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Study Shows IBM i Has Big Cost Advantage Over Alternatives

According to an August 2017 study conducted by Quark + Lepton, an independent research and management consulting firm, IBM i on Power Systems servers provides a substantial TCO (total cost of ownership) advantage over equivalent Windows or Linux platforms.

For the study, which was funded by IBM, Quark + Lepton used three different server/database configurations: an IBM Power Systems server running IBM i Operating System V7.3 with DB2, an x86 server running Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server 2016 and an x86 with Linux and Oracle Database 12c. TCO estimates were based on the costs of hardware acquisition and maintenance, OS and database licenses and support, system and database admin personnel salaries and facilities expenses. Several different use cases were analyzed.

A Big TCO Advantage

The results of the study showed the projected three-year TCO for the three setups to be as follows:

  • Power Systems/IBM i/DB2 – $430,815
  • x86/Windows/SQL Server – $1.18 million
  • x86/Linux/Oracle – $1.27 million

The study concludes that “costs for use of IBM i on Power Systems are lower across the board”. For example, initial hardware and software acquisition costs for the IBM i systems averaged 8% less than the Windows systems, and fully 24 % less than the Linux systems.

Perhaps the most surprising factor in the stark differential between the IBM i solution and the others was in the cost of required support staff. Based on a 300-user scenario, IBM i required 0.3 FTE (full time equivalent) support personnel, compared to 0.5 FTE for the Windows setup and 0.55 FTE for Linux.

But the biggest differential in staff costs arose from the fact that IBM i admins could handle both the OS and the database. Those double-duty IBM i personnel commanded salaries of about $86,000, while Windows and Linux sysadmins were paid $71,564 and $86,843 respectively. However, the Windows and Linux setups also required the support of separate database admins, adding $100,699 (SQL Server) and $103,283 (Oracle) to the personnel costs for those solutions.

Simplicity

In its conclusion the report notes that while the industry is trending toward ever-greater complexity, the simplicity of IBM i makes it by far the most cost-effective platform on which to base an organization’s IT infrastructure.

What Is Cognitive Banking?

Cognitive banking is the use of advanced technology to make banks more effective. By using machine learning, AI and data science, financial institutions use data gathered from customers and internal sources to optimize processes.

How Does Cognitive Banking Work?

Banks already collect significant data on interactions and events. Cloud-based machines that understand natural language can learn from all of this data. A machine that has accumulated considerable knowledge can give evidence-based advice to both customers and bank employees. By using these techniques, a bank can provide more value to customers while improving its internal procedures.

Benefit to Customers

When a cognitive system analyzes real customer interaction data, it can gain insights from data by identifying patterns that lead to customer satisfaction. When banks allow it to interact directly with their clients, further learning continues with each new interaction. The system can learn how to provide a better user experience. It gives smart advice to users on how to optimize their finances using the products the bank offers. In this way, cognitive systems can provide true value to clients.

How Banks Benefit

Banks that adopt cognitive banking strategies are well prepared to adapt to a changing future. Hard-coding of procedures becomes unnecessary as they are constantly evolving to fit the needs of the bank. Smart machines are on the front line of customer interaction instead of human operators. This both saves money and has the potential to provide a more optimized experience for clients. Smart machines can also learn banking regulations and security protocols to determine in real-time how well the bank is meeting these requirements. Employees receive notifications if the system needs changes to meet regulations or improve security.

Conclusion

In the rapidly evolving banking industry, banks need strategies to stay competitive. The use of cognitive banking techniques improves customer satisfaction while allowing banks to run more efficiently. For more information on cognitive banking, check out this page from IBM.

5 Local Attractions to Explore in St. Louis

St. Louis is rich with attractions to explore while visiting the city for our Fall Conference & Expo. When you’re done with the conference for the day (or if you’re planning to stay a day or two longer) be sure to check out some of these historical attractions.

Located downtown, they are each beautifully restored, budget-friendly and easily accessible to visitors. And, after day spent sitting, it is nice to stretch your legs and explore!

Gateway Arch

When people think of St. Louis, they often think of the Gateway Arch. It’s our nation’s tallest monument, and it is a well-known icon. You can purchase tickets to ride the tram to the top, go on a riverboat cruise and watch the documentary Monument to the Dream. To prepare, check out the website to view the online gallery and brush-up on your Gateway Arch history!

The Old Courthouse

This is a fun, historic location near the Gateway Arch. It is also free, so why not check it out? Beginning in the 19th century, the courthouse was a meeting place for pioneers headed west. It also saw historical classes, such as Dred and Harriet Scott suing for their freedom. Inside the courthouse you will find historical exhibits, and more!

St. Louis Union Station

This attraction is unique combination of historical beauty and modern amenities. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel on-site, there are plenty of activities – including a Ferris wheel, historical information, daily 3D light shows and a Fire and Light Show.

St. Louis Public Library, Central Library Location

Not all libraries are created equal, although they all have access to wonderful books. This library is well known for its Beaux-Arts and Neo Classical Architecture, making it well-worth a visit. They also provide tours on specific days of week.

St. Louis City Garden

Spread over 2.9 acres, this garden is gorgeous. It hosts 24 large-scale garden sculptures, and the Missouri Botanical Garden offered their expertise in what plants and trees would thrive in the area. Tours are provided as well, so check out its website for a schedule.

6 Unique Food Experiences in Downtown St. Louis

As our Fall Conference & Expo in St. Louis, Missouri approaches, we’re looking forward to trying some of the delicious food at local restaurants.

Here are some local favorites, not only offering great menus but also a unique experience.

  1. Morgan Street Brewery was established in 1995, but the property has a long history dating back to 1791! In fact, it is the site where the first Mulatto slave, named Esther, was freed! Today, you can sample a variety of local and international beer. Free tours of the historical building are offered.
  2. Lombardo’s Trattoria was established in 1934, which means the restaurant has been cooking its wonderful Italian menu for a while now. It is open for lunch Wednesday-Friday, and it stays open late for dinner. Also, it’s a great place to enjoy a glass of wine and quality food after spending your day at the Expo!
  3. Sugarfire Smoke House is the BBQ restaurant you’ve been waiting to try. It has won awards, and you can only find it in Missouri. The downtown location is the newest yet, prices are affordable and its cook produces melt-in-your-mouth excellence.
  4. Zia’s was founded in 1985 and has gone on to win many awards AND start a food truck service in 2011. Zia’s is part of “The Hill”, a neighborhood specializing in all things Italian. This neighborhood boasts a historical atmosphere, making you feel welcome and at home.
  5. Blue City Deli truly speaks to the blues culture of St. Louis. Its food is worth waiting for, and you’ll have plenty to look at and listen to while in line for your meal. This is a must for a true St. Louis experience.
  6. The Schlafly Tap Room hosts various events throughout the year, including live music. The original buildings were constructed in 1902 and 1904, and they’ve seen a lot of history since those days. Eventually, this building will be part of the historical registry, and you can check out all the neat history compiled for the registry application on its website. Local history, local music and local food…what more could you want?

Conference HotelThe Fall Conference & Expo will take place October 2-4, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch. Conveniently located downtown, the Hyatt Regency provides easy access to many restaurants and entertainment options.

Visiting St. Louis: 5 Fun and Interactive Museums

St. Louis, Missouri is an exciting city with many attractions to draw in the interested visitor. While visiting for our Fall Conference and Expo, plan to spend some time exploring the area on your down time! After all, exploring new cities is one of perks of traveling for conferences.

Once you’ve had a chance to see the Gateway Arch and visit Route 66, check out one of the many great museums the city has to offer.

Here are five to get you started!

  1. St. Louis Science Center With a variety of exhibits year-round, the science center is fun for everyone. With more than 700-hands on exhibits exploring different parts of science, you’re sure to find something you love.
  2. Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum Are you more of a sports fan? Check out this stop to explore the Championship Gallery, Holding History room, and more for an interactive exploration of the baseball history.
  3. St. Louis Art Museum This museum is filled with exhibitions and collections that will have you coming back many times, just to enjoy everything there is to offer. Collections span the globe, so you’re sure to find the styles you enjoy.
  4. National Blues Museum Is it possible to visit St. Louis without enjoying some blues? This museum hosts interactive, technology driven exhibits as well as special events. Check out their Friday and Sunday Live Music shows here.
  5. Missouri History Museum Checking out the local history is an enjoyable learning experience, so make sure this museum is on your list. In October, you’ll have the chance to see three special exhibits: #1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, World War I: Missouri and the Great War and Panoramas of the City!

Wide Open

From the Vault – The Computing of Business, October 2014

EarthquakeDid you know that in the wide world of open source software there is an application for analyzing seismic data? If I had only known that a few weeks ago I could have thrown a portable seismograph into my carry-on for a recent trip to California.

Since I was rudely awakened during my stay by what FEMA now calls a major earthquake, I could easily have done a quick data reduction and submitted the results to the open source Global Quake Model. But alas, during the event I was thinking more about what might happen to the roof than contributing to science. At 40 miles from the epicenter it was certainly a unique experience and the building held together nicely—check that one off the bucket list.

So open source is everywhere. Good developers are developing good, creative software and distributing for all to use within the confines of a number of different license platforms.

In a recent IT-related university classroom experience Phil McCullough, a fellow COMMON Director, noted that the entire curriculum centered on open source. Open source operating systems, open source databases, open source development tools, open source applications; the entire gamut. The message was loud and clear: open source will be a big part of our computing future.

But software, by its very nature, contains defects. In many cases those defects do not consist of what we traditionally consider a problem. For example, as the programmable point of sale system industry was developing a couple of decades ago, I cannot imagine that leaving a credit card number unencrypted in ram memory would ever be considered a problem. Turns out it was.

Recently my employer sold some software we had developed to a very large company. Parts of that software contain open source components like frameworks and other mechanisms that helped develop a very complex set of code. Before the deal could close the buyer required substantial documentation of every open source component, and the version of that component. Additionally, the entire base of object code was scanned for any known vulnerabilities. All went well and the deal was completed.

Open source operating systems like Linux, and large open source applications like Sugar CRM, have the benefit of having substantial support organizations. Dedicated people watching for problems are an advantage many small applications do not, and cannot, possibly have. The likelihood is very real that the bad guys—and there are an awful lot of them—will stumble on to something they can exploit in almost any open source project. If you run some or all of a smaller targeted code base, it then becomes simply a matter of a bad guy (they are voracious sharers of exploit information) finding your system and deploying one of the myriad ways of injecting malware on to it.

Of course there needs to be something worthwhile to steal. Credit card numbers are the currency de jour though certain kinds of pictures bring a bigger bang. Regardless, any information about your company or your customers has value to someone.

A number of scanning solutions like OpenLogic and OpenVAS  can attempt to locate problematic software. But using such tools seems to me to be a bit reactive. The veritable cat may have already left its bag.

A more proactive approach is to know where in your software, and on your systems, the open Ground Crackssource stuff (and anything else with known vulnerabilities) is. Trust me, the stuff is there. Complete, accurate application inventories are more important than ever. An inventory, coupled with appropriate monitoring of the threat landscape, will keep you ahead of the bad guys. Yes, this is something more to do with your constantly shrinking resource base. But staying ahead of the bad guy sure beats the alternative.

For many the 2014 South Napa earthquake was a disaster. For me it was an interesting experience.

For some the open source landscape will be a disaster. Reading about those problems should be the only experience you want.

About the Author: Randy Dufault, CCBCP

Randy DufaultRandy is the Director of Solution Development for Genus Technologies, a Midwestern consultancy dealing primarily with enterprise content management systems. His experience with content management dates back 25 years, where he helped develop what ultimately became IBM‘s Content Manager for iSeries. He has also developed and integrated a number of advanced technologies including document creation, character recognition, records management, and work flow management. Randy is a member of the COMMON North America Board of Directors and was active in the development of COMMON‘s Certification program.

Read Randy’s Computing of Business column in COMMON.CONNECT.

IBM’s Watson is Becoming a Crime Fighter

Sherlock Holmes and WatsonIn Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson was the great detective’s trusted sidekick in fighting crime. Now, with IBM’s help, Watson has become a crime-fighting detective in his (actually its) own right.

IBM’s newest cognitive computing offering is Financial Crimes Insight with Watson, which is designed to help banks spot financial crimes such as money laundering. The mission of this latest incarnation of Watson, the brainchild of the company’s newly formed Watson Financial Services division, is to “[help] organizations efficiently manage financial investigation efforts through streamlined research and analysis of unstructured and structured data.”

This new suite of Watson products is aimed at helping financial institutions manage their regulatory and fiduciary obligations. It’s estimated that by 2020 the world-wide financial services industry will be faced with more 300 million pages of regulations, with the list growing by thousands of additional pages every day. That is, of course, far too much information for any team of human beings to stay on top of. But Watson, with its advanced artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and machine learning capabilities, was designed for exactly that kind of big data analytics.

The system was trained, using 60,000 US regulatory citations, by experts from Promontory Financial Group, a regulatory compliance consulting firm that IBM bought in 2016. The training also incorporates an ongoing review of transactions and cases that involve possible financial crimes. As Gene Ludwig, founder and CEO of Promontory Financial Group explains, “we’re embedding our deep regulatory experience into Watson so that a broader group of professionals can benefit from this knowledge and help their organizations operate more effectively and efficiently.”

These new Watson products are not narrowly focused just on crime, however. The broader aim is to help clients in the financial services industry address a wide range of risk assessment and regulatory compliance responsibilities. For example, in addition to the Financial Crimes Insight with Watson product, IBM is also offering Watson Regulatory Compliance, which focuses on assisting financial institutions in understanding and addressing constantly changing regulatory requirements.

Attend Watson and IBM i at the 2017 Fall Conference and Expo.

The Role of IT in the Retail Industry – Adapting to Trends

IT has a substantial role to play in the modern retail industry. This has been the case for a long time. However, the world of information technology changes quickly enough that individuals working in retail have had to adapt to various trends.

Mobile Apps for Retail Stores

Many experts today are now urging all retailers to create apps that specifically pertain to their products and even their store locations themselves. This is one of the biggest trends with regards to IT in the retail industry. All of these apps are incredibly different, however.

RetailSome makeup stores will offer apps that enable users to test products in advance in a whole new way. Some of the apps will offer customers convenient discounts right at their fingertips.

People can use apps in order to get a sense of where different items are located and whether or not they’re currently available. As such, there are apps that will truly help people overcome some of the most frustrating parts of shopping in the first place.

Cloud Computing in Retail

Thanks to cloud computing, it is much easier for retailers to consistently monitor their inventory. They can quickly get a sense of what they have in stock and what’s going on with orders. Losing large amounts of data is much less likely in the era of cloud computing. While this makes the technical side of the equation easier, it also means that retail workers can place more emphasis on customer service.

IT helps improve efficiency in the retail industry. The retail industry may also be able to fulfill more of its primary objectives thanks to modern information technology trends.

Certification in an IT Discipline Can Advance Your Career

The IT world is an ever-evolving landscape. What is hot today, is passé tomorrow. The skills required in 2017 and beyond are a world apart from what they were several years ago. A Bachelor’s degree is often an entry level requirement for a job in IT. Five years after you’ve earned it much of what you learned is no longer cutting edge. Certifications help to keep your skills fresh and documented.

Demonstrate Your Skills

Certification in a needed skill area is a great way to show current and prospective employers that you are dedicated to continuous improvement. It demonstrates that you are keeping aware of current trends and future trends. Certification indicates that you have proven yourself knowledgeable to a trade association, user group, or vendor and have the skills and techniques to approach and execute the projects and tasks that employers need.

Vendor Certificates

Most major IT vendors provide their own certification tracks. CiscoMicrosoftIBMApple and AWS all offer certification tracks around their hardware and software programs and equipment. These certifications are all valuable to the IT professional looking to make a career of their products.

Other Certificates

Non-vendor/product certificates can also be advantageous. ITILPMP and CISSP, in conjunction with the previously mentioned certifications, display a well-rounded approach to IT integration to other disciplines. The application of the knowledge gained in acquiring these certifications to the technical knowledge gained through the other certifications improves the specialized knowledge of the specific help to prepare you for management-level positions.

COMMON Certificates

If you use IBM Power Systems and IBM i, you should investigate COMMON’s certification options. There are six different options, some for new professionals, some for those more experienced. Topics range from Business Computing to RPG, IBM i and AIX. Certification exams can be taken at locations throughout the United States or at COMMON events.

The Ruby Programming Language

RubyRuby is an open source language that is available for the IBM i operating system. While its syntax is very similar to other open source languages commonly used for the web, such as Python and Perl, Ruby has many unique characteristics that make it a great choice for your project.

 Ruby’s Purpose

Like many modern languages, Ruby is dynamically typed and supports both object-oriented programming and other programming paradigms. While most commonly used in web development, Ruby is a general-purpose language used for different types of applications.

Object Based

According to this article on pocoo.org, Ruby differs from Python in that it is a pure object-oriented language where everything is an object. Tricks in using the objects allow the use of other programming paradigms. Python, on the other hand, has both functions and objects and is thus a hybrid language.

Design Philosophy

Ruby is a language that has a special philosophy behind it about design and usage. While designed as a fun and simple language for programmers to write in, Ruby also allows great complexity in the programs that it can create. Furthermore, Ruby is a very flexible language that allows developers a great amount of creativity in the implementation process.

Popularity

Ruby is quite a popular language and is very much in demand in the industry. Ruby on Rails is a framework that is commonly used in web development and greatly extends Ruby’s capabilities. Distributed under the MIT License, Ruby on Rails is a Model-View-Controller framework that integrates well with common web technologies such as JavaScript. This framework allows for the fast development of secure and scalable web applications.

Learn Ruby for IBM i – along with Node.js and Python – with COMMON’s Open Source Video Tutorials. Learn more.

Want more Open Source for IBM i? Check out these 2017 Fall Conference & Expo sessions.