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Users not so quick to give up the iSeries

Even with its Midrange Alliance Program, Microsoft will have to fight to persuade iSeries users to give up the server. The iSeries is far better than any Windows server, they say.

With Microsoft seemingly setting its sights on the iSeries with its new Midrange Alliance Program, we asked users what they thought about the software giant's effort to persuade people to move off the iSeries. Is Microsoft doing to the server what it has done to the Mac on the desktop level? Is its argument about the lack of applications for the iSeries valid? Here is what some of you had to say.

Need better marketing to dissolve perceived myths
Microsoft knows the iSeries, i5/OS and Linux are potential threats. They also know they can't create a reliable operating system, and their other applications are being threatened by open source versions. Rather than compete by addressing those issues, they try to brainwash or bully people into either moving away from the iSeries (or any other perceived threat) or try to get them to stay with Windows. When you put that together with technical people who either don't know any better or are protecting their personal investment in Windows, it's easy to see why there's a perceived problem.

IBM needs to aggressively market the platform. IBM has an excellent product in the iSeries, but marketing just doesn't seem to be their strong suit. They either need either better ads that show what the platform is capable of and/or they need to drop prices even further (assuming they can do that without sacrificing the quality of the hardware and software).

I've been working with this platform for 22 years (back to the System/38), and it's still boggles my mind when technical people either don't know or won't acknowledge what this platform is capable of and how reliable it really is. That mindset holds others back from checking it out and it perpetuates the myth that if it's graphical, it must be better.

Joseph Cattano
IS technical support
Goldman Associates of N.Y.

iSeries going out? I don't think so
Any company that has many field offices and needs a very dependable and strong server for their offices should look at the iSeries. Besides, Windows DOES run on the iSeries -- as does Linux and Unix. They use the iSeries disk drives (RAID servers are cheaper) and have more flexibility.

For example, if my Windows-based Oracle application server goes down, I can go to the iSeries, stop and start the Windows service, and Windows restarts. Normally, it would mean a trip downtown.

You have to look at what your business requires. If you have one office of five people, it may not be worth it because of the iSeries' innate complexity. (It's an IBM mainframe in nature.) But if you have a large manufacturing operation and need extremely reliable uptime, the iSeries is the way to go.

I've been responsible for an AS/400 for two years, and it never once crashed because of internal problems. Once power died, and it switched to its UPS, shut itself down normally, and rebuilt itself when the power came back on. Try that with a Windows 2000/3 server.

You want virtual servers? iSeries can do it. You want Windows interface? Yep, iSeries can do it. You want speed? The iSeries is 64 bit and has been for several years. You want good service? IBM has excellent service people, and they fix things right the first time.

Don't worry too much. The iSeries is here to stay for quite a while, Microsoft notwithstanding. Microsoft should take care of its own house -- stop the constant security holes -- and I mean constant.

Larry D. Bechdol

How can I prove the iSeries is better?
I read your article "Is the iSeries becoming like the Mac?" and I found it very interesting to me and to the company I work for. I have a strong belief in the stability of the iSeries platform, but looks like many technical folks don't know enough about it. Those people are the ones who they always try to find a different architecture solution from the iSeries. I don't have enough facts to show them how wrong they are. I would appreciate some information that can help me convince those people how strong, reliable and stable the iSeries platform is.

Hesham Soliman

iSeries skills, knowledge lacking
No, the iSeries is not becoming a Mac because the Mac only supported its own environment. The problem we have as an IT community is letting someone else define what we are and what we are becoming. The iSeries professional is our problem; we have our comfort zone of green-screen application development and we have resisted change. The level of technology hardware and software on both iSeries and pSeries has leaped-frogged the industry. The growing need to do server consolidation is real and the iSeries and pSeries are the platforms that support mixed workloads and platforms concurrently. I say the iSeries has a skill and knowledge level deficiency, and we as an IT community have to fix that.

Paul Lambert
iSeries consultant & instructor

Microsoft grabbing at straws
What else can Microsoft do? They cannot offer a product that comes close to the iSeries, and the costs of the iSeries will only become more competitive as the Power technology takes hold.

Jerry Karth
Systems engineer

One iSeries programmer can do the work of a staff of MS programmers
I have been a System/38-AS/400-iSeries consultant since 1980 when the first System/38 came out. All I can say is that there is no better business solution platform than the iSeries. When was the last time you heard of someone hacking into an iSeries or of an iSeries getting a virus. You can develop a full business application on the iSeries in one-tenth of the time compared with any other midrange machine. You hardly need a support staff, so your ROI is huge.

My biggest gripe is with IBM. Why have they abandoned the iSeries and all of its loyal supporters? Why have they not continued to market it as it should be marketed? What other machine has had a 25-year life span and is still going strong? There is nothing that can't be done on an iSeries. Let's have a competition. I, single-handedly, will go up against a full staff writing a business application on any other platform that Microsoft chooses and we will see who wins. That includes any Web-based application. Send them my challenge. I will win. What other machine and or programmer could issue that challenge other than an iSeries programmer?

Roger Schaefer

Plenty of apps for the iSeries
Those who say there aren't enough applications don't know what they're talking about. I've been working on the iSeries and AS/400 since it was put on the market in 1988. I've worked for software developers, including Computer Associates, and there are plenty of applications out there. Sure, there are some businesses for which the number of software is limited, such as the food industry, but there are some. And what about the hospitals that run on iSeries servers here in New Jersey and I'm sure in other states. They use the iSeries because the box is reliable and easy to maintain. To the Windows advocates I say: "Wake up!!!"

Richard Magnan
M.I.S. manager

iSeries adaptable -- don't discount it
You forgot the other option on the poll -- Never.

I appreciate your position as a Mac user and have always admired the Mac platform from a computer science perspective. My professional experience with Mac-iSeries environment is limited to two companies. One, the CFO was a committed Mac user and refused to convert to a Wintel box. Since he was our boss, we were forced to find AS/400 emulation software, which was a unique task in 1988. My other recent experience was with a small pharmaceutical company whose marketing-graphic arts department consisted of a three-Mac network that I attached to the Windows network.

It does not help the iSeries to have Oracle potentially killing two iSeries applications at one time. I do not think Oracle will support any app that uses DB2. The AS/400-iSeries-i5 will be around for a long time because of its superior technical advancements, which allow the platform to easily adapt to changing business paradigms.

Bryan F. Yim
Banc of America Securities LLC

Microsoft apps not for real-world processes
Seems that Microsoft thinks it has an answer for everything.

I have been using IBM mid ranges systems for 26 years. I have customers that don't shut them down for MONTHS. They don't NEED to.

I can't imagine an iSeries or AS/400 user calling a help desk and having the first words out of the person's mouth be, "Did you REBOOT?"

The iSeries is THE most reliable platform in the world. Why would you want to replace it?

As for business processes, give me a break. Microsoft thinks you can run ANY and ALL businesses with an Excel spreadsheet. Microsoft applications have their place, but not in the REAL business world.

Mark Sfara
MS Consulting Inc.

Software pricing the real issue for the iSeries
I have been a developer on System/38-AS/400 for 20 years now. (I also develop in Delphi.) Without a doubt, the AS/400 is an astounding machine. If I were running a business, I would choose it over the Microsoft-powered server alternative any day.

Problems do exist with the iSeries, though. The most glaring is software availability. It isn't the lack of software, but the cost of it. Software houses automatically charge huge amounts of money. Because the target platform is the iSeries, they perceive that it is a high-cost piece of hardware and that the owner can also afford to pay many times more for applications. For example, if you buy Winzip for an X86 environment, it costs peanuts. If you buy it for the iSeries, it costs thousands of dollars.

Another example that has caused me problems recently is the OLEDB driver provided by IBM. OK, it's included free as part of Client Access, but it's not up to much so you look for an alternative. One recommendation was the HIT driver, but by the time you cost this out for any practical usage it runs into many thousands of dollars. You're only buying a piece of middleware, not SQL server!

IBM has to provide high-quality, low-cost software if the iSeries is to remain attractive in terms of cost of ownership.

Ralph Porter
Database developer
Bounty Euro RSCG

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