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"Why IBM i?” Update and “The Ladder Example"

June 5, 2012

The latest version of the presentation “Why IBM i? A System Designed for Business” (also known as “Why i?”) has been uploaded to the public IBM i wiki on developerWorks. The short URL for the PDF is (Fair warning: the file is big: almost 21 MB.) If you follow me on Twitter, this news is a few days old, but bear with me -- I can say more in a blog than I can in 140 characters.

When I give the “Why i?” presentation one of the points I make right up front is this: The presentation exists for YOU to USE. Now, I don’t believe any of you are going to take the PDF and start a speaking tour -- interesting idea though, so if that’s your intent, send me an e-mail and we’ll talk. No, what I mean by “use” is this:

Many clients and IBMers come in contact with others who don’t have much knowledge of our platform. When that happens, it’s helpful to have a chart or two to help explain how IBM i differs from other operating systems. “Why i?” has many charts like that. Or perhaps we need to tell someone the advantages IBM i has in Total Cost of Ownership & Total Cost of Acquisition. Those charts are in there, too. Or maybe you want to point out some of the companies that are using IBM i -- companies that have provided nice references for the platform such as FedEx Ground. “Why i?” has several of those, too.

Some of the charts are self-explanatory, but others require some explaining, and of course that’s why people come to hear me or other IBM experts speak. To help make it more likely you will be able to use the presentation, here is an example chart, and what I say as I present it.

Why i Ladder

As the operating systems being used to run businesses today were created -- and remember they all had their base architectural elements set a few decades ago -- each was created with a primary goal in mind: perhaps single-user applications such as spreadsheets or games, perhaps scientific computing. At its core, the architecture which lies at the heart of IBM i was designed for business. Because businesses employ multiple people, and need to do multiple things, it was designed to assume that multiple workloads would be running on the platform at the same time, that multiple users would be active at the same time, and that these workloads and users would need to work together, but be isolated from one another as well. Other operating systems had to add new pieces to create that separation, or had to have a virtualization layer created to ensure multi-workload capabilities. The pictures on the chart are a clear analogy. If you start out knowing you’re going to change those light bulbs, you’re likely to pick a tool that allows you to do it safely. But if you started out with an insufficient tool, you might try to cobble something together, at the cost of efficiency and security.

Similarly other operating systems were built with the idea that pieces would be added later by experts, or by people who were technology-savvy. IBM i’s architecture, by contrast, was built assuming that the people using the system really just wanted to get the job done – analogous to the person changing the light bulb in the photo on the left. They did not want to have to spend time building up a solution from pieces and then tearing it down and rebuilding it again – such as would be necessary for the unfortunate worker on the right.

Now, to be fair, over time other operating systems have added pieces to ensure that a customer who wants more security and simplicity can have them. But at their cores, and to continue to support the environments of their oldest users, they still have architectures that allow and assume something other than today’s business computing needs. In contrast, IBM i has had the needs of business computing in its architecture from the beginning, and new capabilities have been added within that business-oriented architecture.

That’s basically how I use the chart.

If you, too, are sometimes in a position to explain “Why i?” to a curious person, I encourage you to download the file and see which charts you think you might use.




Source for the file: IBM rules do not allow me to ship the source for this presentation outside of IBM, so I cannot honor requests for that. But you can certainly clip out pages you need and use them “as is” in presentations you deliver to your co-workers. (If you are an IBMer and need the source, contact me -- we have an internal wiki that has the source that you can customize.)

Versions: We had a couple of small errors get discovered as we published the file. First, a logo was missing. Then the copyright date was wrong. Third, the page numbers disappeared. I think we have all of those issues fixed now. So if you downloaded the new version as soon as you saw my tweet, and you care about those details, you will want to download the latest version. And be sure to use the new short URL, or get the file directly from the wiki. The original short URL points to the not-quite-right version.


Twitter: #ibmi, #commonug #IBMRational @Steve_Will_IBMi



Posted June 5, 2012| Permalink

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