Recently, Search400.com asked readers if they thought IBM could sustain the iSeries growth that happened over the last three quarters. While many were happy to see sales bounce back, others said Big Blue could do more. Here is a sampling of the responses.
Cashing on in neglected markets
I am happy to hear about iSeries financial performances so far for this year. I believe the machine has the capacity to do more of this, considering the enormous power, resilience, scalability, reliability -- and above all, its low TCO. I reside in Lagos Nigeria and have been working with iSeries for the past eight years, and can attest to the strength of the iSeries box. But funny enough, only about 2% of IT population in the country is aware of the machine.
So why is such great machine so unpopular in the market?
From my investigations, I believe IBM is not interested in growing the iSeries market beyond its natural niche, America and Europe.
If they are, why would a country like Nigeria have only one company with technical competence to support iSeries, and only two companies marketing the product? There is no iSeries training center in the country, and of my eight years working with this machine I have never heard of a seminar on the iSeries in the country.
It is my candid opinion that if Big Blue embraced mass marketing of the iSeries -- like Microsoft, all over the globe -- then sales performance will be in the range of 40-50% [growth] all year round.
The best way to achieve this would include:
Whatever happened to user friendly?
The rebound of the iSeries sales is a good start but IBM needs to do more. First, someway, somehow, they need to make it much easier to access data on other platforms without their customers having to spend a lot of money to get the functionality. After all, that's easy from the PC platforms. Next they have to quit making their software more complex and difficult than it has to be. Whatever happened to "User Friendly"?
Can't win a rigged game
My former IT Director called me the other day. He wants me to come back and help plan their migration from the iSeries and Cobol to PeopleSoft/Oracle/Unix. Apparently, this new IBM "Campaign" has not reached this particular decision maker.
I've reviewed these recent Plan B ads. They play on insecurity and fear which in the long run never works. True value seemed to be missing, as usual, along with the true merits of iSeries. These truths will always be missing as long as IBM controls the iSeries division.
There is never any mention [in the ads] of the free integrated database. Free! As in, no ridiculous annual Oracle license fees, no need for multiple DBA's, no need for additional systems administrators to configure storage. There is no mention of the free SAN. Free! As in, just add a disk and forget about it. There was no mention of the free software preservation system. Free! As in, the advance TIMI layer where you can upgrade hardware, OS, database, and not even worry about software.
Why? One simple answer: Corruption.
As long as IBM is in bed with Oracle and Oracle helps them to sell their other hardware and services, this will never change. IBM will also not let the iSeries beat out or compete with its other offerings in similar areas such as blade server technology in the server consolidation area or pSeries in the mid-range area.
Our organization spends 14 million dollars a year in Oracle license fees. A good chunk of that could be saved by simply using the iSeries as a database server and nothing else. Why this does not happen? You or IBM should be able to answer that.
I think the only thing that could save the iSeries is if a group like China-based Levono would come along and buy the division away from IBM. Chinese business leaders understand value and simplicity whereas American business leaders only understand fad and fashion.
Give it to Gates
In my humble opinion, the iSeries has suffered from much in the past, but mostly from IBM not effectively promoting the platform. The hardware is rock solid and if more decision makers knew of its power, reliability, and total cost of ownership, customers would be on a waiting list for months to get their machine. I think if IBM began to promote the platform as more than a vague reference in quick commercials, the increase in sales would rocket past 25% increases. Perhaps if IBM isn't willing to effectively advertise the platform, they should just give it to Microsoft and see how they would promote the best platform on the planet!
Isn't the iSeries future going to depend a lot upon what happens with JD Edwards? If Oracle takes them completely out of the market, how is the iSeries going to survive? More importantly, where is the new talent on the iSeries going to come from?
Work on the price
As someone who has worked on these mid-range for more years than I care to remember, I have been through regular cycles of "it's dead technology" to "it can do everything except make toast, for that you need to plug in a toaster!"
It's popularity may be on a rise, due to some input from the powers that be, but it will only ride the high surf for as long as it is the "Application server of choice" for IBM. The real issue is license costs, disk costs and engineer's hourly rate. These are the iSeries Achilles heel, because they are so expensive to run compared to Wintel , Linux Redhat etc.
You can throw more money at "lesser" technologies to make them as stable and reliable as an iSeries, without having to spend 50% of the money that a start-up iSeries will cost. If we can get the regular running costs & ROI of the iSeries to a sensible level, it will knock everything else into a cocked hat.