM i users from around the globe participated in this year’s survey, and we’re so happy to share the results with you. We hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful as you evaluate your own IT projects.

Thank you to everyone who participated—we couldn’t have done it without you!

Tom Huntington

Executive Vice President of Technical Solutions


Editor's note: The 2020 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results is a free download from the MC White Paper Center.

Survey Highlights

Security concerns continue to rise—77% of respondents ranked it top of the list—but many still fail to put simple remedies in place.

The threat of data breaches is a grim reality for most organizations. Despite the risks, many haven’t implemented technologies such as antivirus software, database encryption, and multi-factor authentication. This lack of action could be related to other top challenges—namely the challenge of balancing security controls with business efficiency and the shortage of security knowledge and skills cited by 40% of organizations. If this is an area of concern for your business, it may be worth exploring managed security services to fill the gap.

IBM i 7.3 gains even more popularity and adoption of 7.4 is just starting.

In last year’s results, we saw a dramatic increase in the use of 7.3, likely due to IBM ending support for 7.1 in April 2018. With the June 2019 release of 7.4, 4% of early adopters are leading the way. Organizations clearly seek to maintain this technology over the long term as evidenced by their continued investment in performing system upgrades.

POWER8 and POWER9 usage grows and 76% of respondents are running multiple partitions.

With POWER7 no longer supported by IBM as of September 2019, organizations continue to upgrade. With its high-performance capabilities, POWER9 usage more than doubled and POWER8 stayed steady. In addition, more organizations are running multiple partitions on virtualized Power servers to improve resource utilization and reduce power consumption, among other benefits. For those looking for a consolidated view of performance data in a virtualization scenario, automated, real-time monitoring helps prevent business disruption with a proactive approach to maximizing availability.

Almost 60% of respondents rely on high availability for disaster recovery.

As IBM i shops look to HA and VTL options for maintaining uptime and availability, reliance on tape backups alone continues to shrink, though it is still used in many organizations as part of their disaster recovery toolbox. It’s not surprising that HA and VTL usage continues to trend upwards in the wake of high-profile outages, and this shift will no doubt continue. For IBM i shops in search of HA resources, the IBM i High Availability Handbook is a great first step.

Most have concerns about capacity planning but aren’t sure where to turn for expertise.

51% of respondents are concerned about capacity management, but questions about the accuracy of vendor recommendations are on the rise. Respondents also indicated they lack the right tools or internal expertise. In light of potential investments in new Power servers, this could cause organizations to over- or under-invest in technology, with each causing its own set of scalability and budget issues.

Development on IBM i is crucial and open source development tools are common.

Active development on IBM i continues, with most organizations relying on it to run at least half of their core business applications and 73% of respondents using applications written in-house. RPG remains a go-to technology, but open source development tools such as Apache, Node.js, and Python also support modernization projects, a trend that has held steady year over year.

The market for IBM i continues to be extremely stable with 1.4% annual attrition.

Although we’ve grown accustomed to hearing that the IBM i market is shrinking, it’s fan base continues to expand. 65% of IBM i shops are planning to expand their IBM i footprint or keep it as is for 2020, which significantly outnumbers those who plan to migrate off the platform. Also, 72% rely on IBM i to run more than half of their core business applications, a strong indication of the platform’s stability.

For the sixth year in a row, over 90% of respondents believe IBM i provides better ROI than other server options.

IBM i users continue to rate the platform higher than other options when it comes to providing a return on their investment. Since 84% of respondents work in environments with several platforms in place, these professionals are in a position to assess the ROI of a variety of options. The high IBM i customer satisfaction is a notable datapoint for the market as a whole.

What to learn more? Download the complete 2020 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results from the MC White Paper Center It's Free!