Where There Is A (Steve) Will, There’s An (IBM i) Way
September 17, 2018 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Being the chief architect of the IBM i platform is at the same time a difficult and an easy job, and Steve Will, who has been at this job for more than a decade, has been tireless in not only guiding the platform through the massive technology changes that the IT industry is constantly undergoing, but also in communicating the message that this platform is not the AS/400 as we knew 30 years ago.
People often complain that the IBM i platform does not have a chief marketing officer or even a marketing budget, but as far as I can tell, Will is the one who does the most talking about the platform, and most enthusiastically defends the unique qualities and return on investment that the platform offers to those who have been lucky enough to employ it for so many decades. To be sure, the thousands of business partners and publications like The Four Hundred do their fair share, too, as do the many Power Champions that Big Blue has designated – some would almost say knighted – in the community to be its defenders.
In a world where online transaction processing as we know it remains integral, but is often lost in the noise of all of the systems of engagement that are the front lines of the business, having a real champion like Will is vital. We thought the occasion of him giving a public webinar later this week was a good time to thank Will not only for the technical steerage he lends to the IBM i platform, but that other part of his day job that involves being its chief advocate and traveling the world to spread the IBM i word.
The chief architect and chief advocate jobs were easy in the 1980s and even in the 1990s, when midrange systems as we know them made up a big portion of system spending and Windows Server and Linux were not even viable options yet. Here in the late 2010s, this is a much tougher job, and people who want to advocate for the platform don’t need just feeds and speeds, but a cohesive argument that demonstrates the value of an integrated platform and of going with what you know well as well as the ease of use of the IBM i platform.
It is easy – and necessary – to step back and to criticize what IBM does and does not do for the IBM i platform. This is not something we can expect IBM itself to do, or any of its employees. That is, quite frankly, the job of the community at large, and we have always been glad to pick up the banner of the user base to make our case. The criticism we bring always aims to be constructive, hopeful, optimistic, and clear, just as the arguments that Will has made for so many years are lucid and useful. We all want to keep our jobs, but it is more than that. This is a unique community, with a special approach to business computing that deserves to be preserved and extended, and that is what we see as our mission, and we know that Will sees that as his mission, too.
But don’t take it from us. Take it from Will himself. On September 19, HelpSystems is hosting Will for a webinar called IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400. If you feel like your platform is under threat at your company, you should give it a listen. You can sign up for it at this link. The webinar will be available at two different times to accommodate different work schedules and time zones.