Yes, I’m still here. This is a column I wrote in 2005, for a magazine I used to edit. The reason for all the techie references is that the magazine was aimed at users of the IBM iSeries range of computers, which had a loyal user base but almost no marketing. What’s more interesting is that it appears to be set in the Marble Beerhouse in Chorlton, then (as now) my local; the first couple of beers referenced may have had something to do with the cloudy beers the Marble was turning out at the time, having gone all-veggie without, initially, having a substitute for fish finings. As for the last one mentioned, I’m pretty sure I had a pint of that in Brighton the other day.
Since IBM’s announcement of the iSeries Initiative for Innovation, speculation has raged about the true extent and scope of the initiative. Does this signal serious, long-term commitment to the platform on IBM’s part, or is it merely a defensive reaction to Microsoft’s Midrange Alliance Programme? Who are the 69 vendors currently involved, and what do they vend? What should we call it for short—‘iI for I’? can that possibly be right? What about all that stuff about running OS/400 on cell phones, what’s that got to do with anything? And this stuff with ISVs is all very well, but what about some more advertising?
In search of a break from questions like these, I recently organised an extensive in-depth session devoted to establishing the comparative merits of the beers available at my exclusive local ale boutique, the Docker’s Armpit. Having sampled the “Old Hazy” and the “Old Furry”, I was lingering over a pint of “Muddy and Cruddy” when my attention was caught by a sudden increase in the moisture level of my shirt sleeve. On closer inspection, I discovered that somebody had knocked over my pint.
“Phil! Sorry about that—you’ll be wanting a replacement, right? Muddy and…? Sounds great. Get me one while you’re there, would you? Cheers.”
Cheers, I muttered, wondering what my old friend Malcolm Gargle, IBM insider and iSeries enthusiast par excellence, was doing there and what a person had to do to get a quiet drink these days. Returning from the bar, I discovered Malcolm brandishing a mobile phone and holding forth to an audience on the next table, all of whom were clearly struck dumb with enthusiasm.
“…you’ll see Cell processors in PCs, XBoxes, PS2s, digital TVs, phones, the lot. What’s more, they’ll all run OS/400! This phone, for instance—well, not this phone obviously, but a phone just like it could run the same operating system as an eServer i5! You could IPL it and everything! All you’d need would be another phone running a Linux partition, to manage it, obviously, and—”
Sit down and drink your beer, I enthused. I then took the opportunity to raise the topic of the iSeries Initiative for Innovation. Malcolm was eager to explain, but kindly agreed to do so without standing up.
“The iSeries Initiative for Innovation—the iII, as I call it—is just the start. I can reveal that we’re soon going to be rolling out the iSeries Initiative for Integrated Industry Innovation. Beyond that—well, I can’t say too much, but there’s talk of putting the initiative on a permanent footing. They’re thinking of calling it the Independent Institute for Improved Initiatives in Intelligent Interactive iSeries Innovation.”
That’d be the IIII… no, sorry, the IIIII…
“Let me have a go at it. The IIIIiI… how many was that? Never mind, we can talk about it in the morning. The initiative’s really taking off, anyway—even the other eserver groups are responding. There’s going to be a big push to get AIX into more doctors’ surgeries, with the pSeries Programme for Perfect Prognostic Practice. As for the zSeries crowd, they’re working on a knowledge visualisation programme: the idea is to use the mainframe’s processing power to generate a kind of virtual panorama, representing all the inquiries that people are making at any one time.”
That would be the…
“The zSeries Zodiac of the Zetetic Zeitgeist, obviously. The PC server people have let us down, though. I told my xSeries opposite number about it, but he just said ‘Oh, very funny’ and hung up on me. Wonder what he meant? But I’ll tell you, one thing’s for sure—this will stop people asking what the ‘i’ in ‘iSeries’ stands for. It’s really going to put the iSeries brand on the map—make it a name that people will… er…”
Remember, I suggested. What does the ‘i’ stand for, anyway?
“No idea. It’ll be one of those words. That’s the thing about marketing—these names don’t have to mean anything, they just have to create the right impression. Have you finished that drink, by the way? I was wondering about having a pint of the ‘Really Quite Genuinely Unpleasant’. What do you reckon?”