The Society of i

Malcolm Haines discusses iSociety.

Malcolm Haines discusses iSociety.
Illustration by Brian Cairns

The IBM* System i* platform is one of the most compelling business computing machines out there. It has its own operating system, but can also run Linux* and support Microsoft* Windows*. Users can slice and dice it with partitioning, allowing them to consolidate many servers onto one box. And it has a legendary reputation for reliability.

But a vexing question remains: Why hasn't it taken the world by storm? One of the answers involves marketing. Although IBM is as recognizable a brand as Kleenex and Band-Aid, its products sometimes get lost in the marketing shuffle. While the System i platform's ardent proponents know it well, it seems few outside that tight-knit community do.

IBM aims to change that through a series of new marketing initiatives, one of the most prominent of which is iSociety ( Appropriately, iSociety isn't a product of IBM or its marketing agencies, but of the markets they serve. The community initiative is poised to help IBM spread the word about one of its biggest, baddest and bravest technological developments: the System i platform.

To learn more about iSociety and other new System i marketing efforts, IBM Systems Magazine spoke with Malcolm Haines of IBM System i marketing. If he and others in his department have their way, users' best-kept computing platform secret will soon be out.

Q: I've been writing about the System i platform for years now, and one of the big complaints I've heard from users is the lack of marketing. So I think it's great that IBM is charting a new marketing course. One of the most interesting aspects of this campaign is iSociety. Could you tell us a little about it?

A: iSociety was announced at COMMON 2006 in Miami Beach. But the interesting and significant thing is that it wasn't actually announced by IBM. Members of the System i community itself did it. This is important because people shouldn't look on this as a creature of IBM. iSociety arose spontaneously in the community, and the people who made the announcement represented different parts of iSociety. This is symbolically important because iSociety is meant to bring everybody who's already out there and fanatical about this product together. And as you know, to own a System i platform is to become a fanatic about the System i platform.

"iSociety is a conversation of sorts. It's not Big Brother telling you what to think. And I think people respond to that better." -Malcom Haines

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at

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