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Time to give the iSeries its spot in the limelight

If IBM is serious about the iSeries, it has to stand up and shout its praises, says columnist John Brandt. Pull it out of the back corner, and show people what it can really do.

I get asked about 10 times a week what role the iSeries will have in the future. Will it be a force to be reckoned with in the modern data center? Here's my answer: You can have the best widget in the world, but without customers, it will sit on a shelf in a garage and collect dust.

Upshot: It always comes back to marketing.

I could discuss all of the problems with IBM's iSeries marketing and ramble into oblivion and put the kids to sleep with senseless drivel, but it can be summed up in one simple saying. Things aren't going to happen in your favor if you don't show up and speak up.

Ask any CIO and they will tell you, there are only three operating systems in the world: Windows, Unix and Linux.

Did anyone show up to talk about OS/400? No.

John Brandt

The term "legacy" has become attached so strongly to the AS/400 and iSeries system that most CIOs don't know what the system is capable of doing for them. They want fancy windows and spreadsheets. If it doesn't do that, it will be relegated to the back corner of the data center until we can migrate the data to a "server."

Did anyone show up to explain how to do any of this using the current iSeries system? No. Back in the corner for you.

Back in 1997, I turned on the TV to see "Deep Blue" in competition playing chess. Grabbing headlines all over the world, a RS/6000 battled and beat Gary Kasparov, easily the best chess player in the world. Today, I see cute commercials touting a "business-adapter" that obviously is making light of the ability of system to quickly and seamlessly integrate data and processes for "On-Demand" computing.

Did the iSeries show up anywhere? No. Again, back in the corner for you.

I see spots touting xSeries and pSeries, and I've even seen one about the zSeries. I've never seen an iSeries commercial. I've been working on these systems since the early 1980's when it would be unthinkable to spend money on a TV spot for a System/38. We are over the hump. This is the 21st century, or as I call it, "These, the 0's." In these, the 0's, the CIOs of the future are going to football games, watching TV and having parties. The buzz words are XML transaction servers, .NET, Linux and Java, and we have a Microsoft ad that says, "I saved a nickel."

Did the iSeries show up anywhere in any IBM commercial? No. Back in the corner for you.

Let me tell you one thing I know for sure, the CIOs of the future watch TV. Let me rephrase myself, "THEY WATCH TV." They don't care if it is the most stable, is the most flexible and has one of the best "return on investment" in the industry. They care that they can see the thing on TV. The competition is all over the TV saying that they are the best. Who could blame a CIO if he or she didn't buy an iSeries? There's no one at IBM saying a word to dispute it. You can't have a discussion if you don't show up to talk about it.

We, the members of iSeries community, are the only ones touting this amazing system. People use it every day at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, JC Penney's, pay at the pump, ATMs and banks, airlines, trucking companies, accounting, credit cards, the Federal Reserve and even your local video store. I'm sorry IBM, but the iSeries being relgated to the back corner is not acceptable. You can't have a discussion if you don't show up to talk. The TV generation is in the CIO's chair, and decisions are made by those who show up.

Of course, I wouldn't know. I'm just a flunky programmer.

About the author: John Brandt is a site expert on and vice president of technical services, He welcomes your comments and feedback; send your e-mails to


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