Angus: Narrowosity

This past week has been a revelation. It has been full of i discussions, and speculation on everything in the IT world.As yet at the annual COMMON conference, I have not seen much of the larger Power Systems community, but the i Community is in its usual impassioned state. And, there are two sides to the conversation.

On the one hand, there is the IBM i community. I consider these people to be enthusiastic, evangelistic, positive, willing to learn, and moving in a forward direction. On the other, there is the AS/400 community – a group divided. While most of its members are mired in the last century (no AS/400 has been sold brand new in this, the 21st, century), some of them have no idea that this is unusual. Some of them want to move forward, and have no idea how. Some of them are stubbornly sticking to their glorious past, hoping (beyond hope) that IBM will fix its “errant” ways and rename the platform so their personal limit of change is no longer tested. Some of them are just narrowly living a life that is of their own creation, and some of the narrow are just simply whiners.

In the past week, the whiners have had a field day. Speculation on what Oracle will do with MySQL has produced such narrow minded stupidity that it is laughable. Whining about the travel to get to Reno for the conference has been quite the entertainment. It has been easy to spot those who are simply reporting on the travel, because it lacks that underlying drone in the back of my head when I read how the whiners had to wait longer than expected in an airport because they were too cheap to fly a real airline. Even the coffee has produced its naysayers, and when the wifi was non-existent and reported upon by several, the whiner drone appeared again to sully the actual dialog.

Fade to another dinner with a group of people who are somewhere between the IBM i community and the AS/400 bigots. It was suggested that IBM had no strategy for IBM i. Upon further discussion of the separation of hardware and software, and a revelation – to them – how the Power Systems announcement was not just another name change, and the switch was made to the IBM i mindset. It was suggested that I may be able to talk to every AS/400 customer on the planet individually, and I am waiting for that phone list from IBM as I write this.

One more fade to the YiPs. Their enthusiasm and pleasure of working on the IBM i platform is unbeatable. It is reminiscent of the passion and joy experienced and expressed by the AS/400 community when it was first announced. Oh, the places you can go! Oh, the things you can do! They are a shining example of how to conduct oneself in the IBM i community – with fervor, intelligence, flavor, color, and passion! Personally, I am proud of their achievements, and most importantly, inspired.

My first question in the last few days was about getting that enthusiasm back into the AS/400 community, with a little education on the power of IBM i on Power. It took just one whine from one whiner, and I realized that is one of the most difficult tasks on the planet. Certainly, we should never stop trying to modernize the AS/400 community to become the IBM i community and move into the future as strategized by IBM. There will, however, be many left behind. Those who never read an industry magazine. Those whose bosses are DP Managers from the 70s, living on the 00’s. And the whiners.

The conclusion is not yet formalized anywhere, but seems simple. Let us take the skillset of the AS/400 community – that business acumen inside IT that is rare under any other roof, add it to the enthusiasm and energy the YiPs bring, and move into a future that as rarely been envisioned until now.

It is unfortunate that the whiners make the most noise. On the surface, they paint our entire community with a brush that is truly unrepresentative. For those who are not, and those who are not vocal, let us drown out their negative personal narrow narrow narrow noise with positivity.

Get to it..


Brian MayApril 30th, 2009 at 9:58 am

Thanks for the encouragement.

Matt RMay 1st, 2009 at 12:05 pm

The whiners have been whining for years for IBM to come to it’s senses and make the move to modernernization, GUI, the web easier than it has. IBM is 10 years behind the curve in GUI/Web development for the “POWER SYSTEM”. The only thing IBM has done is rename the platform enough times to confuse those who we try to communicate it’s benefits too. Here in Central West Florida AS400’s are disappearing everyday. They are being replace by ORACLE ERP suites and .net development. I subscribe to and read SystemiNEWs. I get emails everyday from search400 and IT Jungle. I read. The problem is that it’s too late to convince those who hold the pursestrings. We needed to do that 10 years ago. The AS400/i5/iSeries/power i/power system is on life support. It’s over. So you stop whining, we have. We’re preparing to bury it and move on with our careers. And those who aren’t will be left behind.

Matt RMay 1st, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Just a note, I’ve worked on the AS400 for over 20 years. I love this machine. But dude. It’s over.

Nigel FortlageMay 1st, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Angus, you have been and are a shining example of what one can accomplish with a positive attitude, I thank you for that. Your piece is well said.

Matt R. – I am sorry that the message got mixed or lost with you and your counterparts, somewhere along the way the name changing became the biggest issue and you weren’t made aware of what that beloved platform you spent 20 yrs working on on what had really changed under the covers. Let me be clear, I do not hold you accountable for missing the message, we all agree in various ways that it wasn’t delivered as well as it should have been.

The reality is that in those cases where the light was shone in a clear light, where capabilities and reliability were clearly articulated in terms my business understood, we saw past the name but more to a platform of choice and opportunity.

I am not prepared to call it dead, I don’t see IBM doing that yet either, with almost 50% of all IBM enterprise accounts having a “i” in many name forms, it is too large of a client body to walk away from. (I have heard many IBM’ers quote that figure, I have no data to validate it)

The fact is that when you compare functionality and ability you might just find the most versatile virtualization platform in the industry under some veiled name which really doesn’t matter as long as it delivers the value my business needs. Today that name is Power System, tomorrow it may be something else, but as long as it still says value and solves technology challenges, then that platform is my platform of choice.

Thanks for listening

P MMay 1st, 2009 at 2:47 pm

What’s in a name? Go to Career Builder and search for I series jobs. It comes back with AS/400
jobs. How many business executives know the name I Series? Nothing like changing the brand name over and over to cause confusion. A rose by….

P MMay 1st, 2009 at 3:27 pm

So if the name changes again to say U Series or A Series, the YiPs will be YuPs or YaPs….

Matt RMay 4th, 2009 at 8:47 am

Nigel, I know what has changed under the covers and I’ve change along along with it. I’m in the minority. IBM has rebranded the AS400 inot the power system. Guess what the new power system is running in many places — Oracle ERP suites. IBM is doing what’s best for IBM — selling hardware. They don’t care what’s running on it. I think they want to get as far away from RPG as they can. And that is just what’s happening.
Folks… I’m not just talking about a name, I’m talking about an image…. AS400 relates to old. Microsoft software vendors have made that loud and clear. GUI is where it’s at, just ask any freshed faced millenial, they walk by a green screen and laugh. Users cry for change. We may have the best transaction processor on the planet, but when you tell the CEO that it’s going to take 2 to 3 years to freshen up all that legacy code they don’t want to put lipstick on a pig. They have some consulting firm out there telling them that they can give you more functionality for less in half the time. It’s an industry shift, the start of a new cycle. I’ve been to Career Builder…. getting pretty lean out there. The install base is shrinking, DEBUG, the Tampa Bay AS400 User group is all but defunct. When I moved to the Tampa Bay area 15 years ago we used to get 200+ people at a meeting, now they get 5. In the IT Jungle today there’s an article talking about the COMMON Group’s future as uncertain. Someone show me some positive… anything…. Time to move on… Right now you have a choice…. soon you may not….

[…] the act of typing their uneducated spew results in any kind of cleansing. In my blog entry ‘Narrowosity‘, I whined about the whiners (ok, so I had a positive suggestion) and, since then, I have […]

Matt RMay 5th, 2009 at 9:57 am

Who Moved My Cheese?

BruceMay 10th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I rose to the very top of the IT on the back of the AS/400″¦ I knew Al Barsa and all of those great people at COMMON, at IBM Toronto, the personal audiences with Frank Soltis to discuss issues regarding the world’s largest company”¦ these people were all solid gold, and I will treasure the memories they left with me forever.

Again today I sit in the top IT seat of a multinational. Extensive recent interaction with IBM clearly demonstrates this is not the organization it was, and today bears no resemblance to the preceding 20 years, customer loyalty is a thing of the past. I confirm that what Matt R has written is 100% correct”¦ “it’s over dude””¦ those who hype otherwise are in denial.

[…] the motions of their job, waiting for their retirement, or their firing. In an earlier post titled Narrowosity, I proposed that we recognize the business acumen of the long-time RPG programmer, and transfer […]

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