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Certifications: No rescue for 3000s

Migration bias and mainstream visions

Soltisunify Your community can be seen as complacent. Hewlett-Packard knows this about the 3000 customer who will not adopt a new solution for enterprise computing. IBM knows this too, which is why the vendor hot on HP's heels has given up trying to sell a solution most like the HP 3000's integration. Frank Soltis (above) who IBM calls its Chief Scientist, is selling a new "unified" solution to IBM customers.

It's as if HP decided, back in 2001, to sell a server which could be both an HP 9000 and an HP 3000, all at the same time. The vendor finally did this, an offer once called Superdome which now goes by the Integrity name

The unified system is the IBM Power Systems, the System i and System p. It used to be these were two distinct solutions. The System p was a Unix server. The System i ran as what most of your community knows as an AS/400. This year IBM has combined the two systems in a unification. Even that — a server which can operate with Linux, Unix or the AS/400 environment — hasn't removed the complacence from the community.

We have seen some companies who made the transition to these IBM Power systems. Many to the System p, fewer to the System i. Here at the NewsWire we have reported since 2002 on the prospects of an integrated system like the System i to replace the integrated HP 3000s. IBM sees no end to the System i lifespan. HP has announced the end of its HP 3000 business. The distinction makes no difference to the resellers who try to put a System i into a 3000 shop.

Christian Schneider of PIR Group says there's no pain to remain on the 3000. "I believe that the 3000 users are complacent," he said, after more than four years of effort to induce a migration. There is no pain for them to leave."

Schneider says that good-sized customers have passed when offered a System i solution. "I mean c’mon, Union Beverage/Nationwide Spirits is still on the [3000], and we worked with them back in April of 2003."

That is not a massive entity Schneider describes, not even one publicly traded. But it's not the "frozen in time" business HP identified as a typical homesteading site. Migrations are in play, just not to the IBM Power Systems in major numbers. Like IBM, we miscalculated when thinking that an integrated system should replace another integrated system. IBM has as much faith in the Power line as HP does in the Itanium systems.

But a vendor's faith, plus any technical advantage that can add up to a better or equal value, still hasn't lured 3000 owners to IBM ownership. Schneider explains.

I think the IBM Power Systems blow away any HP offering.  Pick an operating system i, p, AIX, Linux and an integrated Windows card and run it all on one platform.  I haven’t seen anything even close being offered by HP.

But then again, I’m biased.

IBM's bias is to keep integrating the technology and ownership advantages of Power Systems. So it will now sell "one line of POWER6 technology-based servers from a 1-way 520 to the 64-way 595. The new Power Systems will run Linux, AIX and i5/OS. The System i 515 and 525 and the System p 520 will come together under the new Power 520."

IBM has a white paper and an FAQ on this shift, if you're interested.

IBM calls this "mainstreaming" the System i, which was once the AS/400. For the record, the AS/400 celebrated 20 years of service this summer. IBM decided it was time to keep these customers from migrating.

Visionaries at IBM believed they had come to a decision point on the System i  platform. For more than 20 years — from System 36, System 38, AS/400, iSeries and  System i — IBM has kept the community on contemporary, relevant technology  bases. But the question now was, do System i proponents want the platform to be a  unique offering on the edge of the industry, or do they want it to be in the mainstream of IBM technology and a focal point of what IBM is investing in for the  future? Mainstreaming the product was the logical choice.

Logic might be a good reason to reconsider what IBM is now offering. But I keep coming back to what Schneider discovered in offering the System i. He says the customer sees no pain to remain. Hewlett-Packard sees pain in its exit from the community. The customer with no clear migration timetable doesn't see HP's vision as relevant any longer. Whatever is going to move these users, to whatever platform, it won't be Hewlett-Packard or IBM.