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IBM's AS/400 still seen as 'future proof' among users 25 years on

Could ageing workforce be the platform's undoing?

The IBM AS/400 server platform is still seen as "future-proof" by IT decision makers despite originally being launched 25 years ago today.

Since the launch on 21 June 1988, the AS/400 over time has evolved into the i Series, System i and latterly IBM i, but Big Blue has continued to focus on promoting the server as one that offers reliability and low cost of ownership. And IT buyers seem to agree according to research.

Infor, a provider of business application software, and a major IBM partner, has published its EMEA System i Survey 2013, undertaken amongst over 100 managers and high level decision-makers.

The survey found that 71 percent of IBM i platform end-users agreed with the statement, "We believe our System i platform is future-proof." A further 22 percent were neutral. Only 7 percent disagreed with the statement.

When asked whether their business system is "very reliable", 92.5 percent agreed and the remaining 7.5 percent were "neutral". None of the respondents running their mission-critical business systems on IBM i disagreed.

When asked whether total cost of ownership of their IBM i system compares well with alternatives, nearly two thirds (63 percent) agreed.

The report shows that the industry is reaching a "tipping point" with IBM i skills however, with 52 percent of respondents saying attracting and retaining critical IT skills is becoming a problem. The role of cloud computing in addressing these issues is also far from clear. When asked whether the cloud could help address skills shortages, 53 percent were neutral, but a further 33 percent said the cloud could not help.

But many users indicate that they plan further investment in the platform, with 90 percent of respondents considering reporting and analytics, mobile and 24x7 availability as either a need or a priority for investment.

"With 16,000 customers worldwide using the platform, Infor has access to a lot of end user insight," said Paul Field, EMEA Infor general manager for System i. "It is clear that a lot of businesses are still reliant on IBM i and that the platform is holding its own amongst younger technologies."

He added, "It is also clear, however, that further investment will need to focus on maintaining a base of skilled staff that will form the basis of continued good return on investment in years to come."

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