Angus: It’s IBM i, dammit!

What are YOU doing?

Yes! You!

What are you doing about the platform?

I presented to the COMMON Annual conference this week, on a session called “How to be an IT Survivor”. It was one of my many ways to encourage the IBM i faithful to step up and learn more skills than those which have kept us in a long glorious green programming career.

In that session, and several others, I asked who had called the platform – which today, is IBM i – by any other name in the last few weeks. Over half the audiences had used one of the old brand names. I asked who was still using SEU, and that was more than a third of the audiences.

All in all, I presented six sessions, most of them promoting IBM i and encouraging the attendees to step up and use the platform in modern ways, using modern tools, modern languages, and delivering modern applications. I promoted COMMON on Facebook and Twitter to encourage the IBM i faithful to learn new skills and step up.

I spent my own money on having IBM i buttons and stickers printed and distributed – to promote the platform. I had a t-shirt printed with my “IBM i dammit” cartoon and donated it to the COMMON Education Foundation for their silent raffle. I worked to create a new kind of speaking event at COMMON, to allow a voice for IBM i speakers to grow and be heard.

Much of my time was spent talking to IBM i customers, software vendors, and business partners, about the value of IBM i on Power, and the future of the platform. I convinced one vendor who referred to the platform as System i repeatedly that Power Systems was a NEW platform, not just a rebranding, but only after he said “no one ever told me”.

I saw attendees ask IBMers where the IBM i home page is to be found. I heard attendees use complaints that are so out of date, it was exasperating – including the “must have an ad in an airline magazine” bullshit. I saw IBM present a video promoting IBM i and then complaints about the “lack of marketing” from IBM. I heard attendees call the platform every name but IBM i, and tell me it was ok.

Before the conference, I worked to help one of the younger IT Professionals in our community attend the conference. While I was not solely responsible, I was able to assist in bringing Liam to the COMMON conference and spread his enthusiasm. And when Liam posted a long detailed blog of his amazing experience, the first comment he got was “However much I love the platform and live on it myself, I am finding Trevor’s approach too divisive and destructive for my appreciation.” His entire blog reduced to one inane comment from a poster who has decided to remain anonymous and throw potshots at me – unrelated to the incredible blog post.

It seems like the community has become myopic, lazy, or plain ignorant. As far as the ignorant anonymous poster goes, my approach to the platform is to promote IBM i. What could be perceived as divisive or destructive is my directness towards those who refer to this platform as though it were something else.

The platform is IBM i. It runs on Power Systems hardware – a NEW server since 2008. Our platform is NOT AS/400, iSeries, System i, i5, i5/OS, OS/400, Series i, Power i, i5Series, or any other name that lazily falls out of someones mouth. I promote the platform without division or destruction, but I do tend to be overt and direct with those who promote some OTHER old platform. So, the poster got it wrong.

And, there is the issue that I have recently discovered with a lack of willingness to step up and counter my contention that IBM i should be referenced – and used – in a modern way. More people are gossiping behind my back about my perceived crimes. People who decide to be lazy and not step up, tend to feel like they have been punished by their mother when I call them out on their lack of support for the platform. So, like guilty insecure children, they lash out at me. Spreading bullshit that I shout obscenities in public to people who don’t use the “proper name” is laughable, but false. And, in fact, the reputation I have of calling people out at every utterance of “AS/400” is totally beyond reality, but makes for a good story.

In a recent interview, I spoke at length about the name, and how it is the starting point to promoting the future and value of IBM i. I also spoke at length about how the perception of the platform being old leads to many people using it in an old manner and delivering old – and old-looking – applications. I also spoke at length about the importance of being up to date on your developer skills, including expanding your personal developer toolbox and learning what the platform can and does do. Yet, the first comment was from someone who claims I should (and I paraphrase) “stop harping on about the name”.

We live in a new world of IT and applications. Yet some of us are still using old branding, building old applications, and spending time arguing rather than moving forward. This is not helping the platform – that thing called IBM i.

And spending time being pissed at me, gossiping about my perceived slights, and ignoring your own career, is simply just keeping you in the dark green ages.

Let me repeat my basic assertion. When you call the platform by an old name, it helps the enemies of the platform make inroads to migrating more of us OFF platform. When you use a modern name, it changes the perception of the platform – this week at COMMON, I heard (several times) that when people said “do we still have that old AS/400?”, and the response was “we replaced it with Power Systems”, the result was relief, confidence in IT, and a belief that the company was in good and modern hands. When you call the platform by its current brand – IBM i on Power Systems, there are few people outside the industry who connect us with the perception of an “old AS/400” and we live to fight another day. AS/400 is our glorious legacy, and now we can have a longer and even more glorious career in IBM i.

YOU just have to step up. What are YOU doing?

What can YOU do? First, get to know me. In person. Don’t make nonsense assumptions about something you have heard about me. Second, stop wasting time arguing about the right brand and just USE the right brand. Third, stop complaining to and about IBM that things are not being done, and roll up your sleeves and actively dive into the community. Fourth, stop talking and developing like it is 1999. Fifth, start watching social media – you know, that 21st century means of communication and marketing?

Support your platform.

Stop whining about me. I’m working my arse off. And not just about the name. Get over yourself.

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