Why a blog about IBM i?

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Hi, my name is Dani Szwarc and I am a developer. More precisely a web developer. I work for a company that offers solutions for IBM i application modernization and management needs. I started at this company about 5 years ago but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started to wonder what IBM i was. Even though I worked for some projects that somehow were related to it, I was never involved with IBM i. But I kept hearing about it as is the main focus of the company I work for. Somehow I found myself wanting to learn about it. What is it? What can I do with it? Who uses it? How does it look like? Is it old? Is it new? Can I code on it?

There were so many questions and everyone I asked had different answers for me and I guess this is the reason I am writing this today.

So let’s start from the beginning, or my beginning.

Why am I writing this blog?

Because it wasn’t easy to find my way in. I was lucky, very luck indeed to find a mentor. Someone passionate about everything. His name is Trevor Perry and he just opened the door for me.

I am also curious. I don’t know much, but I  like learning and I am very eager to learn more. And there is so much to discover about IBM i that for someone with no connections nor contacts in the industry it can be completely overwhelming.

So this blog is written for who I was 3 years ago. It’s also written for a young friend with no contacts at all within the IBM i community other than myself. His name is Hernán and he lives in Argentina. He’s also a developer: a Python developer.

I want to write down the things I am learning because is the best way to retain what I’m learning and because it’s a good way to invite other people who may be trying to learn about it but don’t know where to start. So I am writing for Hernán as well.

I am not sure that’s a valid reason, but it helps me to organize my ideas, my learning journey and as I write things become clear.

It’s basically summarizing what I am learning from talking to people from the industry, people from IBM and what I am reading on the web.

This means that everything I write here from now on is my understanding of things. I encourage anyone with knowledge to add to it, correct it and point me and anyone in the right direction. Everything I can pour in here that makes sense to other people wanting to learn about IBM i is highly welcome.

So let’s go back to “the IBM i platform”:

What is the platform I am referring to? It’s an operating system, called IBM i, running on IBM Power Systems.

I know, if you know about IBM servers, you know what I am talking about, but if you don’t, so let me explain:

It’s a combination of super powerful hardware and an integrated business-oriented operating system from IBM.

So let’s go again: the Power Systems is IBM’s Power Architecture-based server line (the hardware) with the IBM i operating system running on it (the software).

What is so special about it? The integration. Integration between the software and the hardware. The integration among all the pieces within the IBM i operating system: security, database, applications. Integration is the keyword here. As a matter of fact, the “i” in IBM i stands for “integration”. The idea behind this operating system is to provide a turnkey solution to businesses.

Now, if you have been in the industry for many years, you probably heard or saw those old green screens displayed in those CRT monitors…well, that would be IBM i ancestors.

But wait…I said green screen…green screen sounds old, very old. So am I writing a blog about a technology that is perceived as old?

Well, no. IBM i is modern, very modern: not only you can run the existing applications that run on green screens, but you can develop new ones with open source languages like Python, Node.js, PHP, C++. You can think of Artificial Intelligence and use IBM Watson services from it. It’s a powerful system. And I am starting to be passionate about it.

For some reason, IBM i made me feel like a kid in a candy store. There are so many doors to open and I want to take advantage of this, learn about it, write about it and share everything here.

The journey has started now.

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