In its announcement of the merger, IBM likened the move to the 1980s-era merger of System/36 and System/38 into AS/400. Since that first change, AS/400 has become iSeries, and then System i. And because System i and IBM's Unix platform, System p, run on the same Power processor and essentially have the same hardware, IBM considered the merger a good way to combine the two. Darrell Martin, the manager of computer operations at electronics manufacturer Morey Corp., said it was a good long-term move.
"Like most people in the user community, my concern is we've got a lot of money invested in the platform," he said. "So what happens not this year, not next year, but down the line -- if the marketplace can't figure out what [System i] is, and if IBM can't figure out what it is -- then if we move forward, do we want to go with IBM?"
Martin now sees a more solid foundation for the System i roadmap because of the platform's merger with System p.
"We've had unplanned downtime twice in the 13 years I've been working here, so we really are fans of IBM," he said. "Because of the commonality of the hardware platforms, the merger wasn't a no-brainer, but it was a low-brainer."
Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, the CIO for the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, said the merger validates her recent purchase of a Power6 570 box on which the institute runs multiple partitions with Linux and IP telephony. She added that the merger brings exposure of System i to a broader audience. In the past, she said, System i users mostly talked to one another about how great the server platform was. Now she thinks it's possible for the merger to expand i's audience.
Mark Shearer, the former IBM general manager of the System i platform who is now a VP in the company's Business Systems division, said he heard good things from users at the Common conference.
"One element of the announcement that is really exciting to clients is this idea that they can purchase a Power system and the heart is the same whether they're going to run i or AIX," he said. "That addressed a pain point I had heard from clients around the world."
i5/OS to IBM i
Reynolds-Lair added that she likes the renaming of the System i operating system from i5/OS to just i, calling it "brilliant" because "it's not tied to a specific version of an operating system or platform. It stands for integration."
David Vasta, a System i user and blogger, wrote that the community now has "a name that can work for the OS/400, i5/OS and it's i, just i, and it works for me."
But not everyone was thrilled with the change. One user wrote in an email that he wished IBM had renamed it i/OS; that way the name wouldn't be tied to the version of Power processor, but it would still be clear that it was an operating system, and not just a noncapitalized first-person pronoun.
Martin has a different reason – for some time, he's tried to train everyone in his company to stop calling the platform AS/400, OS/400, and iSeries and to start calling it System i and i5/OS. With the new change, he's giving up.
"I was the only evangelist in our whole unit," he said. "We've got four dedicated programmers on the iSeries or the IBM i or whatever it's called today. I was the one saying, 'We need to get used to the new terminology.' When the announcement came out, I threw my hands up and said it's not worth it."
So now the terminology is shifting in reverse.
"I'm calling it the AS/400 again," he said. "Because that's what our users have been doing. It's just not worth it. It's an AS/400."
Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.