The perpetual perception conundrum of the IBM i platform may eventually resolve itself if an effort by IT consultant Trevor Perry, executive vice president of COMMON, to achieve broad community consensus on platform branding is successful. Perry has launched an online survey that so far has garnered more than 700 responses, and he plans to publish the results within the next 10 days.
Perry is reinvesting in an effort to bring users, vendors, and ISVs together on common ground to discuss and, hopefully, decide whether the IBM i community is in orbit around an operating system, a language, a hardware platform, or Big Blue itself.
He is still accepting, and will continue to encourage, people to visit his survey site, http://ibmi2.com, to further validate the findings of the first 700 visitors.
Among the questions that users will find at the site are the following:
- How long have you used IBM i or its predecessors?
- What IBM i or predecessor hardware have you worked with?
- What is the actual hardware currently being used to run IBM i in your company today? What is the name on the server?
- What operating system versions are used for IBM i production systems in your company today?
- What operating system versions are used for IBM i development systems in your company today?
- What IBM i development tools are in use at your company?
- What IBM i languages are in use by your development team?
- Does your company encourage technical innovation?
- Does your company provide for technical education?
- Where do you currently look for IBM i information?
- Do you attend local IBM i or Power Systems user group meetings?
- What major IBM i technical conferences do you attend?
- What do your end-users call the IBM i system?
- What do your developers call the IBM i system?
- Is there a discrepancy between the name of the server and OS that you have, and how the users and developers perceive it? Would you be willing to be involved in promoting IBM i to the community and to the IT industry?
The http://ibmi2.com site is a work in progress, and Perry plans to add several more pages. These include one he calls the "Unity" page, which is "designed to encourage the IBM i community to become unified in their approach to the platform." Many people see the platform from a different perspective, and it is time to speak with one voice to the world, says Perry.
A second page, "The FAQ" page will answer questions about IBM i, cover some of the more common myths and misconceptions about the operating system, and will reference several of the major information sites that contain IBM i information.
Finally, the "What Can I Do?" page will offer suggestions on ways for people to take action to help bring unity to the IBM i-on-Power community. He also intends to reinvigorate the iSociety Web site to display information about IBM i.
"Our contention is that 2012 is a year to bring unity to the IBM i community. It is not simply about using the right name, but being united in promoting this amazing platform," says Perry. "It is about representing to all those in our community that this is a modern, integrated, scalable and secure business platform."
Perry notes that while most people who are approached about the need to promote and educate business leaders on the features and value of the IBM i OS are initially enthusiastic, few are actually willing to step up and invest their free time to help in the effort. The survey, therefore, is intended to identify those individuals who are able and willing to do so, and part of Perry's initiative will be to devise a method whereby many people can each invest a small amount of time and get the most bang for the buck.
To that end, the survey asks, "Would you be willing to be involved in promoting IBM i to the community and to the I.T. industry? This would involve ongoing engagement in educating customers, partners, recruiters, IBMers about the platform. Please outline your commitment, no matter how small you think it may be!"
One of his first goals is to establish an internship program where college-level students can get credit for working in businesses that operate Power Systems computers, says Perry. He has already talked with a few educators who say it will be no problem awarding course credit, and now he must test the waters with business leaders on the benefits of such an intern program.
With the approach of COMMON in Anaheim, California, in May, Perry says it's an ideal time to ride the wave of enthusiasm that the conference will generate and focus attention on the need to make some hard decisions about the future of the platform.
He will be among the speakers at a preconference event sponsored by looksoftware on Friday, May 4, featuring the founder of IBM i, former IBM chief scientist Frank Soltis. Soltis will be among the speakers to discuss the future of IBM i at the iBelieve! seminar. The company said it will host the free and open event for the IBM i community at the Hyatt Regency, Orange County, California. iBelieve! will be a day-long seminar focused on exploring the future of the IBM i platform and coincide with the start of the COMMON 2012 conference Sunday, May 6, at the Disneyland Resort in nearby Anaheim, California.
Speakers at iBelieve!, besides Soltis and Perry, will include Alison Butterill, IBM Power Systems application development offering manager; Jon Paris and Susan Gantner of the Partner400 education and consulting service.
The speakers will explain why they believe in the IBM i platform and will deliver "thought-provoking sessions" on how to extract maximum value from IBM i investments, according to Paul Hodgkinson, looksoftware Marketing manager.
Brendan Kay, looksoftware CEO, sees the event as an opportunity to open up the discussion surrounding the platform and highlight its many attributes.