In the Wheelhouse: Big News for SWMA! No Price Increase!

Analysis of News Events
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This week, I'm talking about the SWMA price increase and subsequent reduction; new collaboration options, including expanded support for IBM I; COMMON 2013; and Power Systems manufacturing going south of the border.

 

IBM i SWMA Costs Go Way Back Down Again

As I covered in my last article, IBM i software maintenance (i.e., SWMA) prices were scheduled to go up as of next month. But before customers could say "there goes the budget," or more likely afterward, the cost increase was declared null and void by IBM. That's a good thing if you're an IBM i customer as the announcement of the cost increase came on short notice when most of us already had our budget plans laid out for the year. Larger customers with systems in higher processor tiers and many active cores would've been on the hook for a significant amount of scratch.

I don't know the details behind the price increase cancellation. I just know that I'm glad IBM is remaining price-competitive by keeping the SWMA cost as is. Although IBM has every right to set prices whenever they want, I would assume they understood that such short notice would be incredibly difficult for many customers and did the right thing by them to cancel the price increase.

COMMON Austin

The 53rd annual COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition is in the live music capital of the world, Austin, Texas, from April 7–10, 2013.

There's more IBM i and AIX educational content than ever before, with well over 300 total sessions, including 90 sessions pertaining to AIX.

Please have a look at this video which gives a great feel to what to expect at COMMON.

Running parallel to COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition is the COMMON IT Executive Conference (ITEC). Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, wrote a great summary of what to expect at ITEC.

I'll be in Austin all week, working with the COMMON Americas Advisory Council and then attending many of the great sessions. I can't afford not to go to COMMON, given the amount of IBM i knowledge and experience you can tap into.

IBM Connections 4.5, Notes/Domino 9, Quickr EOM

Announcement letter 213-061 had the sweetest line I could read: "IBM Connections V4.5 adds support for the IBM i operating system." I've been very vocal about the IBM i customer need to have IBM's flagship social collaboration platform on IBM i for a little while now. Last month, IBM offered a statement of direction that committed their support for Connections on IBM i, and now they've completed delivery on that statement. Thank you to the very many people who made this happen.

Of course, IBM i support is not the only thing in that announcement that has me excited. The announcement of IBM Connections 4.5 expands on the new features:

  • You can "like" status updates and comments about status updates directly from the activity stream in your community.
  • Use the @mention feature to mention your colleagues in status updates or status update comments and share your news directly with them. This feature can help encourage people to respond to the update thread and participate in the conversation, which can help drive the adoption of the platform and reduce time to value.
  • New features in ideation blogs let you export ideas from your community's ideation blog to a file. You can also mark an idea as a duplicate and combine votes with the corresponding idea.
  • Forums make it easier for users to share information and collaborate with others. Users can use the "like" feature to recommend a forum topic or reply. Users can sort lists of forum topics by the number of likes, number of replies, or date modified.
  • New mobile applications are available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices

The announcement also covered IBM Connections Content Manager 4.5, which enables you to add content libraries to a Connections community. IBM Connections is a prerequisite to Connections Content Manager. Here are some of the features as outlined in the announcement:

  • Check-in and check-outMembers can access and check out files, and lock them to prevent other users from making updates at the same time.
  • Version controlMembers can see who has updated content at a glance and roll back to previous file versions if there is a need to recover older content.
  • Access controlCommunity owners can set file-level access to the library, giving them tighter control over the use of their content.
  • Approval routingMembers can collaborate on shared files and send them through an established review cycle to obtain the approval of selected members of the community.
  • Search across Connections and content librariesCommunity content libraries are searchable from across IBM Connections, and results will be merged with other Connections content (for example, wikis, blogs, files) in Connections search results.
  • Community libraries provide rich social features, including tagging, following, liking, commenting, and download history.
  • Users can create multiple libraries in a community.
  • Community members stay current with content updates from the community activity stream.

If some of the features sound familiar, such as the check-in/out functionality and version/access control, then you're probably a Lotus Quickr customer and the functionality wasn't designed that way by accident. As per announcement letter 913-026, IBM announced the end-of-marketing date for both Quickr for Domino and Quickr for WebSphere, and also published a news release on the subject containing the following statement: "IBM Connections Content Manager is the next step for our IBM Lotus Quickr for WebSphere Portal and Lotus Quickr for Domino customers on their social business journey. IBM Connections Content Manager will ensure our existing Quickr clients can better embrace the broader and best of breed capabilities of the IBM portfolio to assist your organization in becoming a more social business."

Existing Quickr customers will have entitlement to Connections Content Manager 4.5, and IBM intends to provide migration tools to help facilitate the transition. While end of marketing is about a year away, IBM has assured customers of its intention to support Lotus Quickr for a few years to come after that.

IBM Connections 4.5 and IBM Connections Content Manager 4.5 will be available to download on March 29, 2013.

In a related announcement, IBM Notes and Domino 9 Social Edition will be available to download on March 21, 2013. This download includes IBM Notes Traveler 9, which now supports the IBM i operating environment. Great news for people wanting to consolidate their x86-64 workloads on IBM Power Systems.

Check out a quick demo of IBM Notes 9 Social Edition here, which also shows how Notes 9 seamlessly integrates IBM Connections capabilities.

The Notes 9 interface is much more intuitive and attractive than its predecessors. I've been running the Notes 9 beta for months now and have had a great experience. I do recommend you take a look.

Power Systems Manufacturing to Move out of Rochester, Minnesota

Last week, a good friend at IBM sent me a quick note containing a link to a Minnesota-based news report stating that all Power Systems and PureSystems manufacturing in IBM Rochester would be moved to Guadalajara, Mexico.

I spoke with IBM media relations, who said that the move was to streamline efficiencies in manufacturing. IBM has had a manufacturing facility in Guadalajara that produces System x for a few years now. The transition from Rochester production expects to be complete in 2014.

IBM confirmed that other areas of IBM Rochester, such as research and development and the IBM i support center, would not be moved.

IBM declined to comment on how many people at IBM Rochester would lose their jobs or if any would be transitioned to Guadalajara.

Other than the loss of employment to talented people at IBM Rochester, my other concern was the anticipated level of quality of Power Systems manufacturing at another plant. With all due respect to System x, Power Systems hardware is in a class of its own. IBM's comment was that the high standard would be met in Mexico.

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