The iSeries Blog


October 24, 2007  9:37 AM

Getting gooey over System i GUIs

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Does i5/OS need a native graphical user interface (GUI)? Does it already have one? Much of the talk about GUIs on System i — whether it is native on i5/OS or through applications — usually revolves around making the platform easier and more attractive to use for the newbies.

Check out these comments from readers of the System i network about what IBM has to do, and what it has already done, regarding GUIs on the platform.

October 24, 2007  8:49 AM

Get ready for a shocker: IBM System i revenues dropped again

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

For what has now been eight quarters in a row — that’s two years — IBM System i revenues have dropped in year-over-year comparisons. You would think at some point that the platform’s revenue would have hit the bottom of the valley with nowhere else to go but up, but that simply has not been the case.

At least System i doesn’t have to feel alone this time. Mainframe revenues dropped 31% compared with a year ago, even more than the 21% decline that System i experienced. Overall, IBM system revenues decreased, while software and services increased.

The question, of course, is why? Why does revenue continue to free-fall? There must be reasons other than a marketing problem tied to a couple of name changes. Some think IBM hasn’t been pricing and engineering System i correctly to target it at a different customer base than System p, IBM’s Unix boxes.

It is good to see that IBM has reported System i revenues separately. When IBM decided to split System i into two divisions, it wasn’t clear whether it would be able to avoid this reporting requirement. Whether it’s required or not and despite the poor news, IBM is still doing it.

Then again, do hardware revenues matter? It’s common in many places for vendors to give away hardware so they can sell the software and services. This happens with cell phones, Internet service and cable. You get the cable box for free, then you pay for your monthly service bill. You get your wireless router for free, but then pay for Internet service access. Is that the way it’s going to be for server hardware, or is this just an excuse for IBM’s dismal results?


October 18, 2007  9:56 AM

Using del.icio.us to find System i resources is tasty

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Looking for a way to read up on System i resources without slogging through pages upon pages of Google results? Welcome to del.icio.us, the social bookmarking site. This is a good way to see what your peers are looking at and bookmarking. Check it out.

There are good results under both the AS400 and iSeries tags, although I couldn’t find anything under a “System i” tag. I guess del.icio.us hasn’t caught up with IBM’s name change yet.

A couple decent sites include JTOpen, midrange.com of course, and Code400.com.

Update: Thanks to a few readers, I found the “System i” tags, so I must apologize. They are under del.icio.us/tag/systemi and del.icio.us/tag/system_i. Oops. Thanks guys.


October 17, 2007  7:45 AM

Upgrade to Lotus Notes 8

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

David Vasta over at the System i Addict has an enthusiastic recommendation for upgrading to Lotus Notes 8, along with an enthusiastic thumbs-down to Microsoft Outlook and Exchange:

If you’re using Outlook/Exchange then first of all I am sorry your company loves to waste money and you need to call IBM and have them give you “a talking to” as some of the boys down south would say.

He points readers to a new YouTube video that explains why upgrading to Lotus Notes 8 is such a good idea.


October 17, 2007  7:32 AM

Getting excited about System i

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM has a distinct problem with the System i: Getting the younger crowd excited about developing on the platform. You can call it by any name you want — the AS/400, iSeries or System i, but it is the reputation of the platform as an ancient one that scares away kids who have been corn-fed Linux and Java for most of their young lives. Developing a program to write payroll checks in RPG doesn’t always satisfy their short-attention-span minds.

South Central College in Mankato, Minn. is trying to change that. The college offers System i and RPG classes by first sticking the right students with the programming bug, and then sucking them into RPG and System i with promises of a good-paying job in the future.

The program, called TechNow, is outlined in a recent post on iDeveloper, the System i blog on the IBM Systems Magazine Web site.


October 17, 2007  7:18 AM

IBM configures System i 525 to jibe with ERP apps

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM this week is releasing a System i 525 preconfigured to run enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications from Oracle and SAP.

This continues IBM’s efforts to position the System i as an ideal platform for running those back-end applications, which it has been doing for decades already. Last year, IBM offered a similar deal with the System i 520 for Oracle JD Edwards applications.

With the current announcement, the System i 525 is configured to handle up to 60 concurrent users of Oracle JD Edwards Enterprise One or SAP’s MySAP applications. By buying the preconfigured model, users would save almost 50% in hardware and software costs off the price tag of a 525 by itself plus the manual addition of more users. But why not just let the System i 520 and the System i 550, which both already have these preconfigured options, do their thing? Why introduce the System i 525 Solution Edition? IT Jungle has an idea:

The advent of this machine means three things. One, IBM is having trouble peddling JDE and SAP suites to i5/OS and OS/400 shops using the larger i5 550 Solution Edition boxes, which are aimed at customers who have 100 or more users, which are a lot more expensive even if they do have more oomph and expandability. This might have more to do with the number of users per site among the JDE and SAP bases that IBM is chasing than it has to do with its hardware. Two, the existing i5 520 Solution Edition machines, which do not have enough expansion, are less suited to JDE and SAP workloads than the 525. And third, the other vendors who can sell their wares on the i5 550 are screaming to be allowed to push this box.

These new boxes will be available on Oct. 19, according to IBM’s announcement letter.


October 11, 2007  9:41 AM

Database automation software boasts minimal configuration

Mark Fontecchio Adam Trujillo Profile: Atrujillo

In a recent conversation with software provider GridApp about the release of the latest version of GridApp’s flagship database automation software, Clarity 4.0, CEO Rob Gardos and Chief Scientist Matthew Zito described their product as “out-of-the-box.” But does anyone really believe that there is such thing as a true out of the box tool? As the briefing went on, it became clear that GridApp is getting closer to such a deployment with their online model-based best practices configuration.

Essentially, admins must create profiles (models) of their existing configuration and when Clarity runs, it lets you know what isn’t set up correctly according to their online best practices support, which you can then correct. And that’s it. Your database management is automated. Of course, I’m simplifying, but the point remains that although System i admins do not need to create and maintain any new scripts (thus, the out-of-the-box tagline), they still need to do some system modification.

Gardos and Zito said that Clarity is for organization that need to manage a minimum of 50 databases and that the product is intended for a enterprise-level organizations. But they point out that it’s not uncommon and it doesn’t take long for businesses to reach the 1000 database threshold.Clarity is cross-platform software, meaning that it can be used on Windows, Linux, Solaris, System i, pretty much anything. There are a few systems that aren’t yet fully functional, though. Support for zLinux isnt’ ready . . . yet.

If you use Clarity or any other database automation software, we’d like to know about it. You can always post comments to this blog or send me an email. We’d be interested to know your experience with automation or any other systems management tools and strategies.


October 10, 2007  9:06 AM

System i delivery times are wanting

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

As Lukas Beeler waits for some wanted software to be delivered, he decided to write about IBM’s poor delivery times, both on the software and hardware side:

When it comes to delivery times, my experience with IBM has always been abysmal. The local swiss distributors (Avnet, TechData, Also) are usually low on stock, don’t have any System i stock (automatically giving you 2-8 weeks, depending on IBM’s mood). Software orders also take ages, especially additional software on new Systems (we usually buy 5722-IP1 for our customers to generate PDF). These software orders usually take 2+ weeks after the system was shipped.

Does anyone else out there run into this problem with IBM? Let me know about it in the comments section.


October 10, 2007  8:46 AM

IBM continues to target SMBs, this time with Rational and Tivoli

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Big Blue wants its smaller companies to have (and pay for) the same tools that it offers to its larger companies, so it recently announced new Rational and Tivoli software for SMBs.

There have been past attempts by IBM to do this sort of thing, but the major complaint was that the smaller version of the software was just a watered-down version of the original with fewer features and less pop. More appealing would be a version that catered specifically to the needs of the smaller market. IBM says the new software does that, but that remains to be seen.

IBM has built a special site just to sell this small-market software, which includes development and management software that has room to grow as a small business grows.


October 10, 2007  8:32 AM

Buy a System i, get a BladeCenter free

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Insider Weekly has a story on a deal that IBM is offering. If you buy an expensive enough System i box, Big Blue will give you a BladeCenter for free.

The catch is that the System i has to cost at least $150,000 and include two PCI-X iSCSI connectors, as well as some other caveats. To see the announcement letter, search for “307-578 at the IBM announcement letter site.


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