This year will see new technologies applied to the IBM i platform, requiring a redoubled commitment to training and personal development.
Given all the negatives that the economic downturn in 2009 caused, it's not surprising that 2010 ended with some uncertainty, even as many businesses began to get their feet on the ground. The lingering malaise may have been unfairly projected onto the IBM i platform, but there is now a true spirit of optimism emerging in the IT industry as January propels us rapidly into the heart of 2011.
We wanted to give readers our take on what the year ahead is likely to hold for the IBM midrange platform and thus waited until the year had bolted from the starting gate in order to offer a better sense of the path ahead.
There are market trends, and then there are market trends. Some are highly scientific, but this one is not; it's the subjective opinions of MC Press Online editors who cover the news and talk to authors on a daily basis. Needless to say, there are many initiatives unfolding at IBM that we could highlight, but we believe the three main IBM trends of interest to our readers are business intelligence (including predictive analytics), cloud computing, and system and data integration. (Then also there's security, but let's face it; there's always going to be security.)
However, in addition to whatever IBM initiatives may be in play, there are also market initiatives that readers face in their own businesses in the form of requests from management and users. Many of our readers are programmers who are called upon to implement the requests emerging from these market-driven forces.
The summary below is a list of trends that we see emerging this year that may affect readers. That mission-critical data is stored on the IBM i platform has been a given for years. That people with cell phones or iPads wandering around a shopping mall may not want to access that data as they place an online order over an e-commerce site is a new phenomenon. Regardless of how the world used to be a few years back, the Web genie is now out of the bag, and developers are going to have to deal with it. Here is how we see things emerging this year for IBM i Power System developers and administrators.
MC Press Online's Trends for 2011
- Upgrades to in-house and vendor-supplied application software to allow it to support the latest browser technologies, such as the forthcoming Internet Explorer 9, browsers that in turn will support HTML5 and CSS3. Greater use of rich UI feature sets in modernization projects.
- Web app development for mobile devices, most standardizing on the WebKit engine. Expertise will be required in building mobile-device applications that support device detection and in reformatting of output for different mobile devices and other enhanced mobile-device features.
- A crushing emphasis on training and skill development by and for IBM i professionals to familiarize them with HTML and Web skills as well as enhanced modernization skills so as to help reduce cost, improve performance, and increase application functionality and Web access.
- Continued application modernization that follows two separate tracks: 1) Web enablement and 2) a growing emphasis on the complete rewriting of applications with enhanced functionality and multiplatform support. This latter trend will accelerate as the economy improves and IT funds become more readily available.
- New and simpler solutions for deploying business intelligence and predictive analytics for lower-level business class users and a greater emphasis on using them for decision-making.
- Greater integration of IBM i applications with other databases, including MySQL and SQL Server, to enable consolidating data from different sources for presentation on the Web.
- Gradual improvement of RPG Open Access handlers and RPG OA technology to allow for automatic large application modernization projects without the requirement to change underlying code.
- Further emphasis on PHP for Web application development, enhanced existing application functionality, and modernization overhauls; increased emphasis on training to learn the more sophisticated ins and outs of PHP development.
- Greater reliance on open-source technologies on the IBM i platform for fast application development that competes with .NET. Utilization of the readily available open-source solutions that can be customized to meet users' specific needs.
- "Reverse consolidation," leading to more special-purpose appliances, such as for security, process acceleration, and special cloud-based solutions (e.g., salesforce.com) and more integration with and reliance upon growing cloud-hosted services.
That's how we see 2011 rolling out, but we would enjoy hearing your opinions on the topic. Feel free to comment on, add to, amplify, or disagree with the above list in the forums. We welcome your feedback!