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July 29, 1990

IBM READY TO SUCCOUR SYSTEM 36 USERS ON NEW AS/400

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM is set to lend the lie to the preposterous story that was doing the rounds at the end of last year that the company would meekly hand its 250,000-strong System 36 base over to the generality of open systems vendors by making RPG II on the RS/6000 Unix machine the preferred upgrade path, Computerworld believes. The paper reports that IBM, as assumed, has far from given up on wooing System 36 users onto the AS/400, and will come out with new, lower-priced entry-level AS/400s, at least one of which will run the System 36 operating system, SSP, in native mode. The paper also hears that OS/400 release 3 will ship before October with a string of ease-of-use features to make the AS/400 in native mode much more acceptable to System 36 users. The big problem at present is that SSP running in emulation mode on the AS/400 is so slow that 36 users get no performance gain when they upgrade to the biggest AS/400 they can afford, but remain loth to convert to OS/400 because they find it too hard to use. Analysts reckon that 250,000 base could be worth $10,000m in new business to IBM if 80% of it can be persuaded to move up to the AS/400 and spend $50,000 in the process. Once most of the base has converted, it is possible that IBM will try to mop up the rest with RPG II on the RS/6000, but such a strategy would be very high risk before then, because once IBM had sown the idea that Unix was their only future in the minds of System 36 users, the 36 base would become a happy hunting ground for every Unix systems vendor.

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