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The IBM i Future – 2015 version

March 30, 2015

I mentioned in my previous post that I would be revisiting some topics that bear repeating, and today’s certainly does. It’s about the future of IBM i.

A couple of years back, we stirred up some enthusiastic social media discussion by starting to show customers a clear, pictorial roadmap with dates that were well out into the future. When the tweets started flying, I followed up with a blog about it. Today, I’m going to refresh the information, and give you a view of the future from where we stand now, in 2015.

When we’re out talking to customers, whether it’s individually, at user groups or at conferences, we tend to use this chart to talk about our recent major releases and our future.


I make a number of points on this chart, and one of the key points is that we have two major releases under development right now. The 7.2 release came out less than a year ago, and we’ve been working hard on its following major release – called “i next” on this chart. But, we have items that we know cannot fit into “i next” but which require a major release, so we are working on the one after that, “i next +1.”

This is an important message if you have people in your organization who are skeptical of the future of IBM i. We’ve already told you that new releases are coming.

A second pertinent point from this chart relates to the delivery of function between releases, twice a year, in Technology Refreshes (TRs.) IBM has been committed to delivering new capabilities to its IBM i clients twice a year, even when we do not put out major releases. We’re adding new capabilities in virtualization, cloud, I/O, DB2, mobile, open standards and much more. Staying current with new technology is a clear indication we are investing and plan to be around for a long time. In fact, that helps me make a couple of key points on this next chart.
The key to understanding this next chart is to recognize when there is a known, committed date and when there is just a direction. A known date is represented when the horizontal line has a vertical end. For example, IBM i 6.1 was released in 2008, and its announced end of service is in 2015; both ends of that line are vertical. But while IBM i 7.2 came out in 2014 (vertical left end) the end of service date is indicated by an arrow, meaning we have not announced anything.

However, if 7.1 and 7.2 are each supported as long as 6.1 and V5R4 were, then 7.2 is going to be supported out into the 2020s.

And, very importantly, I told you that we have two more releases actively under development right now. When will they be released? Well, the ends of those lines are arrows, so we’re not saying yet. The availability dates could still change, but clearly, we don’t tend to deliver new releases any sooner than two years these days, and sometimes it’s longer than that. So, “i next” and “i next +1” will come out sometime, and if they also are supported for seven years, well, we’re more than 10 years out into the future now.

Furthermore, on the previous chart, we discussed that new capabilities are coming out in between releases. This means that the “Support” chart does not indicate only “support” but also a timeline for delivery of new function via TRs.

IBM i is a key part of the IBM Power Systems strategy, so we have confidently included charts like the above two charts in each version of the “IBM i Strategy and Roadmap” whitepaper that has been published over the past four or five years. This paper – the most recent version of which is always available at IBM’s home page for IBM i ( – contains a letter from the current General Manager of Power Systems, Doug Balog. In the letter, he confirms IBM’s commitment to IBM i. In fact, we typically show the following chart with a quote to ensure clients see it.


We have a very large number of customers who depend on IBM i to run their businesses today, and who also depend on IBM investing in the future of IBM i. Doug Balog and his predecessors put the letter in front of the strategy and roadmap document to help assure people that this is true.

If you’ve ever seen one of us IBMers give an “IBM i Trends & Directions” presentation, you will almost undoubtedly seen us present versions of the three charts above.

Yet, as I travel around the world, I meet many people who either have not seen the messages, or they need reassurance that the commitment is still there and that the future is strong. For this reason, I decided that my first “repeat” blog needed to be this one.

Is there a future for IBM i? Clearly, there is. We’re working on that future, and many of us will be meeting many of you at events this year to tell you so. But we’ll also be listening to what you need from IBM i in the future, because that’s one of the ways we invest our time in the future of the platform – making sure what we develop will meet the needs of customers in the future.

Posted March 30, 2015 | Permalink

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