The iSeries Blog


September 24, 2009  4:35 PM

IBM Power Systems and Technical Conference trip report

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Doug Rock at the IBM Systems Magazine has a trip report from Orlando on the IBM Power Systems and Technical Conference.

Rock reported that there were 101 sessions on the System i, with another 64 that were relevant to both AIX and IBM i users. There were about half as many sessions dedicated solely to AIX.

Rock also said there were 811 attendees, with a good portion of them, 649, being customers. That’s a good sign for the quality of the conference, in my opinion. A quote from Rock:

The general buzz at this show is positive. Our magazine team has attended a number of IT conferences this year, and of the ones I have attended this one has strong vendor attendance in the solution center and a decent and upbeat attendee base. Is it an economic sign of good things to come? I certainly hope so.

September 23, 2009  1:53 PM

I-nsider blog defunct, but Cancilla. Is. Alive.

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

It seemed like Bob Cancilla had disappeared.

If you remember, Cancilla was a former IBM Rational executive who, in addition to moving to an application modernization consulting company in Reno called Oxford International, also started a blog on the System i called I-nsider. He said some very blunt things in the blog, including opining that IBM will drop the System i platform in the next five to seven years.

That blog is now defunct, as is Cancilla’s Twitter account associated with it. But Bob isn’t gone. He has resurfaced. No longer working with Oxford, Cancilla is now working as an independent consultant, and is now writing on two different blogs. The first, called Computer Systems Today, will be strictly on application modernization. The second, called Cancilla on i, is pretty much the same as the old I-nsider blog. It’s not entirely clear why Cancilla moved his opinion on System i to another blog, but on the previous one it did mention that Cancilla was an employee of Oxford, which he no longer is. Maybe it was a condition of his leaving that he take that one down.

Here’s some of what Cancilla had to say on the Midrange listserv:

Please note my business today is pure consulting not constrained by any products. My goal is to provide the best path for my clients that I believe to be correct. Some of you may disagree with my opinions on the future of iSeries. I caution you to look very carefully at what is going on within IBM along with the goals and objectives of the IBM’rs who tell you that the future of IBM i is rosy. I will not quote numbers as that would be totally inappropriate, but be assured that the numbers seem to be rapidly decreasing.

Some of you quoted some major companies that are using iSeries. Many of those are leaving the platform under mandate from their corporate IT organizations. Again I will not name names as I got that information while at IBM so that would be inappropriate, but some of the largest and best known iSeries shops are leaving the platform.


September 21, 2009  3:18 AM

COBOL turns 50

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

On Friday evening, I was browsing the Twitterverse and saw that I had missed some fun news. On Friday, September 18th, 2009, the COmmon Business Oriented Language (COBOL) turned 50. Though, earlier articles claimed that it’s birth date was back in May (you can decide for yourself which is more accurate).

But, despite it’s ability to hang in there, a MicroFocus survey found that many people don’t know that the activities they perform daily relies on the language — only 23% of respondants knew what the language was!

According to a November 2008 Datamonitor report, 60-80% of the world`s enterprises rely on COBOL to run their business. There are over 200 billion lines of COBOL currently in operation globally across every industry, and the language supports over 30 billion transactions per day. And there are 1.5-2 million developers working with COBOL code, collectively adding around 5 billion new lines of COBOL to live systems annually.

MicroFocus launched an official celebratory Web page in honor of the occasion, and is soliciting videos and stories and helpful tips about the language.


September 17, 2009  2:10 PM

IBM makes System i rebate more reasonable

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM has revised an ISV-based program for Power Systems users that expands the ability for them to get a rebate.

The original rebate, announced earlier this summer, offered the rebate if the user installed a particular ISV’s software for the first time. The rebate had a restriction where a major executive had to sign a certificate promising that the company never had any of the ISV’s applications ever installed at the company. The new application also had to go onto a new Power box.

That seemed a little harsh, especially considering the relatively small size of the rebate (ranging from $2,000 for a Power 520 to $225,000 for the multimillion-dollar 64-core Power 595 using 5GHz Power 6 processors).

IBM has now changed that, saying that the rebate is available for new application installations for the listed ISV partners, of which there are almost 100. In other words, the company may have had installed some application from the ISV, but not a different application or new module of the application. Before, installing that new module would mean no rebate. Now, if the installation of the new modules accompanies the purchase of a new Power machine, the user can get the rebate. The machiens must be running IBM i 6.1, AIX 6.1, or Linux.


September 17, 2009  1:45 PM

The System i five-layer cake: Yum

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will has a post describing the five integral layers of the System i operating system, formerly called i5/OS. They are:

  1. Integrated Middleware
  2. “The” Operating System
  3. Technology Independent Machine Interface
  4. Licensed Internal Code
  5. Hypervisor

Will sums it up at the end:

In summary, the robust IBM i operating system is flexible and long-lived largely due to this layered architecture. When we talk about IBM i, we’re talking about all of these layers in combination. I hope this brief introduction helps you understand the value that comes to you when you run IBM i, and why the IBM i development team continues to work hard to bring you this great integrated operating system.


September 17, 2009  1:40 PM

The System i community’s addiction to bad news

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Jon Paris writes that despite some good news coming out of the System i platform in recent weeks — announcement of new customers, the forming of iManifest — a negative attitude persists among many in the System i community. It is an attitude that the platform is on its way out, and all but dead. He writes:

In the U.S. there are also many signs of recovery. The most obvious one to us being that we are starting to see more interest in our services. Even more dramatic is that enrollments in our RPG and DB2 Summit conference in Minneapolis in October already substantially exceed the number who attended in Orlando in the spring.

But all of this sounds horribly like good news–and that’s not too popular right now so we’d better stop before we depress too many people.

That last paragraph obviously has a twinge of sarcasm included. My take: There often seems to be voices on each end, but none in the middle. There are those saying System i will be dead soon, and those who are simply cheerleading the platform. I think both sides empathize with the other but often won’t admit it because it might weaken their own stance.


September 17, 2009  1:23 PM

Rest in peace, and help out Common

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Timothy Prickett Morgan at IT Jungle thinks the new acronym the System i user group Common has come up with is a bit of “gallows humor.” The acronym – RiP – stands for Retired i Professional. Common wants them to mentor Common members despite their retiring from or working far less at jobs as System i and AS/400 administrators.

I like it. AS/400 and System i pros have a good sense of humor about themselves. This taps into that.


September 3, 2009  1:24 PM

Yes, there are still new System i customers

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Craig Johnson, product manager for System i, writes that yes, despite some pessimistic claims, IBM is still securing new System i customers.

Johnson writes in particular about German distributor Svendsen, which migrated its business applications from x86 to System i:

In the words of Lutz Ilgner, CEO, “For the same price as the proposed Intel architecture, we purchased a single, more powerful and scalable Power Systems server, with all the characteristic advantages of IBM i: legendary reliability, high resilience against viruses, and the built-in IBM DB2 database.” Learn more about Svendsen.

As you might expect, the majority of our new customers are small and mid-sized businesses. This has been the case for 30-plus years. Some of these customers grow to become very large enterprises. For example, one of our customers started with one warehouse and a single S/38 and has grown to having more than 500 warehouses supported by six POWER6 servers. This is something that sets us apart; we offer a great solution for small business and can protect application investments and scale if a small business turns into a mid-sized or large enterprise.


September 3, 2009  1:14 PM

System p or pSeries: Does it matter?

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Trevor Perry is apparently still peeved that end users still call IBM systems the iSeries, pSeries, or whatever old name you might have for an IBM platform. He must be livid at the name of this blog (iSeries Blog), and even more so our Search400 site, as well as IT Jungle’s various “Four Hundred” news sites. Yeah, that must be the reason for the decline of the platform!

Wait. Mainframe users still regularly call the mainframe the zSeries (the official IBM name is System z), yet IBM has shown record sales numbers for the platform (most recent quarter excluded). End users still call IBM’s x86 servers the xSeries — in fact I hear them saying xSeries more often than System x — and that platform is doing just fine. And in fact, the System p platform is selling just fine, thank you, despite end users calling it the pSeries all the time.

I don’t really think it matters what people call it, as long as everyone understands what they’re talking about. What matters is the technology and marketing behind it.


September 3, 2009  1:03 PM

Bob Cancilla on the future of System i

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

System i fan but realist Bob Cancilla, who runs the i-Nsider blog that has stirred the System i masses as of late, had this to say about the future of the platform while talking to IT Jungle:

“My points are not about the value or the quality of IBM i–the OS. This is about IBM’s commitment to the system. IBM is simply not investing in the OS or products related to or running on the OS. No one is selling IBM i, and a business without new customers is a business that is dying. The IBM i OS is gradually fading away because IBM is not selling it. Since there is no longer an organization to sell IBM i, there can be no turn around or return to prominence. It will simply continue to decline in users and will most definitely be dropped by IBM when the revenue reaches a point where it is no longer feasible to continue supporting it.”


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