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How AS400 Software Is Different from IBMi?
Time to read – 5 min, 50 sec
Due to several name changes, confusion has persisted that AS400 and IBMi are the same things. And this confusion between AS400 software and IBMi has been a significant growth obstacle for enterprises in the market considering IBM technology. Both are like two different fruits or in technical terms it’s like comparing hardware to software. AS400 software is the physical server developed by IBM in 1980s, and IBMi is the latest OS for today’s version of AS400, i.e., IBM Power Systems.
The IBM iSeries software running on the operating system/400 has a long history. And with the long history come several terms and terminology that tend to be “sticky.” And the event is not uncommon. Most of us have minicomputer in our pockets that we call smartphones, though today’s phones hold little similarity to the old generation stationary rotary phone. Today we might call electrical burners as stove, but they have gone through a total evolutionary in those decades and reached here from the original cast-iron stoves. But we still use and misuse (sometimes) the names of several products in our daily life.
Similar is the case with AS400 software and IBMi. Even in the IT sector, many people believe that these are two different iterations of the same technology. But the truth is that they refer to very other things, which has caused a lot of confusion. This confusion between as400 software and iSeries software has been a falling block to digital transformation for enterprises in the market considering IBM technology.
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What is AS400 Software?
AS400 software is also known as System i, iSeries, and Application System 400. The application server is commonly known as AS400, and it is a mid-range server designed by IBM, for small, medium, and large enterprises.
IBMi vs AS400: Why both cannot be compared?
Long story short, comparing AS400 software with IBMi is like comparing apples with oranges-or more accurate definition, comparing hardware to software. To understand more, you need to know a little bit about the history of what is AS400 software. This will clear the confusion.
In the past three decades, the AS400 software evolved multiple times. First, it became the iSeries and eventually renamed as “System i.” So, now the machine is referred to as IBM iSeries, which means it is one of the latest avatars of the original AS400. Currently, the setup is known as “IBM Power Systems,” known as “Power Series.”
The operating system for Power Series is IBM I, and it’s the grandchild of OS/400, which went through many iterations. In a nutshell, AS400 software is the physical server from the 1980s, and IBM i is the latest OS for Power Systems, i.e. today’s version of AS400.
Why the Confusion Persists?
People say that the IBM Power Series is an “embodiment” of the AS400 software. IBM tried very hard to develop all its operating systems and hardware, compatible with the modern trend. Applications written initially for the AS400 and running on OS/400 can work on today’s machines. And this is the strength of IBM Power Systems. But it also means that specific ways of talking about technology exist, even if the technology changes.
Significantly, people who have worked with IBM technology in the past are comfortable to speak about the applications written for AS400. And the people who have joined this technology field later talk about the application written for IBM I, particularly when discussing the application should run on a public cloud or hybrid cloud.
IBM as400/iseries Now Has More Life than the AS400 Did
IBM as400/iseries and IBM new technologies have become more prominent brands in business than the as400 computer system.
The AS/400 system, which IBM introduced in 1988, still carries that old name today with a slight branding variation as IBM as400/series (an operating system) or IBM Power Systems (the hardware).
When a new version of the OS is released, the IBM as400/iseries community experts break it down and discuss about its important and favourite features.
So, what has changed in the few decades of IBM as400/iseries?
IBM as400/iseries is More Open
At Integrative Systems, we have had meetings with various industry leaders about upgrading their IBM AS400. Many a times, these leaders think AS400 is not efficient & robust enough, as they came from a mindset that it’s an old technology.
Factually, those industry leaders were running POWER5 machines, but didn’t realize what they could achieve by running POWER9 and IBM as400/iseries 7.4 – it would require some modernization and they would be good to go.
The IBM as400/iseries framework is an open working framework, and it integrates incredibly well with the other systems. That is the thing that the “i” in IBM as400/iSeries represents – integration
From open-source authorized programs to progressing toward the cutting-edge RPM model of software management, IBM as400/iSeries has adopted the actual value of the open-source. Also, they’ve been doing this for a long-time.
IBM as400/iseries is More Secure
The security levels of IBM as400/iseries has grown consistently, from dropping old protocols to adding new codes into the access control. The new architecture is designed keeping high-security needs in mind.
The security features have been trending upward, and consumer confidence in security has been increasing. In 2017, the number of customers feeling very confident in IBM as400/iseries security was 40 percent. Now, that number is 75 percent. This could be because of the increased focus on security in the last few years. Though application modernization has been a focal point of IBM as400/iSeries for the previous 15 years, but security enhancement has not been forgotten. It’s just about lack of awareness, but now people are getting the message of how secure the IBM i series is. More the people will learn about system security, more the confidence will swing back.
IBM as400/iseries is More Modern
They joke that the IBM as 400 system died before the first camera phone was released? Or before the USB or Bluetooth was invented?
Not Really! The AS 400 system is still relevant & in a new avatar. The IBM AS400/iSeries.
And the modern IBM AS 400/ i-series applications are open to up-gradation. From the user interface to data base and source code, everything can be modernized. The new as400/i Series can be plugged & played into an AI system to do the image recognition and even work on smartphones. The age of “green screen is the best for data entry” is finished. Now, the new system can write and read data to and from a database automatically, and no data entry person is needed in this process.
Is There Any Future in IBM Technology?
A lot of people think of AS400 software as “dead.” It is true that for several years, IBM has seen declining revenues from its server market. However, it does not consider the relative power of IBM servers. Over the years, IBM has gradually decreased the number of servers by over 90% that is needed in data centers. And this is due to a decrease in power costs significantly.
Moreover, the revenue number does not entirely account for the number of businesses running their workloads on iSeries software. According to the 2019 IBMi marketplace survey, several organizations are interested in upgrading their IBMi footprints in the upcoming future. Many organizations are also shifting applications to IBMi, usually in a hybrid cloud environment, even though the AS400 software is an older technology that has been replaced by IBMi and still stands strong.
So, what it means potentially for your organization? It generally means considering- talent, bare metal, and digital transformation.
There are many organizations continuously looking for talent and expertise in the IBM iSeries software field.
For every other company that leaves the platform, another company is looking for talented people to create its IBMi footprints and develop new applications.
A talent crisis could quickly occur as specialists of the technology retire and cannot be replaced instantly by the younger generation. Due to this, most of the companies turn to third parties instead of hiring in-house talent.
Often, the less expensive cloud platforms are multi-tenant. It means that customers share the resource, and sometimes the physical server sharing results in a fight over resources. Though having an abstraction layer between physical hardware and applications can be useful, but there are times when companies want complete control over the “bare metal” server.
For example, – Big data applications like healthcare data and organizations having high-transaction workloads can do better when they have direct control over a bare-metal cloud as they do not tolerate latency.
In bare-metal competition, IBM is ahead of its rivals as it has one of the largest bare metal presences. The IBM servers are often the first choice for hybrid cloud solutions, too.
The only drawback of bare metal is, when it comes to optimization and hardware configuration, clients have much more to do than expected. Only having a trusted iSeries software partner can help them and allow them the power of bare metal clouds.
For the past few decades, IBM is the clear choice of organizations worldwide with serious data needs. And the most enterprise-sized companies planning to move to the cloud as AS400 cloud version is thereby IBM, to facilitate workers.
Due to digital transformation, companies’ re-creation of legacy apps is not a bad idea, but it can be costly and time-consuming for them. Furthermore, if those applications are mission-critical, the organizations will not handle the downtime that transformation would require.
Keeping the future in mind, IBM had strictly paid attention to back-compatibility. It means applications written for previous generation hardware and operating systems will continuously work for new generation hardware and OS. Moreover, digital transformation is ongoing. More and more companies are moving to the cloud, so there will be a high demand to get such applications ready for migration and ensure stability.
And there are some misconceptions around iSeries software, where people feel that talented professionals in this field are retiring, and this pool is shrinking. Moreover, the IBM cloud requires years of expertise to keep your organization’s applications running.
But the fact is, there are companies providing services in AS400 iSeries. And, if you are looking for an as400 software company to get new software implementation or upgrade the older one, you have landed at the right place.
Perception vs. Reality
Yes, IBM as400/iSeries can do a lot more than the as400 computer system could ever do. And it has emerged as a brand. The more you can convince your users to think of it in terms of the application and not the platform, the better results you will get.
Did we get you thinking?
Well, the truth is, when people think of it in terms of an application, it turns out to be something that can be easily managed. Moreover, this allows the IT team to upgrade a single application. And the application architecture is none of the common user’s business.
At Integrative Systems, we often ask one fundamental question to our customers in the process of requirements gathering:
What you want to have, and when do you want to have it?
Here, the game of “WHAT” and “WHEN” is simply fair, and “HOW” should not bother the end-user.
When it comes to modernization of the entire AS/400 architecture, companies’ daunting tasks and a reasonable up-gradation are ultimately overshadowed.
At Integrative Systems, we never bother what customers call it. It’s their choice if they want to call it IBM AS400 or IBM iSeries. But what we consistently do is we speak with our customers in terms of current IBM architecture.
If they are using an IBM as 400 system introduced in 2007, we suggest a migration of the 400 system to the new IBM I, or to the latest 7.4 version.
Here, we talk about the value our customers will be getting from the new technology. The more we use new terms like IBM Power Systems, the more customer understands that he/she is not getting an ordinary AS400 system. And like other things in, the more we do of something, greater is the impact. As we keep using newer jargon, the impacts on customers’ minds will change their perception about the IBMi product/services. They’ll realize that the journey from AS400 to IBMi or iSeries is just one task away – modernization!
The real value lies in realizing what you have and what modern infrastructure can do.
Integrative Systems is IBM’s silver business partner and has more than 20 years of experience in iSeries software services and solutions. Feel free to share your requirements at email@example.com