The iSeries Blog

Apr 9 2009   1:34PM GMT

IBM not marketing System i technology as it should

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Trevor Perry has a belated analysis of the merger between System i and System p into Power Systems, but it comes about because of a recent trip he made in South Africa last month. Bottom line: Perry thinks System i folks need to stop talking about the name, and IBM needs to market the System i technology on equal footing with AIX and the former System p brand.

IBM also promised us that there would be marketing of Power Systems with all three OSs mentioned – AIX, IBM i and Linux. This promise remains unfulfilled on the outside of IBM, with no apparent marketing to support the premise that IBM i is the OS “for business”. Even the Power Systems home page at IBM does not show the three logos together.

It is no wonder that IBM i continues to be pushed out the door. Most people consider the AS/400 to be old and worthy of replacing with non-IBM i systems. Our community indulges themselves in the safety net of calling it an AS/400, only to find themselves without a job, and without a future.

Do we still have time to restore IBM i to the glory of the legacy it has left? Probably not… But we ~can~ turn around the impression that we work on an OLD system, with OLD tools, building OLD applications.

In South Africa, Perry spoke with companies still stuck with AS/400s, coding like it is still 1999, and in general, not keeping up with modern technology. As a result, one IT director there felt he had two options — outsourcing the System i work or moving to a Java-based application infrastructure. Since the first is hard to come by, that leaves the second.

And that leaves the AS/400 on the verge of falling off the map there. Perry said the midrange presence has been “decimated” there in the last few years, estimating that only about 10% of AS/400, iSeries and System i servers still remain.

“New Power Systems may be sold there, but the IBM i operating system seems to be making no headway,” Perry wrote.

9  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Davidfree007
    Totally agree with this. I dont totally blame IBM. Unfortunately a lot of it is down to iseries professionals themselves. Only a small percentage of iseries guys have a clue about all the technologies available on the iseries ( what are we calling it at the mo? lol). Many dont have an idea about MQ series, Websphere Application Server, HTTP Servers, Workplace, Notes, Java, or even Net.Data or SQL, and lots of other things. Yes, even though SQL has been on the box since almost day 1, many iseries guys still do not know it or struggle with it. How many iseries guys do we all know that havent even tried the latest iseries development tools, even though they are free/bundled. So how can you sell it as a solution to your IT manager or director if you dont know it yourself! But unfortunately the ship may have sailed on this one.
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  • Generalerror
    I also agree that IBM has not done a very good job of marketing. But, I do totally blame IBM on this. The reason that iSeries guys don't use/know various technologies is because of IBM's lack of marketing and their own lack of knowledge. Since most of don't control what technologies are used in our shops, we have no opportunity to learn them. If IBM had been effectively marketing the iSeries, IT departments would have adopted these technologies and we would have been able to learn them. I personally have spent a lot of time reading/learning these on my own, but even at that I can't become efficient at using them if I don't have a chance to use them in a real world environment. I keep hoping it will change at some point, but from what I can see the future isn't very bright. Just my opinion.
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  • KPSINC
    I have been an AS/400 guy since 1988 and I have seen IBM go from a excellent company when it came top hardware, software, and marketing to almost nothing since they start there partner program. The problem is that they dont want to market the prodeuct they want the business partners to do it for them. Now on the technolgy side. Hardware has kept pace with other hardware and they have some modern software technology. But the core problem that they have yet to overcome is that they are still Green Screen. The have done a good job at mimic windows with subfiles but they are still green screen not pretty graphics. The hardware and software is bullet proof and will run 24/7/365 and if there is a problem it will phone home and IBM will be out to fix it while it is still running. Let see some other hardware do that.
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  • Flic
    To me, IBM is putting all its efforts to kill the platform: renaming it multiple times, little to no new developments in what made the platform a best selling midrange computer (RPG/DDS/CLP) and other brilliant seek & destroy moves like no marketing as it should, etc. They always invested in what it is not like a Windows application server (long gone and forgotten VisualAge for x crap). Now since the web is the way to go, it's a Web/Java/PHP server. IMHO the best way to go to build a Web/Java/PHP server is to buy a SUN (note to IBM: a SUN machine NOT the company, lol) Of course you can do it on a 400, IBM has invested millions to enable the platform. You just need to double your DADS, RAM, CPU power (read +$500,000 hardware) and hours of configurations to get running, "that's all!" Funniest thing is that some brilliant mind inside its own employees (IBM Italy) came up with a brilliant idea (CGIDEV) and decided to invest $0 and offer no support instead of improving it with RPG/DDS/CLP interfaces (way to easily access the new web functions like 400 programmers are used to). Sad say it but inevitable: RIP AS/400
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  • mcl
    Sure, lots of good new technologies on the box - but does everyone have a chance to find out how to make the best use of them? We don't all have time to play. And, quite frankly - trying to find information on how to easily implement some of those new technologies in the IBM documentation (website, etc) is frustrating. I've found better info through forums and various articles on the web. Example - IBM Redbooks are generally good places to find information. But, look at iSeries Access for Web - comes free with the OS. It's a good start at making your system accessable through a browser. And, the Redbook - written back at V5R2. Regards Mike
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  • Johnofarc
    You said: “ … we work on an OLD system, with OLD tools, building OLD applications.” Are you talking about the PC? Long before the AS/400, we were using the PC-XT with BASIC to track sales leads. Today people are using PC’s with Visual Basic to handle CRM. The PC is older than the AS/400.
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  • Cwc
    We cannot totally blame IBM. I've encountered numerous colleagues who seem content to just stick with the same method they've been doing for most of their careers, the same old programming paradigms, and even the prior, obsolete generation of RPG (III/400), because they never took the initiative to learn RPG IV and ILE programming methodologies (and that is a relatively easy transition compared to other languages and methods). Their excuse seems to be that they don't want to take the time at this point in their careers to learn something new. I pray that I never have that attitude, as I believe it's important to continue to deliver value to the organization as well as be able to provide current advice to others who can benefit from our experience. But that experience cannot be a crutch - it must be relevant, so we must continue to learn and grow in our knowledge. Otherwise, the operating system and language that we've known and loved for 20 years will not be viable. I love the i and RPG, but have been branching out a bit into the .Net world just to be more versatile and relevant in the market.
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  • Gmil494
    Perception is very similar to the "first impression" or part of it. I have a friend who worked as a computer tech for a sheriff's dept and now a health organization. Many techs know what an AS/400 is, few know this name change history. The impression and perception is that the AS/400 is old technology (let's see your pc allow context sensitive help screen, being able to read system messages online, etc. He took a look at my AS/400 and thought he would have a learning experience but after seeing the green screen (never mind that screen screen is not resource intensive as a graphics pc...) he equated it to old and mainframe like (same problem the mainframe has in more recent years) and he "shut down" and no longer wanted to learn it. He is in an HP shop, so what good would it do him. If you acquire a new Power 6 machine (even low end) you are getting a machine with a PowerPC chip running at 4.2GHz. No standard production pcs are capable of that processor speed. But again it equates to perception and image. If IBM can't promote its own machines properly (hardware and software even though IBM now makes more revenue on software and services than hardware), ISV's and business partners do not have the corporate budget to advertise and promote if, especially if IBM continues in this what appears to be habitual failure to promote the platform and OSes equally, Maybe IBM wants IBM i to die a quiet death, will expect ISVs to support AIX/p/Linux on Power 6 boxes and then the "old AS/400 will just go away... and it won't have to deal with its comedy of marketing errors with the platform since AS/400 began all the name changes. ISVs and business partners probably thought they had a good thing going at Nashville TN COMMON 2008 when IBM made the announcement of combining many into one Power 6 platform. Now again, the future may not look so bright if indeed IBM is trying to kill IBM i and anything related to AS/400. And as has been stated many times, on a platform that is so reliable, only an IBM mainframe can touch it for 5 9s of uptime 24x7x365.
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  • Gmil494
    And price/value is a critical factor in purchase, TCO, short and long term budget/planning/strategy. A few times IBM has priced the AS/400 and its follow-on products correctly with initial low end systems pricing near Wintel server or other platforms. This is a positive move and competitive. Then IBM seems to get a wake-up call (or realize it could be making more money and has short changed itself and shareholders out of a lot of revenue. Wake-up call heeded, and product prices rise, OTC software becomes a yearly expense (instead of maintenance only after first year), then IBM wanting to squeeze more revenue yet by changing from unlimited (OS/ 400 V4.3.0 and beyond) users to a per seat fee. Once you charge per seat you can't compete with a wintel ox. I could have multiple users on my Sony notebook computer for no extra charge. With the multitude of marketing errors and changes in strategy (no year-to-year consistent strategy) and names, companies would be lining up to buy the wintel killer box! Except for the stodgy green screen. Various ISV's, market web enablement software. While the Power systems are a reliable platform, and the software (free Apache web server) combined with various products these companies market for use, you don't have to look too far for a solution. But as another comment here states, if you get to a level of $500,000.00 or more, that's a AS/400 and Power systems killer, not a wintel killer! You can buy a lot of wintel boxes no matter how unreliable they are for $500,000.00. IBM is not totally to blame, it is a total compilation of errors by many companies. A book I have on AS/400 DB2/400 from a former IBMer stated, "if IBM had done this to improve that, had hired this programmer to improve this..." Woulda, shoulda, coulda. If you can't learn from your errors you are bound to repeat them! (favorite Einstein quote: "Insanity: Continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results....") Wake up all concerned!
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