iBelieve Reminds Us Just What We Have

Analysis of News Events
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iBelieve is inspirational. When you go home, the action is up to you.


In an age of nonstop Internet feeds hitting your browser, mobile phone, tablets, and inboxes, the value of getting out to speak with colleagues in the IBM i world is more important than ever. We can certainly get trapped in our own bubble of sorts. iBelieve, the popular IBM i road show, is back for a six-date run through Europe.


iBelieve will run on the following dates:








November 10



November 12



November 13



November 17



November 19



November 20


In the last two weeks, I've spoken with a few people who are part of the iBelieve event. Even today, it's hard to get a true bead on what the road show is truly about. It's more about how the road show can help you.


Brendan Kay of looksoftware says:


iBelieve is something we started at looksoftware because we have a joy and commitment to the IBM i platform. Fresche Legacy has the same commitment and respect to IBM i.


As for the content, it's always been more what can be done than how to do it. iBelieve was born out of being frustrated with people complaining about the "AS/400" market but not many people aware of the successes of the IBM i market. The IBM i platform is capable of doing a whole lot more than what AS/400s typically do. When speaking with developers, set your sights high. Make sure you're delivering first-class solutions and not going for the lowest common denominator. It's showing them what can be done rather than getting into any technical deep dives.


We certainly get people who are already well aware of the things that the platform can do and just want to come for the networking with people of a similar mindset. There's little preaching to the converted. It's more of a community event rather than a sermon, and the information flows from attendee to attendee rather than just from the people at the front of the room. But because it's a road show, we tend to get some people who don't usually get to travel to the bigger conferences. We get feedback from people who do know that you can run Ruby and PHP on the platform but not necessarily know what people are actually doing with Ruby or PHP.


It's good that the language set on IBM i is continuing to expand and will continue to expand over the coming months and years. We have a very healthy respect for what IBM i has done all along. We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Free-format RPG has a big future, and the existing RPG applications have their place. The combination on IBM i between old and new really gives people a benefit.


Trevor Perry of looksoftware says:


iBelieve last year in Europe was more of a blind study in terms of what to expect. At the end, there was absolutely nobody who didn't feel IBM i was a modern platform. People want to know about modernization, even if it's just people who are kind of kicking the tires. People went away learning a lot of information about [the] "now" of IBM i [as well as] the future of IBM i. I've had people come up to me and say thank you because they honestly didn't know the name of the platform until they caught a session.


People are hungry to learn. With iBelieve, it's never been promoted as anything other than "we're going to talk about IBM i" rather than something very focused. The community is hungry for the rah rah that they perhaps haven't heard in a long time.


I've seen positive impacts of people hearing the noise. I ask people who've been to the IBM i homepage, but not many people have, yet they're all asking about the platform. They haven't seen the blogs. Part of the inspiration and the rah rah gets people to know about those things, and it's almost like the gateway into all the new stuff. I'm talking about the 25 IBM i vignettes from IBMi25 to help people understand what value IBM i has, and where to get some detailed information to help justify the platform in their shops. This information reinforces you've made the best choice for platform. We'll be talking about IBM committing to the platform.


People don't really remember all the great things in the vignettes. People are armed when they're reminded of things like TIMI (Technology Independent Machine Interface). It's almost like an "Oh, yeah! We still have TIMI. I remember that." That value is still there and people need to be reminded of that.


iBelieve is inspirational. But when you go home the action is up to you.


IBM's Steve Will, the Chief Architect for the IBM i operating system will be one of the speakers for half of the events while Alison Butterill, WW IBM i Product Offering Manager, will be sharing the load on the other half. Steve Will adds:


I have been asked to talk about the directions IBM i is taking, and I think that's an important message to get out to the IBM i users all around the world. I'm glad I can participate in several stops on this very positive tour. It's the first time I've been available to be part of the iBelieve events, so I'm quite excited. I'll definitely be including some stories about the parts of IBM i which are growing, and I'll also talk about some specific directions which have come directly as a result of input from our clients and partners.


Since they're sharing the load, Alison Butterill says she'll be talking about many of the same things as Steve Will, such as IBM i trends, directions, and the future of the platform.


Steve and I will be covering the new announcements, newer items like cloud, social, and mobile because that's where the industry is focused and how IBM i relates with those topics.


I think in today's society with things done online, the thing you miss is the sense of community. These events really bring that sense of community to people. It's something that IBM i has been historically known for, and it will be a great takeaway for the attendees.


I also had a long chat with Dr. Frank Soltis, who was instrumental in designing the AS/400 26 years ago. He says:


looksoftware in conjunction with IBM and COMMON Europe. It is certainly a joint effort in terms of working together for a common cause. The topic they gave me is IBM i: Designed for the Cloud. One of the things I do is lay out all the things put in IBM i since the beginning to support what's known today as cloud computing. If you go back in time, we designed the original System/38 for that kind of environment. Especially with the security. One of the major areas of concern for cloud computing today is the security. That's one of the things that are a real strength of IBM i.


That's one thing I've said for years. Remember when Capacity Upgrade On-Demand was rolled out years ago? That was essentially in-house cloud. The ability to add resources on a whim is old hat to us now.


Dr. Frank continued:


All of us forget that we have all that and have had all that for a long time. Virtualization, for instance. If you go back to the '80s and '90s, we had virtualization, be it subsystems or the TIMI. Nowadays, everybody seems to be inventing things we've had since the beginning.


I meet with a lot of customers around the world. A lot of them have systems that are not even scratching the surface in terms of capabilities of what that system can do. And they talk about what they're going to be doing in their shops, and I say great that's a perfect fit for IBM i. They look at me in a strange way sometimes that they don't even know they could do it on IBM i. They just assume they need to run it on Windows or Linux or what have you. "You can do that on IBM i?" Yes! The great part about iBelieve is that it gives us a chance to go to IBM i customers and ask them if they really know what they have. It's been really gratifying because people have left iBelieve sessions in the past saying "I didn't know I could do that!"


We didn't know what iBelieve was going to be in 2012. Since then, we've done a couple of them, in and out of the U.S. We've been evolving this as time goes on. I'm looking for another large turnout of customers and even non-customers. People are coming by out of curiosity, and it's been really positive getting some new blood. Many people...come to the show, and then the next time around they've brought other people by way of word of mouth.


One of the first things we do at iBelieve is say it's not a complaining session. We are here to talk about the system, how it's being used, and all the positive aspects about it. Most of it is really a discussion. There's very much interaction between people in the group. If you talk about user groups, one of the reasons I decided to retire is that I didn't have the time to talk with user groups. User groups and business partners are so important to talk with in terms of IBM i and the IBM i message. One of the real strengths of the platform is the community. We want to reinitiate some of those user groups. With iBelieve, we've seen that some user groups have been getting reinvigorated and starting to hold meetings again.


I do believe that IBM i has huge value that nobody else can touch at this point. One of the fundamental things we keep forgetting about is the question "what are computer systems designed to do?" There's only two of them actually designed to do business computing. One is the mainframe, and the other is IBM i. All the rest had their roots in something else.


One of the fundamental things today is security. You can't turn on the news and [not] hear about someone's system being hacked. One of the things we have, and of course you can screw it up by not setting it properly, is that it's one of the most secure systems out there. I just look at all the things it's done for people over the years. Businesses have gained competitive advantages by just using IBM i, and businesses that don't need many people to support the platform so they save money with it. We designed the AS/400 to be a lights-out operation. You still find those old boxes living in a closet sometimes. What do I want running my organization? I'd want to have lights-out operation. I'd want to have a low amount of people needed to run the infrastructure. I want something that's bulletproof and absolutely secure, high reliability with the latest technology.


Truth be told, I was looking for a technical answer to the value of IBM i question I asked Dr. Frank. But in reality, this technology was designed for business. I think we all forget that when we're consumed with speeds, feeds, and features of the latest announcements. It looks like iBelieve will try to bring some of those things we take for granted back to the forefront so we can not only appreciate what we have, but understand what more we can leverage out of it.