New boss Zollar could mean bright future for iSeries

Big Blue must have big plans for its proprietary mid-range system - why else would it put the head of Lotus in charge of it?

Al Zollar, head of IBM's Lotus division, has been put in charge of the iSeries, the company's proprietary mid-range server series. The appointment hints at a future for the iSeries that will be more software-driven, with more integrated systems. The appointment coincides with a major restructuring of the iSeries line, due to be announced on 20 January. Although the iSeries (which started life as the AS/400) has millions of users and around 460,000 live servers, according to all estimates the revenue from the range is declining. Popular for its ease of use and integration, over the years the range has gained features from other IBM servers such as the pSeries' processor and the zSeries' logical partitioning and autonomous computing technologies. However, the series' packaging is still complex, so changes are expected to make the servers easier to buy, set up and use -- as well as encouraging new applications and improving performance on older software such as the old 5250 terminal-based software for which the iSeries was originally designed. Pricing will also receive attention. "IBM is continuing to invest in iSeries," said Ian Jarman, iSeries product manager. "People are still running applications from the 80s, but also Linux, Windows, Java and WebSphere. Convergence with the pSeries hardware has given us a common base of investment." The last major iSeries announcement was the release of Version 5 Release 2 of the OS/400 operating system, in April 2002. The previous head of iSeries, Buell Duncan, will lead developer relations at IBM's Software Division.

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