IBM has agreed to directly contact the 1,300 known users of the product to ensure they know the potential pitfalls. Those contacted will be asked to enter a set of commands to ascertain if OV/400 is installed and being used.
In January, the CUA complained to IBM that a premature withdrawal of support would lead to customers with embedded OV/400 functionality suddenly discovering their systems no longer work.
Ray Titcombe, chair of the IBM CUA, says the campaign his organisation launched was well worth it: 'We shouldn't have had to, but what we've done is raise the recognition point, and the media has then helped us by advising people who have been running OV/400. But we've also demonstrated to IBM that it doesn't know who its customers are.'
Titcombe argues IBM will have to learn that it's no good relying on the message getting through when the conduits are Business Partners, which aren't always in a position to pass on that message. He also believes IBM will need to think about how it positions future products. 'No company likes to announce it's withdrawing a product, but in IBM's case it's even more embarrassing, since for every System/38 and AS/400 announcement it's ever made, it has always gone to great pains to say that any investment is always safeguarded for the future.'
IBM Business Partners are receiving additional training to ensure they can assist customers in migrating systems to avoid problems. Depending on the response from users, IBM is also considering running extra training for its customers.