Posted by: Steve Pitcher
Breathing New Life – An IBM i “Growth Play” & Full Support for Lotus Connections/Sametime on IBM i
There’s an amazing opportunity for IBM here.
In preparation for a full Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT) Lite deployment, over the last two weeks I’ve been installing Sametime 8.5.2 components piece by piece. I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a challenge because of the sheer magnitude of the product suite. You’ve got a good number of components of the entire solution that run natively on IBM i:
- Domino 8.5.2 server acting as an LDAP server
- Domino 8.5.2 Sametime Community server
- Websphere-based components
- Sametime System Console
- Sametime Proxy Server
- Sametime Meeting Server
- Sametime Gateway Server
Then, you have the other components that you need to run on either Linux, Windows, Solaris or AIX:
- Sametime Media Manager
- Sametime TURN Server
- Sametime Bandwidth Manager
- SIP Edge Proxy Server
These servers entail deploying either additional hardware or carving out Linux/AIX partitions on the IBM i. That’s not a huge problem. A great feature of Power Systems is the ability to run additional operating systems alongside each other. But what if you are a long time IBM i customer who has no Linux or AIX expertise? What if you don’t want to extend your business servers to Windows? In order to partition Linux on my IBM i I will have to IPL (reboot) the IBM i server…not a big in terms of learning curve but it makes installing software more complicated than it has to be. In order to leverage existing skills, minimize training, cut operating system licensing and maintenance costs…ideally you’d want to run all Sametime components natively on the same IBM i partition.
I’ve also been investigating IBM Connections since the idea of social business is a hot topic. Sadly, Connections does not run natively on IBM i. That means a lot to me. A lot of IBM i customers, when looking for new software, probably ask this as their first question: “Does it run on IBM i?”
Yesterday I was a guest on This Week in Lotus (episode 63) with hosts Stuart McIntyre and Darren Duke and fellow guests Lisa Duke and Sharon Bellamy. They were kind enough to accept my suggestion to discuss deploying IBM Collaboration Solutions (i.e., Lotus) on IBM i. I spent a little time preparing to do most of the talking on the subject but those folks were not only receptive to the idea of running IBM Collaboration Solutions products on IBM i, they were advocating it as a very valid solution. Darren and Sharon especially seemed very fond of the IBM i. We spent a fair bit of time talking about IBM Connections having zero native support on IBM i and Sametime only offering support for a portion of the product.
With the recent success of IBM i and Power Systems, I was still very surprised when I read, and strongly urge you to read, Chris Maxcer’s recent interview with IBM’s Ari Kugler, Director of Business Development and Business Unit Executive for IBM i. Ari talks about the recent success of the IBM i brand and how he expects “double digit growth for the platform install base this year.” Phrases like “critical to the Power brand,” “growth play” and a “new renaissance around an integrated platform” inspire consumer confidence of IBM’s commitment to the IBM i.
This quote made my day: “I really think to a large extent, customers, developers, and even to us, in IBM, we’ve forgotten just how tremendous the platform is and we have kind of reawakened and realized the potential, and we’ve come to the same strategic realization that customers want an integrated platform, that has the ¬performance, security, and some of the new market ¬realizations—these were discovered by IBM, and we have a 20-year lead and a proven platform we can build up on.”
Last month IBM named 50 people in it’s Champion Program for Collaboration solutions. One of the benefits of the program is direct access to IBM employees who are designers and leaders of the products we all use and advocate the use of.
Given the timing of my Sametime installation and Connections investigation, I immediately took advantage of this.
In the past few weeks I’ve been very fortunate to have some communication with IBM product leaders (Mac Guidera and Marlon Machado via the IBM Champion program) regarding the porting of, respectfully, Connections and Sametime components to IBM i. IBM’s opinion is that the customer demand for IBM i support just hasn’t been that high. Customers haven’t been beating down the doors to run a Connections server on their IBM i. Sametime 8.5.2 customers are willing to use Linux on a partition or a standalone server to handle the audio/video components, while running the base Sametime servers natively.
But that doesn’t mean that customers wouldn’t run it on IBM i. It also doesn’t mean IBM won’t offer IBM i support. You’ve got two wallflowers here folks, and they’re both not asking each other to dance.
Perhaps the one avenue that needs to be explored by IBM is the ability for customers, whether existing or potential, to deploy their entire messaging, social business and collaboration infrastructure (including audio/video) on the back of one IBM i partition running on Power Systems.
Think about that. It’s an unbelievably strong statement and it works from both a marketing and customer satisfaction perspective. The security, stability, multi-versioning capabilities of Domino, the central point of management (install base Domino code for a release once and upgrade each server in minutes), the minimal licensing costs, the minimal energy costs of using one server, etc., etc., etc., make it a darn good case. Can you run 99 Domino servers under 1 Linux or AIX partition like you can with IBM i? Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think so. What kind of OS licensing costs do customers with brigades of Windows-based Lotus servers have to suffer compared to IBM i? Lotus and IBM i are a fantastic combination and really should be tied to the hip in all aspects.
Or at the very least, IBM should give us the choice.
If you’re an IBM i or Lotus customer (or both!) then how can you make a difference?
- If you’re an existing or potential IBM i (or existing System i or iSeries) customer and you want to run all components of IBM Connections, IBM Sametime or Lotus Notes Traveler on your system, then click here.
- Speak up when you’re at a Lotus or IBM i user group meeting
- Get an account and use the forums in the Greenhouse
- Join Bleedyellow and voice your concerns
- Tweet, blog or email a link to this article