Angus: IBM, it is time. Seriously!

Do you run IBM i on Power? If not, when you upgrade to a new server, will you be running IBM i on Power? Certainly, if you want to be supported in terms of operating system, you will upgrade to IBM i 6.1 soon enough.

But, many customers have older servers, and older operating system versions. Most likely, those servers have a different name on them, and the OS will have a different name plastered all over. Since the older server and OS combinations run for a long time, reliably, secure, and with little to no maintenance, there are MANY companies who are not yet an IBM i on Power user. AS/400, iSeries, System i, OS/400, i5/OS rule!

It is very difficult to tell a user of i5/OS running on a System i 520 that they are using IBM i, and it is often difficult to convince them that it is no longer an AS/400. I just spent two weeks at two separate customers, and they had no idea what they were running – to them it was just/still an AS/400.

It is important for many reasons, that the community of customers who use our platform know what the platform is, and call it by the correct name. Most important, an AS/400 ~is~ old, and the platform detractors can use this information to rip and replace systems. IBM i on Power is modern, and confuses those detractors. Another huge advantage of having a community that believes in the same amazing platform is the outside perception of what we have. United, they want what we have. Divided, they laugh at us…

So, the challenge is to inform, communicate and encourage customers to understand their platform is IBM i, regardless of the name on the server or displayed in the operating system. And here is where IBM can help.

This morning, I took a tour of the ibm.com website looking for information about a product called IBM i Access. I started with attempting a url that I thought should work: www.ibm.com/ibmi and I got this:
Apologies

I then tried: www.ibm.com/i and got….. well….. just go look!

I resorted to: www.ibm.com/as400 and found the IBM i page!!

I found the software page, and discovered the list I was looking for: IBM i Access
So far, so good.

I selected IBM i Access for Windows, and navigated here:
IBM i Access

I thought I was doing well!

A closer look reveals that the title of the page does not match the contents!!

IBM i/System i Access

Later, after some navigation around these related pages, I stumbled onto this:
IBM something? Access

The green arrow represents correct branding, orange represents out-of-date branding, red represents incorrect branding.

Yes, IBM. Your branding is not consistent!

Of course, this is nothing new at all. It is very obvious that with the multiple names of servers and operating systems, confusion reigns mightily. For regular readers, I have been proposing that we should all get together and call the platform by the name that IBM currently calls it – today, that is IBM i on Power Systems. After years of advocacy, many leading pundits are starting to call the platform it by its IBM branding. Even Scott Klement jumped into the fray recently, suggesting “..every time folks use an obsolete name in a formal, professional context, they look like a fool.” The truth is, when I write about it in a blog entry, comment on another blog, or am quoted on the web, there are always a lot of ‘fools’ who wish to tell me I am wrong.

And, they are right! Whether or not the ‘fools’ call it AS/400, or call it “whatever name IBM has this week”, or speculate what the next name will be, they have reason. And the reason? IBM!

Call IBM support… they will ask what IBM i is? They know what AS/400 is… This ‘problem’ was identified to IBM long before IBM i was announced. Yet, IBM has not educated their support team on IBM i. Look at IBM’s website/s – as you can see in the example above, there is no consistency in their own branding. Only recently, I overheard an IBMer at a conference spouting “When did they change the name of the AS/400?”.

Out here in the community, there is a slow tide towards a consistent message about what this platform really IS. Inside IBM, that tide has not yet begun – just a few small waves. Certainly, we can read blogs from people like Steve Will and Dawn May, who consistently use the correct branding. Presentations at user group meetings and conferences from some IBMers are up to date and consistent. Regardless, IBM is not even close to getting it right.

So, IBM, when are you going to match your websites, your internal OS documentation, your support, your brochures, your marketing.. with your branding? Here are some suggestions that may help…


Suggestion 1. Create a Wiki page that defines the correct branding, and explains all the old names. Wikipedia is generally a bunch of lies and misinformation masquerading as truth, so IBM, write so the ‘fools’ will know the truth.

For example:
IBM i – the leading business operating system available today..
Power Systems – the premier commercially available server platform today.
IBM i on Power Systems – the best combination of computing power and operating system for business on the planet.

i – not a brand, and not really searchable on google, or bing. STOP IT!
Power i – a name that Dr. Frank and many Europeans are comfortable with.
AS/400 – an amazing server, whose heritage is well demonstrated in the Power Systems architecture.
OS/400 – commonly called AS/400, it is actually an operating system that ran the best application software. Replaced with i5/OS.
i5/OS – a stupid branding mistake, but still a leading OS.
iSeries – a name on a sticker on a server that was still referred to as an AS/400.
System i – a brand name for a server to hold on to the i heritage until we sorted out what to call this thing.
eServer – we deny all knowledge that this name ever existed.

… and so on


Suggestion 2. Create some cool marketing slogans, and place them EVERYwhere.

This is not your grandfather’s AS/400 – this is IBM i on Power.

Power Systems – what your AS/400 grew up to be.

IBM i – a googlicious name for a luscious operating system.

IBM i on Power – yeah, you want to be here.



IBM, it is time. Seriously!

Some of us have arrived, and we are waiting on you…

5 Comments

davidJuly 24th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Well, it hasn’t changed much since 2008 when I noticed something very similar on my blog.

BTW: I suggest this marketing slogan too (which I use on my email sig) – IBM i on Power … for when you can’t afford to be out of business.

Trevor SeeneyJuly 24th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I would like to see us all write it as IBMi, that way it will be easier to find information on Google etc. And then let’s leave it at that! No more name changes.

angustheitchapJuly 25th, 2010 at 11:30 am

@Trevor: It is my opinion that IBM will not be renaming the OS or the hardware for a while.

The Power brand is making waves in the server world, and the Power chip is something to behold. This link (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/power/newto/) may help. And while we have Power, with the 3 OS’s – AIX, Linux and IBM i – they appear to have found a formula that works!

The only rumored/planned change is to bring the z into the Power architecture. Which strengthens that brand even more.

So, what is left to do? Fix things. Repair web sites. Repair IBMers. Repair manuals. Repair the configurator tool. Repair the OS guts. Be consistent in their message to the customer and prospective customer. And…. make some pitch to the existing customers, without a huge marketing campaign, and bring the AS/400 faithful on board 🙂

Until they do make all these changes, there will always be some detractor who says IBM do not care for the IBM i platform. They can do incredible things to the OS, but while you still order i5/OS in the configurator, it all gets reduced to nothing.

And what is the end result? A more cohesive, stronger community. Less shift to other platforms or OSs. More sales of new IBM i on Power. I think that is worth a little investment.

Steve BuckJuly 26th, 2010 at 10:40 am

Spot on Trevor. Confusion = dilution. Is that what we and IBM want? Nope.

corpxebgoDecember 20th, 2010 at 12:30 am

“Inside IBM, that tide has not yet begun – just a few small waves. Certainly, we can read blogs from people like Steve Will and Dawn May, who consistently use the correct branding. Presentations at user group meetings and conferences from some IBMers are up to date and consistent. Regardless, IBM is not even close to getting it right.”
How much is realistic?

Leave a comment

Your comment