These are the attributes sought out in almost everything we acquire and use to solve problems.
These are the attributes of an "appliance".
These are the attributes of the system known as "IBM i".
But what is the magic, the special sauce, the pixie dust that makes "IBM i" simple, efficient and effective?
Before I reveal the answer, let me tell a story that represents a situation I find myself in all too often. Maybe the scenario will help you too!
An organization is in the process of evaluating a new and/or different business application to meet their needs. Whether the application is purchased or built is irrelevant to the conversation.
Assume that the application can be stood up on any of the common hardware and operating system stacks available today. In other words, the same application serves the business whether installed on Intel/Windows, Intel/UNIX, Intel/Linux, Power/AIX, Power/Linux, or Power/IBM i. You get the idea.
Once the application is chosen, the hardware and operating system
arguments discussions begin. The various factions and alliances
form up and make themselves known. The assumptions and so called "best
practices" begin to manifest around every corner.
"UNIX is open" "Linux is cheaper"
"Intel powers the most cost effective servers"
"Everyone knows that the application will work best on HP/Oracle"
"HA! IBM Power systems running AIX are more robust and scalable"
Now the database heavies show up. Their focus is only on data management and serving (and the requisite administration of such things).
"I don't care what hardware you run on, Oracle runs the app most effectively"
"If we are running the app on Windows, we absolutely have to use SQL Server"
"Obviously DB2 is the preferred database management system for this application"
Usually at this point, the organization's business leaders are thoroughly confused (and the respective hardware and software vendors haven't shown up yet)!
Off in the corner is a lone IT person; someone who has been around for 20+ years systematically providing value. This person has been solving business problems with the AS/400, then iSeries, then IBM i all along the organization’s 25 year growth curve.
This person knows what simple, efficient and effective really mean. This person realizes a terrible mistake is about to be made.
The lone IT person reaches out for help...____
In writing this, I now realize it's been more than 6 years since I first constructed the thought provoking and repeatable response to the situation I describe above. You see, if the application can run on any hardware, why run it on Power? If the application can run in any operating system, why run it in IBM i? If the application can use any relational database management system, why use DB2?
To answer these questions separately invites attack from all sides, including from so called colleagues and partners. To answer these questions holistically - well that's a game changer.
Through the power of networking (and some good luck), the lone IT person finds me. After an urgent phone conversation describing how the new platform search is about to throw out their beloved AS/400 for something “new and modern”, a strategy is put in place; a strategy that will neutralize the piecemeal competitors by revealing advanced technology, while illuminating the elegance of meeting all the requirements with a unified solution.
Given a choice, my strategy will always include getting in front of the organization’s leaders who are charged with making both the technical decision and the financial decision. It is advantageous to have the naysayers in the room too. After all, we should keep our friends close and our enemies closer.
While I have the rapt attention of the decision makers, each layer of the
stack infrastructure is looked at through the lens of
"IBM i". But keep in mind, employing this technique alone is doomed
to failure. In other words, when talking about hardware, the propeller heads
will crush you with speeds and feeds, and the accountants will pound you with
acquisition costs. When talking about the operating system, the UNIX, Linux,
Windows chorus will shout you down and press you into silence. And when talking
about database, the Oracle, SQL Server and DB2 administrators will pile on and suffocate
you with techno-speak involving strange acronyms, code words and something
about creating spaces.
Even though you’ll be told there is a “better”, “cheaper”, “modern” alternative for each, never fear, due diligence must be done on each of these levels. The requirements for hardware, operating system and database must not be overlooked, nor under estimated. The unique attributes of the “IBM i system” at each level are fundamental to the solution and the audience must be exposed to them accordingly.
My presentation to the somewhat skeptical and possibly hostile audience proceeds in this fashion...
All business solutions (read applications) need a solid, yet flexible foundation. IBM definitely can provide that. Check.
Proceeding from the bottom up…
Illuminate and illustrate the features, functions and benefits of IBM i (i.e. the OS). Check.
Illuminate and illustrate the features, functions and benefits of DB2 for i (i.e. the RDBMS). Check.
The advanced technology represented within the heretofore under appreciated system is now getting some attention. The audience begins to see their “legacy” system in a new and brilliant light. I catch a low, almost inaudible comment from a corner of the room, “wow, we have this? I didn’t know all this was in there, cool.”
But not so fast, the sundry factions represented in the audience have a counter and retort for each respective level of the stack. They sense a "me too" argument that can turn in their favor.
Meanwhile, the real audience - the decision makers that need to see the light, are still blind, searching for my hand and the promise of salvation.
Anticipating the mood and position of the audience, I pose the setup question:
“If there is another, perfectly acceptable alternative for the hardware, the operating system and the database management system respectively, what’s the advantage of going with IBM i?”
And I slowly reveal the answer…
Every IT vendor, including IBM, continues to seek a level of deep and profound integration that results in efficiency and cost effectiveness. They search for integration that will hide complexity and time consuming administration. In most cases, they search in vain.
Integration is not an afterthought, it happens from the beginning, and is sustained throughout.
Integration is not a marketing magic trick, it’s real, and it’s sustainable.
Integration does not happen by accident, it happens on purpose through vision and foresight.
In 1988, the platform introduced to the world as the Application System/400 was viewed as the paragon of integration – far surpassing anything in existence. The innovative and unique idea of hardware, operating system, database and solution seamlessly woven together as the IBM i system continues to be exploited twenty-five years later by tens of thousands of businesses around the world.
The notion of a simple, efficient and effective system never goes out of style.
Why IBM i?
For more of the IBM i discussion and celebration look here.
If you are still a bit confused about DB2 for i, go back and read this. And of course, feel free to reach out...