Thursday, November 20

For Better or For Worse?

I read about the announcement of the retirement of the "father of the System i" with mixed emotions.

There is no doubt that Dr. Frank Soltis is an accomplished orator and, as we would say in my part of the world, a scholar and a gentlemen. I've had the opportunity to listen to Frank speak on several occasions and once shared a stage and subsequent expert panel session with him.

Hanging out at S&A 2006

I remember vividly on that occasion that Frank was not afraid to buck the company line by coming to my defense when a member of the audience railed against my statement that Java on the System i had failed. Frank was kind enough to point out that Java is not a panacea and that WebSphere has its place but is by no means the answer to every question - particularly for the typical SMB sized System i shop. Needless to say that his words carried more weight than mine on this occasion ... and I left with a deep respect for a man who will speak his own mind.

But, given that the IBM i has a legacy image problem, I've often wondered whether wheeling out the same IBM speakers time and again does more harm than good? It has appeared that, for some years now, only Frank Soltis or Malcolm Haines could be counted upon to represent the brand in public. Every dog has his day and connecting with the 'youth of today' is an important part of sustaining the platform's vitality. IBM has embraced YouTube, Blogging and a whole bunch of Web 2.0 mediums so perhaps now it's time to supplant the 'grey-beards' with the 'pony tails' when it comes to public speaking opportunities on the strengths and direction of the i box.

What do you think?

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