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Is “Not Invented Here” Sometimes a Good Idea?

November 13, 2014

We’ve both been reading Dan Ariely’s “The Upside of Irrationality” recently. One of the points he makes is how damaging the NIH syndrome can be to a company. We’ve always felt the same way and, as we’ve noted many times in our technical articles, we will always use available components when possible rather than re-inventing the wheel. Heck - that’s one of the things we have enjoyed most about having PHP on IBM i - the incredible range of quality free and low-cost software that it opens up to us. And yet …
We can’t help but feel that in one particular instance IBM corporate could do with a good dose of NIH. Lately we've been seeing IBM push Linux on Power, often to IBM i customers - customers who are perfectly happy with their systems and who would prefer solutions based on their current platform rather than switch to or add in Linux. At best this is simply annoying to the customer. At worse, it practically invites an otherwise loyal customer to consider other hardware vendors. After all, if you switch to Linux there is no major imperative as to why you should stick with Power hardware.
It makes a certain amount of sense to promote Linux in lieu of AIX - they are after all both “flavors” of Unix. But not against IBM i. This is a case where “Invented Here” makes strong business sense. Larry Ellison of Oracle clearly thinks so - he’s been desperately trying to replicate the success of IBM i as a complete integrated system by buying up companies left, right and center. We blogged about this a few years ago in our open letter to Larry. If he can see the value proposition of such a solution, why does it seem to be so hard for many IBM executives to realize the same thing?
Perhaps the current rethinking going on at the top of the company in the wake of the ill-fated Roadmap 2015 might result in a rethinking of the current Linux-for-everyone-and-everything strategy. Of course, IBM Power needs to support Linux - it represents a major sector of the market that cannot be ignored. But IBM i was “Invented Here” - and has a huge loyal install base and has to be much more profitable to IBM than Linux could ever be. Surely it deserves more support than Linux, not less.
We can hope.
P.S. Microsoft’s Next Open Source Action
Our friend Greg Helton pointed out to us today that MS have announced further steps in moving .NET technology to the Open Source arena. In addition, they have announced that the next release of the server-side .NET stack will be ported to Linux and Mac’s OS X. It is too early to begin to think of what this could mean to platforms such as IBM i in the future, but it is not too far stretched to think of the possibility of these components being ported to Power hardware. Time will tell.
More information can be found at ZDNet and TechCrunch.


Posted November 13, 2014| Permalink

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