Well, i've participated in quite a few discussions about the System i,
about System i marketing, and everything related to it. But there are
still some things that are not quite clear to me.
First as a bit of foreword, i'm working for an IBM BP and System i
ISV, which sells a System i based ERP Software for the Swiss Small
Business Market. I've been working for this company for almost three
years now, and the origins of our product was 5250 written in BASIC,
and was rewritten in 2001 in ILE RPG IV with a Windows based client.
Our marketing approach is usually to sell solutions instead of
systems. This approach is working well for us, and we're constantly
gaining new customers, but there are of course disadvantages.
One of the biggest problems we're facing is price/performance. We
mostly serve Small Businesses, and those can't afford more than a
baseline 515 - 1GB RAM, 2x 70 15kRPM disks in a Mirrored
configuration. These systems are slow, very slow. And still expensive.
In a new ERP deployment, the cost of the hardware becomes unimportant
when faced with the rest of the project cost. However, keeping
customers current on Hardware and OS releases is much more difficult.
When providing full IT solutions to customers, the place becomes even
more difficult - you'll need two servers just to provide basic
infrastructure (Windows SBS + System i). While it is definitively a
good practice to keep the ERP on a seperate machine, most of our
Windows based competitiors do not do that in order to provide lower
prices - you can run a Windows based ERP package on a Windows SBS
Server, which of course puts us at a severe pricing disadvantage.
There are other points that i've been thinking about. As modern
applications switch to multiplatform models (mostly Java), there are
fewer advantages for the System i - in the end, if i can run the same
software package with the same functionality on a faster & less
expensive System x, why should i choose a System?
Another important step is gaining bigger customers with their own IT
department - why should they add a second platform to their existing
supported environment? Our application is good, but sometimes the
difference is not good enough to justify adding a second platform to a
companies IT strategy.
So, i'd definitively like to hear some other peoples opinion on this -
how do you gain new customers?
Greetings from Switzerland,
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