But Wait, There's More
i-BM to Use Podcasts for V-i-ral Market-i-ng, But Should Go W-i-lder
If you have some free time on your hands, you need something to amuse yourself with, or you want to get initiated into the brave new world of podcasting, try podcastaways.com. Podcasting is a relatively new kind of media--think of it as recording stuff in MP3 format and then delivering it as a form of asynchronous, stored radio for PCs and iPods, and you will get the right idea. Malcolm Haines, the chief iSeries propagandist at IBM, and Frank Soltis, the chief iSeries architect, have cooked up the podcastaways.com site as a means of helping promote the iSeries. (Presumably they got the nod for the project from Big Blue, but maybe not. IBM doesn't own the domain; someone in North Carolina does.)
The first installment of the podcastaways site features the world premiere of "The PodFather," a knock-off of the ever-popular mob story, plus a column by Haines called IMHO where he interprets a recent IBM press conference with a "doublespeak demystifier." The Dear Dr Frank column answers a question about 128-bit computing (which OS/400 was ready for years ago), and a feature called "Dr Kleinempfänger's Casebook"--the mythical doctor being the mythical author of the mythical book, "The Id, the Ego, the Superego and the 'i'"--hopes to help a sufferer of "emotional incontinence." Yikes!
This all sounds like a lot of fun for the enl-i-tened (pardon my spelling for the sake of effect). But what the iSeries really needs are lots of aggressive viral marketing campaigns. Real ones. How about a podcast playing to a broader market, perhaps one of Britney Spears talking about how she named her baby after Frank--or something crazy like that. Madonna has some free time these days, maybe she would help out, tell everyone that single-level store is her newest religion? Prince is probably available, and he could sing the praises of the box singing, "When Doves 'i'"--and he is from Minneapolis, too. A product placement on "Desperate Housewives" would probably be a good idea, too. I have a scenario under which you could work the "high availability" of the iSeries into the conversation, but I cannot do the storyboards for you since this is a family newsletter. Or what about "Queer 'i' for the IT Guy," done by the actual Fab Five? You get the idea. Do real viral marketing, to a very broad audience.
Native PHP: Coming Soon to an iSeries Near You
If you read the Wall Street Journal, like we do, you might have been interested to see that there was a big story about the PHP programming language that had a big picture of Marc Andressen, founder of the former Netscape browser company and the current Opsware systems management software company, declaring that PHP is to 2005 what Java was to 1995.
According to Jim Herring, director of product management and business operations for the iSeries line, IBM plans to do more than just work with Zend Technologies, the creator of the open source PHP Web programming language, to get some kind of rough support for PHP on the iSeries. The iSeries can already run PHP scripts against the Apache Web server embedded in OS/400 and i5/OS. But going forward, Herring said that IBM is extending its partnership with Zend. "If everything works out right, that allows us to integrate that function within i5/OS," he said. "So that if don't want to bite into Java, so to speak, you can extend your iSeries to the Web quite simply with PHP." This might go a long way toward making the iSeries a more relevant platform for Web development. No matter what the Java enthusiasts say, some of the biggest properties on the Web use PHP, and it is definitely doing real work.
IBM Debuts Consulting Services Aimed at the Aging Workforce
Whether we like to admit it or not in the Western economies, our workforces are starting to age. If you believe the projections, as the Baby Boomers start to retire, there will be many more job openings than there are young people to fill them, which inevitably means that some older members of the workforce, who might have otherwise retired, will be drawn back into the workforce. They may, because of a lack of savings and decreased benefits from Social Security and pension plans and 401(k) retirement plans, not be able to leave the workforce. No matter the cause, it seems likely that companies of all sizes and industries are going to have to start thinking about the wants and needs of an aging workforce. And IBM's Global Services unit smells a business opportunity here.
To that end, the company announced a set of human capital management services aimed at helping companies deal with the needs of an aging workforce. The idea is to profile a company's current employee pool, figure out the age distribution, and project what needs the employees will have at different points in the future. IBM has thrown researchers, health experts, cultural anthropologists, and other brainy people at this problem. And if this doesn't exactly sound like information technology to you, well, it sort of isn't. But the problem IBM has identified absolutely relates to the already aging OS/400 community. So maybe it is time to think about the age of IT managers, programmers, and administrators out there and what this might mean five, 10, and 15 years from now.
Encrypting Data Tapes: Soon to Be All the Rage
Last week, our Big Iron mainframe newsletter reported that IBM was working on special encryption features that will allow mainframes to begin encrypting data stored on tape archives. These features for the z/OS platform use the native encryption facilities in zSeries processor complexes and their encryption keys to allow tapes to be encrypted and then decrypted at remote sites where tapes are often stored or used for data interchange. As far as I know, this is the first time such tamper-proof encryption has been delivered natively in a server, and it probably won't be too long before the iSeries has such features.
But you might have a lot of different platforms to cope with, and Iron Mountain, one of the big names in offsite data vaults with over 40,000 customers, doesn't want you to wait to get your data encrypted, and has recommended that companies buy an encryption appliance to encrypt the data they store on tape. Iron Mountain is practicing what it is preaching, and has opted for the DataFort encryption appliance from Decru, a division of NAS array maker Network Appliances, to do its internal data encryption. Don't let your data tapes be the ones making headlines on the news.
Lakeview Technology Validates H.A. Clusters and EchoStream FS on AIX, SCO OpenServer 6, and Linux
High availability software maker Lakeview Technology has validated its H.A. Clusters clustering and EchoStream FS data replication software on IBM's latest pSeries machines running Big Blue's AIX Unix variant as well as Linux implementations from Red Hat and Novell. The two high availability software products also run on Linux partitions on IBM's iSeries servers (which are based on IBM's Power processors, like the pSeries) as well as on the company's xSeries X86 and X64 servers, which also run Linux. It can even run on Linux partitions within IBM's zSeries mainframes, and on AIX partitions on the iSeries boxes. Back in June, H.A. Clusters and EchoStream FS were certified to run on the SCO Group's OpenServer 6 implementation of Unix.
Lawson Turns In a Decent Fiscal First Quarter
Times are looking up for midrange ERP software maker Lawson Software, which is inching toward the completion of its takeover of Intentia International to become one of the largest remaining software vendors in the midrange. Lawson reported its fiscal first quarter 2006 financial results last week, and said that sales for the quarter ended August 31 were $87.9 million, up 6.2 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Software license fees rose by 39.8 percent to $18.6 million in the quarter, while services revenues were flat at $69.3 million. Net income rose to $4.2 million, which compares nicely to the net loss of $417,000 a year ago. Lawson said that while it only signed 109 new contracts in the quarter, compared to 122 a year ago, 57 percent of the revenues it brought in came from new customers, which is a very nice number, indeed.