Avnet’s Madden An IBM i Guy
October 21, 2013 Dan Burger
Applications and solutions were the focal point of IBM when Tony Madden began his career. As he grew up, professionally speaking, his best friend was the AS/400. After 20-plus years with IBM helping to establish the AS/400 and later the iSeries as the quintessential midrange computer, Madden joined Avnet, where he is currently the partner representative, the conduit, between Avnet and IBM on a global basis. Avnet is IBM’s number one distributor and IBM is Avnet’s number one supplier. Together they put IBM products in more than 30 countries.
When IT gurus and industry pundits talk about the new idea of converged systems, Madden chuckles. “It’s the AS/400 reinvented,” he says.
IBM uses the term converged systems to describe PureSystems and Madden believes it is a great concept and that it addresses many of the things that are plaguing our industry today.
“The idea of integrated solutions and lower cost of operations is how I sold AS/400s for years,” he recalls with an obvious ting of some things never change in his voice. He’s onboard with all the attributes that PureSystems offer, but wonders how the IT industry allowed the concept of integrated infrastructure slip down the priority list.
“I remember telling Bill Zeitler, the former general manager of the AS/400 and iSeries division, one day they are going to write a Harvard business report on how we lost the magic through the transition to client/server and open systems,” Madden says. “At the end of the day, the customer just wants to solve business problems. And there is still no better business solution on the planet than IBM i.”
“Pure Systems extends the IBM i lifecycle,” he says with what seems to be satisfaction.
There was a missed opportunity and the door was opened for client/server when IBM was unable to “capture the kids coming out of school who became Microsoft groupies,” he said. “But we now have the opportunity to promote and educate in a different dimension. We have to reinvigorate the user base and expose them to the IBM i and PureSystems.
That opportunity comes with Avnet’s role as an IBM global training partner providing end-user training that includes IBM i and Pure Systems education.
“I think IBM has recognized there are other ways to go market, and that by making Avnet a training provider it gives us the opportunity to expand our relationships with the end user,” Madden says. “We now have the opportunity to promote and educate in a different dimension.”
“IBM i is a big part of Avnet’s story and a big part of IBM’s story. If you talk with Tom Rosamilia, who ran Power Systems and is now in charge of Systems and Technology Group, he’ll say we have to reinvigorate the IBM i customer base. We have programs that are trying to influence that. IBM realizes that if they get an IBM i customer, they have a loyal customer.”
On the subject of IBM i loyalty, Madden says companies only leave the platform when there is a major change in management or there is a change in a major application and it no longer runs on IBM i.
“The fact that we are talking about a system that’s been around for 25 years is a testament to what a great platform it is. This platform is in my blood I want to help reinvigorate it. I remember when Lou Gerstner, the former IBM CEO, called it the best computing platform ever made.”