Unique Community Launched By Most Loyal Group of Users in Server Industry

Called iSociety, new online community is conceived by users, students, and partners to shape future of System i

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COMMON, the world’s largest group of users involved with IBM’s premier business computers, today announced a new online System i community in collaboration with users, students and partners. The goal is to equip this ferociously loyal and innovative group of users with the tools they need to better communicate with their peers and introduce more people to the “all-in-one” System i.

iSociety (isociety.common.org) aims to become the central meeting place for those who use, sell or want to learn more about the AS/400, iSeries or System i5, all of which make up the System i family of products. Users of this platform have long had a strong relationship with IBM and its partners, helping to influence the direction of the system’s technology and marketing through such forums as the COMMON educational conference -- where attendees speak directly to IBM executives and product managers -- as well as the COMMON Americas Advisory Group and the Large Users Group (LUG), both of which provide feedback and product requirements directly to IBM.

“Few products are so beloved as to generate a loyal community of users. The Apple Macintosh and Harley Davidson motorcycles are two well known examples, but some may be surprised to learn that there is a group of people just as loyal to a business system -- the System i,” said Beverly Russell, president of the COMMON Board of Directors. “The reason people are so loyal to solutions like the Mac and System i is because they make their lives easier, providing a simple, easy to use solution that delivers on its promises while eliminating the complexity and security problems that hinder many IT departments.”

iSociety will provide its members with services delivered through a number of Web sites that will be operated by different constituents in the community. Additional sites and services are expected to be added over time. Some of the initial services to be offered include:

A business and social networking site for iSociety members to network with their peers through functions such as chatting, visiting the job board and receiving training. The site, operated by COMMON, will also include a peer-acclaim system so users receive the most useful information possible.

The Truth site, a site provided by IBM to connect System i users with peers who may be unfamiliar with the platform and seeking alternatives to Windows-based systems that add complexity. Here, System i users will share real experiences and stories that demonstrate the unique strengths of System i. For example, stories might include those of a weekend without a computer outage and a Tuesday spent focusing on innovating the business instead of applying security patches.

A System i information portal provided by Penton Technology Media that is designed to supply news and information, including blogs, podcasts and wikis, will aggregate content from a number of System i-focused publications and portals, including MIDRANGE-L -- a long-running discussion group focused on System i -- and other discussion groups.

Grassroots marketing sites designed to help the community demonstrate the benefits of System i, such as the successful Angus the iT Chap site. These sites will aim to house materials to help users create viral flash videos, craft graphics and produce their own commercials as well as tools to explain the benefits of the System i to others.

As part of the community’s creation, IBM sponsored a team of students from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) who proposed ideas on what the community should provide its members. After three months of work, the team of four students presented their recommendations to COMMON and IBM. The majority of the team’s recommendations were included in the community, including the MySpace-like capabilities provided by COMMON’s business and social networking site.

UNL itself participates in the System i Academic Initiative and will serve as a worldwide hub for advanced teaching and remote access by other universities. iSociety will be available to all college and university students participating in the System i Academic Initiative, which provides thousands of students with education on up-to-date, in demand System i skills including PHP Web scripting and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) implementation. Moving forward, COMMON plans to work with IBM to include iSociety in System i-focused coursework. For example, students might be invited to maintain a classroom blog or become involved in an IBM development project that will influence future aspects of the community.

“There’s an entire generation of students and IT professionals that began their careers after the rise of Windows and aren’t really aware that valid alternatives exist,” said Trevor Perry, System i consultant and owner of Angus The iT Chap. “As we collaborated on what the new System i community should look like, we aimed to include elements that would show this generation that patching vulnerabilities, baby sitting systems and managing sprawling server farms is not their only career option.”

For more information or to become a member of iSociety, visit http://isociety.common.org.

COMMON is the world’s largest users’ group of IBM integrated business systems. The organization comprises more than 4,000 individual and corporate members. They represent more than 22,000 IT professionals involved with the IBM System i, i5/OS and related solutions. For more information about COMMON, visit http://www.common.org.
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