Klatu Verada Nicto

Anyone that’s had the pleasure of seeing the classic movie "The Day The Earth Stood Still" has memorized these three words. As most of us were very young when we first saw Klatu and his robot companion Gort land their spacecraft in Washington D.C., our motives were focused on one thing, and one thing only. If the day ever came and we found ourselves face-to-face with the venerable tin man, we would blurt out the words, and be carried off to the spaceship on an adventure that only a child could possibly imagine. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, let me briefly convey the story line, since the message it sends has merit in more ways than one.

In a nutshell, Earth is visited by a traveler from another world bringing a message of peace for all mankind. In typical fashion, our traveler has bearly stepped off his spaceship in Washington D.C. when he gets shot by the trigger-happy welcome wagon committee that has graciously surrounded his ship with soldiers, tanks and artillery. Enter Gort, our traveler's metallic companion who quickly turns all of the weapons to Jell-O, and is preparing to do the same to everyone dressed in polyester until he’s brought under control by Klatu.

(Fast Forward)

Having escaped from the hospital where he was taken, Klatu shrewdly takes up residence in a neighborhood boarding house and quickly establishes a platonic relationship with single mom Patricia Neal and her son Bobby. With Bobby in tow, Klatu breaks into the house of world-renowned physicist Dr. Barnhardt and leaves his calling card on the study blackboard, in the form of an equation the good doctor has been struggling with for (apparently) years. Doctor Barnhardt meets with Klatu, who asks the good doctor to gather the great scientific minds of the world for a meeting. Doctor Barnhardt assures Klatu that this meeting could never take place due to the political and cultural differences between governments and peoples of the world.

(Fast Forward)

Klatu makes his way back to the Park & Fly where his spaceship is located, and using his superior intellect (and a Boy Scout flashlight) instructs Gort to execute Plan 8 From Outer Space. (Considering how well Plan 8 went, it’s hard to figure out what went wrong with Plan 9, but that’s another story.) At the designated time, all activity on Earth comes to an abrupt stop. And I mean everything. No cars, no ships, no airplanes, no television, no pizza delivery... no nothing! It was truly "The Day The Earth Stood Still". With the hands of David Copperfield, and the alacrity of a Las Vegas dealer at a twenty dollar table, Klatu has managed to pull the proverbial plug on the world.

(Fast Forward)

Overwhelming impressed with the awesome power Klatu has demonstrated, the governments of the world allow their scientists to meet with him. Klatu’s message is brief and clear. If the powers at large can’t live in peace on their own accord, then they will be forced to live in peace. Apparently Gort and his fellow robot sentinels patrol the galaxy monitoring the inhabited planets, and if any planet doesn’t "follow the rules", they’re promptly turned into toast. So there you have it. Either get with the program or someone else will do it for you. The implications are obvious, and bring new meaning to our own little TPF corner of the universe.

IBM has done some wonderful things with TPF in just the past few years. The Data Repository, the TPF Super Web Server, Folders and Pockets, and Persistent Collections are all part of the admirable effort being put forth by the development lab in Poughkeepsie to make TPF the mainstream transaction processing platform for the next millenium. Yet, without an aggressive marketing force promoting the technology, these efforts will be for naught. Whatever the reasons for not doing so in the past, it’s time for IBM to go after the new customer market, and to go after it with a vengeance. It’s time for the folks in the Big Blue Tower to tally up the number of MVS and CICS, and IMS, and DB2 licenses sold in the past 24 months, and ask why not a single TPF license was sold in the same timeframe?

The bottom line in the movie, the ultimatum if you will, was peace. It was desired, it was preached, it was the only thing that could insure survival. The bottom line for TPF is the sale of new licenses. It is desired, it is preached, and it certainly will insure our survival. We live in a time where the Internet provides us with almost instantaneous worldwide communications capabilities, where almost every PC comes with desktop publishing tools, and where access to companies, their owners, and their executive management is literally only keystrokes away. It would not be a difficult or costly proposition to solicit TPF to the hundreds of existing business concerns that could easily benefit from the technology. IBM should heed the message being sent. If you can’t accomplish what is in the best interests of the worldwide (TPF) community on your own, you just may wake up one day and find that someone else has done it for you. IBM has been standing still for too long. If steps need to be taken by others to insure our ultimate survival, then it should come as no surprise to IBM when those steps are taken.

Alan Sadowsky