Details Emerge on Project Prometheus System i Promotion Efforts
September 11, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Back in June, The Four Hundred provided some insight into a secret project to promote the System i platform, which is called Project Prometheus. There are many different people and organizations involved in this effort, since Prometheus is attempting to organize the members of the OS/400 and i5/OS community and focus their resources on promoting the unique value of the System i platform. Prometheus is a lot of things to a lot of people, but the first fruits of the labors of the people behind the scenes will be announced at the System i Town Hall meeting September 17 at the COMMON user group meeting in Miami Beach, Florida.
Rather than being an effort that is controlled by IBM, Prometheus is taking its inspiration from open source software projects and community-based Web sites. Prometheus organizers want funding from IBM and other sources to create a self-sustaining vehicle for promoting the System i platform, and they want this to be self-sustaining because IBM seems unable or unwilling to do differentiating promotion itself. As we all know all too well. To be clear, IBMers are certainly involved in Prometheus, and IBM is footing the bill for it, too. But COMMON, which is the largest user group for companies using OS/400 and i5/OS platforms, is also involved, and the intent is to create a separate entity, free to do what we all know it must do, that is unshackled from the limitations of IBM. Whether or not this goal of the Prometheus Project can be achieved remains to be seen, but what seems clear is that no one wants to repeat what happened with the now defunct iSeries Nation community effort from a few years ago, which was essentially a community organization controlled by IBM and of limited usefulness.
The first phase of the Prometheus Project–which will be unveiled at COMMON–will be a new community-based Web site dedicated to the System i platform. While the exact domain name of this site remains a mystery, there are some obvious ones that the Prometheus backers could go for. These immediately spring to mind:
Whatever Project Prometheus calls the site, conceptually, according to a source I have spoken with, the site will be a mix of content similar to what you would get if you mixed the SlashDot content and forum preferred by the open source community, the MySpace social networking site, and the YouTube video streaming site. To become a member of the Prometheus community, you will have to do more than give someone your email and then sit back and be bombarded with propaganda. You’ll create a profile, which links you to other members of the community. And the project’s backers also hope that other members of the OS/400 and i5/OS community, who have Web sites and other kinds of access to people who use and support the System i platform, will promote the new community by placing a logo and a link to it on their own sites and encourage individuals to join that community.
One of the things that the new site will reportedly have is video clips like the real and fake IT commercials that are popular on YouTube. (Come on, admit it. You have been wasting time at work or home looking at these 30-second ads.) For once, there apparently will be advertising spots that have not been homogenized to the eServer or IBM System. And I will be willing to bet that the Prometheus portal, which will be hosted by COMMON, will be encouraging people to make their own i5 ads.
IBM has apparently allocated funds to help key organizations and members of the System i community be more effective in whatever it is they do–publish content, provide forums, organize user group meetings, and so forth. While I have not been told there is an explicit trade between Prometheus and these parties, “you help Prometheus and Prometheus helps you” seems to be the implication.
Where Prometheus goes from here, is largely up to you. And it would be unwise to count on a commitment from IBM over the long haul to fund the project, which is why Prometheus will be looking to raise its own funds and do its own marketing on behalf of the System i platform. Exactly how this will happen remains to be seen, but it seems likely that this community portal will sell advertising space. It may solicit funds from members or set up sponsorships, much as other open source communities do. However it happens, it is crucial that it happen, because IBM could change its mind at any time about where it invests its marketing money, or how free it will allow the content to be on the Prometheus site.
One last thing: Our competition over at Penton Technology, formerly known as iSeriesNetwork and now known as SystemiNetwork, is also launching something at COMMON called the System iPortal, which looks like a competitor to the Search400.com content aggregator put together by TechTarget. System iPortal is not, as far as I can tell, the same thing as the Prometheus community site. There’s been some confusion about this in the rumor mill.
While all of these new sites dedicated to the OS/400 and i5 platform are coming and going, IT Jungle will be doing exactly what it does best: bringing you the best OS/400 and i5/OS content the market has to offer. And we will still be calling this newsletter The Four Hundred, too. That will remain a constant, even five years from now when System i is but a memory. When conditions change and you need to evolve, the important thing that differentiates a successful adaptation from a dead genetic line is to change the correct stuff. Providing content is a core part of our being at IT Jungle, and we already have a newsletter that functions like a portal. It’s called Four Hundred Monitor, and it is short, sweet, and to the point. We do the surfing and searching so you don’t have to.
The iDeal iSeries, Parts 1 to 5, from 2002. Yeah, 2002. And I was right then about how to price and package the iSeries, as I am right now when I talk about the System i.
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