IBM i Vendors: It’s Time to Rally
March 1, 2011 Dan Burger
A second webcast is being planned by the IBM i Manifest Americas group. This one is specifically for independent software vendors (ISVs) and product developers a critical contingent for the success of iManifest. The vendor community has been one of the traditional strengths of the IBM i ecosystem dating back to the debut of the AS/400. It’s fair to say the IBM i ISVs know the midmarket better than IBM does.
I don’t know the exact number of IBM i ISVs in the Americas, but it’s many hundreds and there are thousands of applications that run natively on the IBM i platform. I just found 28 ISVs in the United States and Canada with IBM i Solution Editions–core business systems built on Power7 processor-based hardware. Getting those companies on board with iManifest would be a great foundation of ISV support. To date, none of these companies have officially joined IBM i Manifest Americas. In fact, very few ISVs have shown support.
Maybe every person who feels passionate about the platform should email every vendor they have a business relationship with and ask them why they aren’t involved in the iManifest.
When iManifest was getting under way in the United States, there were a group of ISVs that pledged money toward a fund that would promote the platform. However, the iManifest organization has not collected any funds. It has chosen to wait until more ISVs join and a board of directors can be selected. Decisions about the extent of contributions and the marketing strategy will be based on the input of participating ISVs.
Vendors that made early pledges of financial support include DRV Technologies, LANSA, ProData Computer Services, Raz-Lee Security, BCD, Linoma Software, New Generation Software, Quadrant Software, Olen Business Consulting, and Xperia.
That leaves a lot of vendors sitting on the sidelines considering whether they should get in the game.
As BCD’s Eric Figura told me more than a year ago, there’s a sizeable and satisfied client base committed to this platform. And there is a sizeable ISV base that is committed to the platform. It’s time for the vendors to step forward and show their commitment. The ISVs are on the line to deliver the message about the IBM i platform.
“It has been clear to me that it’s up to user groups and business partners to continue to promote the product,” says Frank Soltis, who continues to be a worldwide promoter of the IBM i since his retirement from IBM in 2008. Soltis contributes to the iManifest cause at numerous speaking engagements. He is a keynote speaker at the upcoming Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professionals Association (WMCPA) Spring Technical Conference March 16 and 17 in Lake Geneva and also at the RPG & DB2 Summit March 22-24 in Orlando, Florida.
When Lou Gerstner became IBM’s chairman and CEO, Soltis has said one of Gerstner’s first decisions was that IBM would promote IBM rather than promote individual products. “He took the individual budgets that general managers had for advertising and consolidated them into one budget that focused on IBM. That has really never changed since,” Soltis says.
“IBM does not have to market Windows,” Soltis points out. “The world knows what it is and Microsoft does their job promoting it. The same thing with Unix. You don’t see vendors marketing Unix. They market it from the standpoint that ours is better than anybody else’s, but they don’t have to promote the concept of Unix. With IBM i and z, both systems are well-known within their user bases, but not very well known outside of that. You have to really promote those. In that sense, i has suffered a bit because the rest of the industry does not promote IBM i. From IBM’s standpoint, I don’t think they see much difference among the platforms in terms of which ones require more marketing.”
Many fingers have been pointed at IBM for neglecting a responsibility to market the IBM i, but Soltis says it’s time to get past that. His view is that iManifest needs to grow and provide its own marketing initiatives. “We have to make sure we have people outside IBM that can work together with people inside IBM on these issues,” he says.
The IBM i Manifest Americas ISV teleconference is scheduled for March 25 at 1 p.m. CDT. ISVs and product developers can register for this event here.
The best place to connect with the IBM i Manifest Americas is by joining the group on the LinkedIn business networking site.