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October 23, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

A survey conducted by Computer Intelligence Inc in idyllic if out-the-way La Jolla – say it La Hoya – California, of 213 early IBM AS/400 sites shows that the machine is triumphantly succeeding in its primary goal, that of preserving the Systems 38 and 36 bases, but that it may not turn out to be such a major base builder, knocking out installed machines from the likes of Wang Laboratories, DEC, Prime Computer, Data General, that some observers are forecasting. The largest proportion, 33%, of the sample was accounted for by people going up from System 36. But close behind, 30%, was people who had moved up from System 38, and as there are about five times as many 36s as there are 38s, it is clear that it is the 38 base that is hungrier for the additional power – albeit not as much as many would like – of the AS/400. Next, a little surprisingly, at 25%, is a crowd of people – most no doubt existing IBM users, taking the machine for completely new applications. There are still lots of System 34s around, and 6% of the sample was accounted for by 34 replacement. A little disconcertingly, 4% were people moving from other IBM machines: 4331s, 8100s, Series 1s, even a 4381 – and there are said to be at least two 4381 users in the UK who are switching to AS/400. And the remaining 2% of the sample was made up of competitive knock-outs. The last category is certain to rise over time, because people tied in to other manufacturers will in the main wait and see others’ experience before making a decision. But the other problem for IBM may be that, as indicated by the sample, the vast majority of the System 38 base may migrate in the first nine months or so, and once that business is out of the way, the hectic pace of installations may start to slow much sooner than most analysts are forecasting. Another survey by Computer Intelligence, this one conducted for the Wall Street Journal among 79 sites moving up from 38 or 36 showed that 74% succeeded in transferring their workloads with no problem, most within two weeks, at worst in 30 days, and 86% were satisfied with their new machine. And those who took their AS/400 as a pilot with a view to putting the same system in multiple sites, on average planned to buy 22 more of the machines – that’s good news for IBM, particularly if many of them fall into the new applications category. Computer Intelligence also reports an exercise among 15,000 users indicating the rate of pick-up of orders for the AS/400 and for the MicroVAX 3500 and 3600, indicating that cumulative orders after one, two and three months of launch were 201; 527; and 851 after three months for the AS/400, 128; 172; 237 after three months for the MicroVAXes. However too much should not be read into those figures, not least because there was much more pent-up demand for the AS/400 than for the new MicroVAXes.

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