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Disaster recovery to lead Common iSeries user group conference

The focus of Common's fall conference, being held in Miami next week, will be disaster recovery. The 6,500-member iSeries user group, representing more than 23,000 IT professionals, has had Beverly Russell as president since the fall of 2004.

The iSeries has undergone some changes in the past year, including the much maligned name change to the System i. It is seeing a renewed marketing push from IBM in the face of revenue dropping in the last three quarters. IBM said that for the second quarter this year, revenue dropped because of a backlog in shipping related to compliance with European environmental regulations.

Russell has been a part of Common since the early 1980s. Her full-time job is as IT director for E.D. Smith & Sons Ltd., a Canadian food manufacturer. In this Q&A with, Russell talks about the fall conference, the benefits of the iSeries platform and where IBM stumbled in the past year.

What is the focus of Common this year?
The special educational focus for the fall 2006 conference is disaster recovery. Our Strategic Education Team (formerly the CET), understand that this is a timely topic that every IT professional feels compelled to learn about -- and there will be plenty to learn at Common. We've added a whole course of study on the topic, which includes sessions on high availability, backup, data recovery and more, including user case studies. There's also a preconference workshop on the topic, and we have vendors in the Expo that specialize in disaster recovery solutions.

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How has the role and focus of the System i changed over the last five years?
The System i has evolved over the last five years, getting even better and more robust. Not only does it continue to handle traditional business workload at an ever increasing pace, it has taken on new types of workloads and operating systems, like Linux and AIX. It truly is the best platform for business that there is. Tell me one thing IBM has done well with the System i in the last year and why.
IBM has begun marketing the machine. It is sharing the 'best kept secret in the computer industry' with the rest of the world. Tell me one thing IBM has done poorly with the System i in the last year and why.
Changing the name. I understand the business reasons, but I still think it causes confusion. What are the benefits of the System i?
The biggest benefit of the System i is the ease of how you can manage it. The security, the administration is so simple on a System i. Monitoring and managing the system is also very easy, and so much can be automated. It is very good at diagnosing potential hardware problems and notifies you of impending problems before they occur allowing you to take a proactive approach to managing your system. It is just the best box for business computing. Will Common be going to a one-conference-a-year focus in the next year or two?
I'll be making an announcement on Sept. 17, at opening session in Miami Beach that will outline our educational model for all of 2007. If people cannot attend, the information will be available immediately following the session, both on Common's Web site and through the media.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer

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