In the Wheelhouse: "Power i" Is Adding to the Confusion

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Just when you think the term "IBM i" is gaining traction, silly, unneeded monikers turn into roadblocks.


It's not often that I'm prompted to write a response to an article in a competitor's magazine, because ultimately I'm unwilling to give them a little bit of press.


In this case, I believe that the extra traffic they're going to get is worth it because I don't agree with the article in question. I also think the article just adds more to the confusion of the name of the operating system called IBM i, which drives an unneeded wedge deeper between two sides of our community.



I last heard about this confusion while at the COMMON User Group Annual Meeting in Anaheim in which VP, IBM Server Solutions, Global Sales Alex Gogh referred repeatedly in his keynote to "Power i." It might be easy to say, but it isn't accurate, and it adds much fuel to the fire for some people who desperately want a new name because they're ignorant of the actual name of the operating system, or they don't like it, or they pick another lame excuse.




The term "Power i" as suggested in the IT Jungle article was, as I remember, well-publicized by ex-IT Jungle author Joe Hertvik as a moniker that he was flogging a few years ago on his blog. I'm not sure if he was the first to promote it, but he promoted it greatly. The self-promotion of Mr. Hertvik's "Power i" misinformation on Twitter was quite excessive in 2014, if I remember correctly. The name stuck in some circles because when you hear something enough, no matter how wrong the information is, it just might take hold.




For instance, Republican candidate Jeb Bush recently commented on climate change. He stated, "I don't think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural." The science is actually pretty clear and has been for many years. Climate change is caused by human activity, no matter that 57% of the U.S. population either disagrees or just wasn't aware of the 97% scientific consensus.




31% of non-scientists believe humans arrived on this planet by way of intelligent design, which is a very misleading euphemism for creationism, but the evidence points to the scientific theory of evolution in which there is also a 97% scientific concensus.




To quote the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, "The great thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."




The evidence is that, no matter what words websites or promotional materials (from IBM or otherwise) may include along with IBM i for clarity or context or search engine optimization, the name of the operating system formerly known as OS/400 is actually IBM i. Check the announcement letter from back in 2008. It's IBM i. Of course, the name IBM i has needed to be qualified from time to timeespecially around the time when PureSystems was taking offto delineate what actual hardware you're running it on. It's not a hard concept to understand. IBM i is the operating system, or operating environment if you will. For the most part, IBM i runs on IBM Power Systems (the actual brand name), or just Power Systems. A simple scenario would be that if you're talking with someone who isn't in the IBM world or even the IT world, then you might call it IBM Power Systems so they know you're not talking about electrical hardware. For the most part, in this community, if you're talking about hardware that IBM i runs on, you're talking about Power Systems as it's the most common.




Like I said above, some of those additional words are used for search engine optimization. If someone is searching for "iSeries performance tuning," they're going to find a result that has "For Power Systems (including AS/400, iSeries, and System i)" on the page. You don't tune the hardware unless you're upgrading or adding to it. You tune parameters on the operating system, IBM i. That's the main reason to use those terms.




Most of this week's IT Jungle article is based on a straw man argument: "The platform's official name, per IBM, is 'IBM i on IBM Power Systems.' This name is interesting for several reasons, not the least of which is that nobody actually calls it that. With six words (two of them IBM!) and 21 characters (26 if you're counting spaces!), it's just way too long to say, to search against (at least without quotes on Google) or even remember for that matter. Most Twitter messages are shorter than that. It's just a non-starter."




The operating system's name is IBM i.




The hardware it runs on is called IBM Power Systems and IBM PureSystems.




The term Power i is about as redundant as you can get. No IBM i instance runs on anything but POWER processors. Why not call it by its rightful name of IBM i? You get the brand equity of IBM with the "i" for the integration that we all know. Why promote a moniker? It's adding far more confusion at a point when the term IBM i is starting to gain more traction.




There is no "platform" anymore, in that there's an operating system and hardware combination tied at the hip. The machine and operating system are separate entities and have been for many years now.




Maybe that's the one thing some people can't get over: the separation of hardware and software. The system or platform if you will. Mr. Woodie alludes to that fact very correctly, however still incorrectly maintaining the name is "IBM i on IBM Power Systems."




However, there is no such official brand or trademark. It's nothing other than a descriptor of the software and hardware in one sentence. Heck, IBM i isn't even trademarked!




We have more to talk about in the IBM i and/or Power Systems community than advocating the unofficial public renaming of an IBM operating system. I shouldn't even waste my time writing about it. I'd much rather write things out of which my readers would get some real value that they could apply to their businesses. I could talk about my ERP project migration or how we're building our new website with DB2 and PHP in record time. I can talk about the new Technology Refreshes, what's new in Navigator for i, performance tuning options, DB2 enhancements, and maybe the great response in the COMMON requirements website, where people are asking for new cool features. I could be continuing to talk about CAMSS and how IBM is changing. Instead, I have to take a step backward in order to try to convince everyone to put the name nonsense to bed.




Why? Because it's silly. No other community has this problem. No other community seems so hung up on old names while resorting to a call to action of creating make-believe ones.




If you believe the platform's official name is "IBM i on IBM Power Systems," then that's your right. But don't try to make people believe you're correct without the evidence.