October 11, 2005

Imagine This...

Imagine This: Microsoft Longhorn Getting Power Hungry with iSeries…
As an occupation hazard of sorts, I tend to get on soap boxes and get excited about things in the industry.  Sometimes these are things that vendors are doing.  More often, they are things that vendors aren’t doing that I think should be done.  In this case, I think that two vendors are missing an opportunity that would benefit both companies as well as the mid-market in particular.  IBM and Microsoft are competitors on many fronts, from software to services.  But IBM does sell Microsoft’s Windows operating system on its xSeries and Blade servers and it integrates xSeries servers running the Windows OS on the iSeries to help consolidate workloads.  They do have precedent for working together.

Despite the rocky relationship between the two, I think it is time to practice that awful marketing word “coopetition” and take the relationship to the next level i.e. run 64-bit Windows native on iSeries, by porting Windows Longhorn technology to the Power5 architecture.

For IBM and the iSeries, this is a natural fit.  The iSeries has long been used as a management platform for Windows workloads as well as its indigenous OS, currently i5/OS, Linux, and AIX, IBM’s UNIX.  Power is the dominant 64-bit platform; it certainly sells in greater numbers than the Itanium platform, so it would provide the best 64- bit platform for growth.  The Power architecture is used by many companies – including Microsoft for its new Xbox.  In addition, most iSeries environments also have Microsoft Window servers, and it would make more sense to give customers a point of overlap between the two than to force them to constantly choose between the two.

For Microsoft there is also benefit.  Granted, it will not see the immediate volumes on IBM that it would see on 64-bit extensions.  But that is true of any 64-bit system at this point.  The reason for this is that most applications running on 32-bit Microsoft would have to be ported to the new 64-bit system, and some would have to be seriously rewritten to see benefits.  On the other hand, many iSeries ISVs now offer their applications for both iSeries and Windows, and have the resources in-house to handle the combination.  And other ISVs could be enticed through the joint resources that IBM and Microsoft spends on developers to give them a proposition difficult to resist.

Finally, Microsoft has just announced two products that would be perfect for this new partnership: Centro, its mid-market version of the Windows Longhorn Server and Microsoft Dynamics, a new integrated platform of business applications for mid-market users.  These products are slated to appear in 2007, which would be a good time to introduce 64-bit versions for Power on the iSeries.

So what I’d like to know is what the users think?  For those with iSeries and Windows -- would this help?  For those of you trying to choose between the two – how would this factor in to your decisions?  We’d like to know what you think and why.  And ISVs, what do you think?  If you develop for Windows, would you look at Power?  If you develop for iSeries, would this be a good bet for you?