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Computing Environment Comparisons


There is a lot of pressure on IBM i shops to migrate legacy applications to
other platforms under the guise of "modernization", the prospect of lower
cost, attracting larger user-bases, the popularity of "commodity" hardware
and software, and so forth.

Most of those discussions degenerate into religious wars which often
include prejudice and misinformation polarized by special interests of the
parties involved. What about considering an objective comparison of
competing platforms from a technical perspective?

I have been putting some thought into that idea by beginning with the
definition of "platform", which typically coalesces around computer
hardware and operating systems. But it seems that the historical notion of
"platform" is much less relevant today due to advances in virtual machine
technologies (both underneath and on top of the OS), application middleware
which includes the DBMS and applications servers, cross-platform scripting
environments and so forth.

That raises the idea of comparing "operating environments" as opposed to
comparing "platforms". I would suggest that the IBM i native virtual
machine is an "operating environment" because of its integrated language
environment "ILE", database integration, command-line interfaces,
light-weight processes (Jobs), workload management, etc.

For comparison purposes, I would suggest other virtual machine
environments. I see a lot of similarities between .Net and Java Virtual
Machine environments. Lastly, scripting environments such as the ones that
support PHP, Ruby, Python, and Perl.

All operating environments have strengths and weaknesses in comparison to
others. I envision a matrix where the columns include IBM i, .Net and Java
Virtual Machines, and Scripting Environments. The rows might include the
attributes such as developer tools, deployment activities, runtime
performance, management of user state, integration of disparate platforms,
support for cloud services ... the list might go on for some length. The
cells in the middle might be used for explanations of how well or poorly
the operating environments support each line.

I could see http://wiki.midrange.com hosting the matrix.


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