Just Another Adventure in Moving

Anyone that has relocated from one place to another knows that moving is anything but an adventure. Having worked in TPF for 22 years now I've had my share of moves, and the address books of friends and family are littered with addresses in cities from TPF shops all over the country. Not that I regret any of the career moves I've made, but the fact of the matter is that moving is a nightmare.

Between househunting, packing, relocating, unpacking and getting settled into a new area, moving can be one of the most tedious and stressful things any one of us will face in the course of our lives. Add to that new neighbors, new friends, new doctors, new schools, etc., and you begin to understand that the word “adventure” doesn't even come close to describing the experience. Add to this the burden of relocating an ongoing business (like ACP/TPF Today), and the challenges become even greater. Keeping a day-to-day business up and running is a major problem when your address and phone numbers change, when your mail is slowed by forwarding, when your files are either on a truck somewhere or in storage, and when your equipment and supplies are stacked in boxes until you set up new office space. Now throw in all of the changes that come with the new job at the new TPF shop, and you begin to appreciate how unforgiving it can be to move from a comfortable existence to the chaos of a major change.

Now let's put things in a slightly different perspective. Imagine for a moment that you're considering making a move. Not a move from one city to another, but a move from one technology to another. Let's say you're not a family, but rather a company, and you're faced with the prospect of switching your DP environment from a platform you've used for years to something completely different... perhaps TPF. The challenges are monumental.

First and foremost are the unknowns. Without any TPF experience in-house, there are several issues to deal with ranging from the substantial costs involved to outsourcing the implementation to staffing and training your own TPF personnel. Then there's the matter of your existing DP organization who will resist the change with a degree of energy and enthusiasium you probably haven't seen demonstrated in years. Some folks will fall into the “passive” category and express their objections in meetings and memos. Others will fall into the “stubborn” category and become vaguely hostile and uncooperative. A small number may even fall into the “Kamikaze” category and resign from the company all together. The fact of the matter is that very few, if any, of the existing DP people are going to be happy about making “the move”. From a personal perspective, I've been in at least 3 situations where TPF has been brought in to replace an entrenched technology, and I can assure you that it's not easy being on the “replacement” team. In fact for the most part, it's hell.

I point these things out for a reason. Over the years, I've verbally challenged IBM on their less than aggressive efforts in selling TPF to new customers. While I'm not about to change my opinions, I do want to be fair to IBM, and at least acknowledge that there are obstacles and roadblocks to marketing the product to new customers. The anology of “moving” is just one of these roadblocks, and can easily stop a licensing opportunity dead in it's tracks. What IBM has done however, is to focus its efforts on the product. By making TPF a more robust product, they've begun to tip the scales in the marketing arena. The advent of Persistent Collections, the Data Repository (Pockets & Folders), and VisualAge have moved TPF into a more viable position as a transaction processing solution. Additionally, the recent announcements regarding the Bedford Associates/Entersoft Top End product for TPF, and the joint C2Net/IBM development of the Stronghold Apache Web Server for TPF are exciting features that will only add to marketing's ability to attract new customers. I think most of us will agree that IBM is on the right track. We all recognize the tremendous advantage TPF can provide. The trick now is to get the word out to the rest of the world, and that's something we at ACP/TPF Today hope to do, as soon as we get these bloody boxes unpacked.

Alan Sadowsky