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The Laughing Boardroom – IBM eServer iSeries

By John | July 18, 2008

I am not a huge fan of the IBM iSeries or what use to called an AS/400; however, this video below really hit home when thinking about a utility company I worked with last year. The video describes what this utility company should have done last year when IBM told them they should move from iSeries to pSeries. Basically they should have laughed the IBM pSeries guys out of their boardroom.

This regional, rather large, utility company had been running AS/400 for twenty years with a minimal staff. In fact the current CTO was one of the original AS/400 operators and prior to about a year ago he could have still filled in as an operator in a pinch. Other than some simple web front-ends they basically ran one production box that did all their customer care and billing services. About two years ago a team of consultants were brought in to re-deign their customer care and billing systems. The initial design took them from one production AS/400 (they called it a mainframe) to about 10 P5 physical boxes with about 50 lpars of which about 20 lpars eventually became the replacement solution. On the software side they went from a single box that basically handled everything to a very complex infrastructure.

2 Production cluster Oracle RAC servers
2 Websphere servers
2 Tuxedo servers
2 Customer care application servers
2 Domino servers
2 BI and reporting server2
4 Tivoli Servers
2 Servers for Rational
1 NIM server for managing AIX
1 AIX server for administration and management
2 DS8100 SANs

After the army of consultants had completed the project (over a year) this utility company went from 3 system administrators to about 10 system administrators and they were still understaffed. They also increased head counts for 2 system architects and a project managers. Of course at least three new managers had to be hired. All told they went from a staff of about 5 (including CTO and operations) to a staff of about 20. This particular utility company was also known for being penny wise and pound foolish when it came to paying consulting rates so they also suffered severely from a lack of experience on a lot of the state-of-the-art software they were running. Needless to say their systems went down a lot more often than they did when they were running their mainframe.

However, the most ironic thing about this video is that it is typically an IBM’r that is the guy pitching the charts.

Topics: other | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “The Laughing Boardroom – IBM eServer iSeries”

  1. Thinking of switching from i to p? — The iSeries blog Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    [...] helpful to use in any discussions with CEO’s who want to “change” things). In, The Laughing Boardroom – IBM eServer iSeries, Willis shares the story of a utility company that had been running an AS/400 for 20 years and then [...]

  2. System i5 New Generation Computing » Blog Archive » i5 reality Says:
    August 8th, 2008 at 9:27 am

    [...] of new business for the i5 or the apparent lack of IBM support for the product. I was looking at a blog post recently about how a company had replaced a single i5 with a number of pSeries systems. This [...]

  3. Ric Weide Says:
    August 12th, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    When is IBM going to realize that the iSeries is the machine for all ages, needed, processes, and functions.
    It is the best made and functioning system in existence. Period

  4. Bill Rood Says:
    August 12th, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Sooo, in the case of the utility company you mentioned, since they went from i to p and not some other non-IBM Unix box, I’d assume IBM made a lot of money 1) on the conversion, 2) on the new hardware and 3) on steady-state consulting/services after the conversion.

    And my buddies in iSeries Development here in Rochester wonder why they’re always getting cuts and why iSeries revenues don’t grow. IBM markets hardware, middleware and services. It doesn’t know how to market a killer operating system like i5OS. This won’t turn around till sales people can make as much money selling i5OS as they do selling piece parts, and understand the iSeries well enough to know that to be the case. i5OS is either priced incorrectly, or not understood by the sales force.

  5. Gordon Bockert Says:
    August 21st, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    This is the EXACT same scenario that transpired at a former employer. A transition was made from a single iSeries to a server farm running UNIX/Oracle/Peoplesoft. $50+ million was spent on the conversion with no gain in functionality and certainly no gain in reliability. It was truly a sickening thing to witness.

  6. Mike Says:
    August 21st, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    “It doesn’t know how to market a killer operating system like i5OS.” – you got it “This won’t turn around till sales people can make as much money selling i5OS as they do selling piece parts, and understand the iSeries well enough to know that to be the case.” – you got it again “i5OS is either priced incorrectly, or not understood by the sales force.” – probably both.

  7. A Sumitra Says:
    August 22nd, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Please do not confuse marketing and sales. Some actual marketing could seriously help the i5/OS, but there is only IBM brand marketing.

    There are effectively no IBM sales people for anything i. What did exist in the recent past for actual S&D was minimal, mostly in support of VARs and BPs to do the selling for IBM. For its TCA alone, the OS is not an easy sell for anyone, because too many potential buyers see only the TCA regardless of the amount of true benefits being told about what the i5/OS offers. The perception that the OS is “old” while having such a high price as compared to others, leaves them turned off. The OS can only be sold when there is an absolutely best-fit application being sold. If that exact same application is available on another system, only then can the distinguishing benefits that the i5/OS can offer be made as a great selling point. But consider, What incentive does a seller have to make that point? Actually selling the application on i5/OS ensures that they will have very little consulting and other service revenue streams after the sale. It is not because they do not understand the OS, quite the contrary, it is because they do know the OS that they actually prefer not to sell. IBM would need to be content to sell to the niche that will not generate huge revenue streams from services, and the sales people would have to be from within IBM. The sellers outside of IBM do not make enough money on just the initial sale to make their sale of a Power System with i5/OS worthwhile in profits. They need to know they will have a continuous revenue stream that follows the sale. They currently already sell to the niche noted above, but only as a last resort, because they know or sense that the customer is in that niche.

  8. Sam Says:
    October 9th, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I agree AS/400 is the best made and functioning system in existence. Period
    There is one problem only: there is wary bad marketing for this machine from IBM.

    I’m ex rpg programmer in AS400 environment and now working in UNIX environment with oracle and sequel and so on and so on.

    Here is my view:
    Machine is good as much as performance of the machine can be presented to executives. Here is one problem. Many people who still working on the machine do not know half of the functions IBM added to the machine and operating system over the years and the worst many of them never heard about it. I tried to push many of the new features but I almost was pushed out of the company.
    To resolve this problem IBM in my opinion has to set up machines with all possible features which all programmers can access for small monthly fee and use for their development. Plus set up online curses very affordable to programmers to learn all new things.
    This will create army of salesmen’s for IBM who’s only interest is going to be keep their jobs and may be got promoted for just using skills they gained over the years and can build on and not starting from scratch. Plus this will enable a lot of programmers to create thousands of programming tools and software for the machine at very affordable prices for the companies and are going to try to sell to companies by convincing them to keep existing machine or by new one.
    IBM will still make money by charging from companies like Microsoft or Oracle who are giving to individual people for little money or free but making money from companies.