COMMON Belgium Shifts Focus from i to IBM SMB
May 27, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Well, this will come as no surprise to most people considering IBM‘s rejiggering of its server product lines and marketing groups over the past year. COMMON Belgium, the midrange user group in that European country that is part of the larger COMMON Europe umbrella organization, has announced that it will be broadening its scope from the OS/400, i5/OS, and i platform to cover the entire range of small and medium business customers that use systems from IBM.
The move is a logical one, considering that there is no longer a System i division within IBM’s Systems and Technology Group and that the Business Systems division, which is responsible for the marketing and sales of all but the largest Power-based servers that support the i platform, is a cross-platform, customer-oriented organization that is more or less platform neutral even as it is responsible for the i platform.
COMMON Belgium posted the following notice on its Web site, which you can read in full here if you scroll down the page. Here’s the gist of it, according to Benoit Lambillotte, director general business in the Benelux region for IBM, and Gustaaf Legroux, president of COMMON Belgium:
“We are pleased to announce that COMMON Belgium, the users association that used to profile itself strongly as a System i user group, has decided to become the users association of medium-sized and small enterprises that are or want to become a client of IBM. Moreover, the focus is expanded to include total solutions in ICT, which are often a combination of different server types, storage subsystems, management systems, middleware, and applications. COMMON also wants to focus on strategic areas, such as ecological data centers, IT simplification through consolidation and virtualization, and the optimization of the total cost of ownership. With this, COMMON follows the IBM strategy, which is focused on offering support for the development of an IT implementation, in perfect coordination with your company’s business strategy.”
As far as I know, none of the other 14 member countries in the COMMON Europe umbrella, nor the North American COMMON user group or the uber-COMMON collective, known as COMMON International, have made similar moves. COMMON Europe has independent operations in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and they can align their organizations to any technology or vendor that they feel will best serve their constituent members. I have no idea what any of the other COMMONs are planning after the IBM reorganizations of the past year, but you have to figure that they are all trying to figure out how to align what they do with what IBM is doing, since IBM provides an awful lot of services to the constituent user groups on both continents.
Not everyone will be happy about this shift in focus, as you might imagine. For four decades, the System/3X lineage of machines had its own division. “The first paragraph says it all,” quipped one newsletter reader last week who sent me the notice. “COMMON Belgium has been assimilated by the IBorgM.”