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Users speak out on lack of iSeries apps

Users are fed up with the pathetic lack of apps for the iSeries. Some blame IBM. Others say the system is simply too much of a machine for the average ISV to get a grip on.

Recently reported that there's a serious lack of applications for the iSeries ("Survey: Lack of apps still plagues iSeries shops"). What do users think is going on? Some say IBM and its poor direction for the iSeries is to blame, while others say iSeries applications have always needed to be customized -- that out-of-the-box products have never been what this platform is about. Here's a sampling of their responses.

IBM killed the AS/400's future
I was an IBM Business Partner for over nine years, and I don't recommend it to anyone out there. IBM boasts too much about how they pour money into this and that; however, they don't disclose to future partners how they pit each (partner) group against one another -- all in the spirit of competition. IBM made the partners invest too much time in IBM-only products and never invested efforts to promote partner software, which is what made the architecture so strong to begin with.

More user feedback
Read what else users are saying about the lack of iSeries applications, and post your own comments.

IBM has done more to discourage the use of the AS/400 (iSeries or i5) than any one group or partner. OS/400 is clearly a far better, easier and more productive operating system than Windows or Unix, but IBM has not done a good job of promoting what was evidently a dying product brand back in the mid-90's. They kept this product alive for the sake of publicity and face-saving, but for the real cause at hand. IBM knows that it lost the race with Microsoft on getting Web technologies into this platform, maybe seven years too late. Now, all of a sudden, this machine runs all operating systems and shares in logical partitioning -- just like Unix and mainframes have for years.

IBM is the biggest scam machinery ever to market its services on this planet. Not knowing how to remake ILE/RPG, now they want to re-invent the platform on Java instead. If all of us jumped on Java, we might as well go for Sun -- and not IBM. The i5 is another horrible attempt at inventing what is clearly a dead architecture, with their own hands. No one I'm aware of wants to invest time, money and effort into a machine with no clear path, direction or business purpose. Unlike what was done in the past, there is no clear leadership for a machine that is still too costly to own.

The AS/400 is dead, and IBM killed its future many years ago with lack of direction, resolve and just pure bad judgment.

Jose Alfonso
Finsac Recovery Services

PC servers, little iSeries advertising affecting iSeries industry
I feel the lack of applications is a direct relationship to the growth in PC servers. More programming efforts are going to what is new by ISA, and the iSeries has been around for a few years.

In addition, the lack of advertising by IBM is helping to drive the industry away from the iSeries.

Al Nelson

Customization a way of life when using iSeries apps
My take on the issue is a little biased, since I develop in-house applications to solve business problems. However, let's try and remember why we chose the iSeries in the first place: its flexibility to solve business problems 90% of the time regardless of platform. The out-of-the-box concept just doesn't work for us, and customization is always needed to solve our clients' needs.

With the iSeries we can develop in-house applications and add on to existing third-party applications very quickly.

I always thought of the iSeries as a very solid platform. And if out-of-the-box applications are what you require, I recommend you search for an application first without a platform requirement. You may be surprised to find you end up with an iSeries solution.

My take on out-of-the-box applications? In our business, our in-house development is what makes us competitive. It is a strength, not a weakness. You need to remember to use what is out there and don't "reinvent the wheel." Customize where it benefits your business the most for you to gain a competitive edge.

Jeff Talalai
Senior programmer/analyst
The Jay Group
Ronks, Pa.

Old AS/400-iSeries perceptions hurting market
I have worked with IBM midrange for 15 years. I now work for an ISV supplying specialist software in the financial industry. The software requires scalability and IBM midrange has a lot of success in our market sector.

On a recent trip to the U.S. for the same industry sector, I saw mainframes being been used due to volumes. However, considering the size of the iSeries now, the volume would not be the same problem, as was the case 10-plus years ago.

Despite that, when we have a prospect with a Unix footprint come to a demonstration, we find that the technical people think the iSeries is an AS/400 and that it was derived in the 70's. But then you have to ask why they are looking for new software. There is a strong perception that if it isn't Java, then it's legacy. And Java works best on Unix, so why would you spend extra money on IBM equipment?

I've yet to find a large system written in Java, and I believe companies are struggling with it. Business languages such as RPG allow for fast development, and that has been the strength of the IBM midrange. Core business requires databases, and RPG is a database-integrated language. In addition, IBM midrange applications have traditionally included a lot of in-house development.

We develop client/server GUI in VARPG and tier our design, having business logic residing on the server only. It is important to have a modern design to software development. We do use Java, such as for our browser-based tier, which is targeted to be deployed over the Internet or for infrequent use. Java is here to stay, and we have designed our software with a conversion path to Java, but we will wait until Java matures.

There is also the Oracle/DB2 debate. DB2 is accepted, although Oracle is seen as the "financial industry choice." That is because it is cheap to put a small solution on an Oracle database. However, there have been issues with scaling up, with inefficient SQL against poor database design. That isn't a fault of Oracle, but it is symptomatic of the separation of database administrators and application programmers.

iSeries market recognition is also an issue. I'm fully aware than the iSeries does more than support OS/400, but most aren't.

Paul Reilly
Riva Financial Systems Limited

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