Another AS/400 User Group Powers Down
October 27, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Last week, after 26 years of being a community for AS/400 developers, the Application Systems Users Group of Greater Cleveland announced that it was powering itself down. The move follows the relatively recent closures of AS/400 user groups in the Denver and Phoenix metropolitan areas.
Andy Gladys, the ASUGGC’s founder and president, posted a message to members and the rest of the AS/400 community explaining why he founded the user group in the wake of IBM’s announcement and delivery of the System/38 midrange system back in 1981.
“With such advanced features and functionality, it was a herald for the great things to come,” explained Gladys in his posting. “Applications and functions that are common place today. Myself and several others came together to understand this new system and see what it was capable of doing. In those early months, a meeting consisted of pizza and beer. But with each month more and more people started coming to meetings. The venues got larger and larger until meetings with 120 people were common.”
What Gladys doesn’t say in his post, but which is certainly true, is that Cleveland was an industrial powerhouse at the turn of the 20th century, and the large diversity of manufacturers and distributors serving all kinds of industries was still pretty vibrant 30 years ago. But the exit of manufacturing and distribution jobs in Cleveland and other hot-beds of midrange computing has done as much to decimate local user groups as has IBM’s short-sighted strategies and tactics for the AS/400, iSeries, System i, and Power Systems i line.
Like other user groups, ASUGGC has tried to stay relevant in the Internet age, but the decline in attendance at user groups has hit it hard as has the fact that most professionals these days are working longer hours and have less time for training, education, or socializing. They certainly don’t have the same time or budget they used to have to go to larger conferences, like COMMON, or there would still be two events per year.
User group mergers are happening across all platforms for exactly the same reason. As we previously reported this summer, three independent user groups for Hewlett-Packard–Encompass, short for the Enterprise Computing Association and spawned out of the DECUS user group for Digital Equipment users that was founded in 1961; ITUG, formerly the International Tandem User Group and still dedicated to the NonStop platform; and HP-Interex EMEA, the European arm of the HP Interex user group that did not go under in 2005– agreed to pool their resources and their members to create a single user group organization to be named Connect. HP Interex, the North American group, has already shut down.
Gladys showed humor and class as he shut down ASUGGC. “All good things must end and the Application Systems User Group is no exception. I take comfort in the fact that the user group has met its objectives, and so it ends well. With all of this having been said, I guess there is only one thing left for the Application Systems User Group. . . . pwrdwnsys *immed”