An Inside View into All Things AS400 IBM iSeries
“AS400” and “green screen” have become synonyms now, and you will get various articles and blogs out there describing the platform – but none of them paint a simple and easy to remember picture for the audience. All the information about AS400 is very disorganized and hence difficult to consume or comprehend for a non-technical business reader.
In this blog, we have deeply analysed the IBM AS400, i.e., apart from its “green screen” identity and brought together a lot of different pieces of information on AS400 – so that when you finish reading this blog – you leave better informed. Also, the blog is written by keeping CIOs, CEOs, CTOs, IT developers, and vendors in mind, who think of it still being a green screen software. This single thought has wasted millions of dollars on failed projects, and to some of the people, have costed their job.
What Actually AS400 is?
IBM AS400 or IBM iSeries or IBMi is an application server used by large organizations because of its proven scalability, security, robustness, and low cost of ownership (TCO – Total cost of ownership) compared to IBM mainframe (IBM z)
Every company that used AS400 wants to reap the benefits of its large volume data storage capacity and valuable information stored in it.
Also, the introduction of new technologies forces companies to modernize AS400 systems and harness more excellent value. However, due to some limitations, companies face more significant challenges to update the AS400 systems.
But in the case of AS/400 systems, IBM does not charge customers based on transactions, i.e. (MIPS – Million Instructions per Second), instead it is a sunk cost. In simple words, it’s not that difficult or expensive to modernize the AS400 systems, and the updated version will deliver benefits like – reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), transparency in hidden data, and increased system responsiveness while delivering enduring business value.
The footprints of AS400 are extensive in the IT landscape. Several technologies and supporting software are involved in the process; a one-stop solution provider for AS400 modernization is likely to succeed.
History of the IBM AS/400
Three decades is a very long time for a technology to stay in this competitive world.
The year 1988 was significant in terms of technology when IBM launched AS400 and they have not looked back. AS400 or Application System 400 is very popular among companies that require robustness and scalability on their part. The operating system of AS400 is known by various names like iSeries, OS/400, etc. Like everyone else, we like the original name because it shows what is unique in the system.
And, that specialty is –The OS is application-centric and not processor centric.
In 1979, there was a minicomputer launched by IBM, and they named it System/38. This was for business and departmental use and launched as a complete product line. Different architectures of System/38 were: System/3, System/32, System/34, and System/36.
After the launch of this, IBM realized that for thousands of programs written in legacy code, compatibility is the key for uncountable programs developed on legacy code. They released AS400 in 1988. The AS/400 is equipped with a legacy OS: Operating system 400, that enabled the programs written for the older system (System/34 and 36) to move to AS400.
In the year 2000, the AS400 was named the IBM iSeries. And again, in the year 2006, it was renamed as IBM system i. Furthermore, two years later (2008), the System i and p product lines were combined, and now the new product line is known as IBM power systems.
Moreover, the operating system was renamed from OS400 to i5/OS and finally to IBM i.
What AS400 Does?
The IBM AS400 is mainly used in manufacturing, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other mission-critical business operations that require extreme reliability. The cloud version of IBM AS400 architecture has become increasingly popular. IBM works closely with business partners like Integrative Systems to implement AS400 solutions across the industries for a wide range of applications.
You can eventually use AS400 to host anything, but every different use case requires a different approach. For example, – A manufacturing firm might need a hybrid IBM AS400 cloud solution to provide extreme low expectancy. At the same time, a retailer may value the cost control and scalability of a cloud-based solution.
What Is Unique About IBM AS400?
This is the most common question we hear frequently. People simply want to know-
What is the big deal in implementing AS400?
How is it different from other OS?
Let us look at a short viewpoint of different operating systems-
It’s like a package. Monumental target-programs for a concrete problem.
There are various small apps, devices, etc., for specific tasks, and they “link” them collectively to do something bigger.
This is a stable system, with fool proof operations and an excellent documentation process. AS400 is not monumental, and it doesn’t need to link devices together to get something useful out of them.
Key Features of IBM AS400:
- AS400 offers the most productive, easiest, and cost-effective way for creating (client and server) applications.
- AS400 enhancements include TCP/IP support for Code400, debug support for Java, Visual age for RPG, and enhancement to builder and runtime.
- AS400 contains user-specified line commands and help for the year 2000 keywords.
- ILE RPG for AS400 includes improved use process and support for indicator data sections and unpredictable-length fields.
- ILE COBOL for AS400 enhances assistance for date, time, and timestamp to help you modify COBOL.
- ILE C for AS400 is improved with native loop enablement of ILE C runtime and case optimization support.
Is IBM AS400 Dead?
This is the most common topic discussed throughout the AS400 iSeries user community, and the motive behind such discussion is that current organizations, jobseekers, and developers want to know if the platform is still relevant today as it is an old platform introduced in 1988.
If you fall into one of the above categories, the answer may surprise you.
- Since the beginning, compatibility is one of the most robust features of this platform. You can efficiently run a program on IBM Power Systems that was created for IBM AS400 in the year 1988, that too with minimum or no changes.
- Due to this seamless compatibility, most of the companies that purchased AS400 years ago still refer to it as AS400 despite their Power server being of higher magnitude and features with cutting-edge technology.
- IBM has big plans for the future and continues to provide regular updates for the platform. IBM releases a new version of the software and hardware every two to three years, and those versions feature quantum leaps forward in terms of processing and functionality.
- There are more than 10K companies worldwide that are using IBM AS400 to manage their most mission-critical business tasks. These companies include government agencies, banks, hospitals, manufacturing firms, and distribution centres.
AS400 is Seen as Outdated:
Because the application system was created in 1988 and has been rebranded several times, the AS400 failed to build a strong perception that it is a modern platform. Still, the application system is a critical part of the computing infrastructure for various top organizations worldwide.
AS400 Experts are Retiring:
Some of the veterans of IBM AS400 have reached the retirement age, and IT experts fear that after their retirement, all their knowledge and expertise will go with them. But there is nothing to worry about, as little planning can help companies to eliminate this issue. Our AS400 iSeries experts from Integrative Systems can help you out.
Why Is IBM AS400 Still Used?
Performance and Reliability:
The IBM AS400 was built with extreme hardware redundancy and security. Furthermore, it is exceptionally high-performing, and its CPUs are three to five times more potent in comparison to competitors.
Good Range of AS400 Options Available:
From economical, entry-level systems to high power, immensely powerful servers for large organizations to accessible models for ever-growing data centers – the options are just too many. The IBM AS400 also supports various OS like – IBMi, AIX, SUSE, and Linux.
Moving Away from IBM AS400 is Not a Smart Decision:
IBM Power Systems have a higher price per core in comparison to competitors. However, their cores are also powerful. Also, any cost-saved gained by moving away from hardware will be shadowed by the expenses of moving to another platform. Moreover, moving from the IBM AS400 could mean you will need to re-install and re-configure new software and update your data again. This can be a nightmare if you have been on the same platform for decades.
The AS400 Cloud Solution for Emerging Needs:
Our IBM AS400 cloud solution makes it a genuinely competitive cloud era option. We at Integrative Systems reduce TCO and only charge you for the resources you need. Moreover, you will be able to scale vigorously as per your needs while eliminating the need to purchase new hardware. We have the skillset and hardware availability to provide a complete set of AS400 cloud services to enterprises worldwide.
Companies That Use IBM AS400
AS400 servers are still fairly used. As per iDatalabs – “About 10.1% of companies use the IBM hardware and have their servers, which makes it the second most popular server type after HP servers with 24.7% users“.
However, this data may seem a little deceptive, as they measure hardware, not the OS. Also, cloud hosting services are measured in a separate category. When iDatalabs looked at the two OS linked with the IBM hardware, they found that only 1.0% of organizations are using IBMi operating system. IBM hardware also supports other popular operating systems, but iDatalabs does not display the actual data of what percentage of the companies are using the IBM architecture.
AS400 is popular in high-tech industries, like manufacturing, computer software, and IT. Although, there are various top rating companies worldwide that use the IBM AS/40, it is mainly a popular software among medium-size companies, but companies of all or any sizes can use it.
German multi-national manufacturing giant Robert Bosch is the biggest users of IBM AS/400. In 2016, the company generated a revenue of about $88 billion by manufacturing industrial & consumer goods, and other technology products. On the other hand, Bosch runs its own internal IT operations, and they opted for IBM AS400 due to its performance, reliability, and scalability.
The journey from AS400 to IBMi
The most significant feature of IBM AS400 is that it is object-oriented since its start. Understand it this way – Linux treats everything as a file, and AS400 treats everything as an object.
Moreover, many languages are supported by IBM iSeries, like – RPG, COBOL, SQL, C, C++, Java, Perl, PHP, Python, PL/I, assembly language, and REXX.
Tools supported by language are LANSA, Synon Accelerator, GeneXus, and IBM rational business developer extension uniface.
Important Characteristics of IBMi
As we discussed earlier also, AS400 treats everything as an object. This means that the IBMi operating system has special features in comparison to other operating systems.
Single Level Storage:
It assures complete security and stability for a total enterprise system.
Integrated components offerings:
IBM AS/400 is unique as it comes with many integrated functionality and tools. For example, – You can perform more than 300 tasks simultaneously.
In Windows or Linux, you may have come across such tools that can provide a boost to your administrative efforts. In the case of IBM AS/400, you can use IBM autonomic technologies.
The availability of PowerVM in IBM AS400 restricts the use of the large volume of hardware and reduces the administration complexity into the system, and saves your energy costs. Power VM solution can minimize the workload and help clients in controlling business costs and improve overall performance.
Firmware virtualization solution:
When it comes to VMware, HyperV, and XEN, the major problem is that all these are software-based and not hardware-based. This leads to performance degradation. In such a scenario, you need a firmware solution to know the real meaning of efficiency, and IBM AS400 is that solution for you.
Why is IBM AS400 Seen Rarely, Despite Being Powerful?
There are various reasons which have led to challenges for the usage of IBM AS400. Despite its cutting-edge technology and regular upgrades availability, the system is seen rarely because:
- Young programmers or developers do not want to learn this technology and think of it as obsolete.
- AS400 was introduced in 1988, and since, then IBM has released a number of updates, still they consider it outdated. (This is not true, as we have told earlier in this post)
- Companies are not trusting the AS400 because most of the AS400 i Series talent is at retiring age.
- Massive brain-drain as a lot of people are leaving the field, and this is affecting the technology advancement.
The Future of The IBM AS400 is in the Cloud-AWS and Azure
In 2021, IBM is celebrating 33 years of AS400 launching, and till now, they have not taken a back seat. The platform is regularly getting upgrades in software and hardware, and IBM is trying hard to boost processing power and add more functionality.
An increasing number of companies are benefiting from the hybrid cloud solution that combines system hardware and cloud-based software. IBM is expected to follow suit and tailor system updates on the way to integrate with cloud technologies. Popular cloud services like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are also looking to boost capabilities with IBM AS400 to take advantage, as a large number of companies are still using the platform.
You must have understood the large footprints of AS400 on the IT landscape and the different types of technologies and software it is supporting. A single AS400 model will not fit every need, and chances of its success are too less.
The modernization of IBM AS/400 is complex, and different approaches are needed to be implemented as per requirements, workload, and industry type.
Have a look at some common causes for delay in AS400 modernization projects:
- Restricted view of the current AS400 application site
- Absence of strong business plan to tackle future business requirements
- Companies are not aware about the potential business risks
- Unavailability of proper funding to invest in long-term business projects
To execute their AS400 modernization efficiently, you should have a straightforward method and a devoted plan, modernization method, and fool-proof architecture.
Re-Host, Re-Engineer, Re-Architect, and Re-New your AS400 Software – Here’s Why?
Re-host AS400 portfolio on the cloud to reduce cost and boost sale. Re-website hosting does not require any exchange to the present interfaces or functionality. It may run on the prevailing AS400 packages on an x86-64 cloud-based instance using an AS400 emulator including endless i – a suite of compilers, utilities, and operating device services that permit packages (developed on RPG or COBOL for the AS/400 database) to be migrated at the source code level, recompiled, and finished on AWS. Software that uses 3rd party tools are also migrated to the cloud. This allows the programs to execute as they did on their original platform without rewriting large codes.
To reduce complicated code, migrate batch jobs to the cloud, and make batch closer to real-time open-supply tools. Batch Jobs along with ETL statistics processing, EDI record processing, and ad-hoc report technology form a considerable portion of AS400 applications that are enterprise essential, but have low ROI, resulting in decreased agility and high price and becomes an excellent thing for migration to the following cloud solutions:
1. File-based processing:
Physical documents once created inside the setup are sent to cloud storage for the long term and to get instant access to additional business processing and analytics. Various large data components, including Hadoop, Spark, and Hive, and many others., are integrated to perform analytics on the stored information. Analytics output can be within the form of stories or normalized records to be saved in a cloud-based NoSQL database.
2. Near real-time processing:
From AS400, real-time statistics streams inclusive of MQ, internet services, logs, and many others., are despatched to the cloud platform, processed, and then analyzed. After that, it is loaded into the cloud-based NoSQL database for upcoming reporting and analytics. Furthermore, data is directly loaded into the warehouse for forthcoming historical reporting with dashboard visualization tools.
Re-Architect AS400 applications and procedures on the cloud and make them ready for the future. In case the new AS400 application is no longer capable of meeting future business necessities (or) an agile structure or doesn’t qualify for a re-website hosting session, the Re-structure approach is considered as the best option for better functionality and overall performance enhancement.
Improve the existing version of the Programing Language, Database, adopt DevOps, and consumer Interface.
Upgrade vintage RPG into new, free shape, optimized, and modular RPG ILE. Flexible and uncoupled applications are less complicated to maintain and boost up modernization initiative.
By changing information definition Syntax to definition language, a sizeable and measurable performance raise can be given to applications using buffered read. While physical report procedures have eight thousand pages size, the SQL process has sixty-four thousand pages, giving it 8X more data to access with short memory. This method helps develop the database and copies the data into the modernized database without recompiling data packages.
Two approaches that can be considered are: (1) Vanilla Conversion – simple conversion of 5250 screens to allow a web interface without adjustments to DSPF & RPG and (2) Modernize UI – Convert inexperienced monitors DDS files to high display documents with a web interface and improvisation on user Interface.
DevOps on IBMi:
DevOps improves collaboration among improvement and operations groups and streamlines the application delivery method. Through taking part with IBM & ARCAD, we provide a complete set of tools for DevOps.
What Can IBM AS400 Offer You?
1. Security and Data Protection Solutions
IBM AS400 software program can provide security, privileged get entry to control (PAM), Multi-aspect Authentication (MFA), Password Self-service (PSS), SIEM and SYSLOG forwarding, DB2 database encryption, price tag gadget integration, large information analytics integration, and database replication and conversion equipment for MySQL, DB2, MS square Informix, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Teradata, and Sybase.
Integrative Systems is a silver business partner of IBM and provide services to businesses requiring turnkey solutions that lessen IT expenses. Selecting the top AS400 service provider is crucial for AS400 iSeries project success while undergoing all the implementations, training, and support.
2. AS400 for Security Access Controls
Securing the data exit points, DB2 database record is essential on AS400. The AS/400 has multiple access ways that need to be audited and secured to get security from numerous internal and external vulnerabilities, threats, and regulatory compliance necessities. We provide various AS400 protection gear to secure AS400 access paths, use command controls and Multi-factor authentication to ensure that the safety regulations are enough as per requirements. Moreover, we also offer enterprise leading technologies and integration facility for SIEM and ticketing systems.
3. Encryption, Scrambling, and Tokenization
Any AS400 DB2 database record with sensitive statistics needs to be encrypted or have a similar protection mechanism to mask or hide the unique records. AS400 encryption uses the AES256 algorithm and it’s the most secure and most standard security measure for protective sensitive data. If some circumstances occurs where DB2 fields cannot use encryption and a compensating control is permitted for overlaying, scrambling, or tokenization. At Integrative Systems, we have all the essential tools to keep your AS400 database secure.
4. Auditing, SIEM, and Ticket System Integration Software
The AS400 has many unique occasion log sources that comprise security, operational, overall performance, and application info required to discover and isolate significant incidents, which might also need to be incorporated into your company SIEM Ticketing system.
The AS/400 software can mechanically forward occasion logs in real-time from the observe log sources for integration with tools like: DB2 Database (journals), QAUDJRN (machine safety magazine), commands, square Statements, QHST (history log), Message Queues (records, subsystems, strains), utility Server logs (network get admission to), Socket go out packages (secured ports), Open supply equipment (like JSON, Node.Js, Python, Ruby, Open question, XCOM), Flat files (HTTP, 3rd birthday party applications), Privilege access control (profile change, followed authorities and other multiplied authority activities), MFA, overall performance information (CPU, reminiscence, disk, jobs) and Static statistics (person profile, gadget values, government, items, and IFS homes)
5. Database Replication, Conversion, and Migration
The database replications tools can convert data to and from any database format on various OS and keep the disparate databases synchronized in real-time and without locking source documents. The database replication software program updates the remote database like any other insert, replace, and delete operation.
Many used instances for replicating a production database to a distinctive database for long-time analytics, reporting, and ETL projects, or one-time conversion instances are available. No matter what the business case is, most companies would require un-interruptible entry to the production and database. The database replication and conversion and migration program from Integrative Systems permits users to get direct access and replace both production and database files without any interruption.
6. Disaster Recovery and High Availability Software
The AS400’s exceptional reliability isn’t an excuse for organizations to no longer take necessary precautions to enforce an enterprise continuity plan. The AS400 software on board will ensure mission-critical applications’ availability in planned and unplanned downtime activities and will save a lot of money in the long-run. Unplanned failures are no longer costly and the most disruptions that affect the AS400 system are associated with planned downtime events. And now, excluding IBM z Mainframe structures, IBM Power Systems and AS400 have ranked on top for 12 years in a row. Moreover, according to International Server Hardware Server OS’s reliability test results, IBM Power Systems showed an average of 1.54 minutes of average downtime per server due to flaws in hardware.
Integrative migrates applications (RPG and COBOL) written for the IBM AS400 environment to another environment (WINDOWS and LINUX) without rewriting the code. The migration includes – Database and the data. The minimum time required for migration varies from business to business.
At Integrative Systems, we help you migrate the legacy “Green Screen” to the graphical and click functionality. Once the screens are executed graphically, they are implemented to the web and can deplete Eclipse plug-ins or other Java-based APIs.
The Database migration tool (DB2/400) enables you to completely migrate the AS400, iSeries, and IBMi data to your Oracle or MS SQL environment. The database migration tool is a part of solutions designed to integrate and migrate varied applications.
So, now you have it, the IBM AS400 is the best example of how flexibility and scalability are necessary to establish long-lasting technology. The IBM AS/400 has provided a strong foundation for its latest versions, and the only thing that stuck with the technology is its name – rest everything has been upgraded with time.
Many organizations in every business vertical still run with the IBM AS400 technology, but in a different way and not the way you think of it. In today’s market, it forms the foundation of some most potent OS and servers. IBM power systems and IBMi, both are alive and rocking the market.
And the platform is evolving continuously, becoming the most robust, incorporating modern technologies, and giving a competitive edge to many top-performing servers around the world.
Our approach enables organizations to re-host, re-engineer, and re-architect their AS400 system and help them in seamless AS400 modernization on the cloud to get higher application scalability and performance. Integrative Systems can help organizations modernize their existing setup and enhance business agility by reducing manual dependencies and increasing transparency and enabling them to drive business growth in full swing.
Feel free to connect with us at email@example.com or call us at 1.800.468.7974 (INTSYSI) and one of our AS400 iSeries experts will get in touch with you to know your requirements better and provide you a solution that fits you like a glove.