Five Resolutions for your IBM i in 2023

Five Resolutions for your IBM i in 2023

As we start a new year, we assess where we are and where we want to go in the coming months. The goals for the year are defined, and everyone is ready to tackle something new. This includes what we will do to ensure the security, reliability, and availability of the IBM i environment. 

I have five resolutions you should consider to protect your IBM i investment in 2023. 

#1 Harden your Security. 

Security is still the most important thing any IT leader can focus on. Ransomware attacks will continue to be a threat in 2023. Ransomware is just one of the threats to your IBM i environment. The biggest threat to company data is still those who have access to your system. Hardening your IBM i security will help you to protect your data better. 

If you’re unsure where to start, I recommend a security assessment to determine what you are doing well and where your biggest risks are. Then you can plan to address any high-risk items. You will want to research how changes will affect your users. Some improvements can be made with little impact on the users, and others require more careful consideration before implementation.  

#2 Test your recoverability. 

With the onslaught of ransomware attacks, having a disaster recovery or high availability plan is even more critical. Having a plan isn’t enough. You must test your plan to be sure that you can recover. Otherwise, you could miss critical components or steps during a disaster scenario.  

Testing your restore process or executing a role swap test is important to your resiliency. A failed recovery test is a win because you found the problem during a test. That’s why we test, to find the problems before they affect users. Practice makes perfect; the more times you do it, the easier it will become.  

#3 Ensure your business is running on supported hardware and software. 

We’ve repeatedly seen it: companies decide to go off the platform and stay on unsupported hardware or OS versions. Running your business on an unsupported IBM i version or hardware is risky. There were two important support announcements in 2022. The first was the end of support for IBM i 7.3 and the end of support for Power8. The end of Support for 7.3 is September 30, 2023, and the end of support for Power8 is May 31, 2024. 

Not only is it risky, but it’s also expensive. We know from experience that IBM charges an Extended Support fee of double your software maintenance to run an old version of the OS. You will not receive any new updates, which can include security improvements. The same with Power8 and your hardware maintenance. You will pay a premium to keep your Power8 and lose your guarantee. IBM will do its best to have parts available, but there is no guarantee. 

If you don’t want to invest in new hardware, consider cloud hosting. Especially if your long-term plan is still to migrate away from the hardware. The cloud can give you an upgrade path without investing in a new Power system.  

#4 Keep your maintenance current. 

In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes companies make is not keeping their maintenance current on their hardware and software for IBM i. This includes third-party applications. If you have a vendor application that you rely on to run your business, not having software maintenance can prevent you from being able to upgrade your IBM i version. You may think you saved money by no longer paying the vendor, but if you ever need to reinstate that maintenance, you will end up paying anyway. 

For IBM i, paying your software maintenance (SWMA) is especially important because it entitles your licenses, users, and licensed programs. If you ever want to move to a new system, you must have software maintenance or buy new licenses, users, and licensed programs. This is expensive versus paying your maintenance and being able to transfer the licenses and users. 

The cost of dispatching IBM to fix a system not under hardware maintenance, is high. You must provide a credit card and be billed a minimum fee before they will come onsite. You may get lucky and never have to call IBM for a problem, but chances are if you’re running old hardware, this will eventually catch up to you. 

#5 Modernize your applications. 

We have a perception problem that IBM i is old, outdated technology. Nothing is further from the truth. The Power systems are the best server on the planet, and the IBM i is the best platform for business. The problem is that platform can run code from 30 years ago without issue. The bigger problem is that IT leaders see the old code and assume they need to start over.  

With support for many different open-source languages available on the IBM i, I challenge you to modernize your application. Hire programmers with open-source skills and teach them about IBM i. There are many resources available such as Conferences like COMMON, NEUGC, and WMCPA, that offer moderation sessions and online content from industry experts available to get you started. 

If you address these five things in 2023, you will protect your business from the risk of data loss, save money and frustrations in the long run and ensure that the IBM i has a long life at your organization. Those should be at the top of everyone’s priorities for 2023. 

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