In the Wheelhouse: The "Name." Again. Really.

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When you get old enough for your head to reach over the fence to have a look, that's when people start throwing rocks at it.

 

A few points were raised in the comments section, via email, and on Twitter and LinkedIn regarding my last column. While the majority of the comments were positive and the spirit of the article was understood, a few responses should be brought to light. Most of those who had a complaint about the article jumped right to the subject of "the name." Ah, the familiar name issue. No mention of adding content to the blogging world, using the #IBMi hashtag on Twitter, or increasing the visibility and solidarity of a strong base of IBM i customers. Just "the name."

 

I'll attempt to consolidate those comments here along with my answers.

"You Can't Google IBM i or Power Systems!"

That statement is 100% false.

 

Usually this misconception comes in this form: "You can't Google i. You get nothing relevant when searching for i."

 

When phrased that way, the statement is 100% true.

 

On one side of the coin, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this supposed qualm, even though they may be used to writing relatively complex search statements with programming and query tools. It's very possible some people don't know you can use double quotes in a search engine in order to further refine a result set. For the benefit of those people, when you search for IBM i or Power Systems, please use double quotes like this: "IBM i" or "Power Systems." Of course, "Power Systems" will give results for electrical equipment manufacturers and the like, so filter your results further by adding the word "IBM" outside of the "Power Systems" string.

 

It's not hard. Once you start working with a search engine the way a search engine expects to be worked with, you'll get better and more relevant results. This goes for everything. If you search for "watson" you'll get some IBM-related results, but you'll get more if you add IBM to the search string (i.e., "IBM Watson"). If you search for "yellow" and expect to see results about golden retrievers, you're going to be disappointed. If you search "yellow dog" you may be a little more successful.

 

There are literally more than half a million results for "IBM i" out there. And the best part is they're from the last few years, not results showcasing the menu options in the Owner's Manual for V3R2.

"But the Whole World Won't Use Quotes to Filter Search Results!"

Oh, come on. That's a heck of a stretch. I'm not going to speculate on what the whole world will or won't do. I'm just stating the search myth is false.

 

On the other side of the coin are the minority of people who do know better. They know the results are there if you search for "IBM i" but continue going on and on about how you can't search for "i" just for noise effect. They're beginning to sound like a single person clapping in a crowd.

"IBM Changes the 'Name' Way Too Often"

I've heard people say things like "IBM just changed it three years ago" and "IBM will just change it next week."

 

The IBM i brand is now almost six years old. It was OS/400 for about 18 years. It was i5/OS for barely two. The operating system originally known as OS/400 has been renamed twice.

 

It's the same story when referring to Power Systems, which is a new hardware platform since 2008. Power Systems runs the IBM i, AIX, and PowerLinux operating systems. iSeries was around for about six years, and System i was only around for two. Why the need to cling to those names? There's a difference here. Power Systemsonce again, the hardware that runs IBM iis a new hardware platform. There's no renaming there. Power Systems is an individual brand and a hardware platform that stands on its own in terms of architecture.

 

Do people consider PureSystems a new hardware platform? I think so. I know some people who've invested in PureSystems, and they rightfully don't call it an AS/400, an iSeries, or a System i. Maybe PureSystems customers see the difference in the separation between operating system and hardware platform a little more clearly than some Power Systems customers. Is it the ability to run x64 chips? Well, if that were the case, then you'd see the same kind of attachment to the RS/6000 or pSeries names, yet I rarely hear a Power Systems customer who runs only AIX call it RS/6000.

 

I had a conversation about this with someone who said, "I just got used to calling it iSeries and now it's something new again?" The iSeries branding has been dead for eight years and was announced originally at the turn of the century. Maybe the answer lies in the fact that the AS/400 made things so incredibly easy that anyone could manage it; perhaps the double-edged sword is that the AS/400 made it too easy for some of the technical people to get stuck in a "steady as she goes" mindset. Think about that. The person whom I had the conversation with...just...got...used...to...saying...the...name...iSeries. That's 14 years later.

 

I heard Dr. Frank Soltis speak at the Atlantic Canada Midrange Users Group back in 2002. I can't quote him verbatim, but the gist of his lighthearted comments on the difference between then pSeries and iSeries customers were that generally the former upgraded to the most recent release of AIX right away while the latter tended to upgrade to the second-newest release of OS/400. It's safe. It's steady as she goes, and most of the kinks are worked out by then. While there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, it could be viewed as not so progressive compared to our then-pSeries counterparts.

 

I'm thinking the "steady" mindset translates over to how some of us refer to IBM i and Power Systems by other names.

 

Speaking of IBM i and its history, when the IBMi25 campaign was announced, it was a celebration of 25 years of IBM i. It was also a celebration of the birth of the AS/400.

 

Note that it was not a celebration of 25 years of the AS/400. That's the difference. We haven't had 25 years of AS/400, iSeries, or System i success and innovation. We had 12 years of AS/400, six years of iSeries, and two years of System i.

 

Hardware will come and go much faster than the operating systems that run on it. The AS/400 was the start of something great. We've moved on. So should our perspectives and the language we use.

"Promoting IBM i Actually Harms the Community." What?!

While for the most part my article was fairly positive about IBM i and all things related, it appeared to one reader that a supportive yet constructive article such as mine (in my humble opinion) actually hurts the IBM i community. The insinuation was that I was stuck in my ways, not wanting to entertain other options for operating systems that my business could run on. Also, this person mentioned that operating systems are a commodity now, and what you use as an operating system is irrelevant.

 

I think most IBM i customers have had to justify at least a couple of times why they chose to buy new or renew their commitment. I understand sometimes it's just not a right fit for a business. Fair enough. I also understand the opposite side of the argument in that it would be more costly to run our business on other platforms.

 

But the lack of relevancy of the operating system? Here's an example of what I see as an example of relevancy as he gave no example for his point:

 

I heard about an ex-customer this past week who'd moved on to a 100% Windows environment after being an IBM i customer up until 2010. They had a mid-level Power Systems server with eight partitions and migrated its workloads onto no less than 300 instances of Windows. That's 300 operating systems on a metric pant-load of hardware. I would argue that there's a difference in complexity and cost. The operating system and hardware matters. Promoting it is important.

 

The success stories are out there. The post-migration pain stories are out there too. But no vendor ever advertises the pain stories unless it's the "before" part of the before and after picture.

 

Customer advocates are very powerful, especially in recent years, when many purchases are made only after consulting with the comments section on a product's web page. In the last two weeks, I've seen a couple of new blogs pop up out of nowhere and more #IBMi conversations on Twitter. More people are proudly sticking their heads above the top of the fence for the benefit of the rest of us.

 

Bravo. Thank you for sharing your content.

 

Editor's note: View the forums comments inside the original article here.

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