TUG Buzz! for August 12, 2015


  1. September 23rd MoM (30th Anniversary Event)
  2. Article: Project risk - Vendor management case study by Debbie Gallagher
  3. Press Release from a Gold Sponsor

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
30th Anniversary
Meeting of Members

Speaker: Dr. Frank Soltis

Frank Gerald Soltis (born 1940), an American computer scientist, was >IBM's Chief Scientist for the System i computers. Based on his PhD research, his pioneering architecture of technology-independent machine interfaces (TIMI) and single-level stores has appeared in these eight generations of IBM hardware: System/38 in 1978, the CISC AS/400 in 1988, the RISC AS/400 in 1995, the web server AS/400e in 1999 (supporting HTTP and TCP/IP), the eServer iSeries, the System i5, the System i, and IBM Power Systems running IBM i (April, 2008).

In 1968, Soltis completed his PhD in electrical engineering from Iowa State University. His PhD dissertation was titled "Automatic Allocation of Digital Computer Storage Resources for Time-sharing".

In November 1968, he took a position with IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. Soltis led the design of the "Amazon" instruction set architecture, an extended version of the 64-bit PowerPC architecture; the Amazon architecture is implemented by the RS64, POWER4, and POWER5 processors used in the IBM iSeries and pSeries> computers.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, in addition to his IBM responsibilities, Soltis served as an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota where he taught graduate courses on high performance computer design.

Soltis retired from IBM on December 31, 2008.

In February 2009, Vision Solutions, a high availability and disaster recovery solutions provider in IBM Power Systems markets, announced that Soltis had joined their Technology Advisory Board (TAB). Soltis will share his experience and insight as he helps guide product strategies.

Soltis' By Design column appears in iPro Developer magazine. His books include Inside the AS/400 and Fortress Rochester, The Inside Story of the IBM iSeries.

Admission: Free to all TUG members ($60 non-members)


Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Schedule: 5:00 pm - IBM i: Yesterday Today & Tomorrow
6:30 pm - Buffet Dinner & 30th Anniversary Celebration
Meeting location: TBA

Register for the next TUG MoM at: www.tug.ca/reg_meet_form.php


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Project risk: Vendor management case study

By Debbie Gallagher

DebbieWorking with vendors is a fact of life on technology projects. It makes sense to engage vendors to work on your projects. They have product experience with many clients and can bring best practices in addition to technical expertise.

However, vendors are not your employees and it is wise to remember that their goals and your company’s goals are not always completely aligned. As a result, in addition to the benefits, there are risks in bringing on vendors to deliver your projects.

Case study
Here’s an example of a project gone off the rails due to issues with selecting and managing the vendor.

The client had issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) and selected a vendor to implement a new application and its supporting technology platform.

The vendor started missing deadlines early in the project. The client’s requirements for performance were not met. To resolve the performance issues, the vendor proposed hardware changes. The resulting procurement and installation time caused more delay.

Unfortunately, installation of the new hardware did not resolve the performance problems, so the vendor embarked on a series of changes to try and improve performance.  Time after time, the vendor said the performance changes would be done by the following week, but every time they were unable to deliver the improvements.  It was clear that the vendor’s team was working hard, including evenings and weekends, but still the system could not operate within the necessary timeframe.

After months of promises followed by non-delivery, the vendor asked for a three-month period to achieve the necessary performance. The client agreed to the three-month timeline, but once again, the performance metrics were not achieved.

At this point, the vendor asked if the client would make changes to other applications in the same business process. As long as all of the applications fit into the overnight process, the vendor’s own application performance would be of less concern. The client agreed to modify other applications, which caused further delays while requirements, development, and testing took place.

Unfortunately, the changes to the other applications were not sufficient. When done, it was clear that the vendor would still have to significantly improve the performance of its own product.  

The vendor continued to work at application changes and database tuning to try and correct the performance issues. When that failed to achieve the desired results, the client agreed to examine the business process to see if they could change it to accommodate the product’s performance issues. The process re-design did not create enough efficiency to solve the problem.

If you’ve ever been in this position, either as vendor or client, you know it’s a very unpleasant situation. The client and vendor blame each other for the problems. Millions of dollars are spent. The business does not have their new application. The vendor is losing money on the project. Discussions about legal action take place.

There were several problems with this situation.

In the RFP, the client did not specify performance requirements. This lack of guidance allowed the vendor to avoid considering performance when creating the proposal.

The vendor was a solid, well-established company, with an excellent reputation for delivery and support. However, the product was new, with no installations in the client’s industry or any other industry. When evaluating the vendor proposals, the client did not recognize the importance of the fact that the references provided by the vendor (for other products) were irrelevant to the project they were proposing.

The vendor’s size, stability, and reputation were a good thing, of course, in that the vendor was motivated to deliver to the client’s satisfaction, and had the financial resources to invest in efforts to correct the problems.  A smaller, less reputable vendor may have simply walked away early on.

As delays continued over many months and millions were spent, the client never had any discussion regarding whether the project should be cancelled and alternative products evaluated.  This inability to face the failure of a product and project is common. Many clients, once they’ve invested a lot of money, time, and resources, do not admit defeat and start over.

The interests of the client and vendor were never aligned right from the start. The client was looking for a product to install and add value to their business process right away.

The vendor was looking for a successful installation of its new product, so they could use it as a reference when selling to other clients.

If the client had realized up front the differences in their goals, they may have been able to negotiate an approach that worked for both. Instead, both the client and vendor have failed to achieve their objectives.

Debbie Gallagher is a project manager and business analyst.
She can be reached by email at debbie@gallaghers.ca

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Contact Leo Lefebvre at leo@tug.ca to get started.

(*Free startup for TUG members.)

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TUG Gold Sponsor Member - Press Release

Media contact:
James A. Kandrac, President 216.520.1333 jak@ucgrp.com
For Immediate Release

Global tube and packaging supplier Unette Corp. selects UCG’s VAULT400 BaaS

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio —United Computer Group, Inc. (UCG), an information technology services firm, is pleased to announce that Unette Corporation, headquartered in Randolph, NJ, has selected UCG’s VAULT400 Baas as their cloud backup provider.

Unette Corporation’s IT manager, Christopher Doscher, conducted a lengthy search before choosing VAULT400 BaaS to protect business-critical data on their IBM Midrange System. With VAULT400, they are now backing up daily, weekly, and monthly in addition to their annuals. The data is compressed, encrypted and sent to UCG's secure, off-site, HIPAA compliant data center in Cleveland, Ohio as well as their data center in Atlanta, Georgia for a second replication.

With VAULT400, data is available for immediate, user-initiated restore 365x24x7. In the event of disaster, Unette will receive Hardware Disaster Recovery Quick Ship free of charge from United Computer Group, Inc.  

About United Computer Group, Inc. and VAULT400 BaaS
UCG provides cost-effective technology solutions including IBM P8 Servers (PROD, TEST, DEV, BaaS, DR and H/A), storage, and managed services in addition to a wide range of related products and services, all customized to fit the needs of their clients’ current needs and future growth. Founded in 1987, UCG is an IBM Advanced Business Partner specializing in mid-market and enterprise clients. UCG has been rated in the top 1% of IBM Business Partners nationwide.

UCG’s VAULT400 BaaS is a premier managed risk mitigation and business continuity planning service for secure online backup and disaster recovery. VAULT400 backs up an entire organization’s business-critical data to UCG’s secure data centers. Safe and off-site, the encrypted data is available online at all times for immediate, user-initiated recovery. VAULT400 works seamlessly within an organization’s existing infrastructure with no additional hardware required.

About Unette Corporation
Unette Corporation, the originator of single-use tubes, has produced tubes since 1955 and continues to increase its production capabilities. In the beginning flexible packaging was Unette’s only offering and continues to be a strong part of its sales today.

Unette has also expanded into the European market, establishing an exclusive licensing agreement with Packaging Services Unette, Ltd. in Manchester, England. The new facility opened under the name Unette European Operations.

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The Toronto Users Group for Power Systems (TUG) is a user group/forum for the exchange of ideas, and specializes in providing affordable education relating to the IBM iSeries, AS/400, System i, and Power Systems platforms. TUG is in its 30th year of operation.

TUG is the proud recipient of a 2014 / 2015 Maxava iFoundation grant.


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