No More Shouting The Name “Power” (Well, Except In Our Title Here)
August 2, 2021 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The marketing people at IBM have been at work again, apparently, and it looks like there will be some subtle branding changes coming with the launch of Power10-based servers later this year, very likely by September or maybe October.
One of my pet peeves about the IT industry is that vendors sometimes feel compelled to shout their company names or product brands when it is completely unnecessary. They seem to choose a brand and then work backwards to come up with some abbreviation that they think is clever. It’s when they overreach that it gets annoying, and language is my thing so I get to have this pet peeve.
The Stanford University Network Microsystems company, for instance, was SUN Microsystems, and its Scalable Processor Architecture was shouted out at SPARC. These are not particularly useful acronyms, and thank heavens SUN didn’t call its Unix operating system SOLARIS, with some preposterous meaning backcast on it like SUN Operating Linux Ain’t Real In Systems or even though of yet, since Linus Torvalds had only just started quietly working on it in 1991 for his PC and Solaris came out in 1992, seven years after SUN had started off in the workstation business using its own SunOS and then merged it with the AT&T System V Unix, both of which were variants of the open source Berkeley Software Distribution, or BSD, of Unix. Why shout some things and not the other?
Why shout at all? Hewlett Packard (Enterprise was not yet its core and sole focus) didn’t shout for the sake of shouting, but it had a real acronym that meant something when it launched its Precision Architecture Reduced Instruction Set Computing (PA-RISC) processors for minicomputers running its HP-UX Unix variant and then eventually the HP-3000, which competed with System/3X and then AS/400 iron, had its Multi-Programming Executive, or MPE, operating system ported to these machines. (It never did make the jump to Itanium, as HP’s HP-UX, OpenVMS, and NonStop platforms did. Also, they have all stopped years ago.)
Real acronyms, I guess, don’t bother me. Acronyms that embed acronyms inside of acronyms annoy the crap out of me, and recursive ones do as well except for GNU Not Unix, which open source software guru Richard Stallman did once and now he gets all the points for being clever and we are done. (Like John Lennon gets all the gibberish points who being stoned and high on LSD and writing I Am The Walrus and we are done with that now – we have a winner!) Just name your product and be done with it. The company is called Sun, its processor is called Sunshine or better still Hydrogen and all the way up to Carbon if you want to be clever since the Sun does not spark after all – and the operating system is called Solaris after a creepy but thoughtful sci-fi movie based on the book by Stanislaw Lem. Just do it.
Finally, after years of complaining by me, Big Blue is just doing it, according to reports by Simon Hutchinson, who has been the IBM i DevOps manager at Farm Credit Bank of Texas in Austin since August 2020 and who was the IT manager at the Precision division of New Hampshire Ball Bearings – man, can you get more AS/400 than that? I don’t think so – and who also has been the editor of the RPGPGM.COM blog for more than eight years. (We did an interview with Hutchinson two years ago that you might find interesting.)
In a report on RPGPGM.COM, Hutchinson has caught wind of some of the rebranding that is under way with the Power Systems line up. First, there is a logo for Power10 that is a bit of a throwback to the e-commerce logo of the 1990s and to fonts in use in computers in 1960s with just a hint of punch card thrown in. Here it is:
Why IBM chose the Bohr model of the atom with four electrons in two shells, which is Beryllium, is beyond me. My best guess is that the marketeer and graphic artist who worked together on it did not really know about atoms, or it would be an animated graphic with a probabilistic distribution of atoms flipping in and out in patterns that approximate two energy shells. But that is not important right now.
And also, IBM has finally stopped shouting POWER, which was apparently an acronym for “Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC,” which had an embedded acronym and which, as I said, always annoyed the crap out of me. Well, that’s apparently done:
Thank freaking god. That only took 31 years. I confirmed with IBM public relations that this change is in the works, and it complements an early change in logos for IBM i, AIX, and Linux to make them more consistent with the IBM logo itself, which we told you about in April.
I find it a little odd that the word Systems is being dropped from the branding of the, er, systems, and I think calling things Cognitive Systems was always very stupid. They’re database systems for the most part, as we all know.
Next problem, please. . . .
And for the record, I am not always happy with the all-caps headlines we have, and every day I think about changing it. I think in Times New Roman and I definitely think in titles with initial caps on every word in the headline. But, people who know better than me said we needed to change our look when we redid out site many years back, and I listened.