Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I hate IBM System i

In his blog, Vadim reports that a new storage pluggable engine for MySQL has appeared in the source tree, to support IBM DB2 for i as a back-end.

This reminds me that I hate the IBM System i platform (aka IBM Power Systems, aka iSeries, aka AS/400).

Don't get me wrong -- I'm sure it's terrific technology. I'm sure IBM supports many businesses with it and they're happy (although I do wonder why they need to keep re-branding the product line). But my fate is not aligned favorably with respect to System i.

At several companies I have worked for, the business development people struck an ill-conceived deal with IBM, to "support System i." Meetings were had. Agreements were signed. Commissions were paid.

Then it came time to do the work and fulfill the partner agreement. At my last job, my manager came to me and said, "by the way, in your spare time, make sure your work-in-progress supports the IBM platform."

I know nothing about the IBM System i. I have never seen one face-to-face. I have never seen any documentation for it. I enjoy command-line interfaces, but using the System i made MPE/ix seem friendly.

By the way, in spite of the "Universal" moniker, DB2 on the System i is, as far as I can tell, a completely different database implementation, with the brand name "DB2" tacked on as an afterthought.

Here are some suggestion for the System i business development folks at IBM: when you make a deal with small companies to support your platform, make sure they have enough machines to do development and testing. Include electronic documentation so everyone can have access to it. Perhaps even offer some training as part of the deal. And then ask your new partner for a project plan that details such things as:
  • Which products they promise to support on the System i.
  • When they promise to do the work and have the solution ready.
  • Who they will assign to do the work, not ask to do it in their spare time.


MadMatt said...

Yep DB2 is different on Unux/Windows ... the mainframe ... and of course i5. They used to be ( and probably still are ) developed by 3 seperate groups with 3 separate code bases. A few years ago I wacked my head against this wall many times... what do you means this version supports it, and that version does not.

Jay said...

Just goes to show you the disconnect between sales and "business development" or partner teams and the people that actually have to, oh, I don't know, do work to make something happen...

Sales and partner teams walk away from the deal with a fat commission, marketing people promote the deal incessantly, before any real product is available, and the engineers are stuck trying to develop a product that most times, in the end is a worthless adventure in pointlessness which nobody will use.



Wenbert Del Rosario said...

@Jay I wish I could upvote your comment 99999 times.

Col said...

Funny thing is that people that get to know the as400 (there original name of the System i/IBM i/iseries), actually love it. Its a platform where everything just works, and if it doesnt there is always a reason, and if there isnt phone up IBM and they will have a fix for you by the time you hang up the phone.

Its an amazing little bit of kit that packs a lot into one box. Possibly the least complex system you could ever work on cos its so well designed

Bill Karwin said...

@Col: Hi thanks for your comment. Yes, I have no reason to doubt that the IBM System i is a fine server solution. My point is about poor management more than it is a comment about the technology.

Matt said...

I also officially hate IBM DB2 and the IBM i. It Doesn't support nearly as many features as Oracle and Microsoft SQL. Where is DB2's implementation of NoSQL, microsoft is coming out with one in their next release of SQL Server 2011. There are splintered development groups at IBM that have created several versions of DB2, one for the IBM i and one for Unix/Windows platforms and the features are different, ODBC drivers are different (IBM i has Client Access where as DB2 has DB2 Connect). WHere are the Geospatial datatypes? Where is single click entire database encryption like MS SQL has? IBM implemented Field Procs for column level encryption but fail to tell you it doesn't work with date time fields, MS SQL can do column level encryption with ANY type of field. Where is the built in reporting package for IBM i that is as easy as SQL Reporting services that comes with MS SQL?

As far as the IBM i how do you connect to third party databases without buying addon API's ($$$) in RPG? You can connect to any database in the world using ADO .NET, OLEDB, and ODBC in Windows, why can't you on the AS400?

Ever try writing a web service interaction in RPG? Yeah your looking at days of development if you can get it working, we did the exact same program in .NET in 30 minutes.

IBM i still runs Java painfully slow, your better of formatting the drives and installing Linux or Windows if you want to run Java faster.

Want to run Kerberos in your environment? Well guess what as of V7R1 they still only support DES encryption, my god this isn't 1992 anymore people.