(First written on March 9th; substantially rewritten on March 16th)
Here’s my primer on when and how to use the terms IBM i, IBM i for Power, and Power i for people writing articles, blogs, case studies, white papers, etc. These are my own definitions and best suggestions for referring to or writing about the platform and the operating system. If you’d like to suggest modifications or another source for these terms, please post a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: this is revision two of this article, based on reader and IBM i community suggestions. I’ll attempt to keep this article current as more information comes my way, and the content may change from time to time.
What is IBM i for Power Systems?
IBM i for Power systems is the official name for running the IBM i operating system on one or more IBM Power hardware machines. This is the name IBM mostly uses in its documentation though you may see some variations, such as:
- IBM i For Power Systems (including AS/400, iSeries, and System i)
- IBM i (formerly known as i5/OS) running on an IBM Power Systems server ™
- IBM i on Power
- IBM i on POWER
All of these terms are found on IBM Web sites describing the combined IBM i/Power server offering, so they all can be considered valid ways to describe IBM i on Power Systems servers.
The reason you have to designate IBM i for Power systems is because IBM’s Power systems servers can also run Linux and AIX partitions and you have to differentiate which product you’re talking about.
The problem with these terms is that AFAIK, there is no hash tag that refers to IBM i for Power systems. I did a Twitter search on #ibmionpower and that yielded nothing. My recommendation is that when you’re tweeting about IBM i for Power systems, add the following hashtags to your tweets.
This will allow your tweets to show in searches on either of these terms.
Also check out the #poweri hashtag listed below.
Power versus POWER
The interesting thing about using the term Power for IBM Power systems is that you will sometimes see the term in all caps (POWER). That’s because the word POWER is actually an acronym for Performance Optimized With Enhanced Risc chip set (thanks to Barbara Martinez for pointing this out to me in her comment on this article–see below). So depending on your style, you can spell any of the terms above in all upper-case ‘POWER’ or with the more readable upper- and lower-case ‘Power’. The downside to using the upper-case “POWER” is that PEOPLE MAY THINK YOU’RE SHOUTING THE TERM WHEN YOU USE ALL CAPS.
What is Power i?
Power i is a shorthand way for referring to IBM i for Power systems. This term is sometimes used by bloggers and other industry people. As far as I can tell, Power i is not an official IBM term but it comes in handy for blogging, articles, white papers, case studies, and other printed material, where you want to use a shorter term for IBM i for Power system so the material reads faster. Power i is also great to use in a headline where IBM i for Power Systems or one of its variants might be a little wordy.
Here’s an example of how you might use Power i in a blog post :
This solution runs on an IBM i for Power systems server (Power i).
Then you could use Power i as shorthand for IBM i for Power system server everywhere else in your document. Again, Power i is not an official term, but it is used by several industry writers, including myself.
When tweeting, you can also use the #poweri hashtag to refer to a Power i system. The only downside with using #poweri is that it has other uses in Twitter and searching on it may yield tweets you’re not interested in. But like the term Power i, the #poweri hashtag may provide a nice abbreviated way of referring to the platform.
What is IBM i?
IBM i is the name of IBM’s business-oriented operating system that runs on IBM Power systems and PureSystems hardware. IBM i OS versions include i 6.1 and 7.1. IBM i 7.1 is the latest (at this writing), most modern version in this operating system family that traces its roots back to older operating systems, such as OS/400 and i5/OS. The OS/400 and i5/OS operating systems are predecessors to the modern IBM i operating system and should not be confused with IBM i.
Although IBM i shares an ancestral heritage with i5/OS and OS/400, IMHO it is incorrect to refer to i 6.1 and 7.1 as either i5/OS or OS/400. IBM i is the correct name to use when talking about i 6.1 or 7.1. Conversely, the OS/400 and i5/OS operating systems shouldn’t be referred to under the IBM i umbrella because they are pre-IBM i offerings.
The hashtag for IBM i is simply #IBMi. Some people like to capitalize it exactly like that but people will find your tweets on a search regardless of whether you use the #IBMI hashtag or the #ibmi hashtag.
Remember that although most IBM i installs run on IBM Power systems, you can’t use IBM i for Power systems, Power i, and IBM i interchangeably. That’s because IBM i also runs on PureSystems and Blade Servers.
Where do PureSystems and Blade Servers fit into this?
While IBM i for Power systems and Power i refer to running the IBM i operating system on IBM Power systems hardware, IBM i also runs on Blade Servers and PureSystems.
When running on an IBM POWER Blade Server, you may see the solution listed as one of the following:
I’m unclear on what type of hashtag to use for Blade Servers. If someone has any ideas, please let me know.
When I originally wrote this article, I said there is no corresponding term for running IBM i on IBM’s newer PureSystems hardware. I was wrong. IBM introduced PureSystems in 2012 and it is capable of hosting IBM i partitions on an IBM PureFlex system. But while (per IBM) there have been 10,000 PureSystems units shipped since 2012, it is unclear how many of these are capable of running IBM i.
Regardless, the proper way to define IBM i running on PureFlex hardware is:
Again, this might be a little long to continually repeat in a technical document but it’s what IBM is calling the product and what should be used to properly refer to what IBM is selling. I personally like the idea of calling it Pure i but that is definitely not a sanctioned official term and I wouldn’t recommend using it.
Like IBM i running on Power Blade Server, there doesn’t seem to be a good hashtag for the IBM PureFlex Solution for IBM i. My best advice is to use the following two hashtags in any tweets on this combination to advertise that your tweet deals in both worlds.
AS/400s, Power i, and IBM i
The tricky part is when you refer to IBM AS/400s. The AS/400 was an integrated machine (operating system and hardware) that only ran OS/400 in the 80s and 90s and was retired in 2000. IBM renamed and reintroduced the integrated platform a few times before 2008 as iSeries, System i, and i5 boxes, causing a lot of confusion in the marketplace. To make matters worse, IBM also renamed the operating system to i5/OS in the early 2000s.
In 2008, IBM merged the old AS/400-iSeries-System i platform with its System p platform that ran Unix to create the Power systems brand of hardware that ran both operating systems. It also renamed and improved the old OS/400-i5/OS operating system to IBM i at the same time. As said before, Power systems hardware can run AIX, IBM i, and Linux.
The confusion comes in with loyal platform users, writes, bloggers, enthusiasts, who continue to use the name AS/400, sometimes referring to IBM i for Power systems, Power i, and IBM i collectively as an AS/400. IBM no longer sells AS/400s. But the name lives on in the marketplace and there is a continuing discussion about why the IBM i community should stop using the name. This discussion is fought with passion from both sides.
My best recommendations
To be correct, my recommendations are:
1) IBM i should always be used when referring to the i 6.1 and i 7.1 operating system that runs on IBM Power hardware. It is also correct to call it i 6.1 or i 7.1, depending on the version
2) IBM i for Power systems (or one of its IBM-used variants) or Power i (non-IBM variant) can be used when referring to an IBM Power system machine that runs IBM i partitions. If you want to invoke its heritage, you can also slip in a reference to the old integrated AS/400 hardware and software…such as runs on the IBM i operating system (formerly known as OS/400) as I showed IBM did in the IBM i for Power systems section, so that people who aren’t familiar with the terms will understand that the product being sold will run on their hardware.
3) Use the descriptions for using IBM i with Blade Servers and PureFlex as shown above. However, I suspect there aren’t that many shops running in these environments so you may not need to refer to these products very often.
These are the definitions that work for me. For now, I won’t wade into the proper times to use the terms AS/400, iSeries, System i, i5, OS/400, i5/OS, etc. While these should refer only to hardware and software that isn’t sold anymore, people continue to use them interchangeably with Power i and IBM i.
What if I hear the old terms?
If you hear someone using the terms AS/400, iSeries, System i, i5, OS/400 or i5/OS when selling new software or hardware, the best thing to do (IMHO) is to understand they are probably referring to either the IBM i for Power systems or Power i platform (software and hardware) or the IBM i operating system by itself and move on. If you want, you can try to explain that they should be using the new terms and educate them. But this is not mandatory (note: others may disagree).
Generally it’s up to everyone to decide for themselves to use the correct terms referring to these products…unless you work for IBM and then there really is no excuse for calling it an AS/400 running OS/400 (you’re selling the thing, for Pete’s sake). Some business partners even like to use the old terms because that’s what their customers use. And I’ve been in plenty of shops where people still generically call it an AS/400. Until IBM and its business partners really get the branding message across, we’ll continue to see this confusion.
IBM no longer sells the old products so all you have to do is understand that IBM i for Power systems and IBM i are the new terms and go on evaluating whether what ever products or services people are discussing will work in your environment.