Posted by: Mark Fontecchio
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This is really funny. I’m sure you’re all following it already, but there is something of a flame war going on regarding what to call a particular midrange server that IBM sells. You all know what I’m talking about — is it the AS/400, iSeries, or System i?
It all started when Trevor Perry, a System i consultant (I wouldn’t dare call him an AS/400 or iSeries consultant), decided to go on a “self-appointed campaign” to promote the use of the System i name. He came across many Web sites that still use AS/400 and iSeries to refer to the platform, and so he commented on their sites. We were one of them — read the comments from this post comparing an AS/400 to a cluster of Dell servers. Trevor’s alter ego is Angus, as in Angus the IT chap. His comment, in part:
What you are talking about is an i5 – a System i branded server. We need to get the word out that the server is modern, and the most powerful system on the planet. No one will believe an AS/400 can do any of those things – since it is so OLD.
Please use the correct names for the server (i5), the OS (i5/OS) and the brand (System i).
Perry also tried to comment on another site, the iSeries Cobol Blog. The author there, who remains anonymous because he doesn’t want his employer to know he’s writing the blog, wasn’t too keen on Perry’s comment, and so he refused to post it and blocked Perry from commenting further on the site. That ban has since been lifted, but in the meantime some back-and-forth posts went live on each of their blogs. Here’s a rundown:
- Trevor explains that he got banned from iSeries Cobol.
- iSeries Cobol dude explains why he banned Trevor.
- iSeries Cobol dude talks about the name of the platform.
- Trevor announces he’s been unblocked from the site.
Behind all of this is the debate about the name of the server platform, which rears its ugly head at every single COMMON conference. Mark Shearer and other executives get up in front of the audience to answer questions about the platform, and people complain about the name change.
Here’s a quick history. The platform was AS/400 until 2000, when it changed to iSeries, which then changed to System i in 2006. Got it? Good. Now Perry thinks an important part of moving the server platform toward the future is making sure we refer to the brand by its current name, the System i. I think he makes a solid point there.
But as I’m sure he knows, there are plenty of people out there who bought servers when the platform was called iSeries and AS/400, and so that’s what they call it.
Although calling the platform by its most recent name is good practice, I don’t believe that is the main way for the System i to thrive. There needs to be less focus on the name change and more on what the gosh darn platform needs to do, like attracting recent college grads and offering more flexible cost options for the hardware and software. The thing is, it seems like IBM is trying to do that. It has introduced VoIP to System i and now offers user-based System i servers and System i boxes integrated with third-party software. Whether those moves bring in more customers has yet to be seen, but I think the next couple years will definitely be an important indicator of the health of System i.