HelpSystems’ first IBM i Marketplace Survey reveals that Europeans run bigger boxes, use more AIX and Linux and are keener on VIOS than their North American counterparts.
There are, of course, caveats. For instance, the sample of respondents from this side of the Atlantic was much smaller. Just shy of 80 of you filled out the survey from Europe out of a total of around 350 worldwide, the majority of which were from the U.S.
However, those responses, spread as they were throughout Europe and across every market sector, made for a compelling statistical sample. Extrapolate the figures and some interesting trends emerge.
For example, 65.8% of European respondents were running a Power7 model compared to 58.4% in the States. Saying that, more European users were still on Power6 hardware; 34.2% compared to 25% in the U.S.
Around 60% of both U.S. and European users were running version 7.1 of the IBM i operating system. However, 9.2% of European users were running the latest 7.2 version compared with 3.8% of their American counterparts.
European organisations also appear to be dealing with larger amounts of data. Indeed, 7.7% reported that they manage over 50 terabytes with Power i, compared with 5% in the States. Only 21% were running less than a terabyte in Europe compared to 33.1% in the U.S.A..
Whether this is down to a greater resilience of traditional SMBs in the States, it’s hard to say. But if the British market is anything to go by, Power i has always tended to be used by bigger businesses.
This could explain why 35.2% of European respondents said that they had between six and 20 IBM i developers while only 23.8% of U.S. firms had the same. 13% of European respondents had more than 20 IBM i developers compared to 8.7% for the States.
Another noticeable difference was in the use of VIOS. 33.9% of Europeans confirmed that they are using the technology compared to 21.5% of American firms. So why the disparity?
Tom Huntington, HelpSystems’ vice president of technical services, says: “Smaller systems don’t require VIOS. VIOS is generally used with Ethernet and SAN environments. I have found the larger organisations in Europe to be using more SAN technology from the likes of EMC and IBM.”
There also appears to be a divergence when it comes to using IBM i’s Unix stablemate, AIX. While 7% of U.S. users run AIX on the same machines as IBM i, 19.7% of European users run both operating systems in tandem.
Around 13% in both markets run AIX on separate servers. This means that a hefty 35.5% of Power i users in Europe are also using AIX, compared to 23.5% in the States.
Huntington says: “IBM really pushed hard on AIX in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. They must have had better luck in Europe. It could be a result of more SAP too in Europe, with IBM pushing running SAP on IBM i.”
Perhaps the really big news is about Linux adoption. According to the survey, 56.6% of European Power i users are also running Linux. True, this falls to 42.7% in the States but, either way, it’s a huge testament to what used be considered an upstart OS.
What’s more, 13.3% of European users run Linux on their Power i, with a further 9.2% saying that they are considering switching Linux workloads to the platform. This falls to 6.4% in the States, with 6.1% considering the switch.
One reason for Linux’s greater penetration in Europe may be that its use is increasingly mandated by organisations seeking to avoid costly Microsoft licenses, especially in the public sector. Some sections of the U.S. market have always been resistant to its charms. Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was decrying Linux as “communism” as far back as 2000.
Huntingdon says: “I think you are right on in that European customers are really fed up with Microsoft and are looking for a cheaper solution to support their business.
“Overall, I am impressed with the amount of Linux alongside IBM i. In the USA, we see about 95% percent or higher Windows alongside IBM i. So IBM’s push to get more Linux on Power is good for the long-term longevity of the platform. We have some big Microsoft communities in the USA, especially in places like the Northwest like Seattle/Portland. I have not heard the communism comment lately but I do see customers getting smart that Microsoft is not all that cheap as you scale up your data center.”
There are areas where European users appear to be lagging. For instance, according to the survey, 40% don’t use the Power i as a web server at all, compared to just over 30% in the States.
Huntington says: “I think the adoption of WebSphere and technology like PHP is probably higher in the USA market. It could also explain higher use of Linux in Europe as Linux is often a good solution for HTTP servers. Modernisation and use of tools like PHP has been pushed heavily at Common and other web-based events by the community in USA/Canada.”
Overall, the survey results make for positive reading. Announcing their publication, HelpSystems’ CEO Chris Heim said that the company was pleased to see a continued commitment among respondents towards IBM i as the centerpiece for their IT strategies.
Heim said: “Regardless of size, the vast majority, 94%, of IBM i shops believe the platform delivers better ROI than other servers. This speaks to a viable and thriving marketplace.”