Informing the IBM Community

IBM i top brass head to Sweden


Swedish IBM i user group Data3 is gearing up for Höstkonferensen, its biggest annual event.

The three-day conference at Stockholm’s Elite Hotel Marina Tower (pictured) will attract around 180 members and feature over 50 sessions, including workshops, from October 12 to 14. Speakers include IBM’s Steve Will, Ian Jarman and Tim Rowe plus a strong roster of Scandinavian Power System experts.

There’ll also be appearances from PowerWire favourites Paul Tuohy, who will be talking about  RPG and embedded SQL, and Mike Pavlak presenting on PHP.

Data3 president Torbjörn Appehl says that the appearance of IBM i chief architect Steve Will, making his first presentation in Sweden, is a major fillip for the group. He also highlights a new set of break-out sessions aimed at heavyweight decision-makers.

A concept borrowed from America’s Common user group, these give such folk the opportunity to sit down with IBM’s top brass, discuss the future of the platform and hammer out their requirements from it.

Appehl says: “We need their attention and they need our strength as a user group to influence IBM about its plans and strategies around IBM i.”

Data3 was founded in 1966 for users of the IBM/360 Model 20 and became known as Data3 with the introduction of the System/3 in 1969. Slightly confusingly for outside observers of the Scandinavian midrange scene, the Data3 tag has stuck despite efforts to rebrand under the name Common Sweden.

The group includes representatives from around 250 Swedish firms with another 70 or so signed up as individual members and numbers are growing. There are something like 1,000 active IBM i sites in Sweden (population: 9.5 million), mostly running ERP solutions like Infor’s M3 (which has local roots) and IBS/ASW.

Many Data3 members from the finance industry develop their own solutions based on applications from Entra, a local company that was acquired by Finnish IT services giant Tieto. There’s also a fair smattering of World and SAP.

Appehl says that his members’ main concerns right now are around skills as well as future strategies.

“Another concern is the lack of ERP solutions for small companies,” he says. “SAP might run best on IBM i but when a company with three-to-ten users is looking for a modern solution, vendors like Microsoft and [big Swedish player] Jeeves are the winners. Jeeves was ported to IBM i about ten years ago but failed due to politics, I was told. This is sad as IBM i on Power Systems is aimed at their kind of organisation –  ones without a huge staff.”

Despite these issues, the i scene in Sweden is doing well, according to Appehl, as large organisations continue to stick with Power Systems.

He says: “They cannot build the business case to move to another platform. But IBM, its business partners and user groups like Common need to cooperate with end-users to create a long-term platform for growing skills.”

Editor’s note: The latest issue of Data3’s magazine features a piece contributed by PowerWire on AIX tips and tricks by our very own Anthony English. You can check it out (page 9) here.

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