What's In A Name

Posted by Kevin McCarthy, Sr.

October 4, 2011 | 1:00 PM

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In a midsummer night’s blog, I waxed historic about my career-long association with the “AS/400”.

Little did I dream of the tempest it would create by referring to my old friend by its common name.  While I can understand the need in our community to call the machine by its most current name: “IBM i on Power Systems” or is it “IBM i for Power Systems” or simply(?) “IBM Power Systems” ~ all roll off the tongue like Silly Sally’s seashells.

Measure for measure, this platform has been a performance leader for over two decades.  IBM (which only went through one name shortening in its long storied history) has toyed with the name, the branding, the target audience for this machine throughout the life of the platform.  It has been a comedy of errors trying to keep up with the name changes, both hardware and operating system.

In 2011 alone, I have done systems work for eight different clients, and ALL of them referred to it as an “AS/400” – regardless of the hardware in their computer room.  The important lesson to take from this is NOT that they use the ancient name, rather that they are still using our familiar and current platform!  Let’s take it as a success that there is still AS/400 work to be had (despite labours lost), and that we are still relevant enough to be discussing the name of a platform in its third decade of existence!

So call it as you like it, I will make an effort to use the latest and greatest IBM moniker (although I will call Prince - “Prince” whether he wants me to or not).  I think the naming convention conversation is much ado about nothing.  It merely gets in the way of what we are really trying to accomplish, which is to fully promote what we can do with this incredibly dependable machine.

We need to be in the boardrooms, part of the planning sessions, in the solution business of telling people that “it” just gets the job done, efficiently, reliably and quickly.  Regardless of what you call “it” – we should not be ready to etch that name on a tombstone.

Topics: Technology, IBM i

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