Being a member of the AS/400 Advocacy Group mentioned in today’s “Midrange Computing Monday Morning Update”, I was given a little pause. With little doubt, the article was fair. The latter should be expected from a magazine whose existence depends as much upon the survival of the AS/400 as does our own. However, nobody from “InfoWorld” or “Computer World” asked for the same access to the group as did the “Midrange Computing” author. I must take issue with the target audience ascribed to the group — I thought that Corporate Earth would be the target of any ads, with the media, IBM, and its shareholders being secondary targets. Despite nearly a DECADE of our input, IBM just doesn’t seem to “get” the AS/400 — hence our appeal to persons outside of that environment.
“No clear consensus”? Of course not. We know that, if we’re going to win, we must win on the facts. We cannot just go spouting off hither and yon about issues that we are not even sure are issues. Said speculation has already burned up FAR too much bandwidth on midrange-l, IMO. Until this weeks’ announcement, we won’t have all the facts. Speaking out now would only invite derision and discredit our organization before it even gets started.
The point is, we don’t care about the AS/400 for the sake of the AS/400. It’ll run JAVA, REXX, CGI, C, and the old standbys of CL, RPG, and COBOL. It will also run AIX via PASE, and service PC files via IFS. With the introduction of native TCP/IP support several releases ago, it remains, what I declared nearly seven years ago, “The most connectible box on the planet”. What we DO care about is that the AS/400 is still IBM’s most reliable product. Many of us have huge educational investment in a product which, while other products translate to it, its products do not necessarily translate to other boxes. Less reliable boxes. Less business-oriented boxes. Boxes that cannot be run by the company’s accounting clerk after a few brief hours of training and no technical staff, as can the AS/400.
Believe you me — the AS/400 advocates will certainly resurface after IBM’s announcement. Hopefully, only to decide that we no longer have a job to do. I somehow doubt the latter, though. IBM’s history of promoting the box has been spotty at best, detrimental at worst, and pandering to those of us that complain about the lack of advertising in the median.
A warning to IBM — look at your average AS/400 sale, the number of people trained to support the box, and the third party companies that earn a living off of your only true “magic box” in the campaign of the same name. Then tell me we can’t come up with the money for one of those full-page advertisements…
Dean Asmussen was a frequent contributor to midrange.com mailing lists and the moderator of the BPCS-L list. Dean passed away in the spring of 2003.