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November 14, 2012

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Alan Seiden

Those of us who specialize in some aspect of IBM i must deliver information to CIOs about what the platform can do.

We must advocate for using the IBM i's unique strengths.
We must advocate for upgrading to newer releases.
We must advocate for IBM i professionals' involvement in web and mobile initiatives so the 'i' can play a central role.
We must advocate for young and experienced professionals working together to attain the most successful mix of technology and business results.

Terry Dawson

We have been users of the IBM i since the first models of the AS/400 were introduced (and the System 38 before that) but when the subject of replacing our current financial software came up we could only find 1 vendor who writes software for the i (for local governments). So in our case if and when we change software the i may not be a choice. (our current vendor is slowly phasing out their IBM i software, thus the discussion on change)

Scott Klement

"...Our careers are based on IBM i. Advocating for the platform makes perfect sense if we want to continue to be gainfully employed and not have to go over to the dark side..."

Is that the right approach to take? What I mean is... our careers aren't really in IBM i, are they? At least, for the vast majority of people who work in IT today, their careers are in whatever their employer does. When I worked at Klement's Sausage, my career was in the sausage business -- how can I run a sausage company IT department in the most efficient way. My career was not in IBM i, IBM i is just one tool at my disposal.

Now, IBM i also happens to be my favorite tool. I believe it's the best one out there, and I definitely do advocate for it. But when I do my work, I still want to do the best job possible, and that involves using the best tool for the job.

As Terry points out, there often isn't an existing solution for IBM i -- I have to write my own, and that's not always practical.

And the pressures to move to another platform come at you from everywhere. I don't think you guys realize how difficult it is to remain with this platform. How hard it is to refute the claims and argue your position. You make it all sound so easy -- and it is not. And I'm fairly good at that sort of thing... if it's hard for me, how hard is it for the average joe?

Greg Helton

Now that I've been managing Windows apps and servers for a year I see a lot of costs that aren't incurred on the AS400 and IBM i. Steve is right about TCO however, my company has a big investment in C# programmers and the value of that intangible is going to keep us off the IBM i.

Nathan M. Andelin

Great post, Jon and Susan. I spend a lot of time advocating for IBM i and welcome other stakeholders to do likewise. It's got to be bad if Scott Klement is getting discouraged. He's one of those remarkable souls who is constantly recharging other people's batteries.

I must note the similarity between iAdvocate and iManifest, except I view iManifest as a line in the sand, a declaration of belief, a proclamation of commitment, while i view the role of an "i" advocate as one who might work behind the scenes as well as in public, continuously influencing others for the good of the platform; for the good of the eco-system.

I agree that it's not easy. But I believe it's worth while. I occasionally engage in discussions with gifted and knowledgeable people who's ultimate goal is to profit by assisting with migrations away from IBM i.

They paint a picture so bleak for IBM i, and one so rosy for Microsoft and Linux, that it's hard to keep advocating for IBM i. On the other hand, they demonstrate time and time again that they will skirt the truth to paint a picture so bleak for IBM i, and one so rosy for Microsoft and Linux, and engages a sense of disgust and distrust, that it motivates me to keep advocating for the platform.

I view IBM i more as an environment than a tool. It's more like a comfortable home; one that protects from the elements, has most everything you need to live and work. In contrast, most other platform are like living in a tent, not as protected from the elements, subject to the climate, subject to adverse conditions, not as sustainable over the long term. I enjoy exploring other platforms like I enjoy camping, but I enjoy returning to the safety and comfort of home even more.

Another thing that keeps me going is that we are enjoing modest success at migrating new customers off Windows and Microsoft Server to IBM i. We also have good prospects in the pipeline, and look forward to hopefully migrating scores more.

We occasionally run into dismay from other IT professionals who ask us what tools we use for Web development, and we tell them RPG. But we've enjoyed success at turning them into steady customers and earning their trust every day.

Keep up the good work.

-Nathan

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