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Category: IBM i Marketplace

IBM User Groups: COMMON and SHARE

Posted on August 23, 2017 by Bill Langston

As you may know, COMMON is the largest IBM user group providing education to IT professionals who work on IBM POWER systems. SHARE is a similarly organized user group for IT professionals working on the IBM Z or “mainframe” platform. A friend at another company recently mentioned they were attending the SHARE conference. That casual comment lead me to do some research.

I've never attended a SHARE event, and New Generation Software, Inc. does not play in the IBM Z marketplace. But when I looked at SHARE's website, I couldn't help but notice how much the curriculum and feel of things resembled COMMON. Whereas in years past the sessions offered at the two conferences probably did not have much overlap, today's situation seems different. With IBM focused on Watson, LINUX, and open source software development on both POWER and Z, the technical content of the two conferences looks surprisingly similar. I believe there are some people who attend and speak at both conferences, and some of the same vendors seem to exhibit at both, too. Of late, attendance at the two conferences is also about the same.

Bringing these two groups together just might make educational and economic sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if IBM or a few large Z and POWER customers have already suggested this idea.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


What Is the Cloud?

 Posted on August 3, 2016 by Bill Langston

IBM, Oracle, HP, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, SAP, and virtually every other major technology company want you and your company to use their cloud. Each quarter, these companies release new products and acquire companies to bolster their cloud offerings and grow their cloud revenue. Industry analysts forecast remarkable growth in cloud spending. Yet, global spending on information technology has been nearly flat for several years now and Gartner expects it to remain that way for the rest of this decade. So what is the source of all this cloud growth?

As consumers, we generally think of the cloud as a place where we can backup and save files, access applications and websites to do online banking, pay bills, share photos and music, or communicate with our healthcare providers. But if you’re a publicly traded technology company striving to meet ever higher quarterly revenue targets, the cloud can be much, much more. Here are some ways technology companies increase their cloud revenue:

Whether it’s software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (Iaas), business process as a service (BPaaS), a private cloud, a public cloud, a hybrid cloud, or even remote backup, all these resources are commonly treated as cloud revenue today.

Yes, new technology is creating demand for cloud computing, and companies are using clouds in an effort to gain flexibility and reduce cost. But technology companies, eager to impress investors, will continue to creatively expand the definition of cloud computing to ensure they achieve their targeted rates of growth.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Perceptions Aren’t Reality Until Your Data
Says So

 Posted on May 12, 2016 by Bill Langston

In the 1980’s a political consultant coined the phrase “perception is reality,” and over the past 30 years that phrase has become widely used and accepted in both business and social settings to help explain or justify behavior. But in fact, perceptions we can’t verify through data provide a very weak foundation on which to make business and personal decisions.

Our perceptions do shape our individual impression of “reality,” but things aren’t always as they seem. Most of us know from personal experience that when someone says, “(Fill in a number) people can’t be wrong!” that there is a chance all those people just might be. We need to look at the data.

Assuming perceptions are the same as a company’s reality is high risk business behavior. Instead, cultivating skepticism is much more productive for developing a business. Combining creative thinking with the effective use of data to test perceptions and make informed decisions is the way to move your business forward.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Select Your Champion

Posted on April 4, 2016 by Teresa Moy

In our Jargon Crazy game, it certainly has been entertaining to see which IT buzzwords have been the most disliked. Some results have surprised me, and some have confirmed my own loathing. I won't identify any of them, though, because I don't want to sway anyone's opinions in the slightest.

We are now down to the wire. Mashup and Center of Excellence are going head to head for the championship. Which one will be crowned the most hated IT term? Please play along here by submitting your vote in the final round, and check back next week to see who the winner is!

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Jargon Crazy

Posted on March 22, 2016 by David Gillman

Tired of stupid buzzwords made up by marketing departments or super technical people who think everyone should know all their esoteric acronyms?

I am, too. Not that this is a new phenomenon, but I wish people would use common terms to describe IT related subjects. It just helps experienced IT people know what new technologies are and where they fit. It also helps businesspeople to better understand how different technologies affect their business.

In reality, I am not going to change the way the world works, but I can have some fun with it.

NGS created Jargon Crazy to get our customers and people we work with to say what their most hated buzzwords are in IT. The game works kind of like brackets for a current sporting event. Play along here by submitting your votes in the second round.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Essential, Invisible Enterprises and IBM i

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Bill Langston

NGS supports customers of all sizes and across all industries. These companies create, distribute, and provide products and services that we all rely on or consume on a daily basis – engine parts, steel, agricultural products, snack foods, pest control services, groceries, medical devices, containers, tools, paint, lighting, carpet, newspapers, clothes, healthcare services, tires, financial services, sporting goods, education, and on and on. The bond they share is their decision to run their core business on IBM i.

Unless you work for one of these companies or know someone who does, you can easily take their products for granted and go through life without much thought to their importance to our economy and the quality of our lives. When operating well, they do what they do so reliably that they become almost invisible to us. However, they are no less essential.

In the same vein, we assume you want your essential business information systems to perform the same way – reliably and nearly invisibly. That’s probably one reason your company runs its core business processes on IBM i.

In this technological age where everything from what we’re having for dinner to what darling things our kids and pets are doing is broadcasted instantaneously through social media, virtually no one but vendors and IBM talk about IBM i. Why? Because people talk about the things that surprise, delight, and annoy them. They tweet and post about things that incite emotion, not things they take for granted.

Business software and computers like the ones we run are designed to be taken for granted, just like some of the products and services mentioned above.

So, we will continue being invisible but essential, doing what we do best – developing and modifying business software to meet our customers’ needs.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Happy Unplugged Holidays!

Posted on December 18, 2015 by Teresa Moy

Last month, we wrote a post on business and social media. Now with the holiday season in full swing, I’d like to redirect our focus to being less techie and being more sociable. Everywhere we go, we see people attached to their mobile devices. We spend a lot of time gazing at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, catching up on what others are doing or getting others caught up on what we are doing. What happened to the days when down time while waiting to get that much needed coffee was spent just standing there in line?

holiday tree cordNothing spells out the holiday spirit better than a good ol’ fashioned “Happy Holidays!” tweet that goes out to all of our followers in a single click. At holiday parties and get togethers, all the smartphones and tablets are still out in force, and we may spend just as much time taking photos, texting, and posting about each moment as talking to the people we are supposed to be socializing with.

Don’t get me wrong; I will probably send a “Season’s Greetings!” post to my family and friends, check Facebook to see what they are doing, and use my smartphone to capture some of our precious holiday moments, too. But during this festive season, when we’re at that holiday party or get together, let’s try to put down all the mobile devices and slowly back away – at least for a little while – and look into the faces of our family and friends. Let’s call our faraway loved ones instead of texting them. Let’s look around and feel the magic and awe of the holiday season.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Annoying Jargon

Posted on December 14, 2015 by David Gillman

Every industry has its inside language that only the inner core understands. Quite possibly, IT is more that way than most other company departments. Within IT, vendor marketing departments come up with new terms constantly. A lot of these terms can be annoying to seasoned professionals. 

We want to hear what bugs IBM i IT pros. What are some terms that annoy you? Send them via email to me at gillman@ngsi.com. We are going to collect the terms and use them in a cool contest after the start of the new year.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


IBM Hardware and Software Support Explained

Posted on December 1, 2015 by David Gillman

Navigating IBM software and hardware maintenance programs is not easy. While some things change, other parts of IBM support stay the same. Keeping up with the changes can be time consuming and is usually something that keeps dropping down the task list for most IBM i IT people.

Figuring out how support programs work with IBM i is very difficult for people new to the platform or businesspeople who manage IT departments. In order to help our customers (and others) understand what is included in different IBM support and maintenance programs, we ask an expert – Doug Fulmer of KS2 Technologies.

Doug works with companies across the country using IBM i.  Before KS2, Doug worked for IBM for many years, so he has an understanding of IBM hardware and software support programs very few people have.

This video is a great educational tool for people new to the IBM i platform as well as a refresher for old hands.

Posted in Education, IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Social Media and the Enterprise IT Professional

Posted on November 3, 2015 by Bill Langston

We’re contacted every day by companies who tell us we should hire them to help us gain a competitive advantage and reach new customers through social media. These consultants and vendors say it’s critical for us to have a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. because social media is where our customers and potential customers are spending their time and seeking information. It’s an interesting theory, but our experience tells us this isn’t the case.

We use Google search advertising to attract people to our website. We use Google Analytics to monitor our site’s traffic, where our site visitors are located, what pages they view, and how long they stay on them. Twitter is one of several ways we share company news and announcements. We regularly monitor the discussions on several IBM i-related LinkedIn groups and a popular IBM i technical forum so that we can respond if something warrants a comment. And we’ll continue to do all of these things even though it’s a rare day when an NGS customer or potential customer uses any of these media to share a thought about a work-related topic.

We know IT professionals use social media in their personal lives to communicate with and follow family, friends, and groups that share their hobbies, root for the same sports teams, or like the same entertainers and political leaders. But it seems that for most, social media is a private, personal activity that declines or ceases during business hours. That’s understandable since IT professionals spend their days working with sensitive data and proprietary processes their employers and clients don’t want discussed publicly. Regional user group meetings and conferences provide social networking opportunities without the online element. Private, “unsocial” media like email, conference calls, and meetings play the biggest role on a day-to-day basis. To complicate matters further, the largest IBM i discussion groups on LinkedIn prohibit or strongly discourage promotional content.

So how can social media provide value in this environment? We’d like to know what you think. If you’re an IT professional or business software user, please tell us if or how you use social media in your workplace. What types of information would you like to see vendors provide through these outlets and what policies has your company established to govern your use of social media?

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Hosting IBM i:  Q&A Video

Posted on October 9, 2015 by David Gilman

NGS has customers that have moved their IBM i operations to outside data centers.  Most seem to start with simply co-locating their server into data centers.  Some go an extra step and move their IBM i processing from their own hardware to a partner's server in a partition or virtual machine.  Essentially, they use a cloud service to provide the processing previously done by their on premise servers.

We speak to customers all the time who are considering such a move. In order to answer some of the common questions we hear, I spoke to one of our long time partners who moved into the cloud hosting business a few years ago for IBM i.  Here is a short video where I ask the questions I hear our customers asking.  Bob Kennedy of CPS Technology was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer them. Enjoy!

Posted in Education, IBM i Marketplace | Comments


IBM i, iSeries, AS/400, System i — What Do You Search For?

Posted on September 15, 2015 by Bill Langston

If you use Google to search for information related to IBM i, what terms and product names do you enter?  IBM i, iSeries, System i, AS/400?  Google's own search statistics indicate pretty clearly that many people still use them all.  As software vendors, we must know what words and phrases people search on because we want our own information and search advertising to appear frequently. NGS uses Google's Adwords tools each month to get a quantifiable measure of market interest and what people in the "Americas" search on when they look for things related to IBM i. It's a little tricky to get accurate numbers because of multi-word product names, special characters like "/", etc., but here's what Google's Adwords tool shows for the average number of searches per month for the past year ending June 2015:

Keyword or Term Average Monthly Searches
June 2014 through June 2015
AS/400 5,400
"IBM AS/400" 390
"IBM AS400" 720
"IBM iSeries" 880
"IBM i" 720
"IBM System i" 140
OS/400 390
"IBM i 7.2" 40
"IBM i 7.1" 30
"IBM POWER i" 30

It's amazing how AS/400 and all its variants continue to dominate the market even after all these years since IBM marketed a product by that name. We support and use IBM's current naming conventions consistently in our conversations and materials, but sometimes we're forced to use older terminology to ensure our Google ads and website come up frequently in search results.

For comparison sake, Google shows that "business intelligence" was entered an average of 33,100 times in May and June. LINUX was used 201,000 times both months. "IBM Watson" was searched on 22,200 times in May and 18,100 time in June.

Caveat: Google search stats may be misleading in technical fields because experienced IBM i developers know where to go directly for technical information and are not as likely as consumers to start out at Google, but the managers and users they support may indeed begin their research at Google when they have questions.

Here's more information on how Google arrives at these statistics.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments

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