Angus: Year 2 of the 2nd decade of the 21st century!

In my usual wanderings on LinkedIn, I found a software company posting that promised free “AS/400” software. I asked the poster if it would be available on IBM i, and one of the company leaders then asked me a question about what I meant when I said “I am hoping you will actually cater for IBM i….”.

Here is my response..

My perspective is that our platform is the best business system on the planet. Most of the community has a passion for the platform that is admirable and hard to find for most systems. However, what “platform”? Is it the AS/400? The iSeries? The System i? OS/400? i5/OS? Or, IBM i? Or Power Systems?

It is the latter. IBM ~only~ sells IBM i on Power Systems. It is the evolution of all the others, and it is the ONLY one that IBM sells. No matter which of those “platforms” you believe in, the next one you upgrade to will be IBM i on Power Systems. So, the platform we work on in 20i2 is IBM i, and it runs on Power Systems. Call it IBM i (so we can google it), speak i, talk about IBM i on Power, (or even Poweri to confuse), but don’t call it an AS/400. Not when AS/400 is 12 years old now – as long as we had an AS/400.

Many companies (you know who you are), and many community members, don’t address the platform by its current name. For some, apparently stubborn, ignorant, out of date, reasoning, everyone seems to want to view the platform as their own name – not the actual name.

And yet, it is ~not~ about the name. It is about the perspective. If we look at the platform as something modern – IBM i on Power, we may tend to use it with a more modern approach. Modern Eclipse-based development tools. Modern database. Modern user interfaces. Modern coding techniques. Modern applications, and so on…If we think our platform is an AS/400, the trap is to use it like an AS/400 – old and outdated. RPGIII using SEU. DDS based files. and so on..

On the other hand, while competitors and our own naysayers continue to wail loudly about the AS/400 being dead, we have a reputation that is tarnished. And, while we ~inside~ the community still bicker about the “name” of the platform, we are simply doing it a terrible injustice, and propagating the doom and gloom of the platform’s enemies.

Vendors, such as your company, SHOULD be the leaders in our community. While you do need to cater for SEO and marketing and mention the PAST platform names and references, it is time to stop LEADING with all the old names and platform references. Our platform is IBM i, and it runs on Power Systems. Vendors, in my opinion, should be selling for the IBM i platform and to IBM i customers, and not playing silly name games. Vendors should be educating the community about the CURRENT and MODERN platform. Vendors should, in my opinion, not be ~leading~ with AS/400, iSeries, System i, OS/400, i5/OS, i5, or any OLD variation of our glorious past. Vendors should be catering for IBM i.

Whatever excuses are given by vendors and community members for NOT referencing the platform by its current branding are simply that – excuses. It is time to stop the complaints and the noise, and come together on what an amazing platform we have – IBM i on Power.

Power is such an amazing branding exercise. IBM i on Power is an amazing business platform. We have an opportunity to blow away the competition with our amazing platform. Yet, we choose to wallow in the idiocy of the name game.

It is time to lead!!
Will you keep selling what appears to be old technology?
Or, will you step up and lead the community into the present and the future of our platform?
You are in a position to educate as you sell and market – won’t you take that opportunity?

Thanks for asking. This has been my opinion.

How about you? Are you a leader?


Steve PitcherFebruary 5th, 2012 at 8:10 pm

“And yet, it is ~not~ about the name. It is about the perspective.”

Very well put.

Bob CozziFebruary 6th, 2012 at 1:51 pm

IBM did the platform a diservice by (A) changing the name too frequently, and (B) stabilizing on a “non-name”. I could just hear the meeting now… “Hey, let’s give a Steve Jobs style presentation and call it something with an “i” in it. ” “Yeah, and take a page from the Microsoft playbook and name it something simple like “Word” or from Apple and call it something like “Pages”, I now “IBM i”. Group-think, its a terrible thing to waste.

IBM i on Power is cool to say out loud, but I get a the deer in the headlights look from clients. WTF is that? The actual issue is the name “POWER” which IBM has no skill at marketing at all, and “i” is so vague it doesn’t connect with humans.

Call it Power Systems, call it IBM i OS or something that you can get your head around. “i on Power” without a brand marketing campaign is just dumb. Apple marketing “owns” the “i” in products, IBM let them have it, then did a “me too” with “i”. How pathetic can you be and still work for IBM?

A simple fix that saves face? “i OS on IBM POWER7” Yes use the damn “7” in the name so that when Power8 comes out people want to upgrade because the perception is that it is better than “7”.
Doing so would invite the “insiders” to start saying “i on Power” which will become “ION POWER” and the CPF-nerds will think its cool.

But don’t expect my clines to know what the head “IBM i on POWER” means today. There’s zero frame of reference.

Using 20-20 vision, probably they should have stuck with the AS/400 name framing and then went to AS/500 with the Power5 chips and perhaps moved to AS/700 with the POWER7, or something similar to that–then its an easy sell because, obviously, AS/700 is newer than AS/400 or AS/500.

angustheitchapFebruary 7th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

@Bob – here is the problem. It is 20i2, four years after the name IBM i was introduced on a COMPLETELY new platform – Power Systems – and we still have people in our industry whining and complaining about the frequency of “name changes” and the fact that they don’t like the name that IBM chose.

Well, guess what? IBM isn’t listening to your continued griping, because they are sticking with IBM i on their NEW Power Systems platform. Maybe it is time to get over the grieving period and stop bringing the platform down. You continue to do a disservice to the platform, and are not even bringing glory to your own name with this continued bashing.

You say “IBM i on Power is cool to say out loud, but I get a the deer in the headlights look from clients.” So, there is your OPPORTUNITY to educate and inform. You could choose the high road, you could choose to brag about this platform that has brought you a living for decades, and you could brag about how amazing IBM i really is. You could talk about all the amazing things that IBM i can do, the legacy that the predecessor servers and OS provided.

It is time.

I hope you will.

Aaron BartellFebruary 14th, 2012 at 11:41 am

Trevor, I am wondering if what we need is a compare and contrast of what we had with pre-POWER and now with POWER. As an RPG developer I haven’t really taken the time to research it (nor do I care other than I have more speed) but I do think if it was put into a digestible form that more people would begin seeing the light.

I appreciate your relentless pursuit of correcting people, but it is only time well spent if YOU provide value vs. rehash. I don’t get a lot of value when I hear the same face slapping over and over again (even if sometimes it is warranted). The RPG programmer mindset can better digest facts vs. marketing – so if we knew how different an AS/400 actually is compared to IBM i on POWER then we would almost be embarrassed to use the wrong term because we’d have an understanding of the differences.

I know you like it raw so hopefully you take this as constructive input 🙂

angustheitchapFebruary 14th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Aaron, I appreciate it direct – maybe raw is another way of saying that. I do hope you are reading my other blog entries, where you will see that I am NOT relentlessly pursuing the name, but writing about the concept and vision of the platform. Even in this one, I write “..will you step up and lead the community into the present and the future of our platform?”. I guess our next in-person meeting we will need more than a passing “hi” 🙂

I am working on several things that may lead to a better understanding of the comparison between the AS/400, iSeries, System i and IBM i on Power. I think that is an excellent idea, and if someone gets there first, send me the link!!

Aaron BartellFebruary 15th, 2012 at 10:05 am

>Even in this one, I write “..will you step up and lead the community into the present and the future of our platform?”. I guess our next in-person meeting we will need more than a passing “hi”

I am fully on board with using the new name. I’ve gotten the majority of my complaining out of my system and don’t see value in complaining anymore 🙂 I do make mention of it to those that should be using the new name (i.e. “Hey, why are you using System i instead of IBM i” type questions), but there’s not enough time in the day to convert old school AS400/iSeries/Systemi mindsets to IBM i, so I put my focus on the next generation who don’t struggle with the petty-ness of not moving forward with a new name.

Carry on. I look forward to the comparison. I think that will be huge and I will make sure to post it wherever I have leverage.

angustheitchapFebruary 15th, 2012 at 10:34 am

So, you are making it about the name. I think we have an opportunity to brag about the NEW platform that was introduced in 2008 to replace the AS/400,iSeries,System i servers. And while I agree there is “not enough time”, some unity in our community would go a long way to help the next generation. I ask the “old schoolers” if they would expect a YiP/student/graduate to work on AS/400 with SEU. Once they realize the silliness of that, they start thinking about our platform in a new way. Simple things, large impact.

Of course, we won’t get rid of the whiners – see comment #2 above. But we ~can~ bring the family with us on this new adventure!

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