IT professionals continue to use the word AS/400 and refer to applications as IBM AS/400 iSeries Cobol, AS/400 iSeries RPG, etc. The word AS/400 is seen in professional titles and certifications. Despite its newer avatars, AS/400 is still being used by enterprises. Introduced way back in 1988, and still in the reckoning now, this hardware platform is as important as its successors. Present-day iSeries consulting is not only about IBM Power Systems, as it’s also about AS/400 support. Let’s go through the blog to understand the modernization challenges and the best solution.
Why is AS/400 a Venerable Server Platform?
AS/400 is A Stable Platform
When IBM introduced the AS/400 with the OS/400, the server platform had a discrete set of core functions, applications written in now what we refer to as iSeries Cobol apps, and an integrated database. Over the years, this hardware and software combination underwent multiple revisions, name changes, and upgrades.
In its contemporary avatar as iSeries platform, AS/400 is part of the IBM Power Systems based on the IBM Power processor and the updated IBM i operating system along with iSeries Cobol, RPG, and other applications developed in popular high-level programming languages.
AS/400 is Forward Compatible
From the beginning, this platform family’s strong point has been its forward compatibility. It means that AS/400 applications built on OS/400 will continue to run without disruption on the iSeries platforms as iSeries Cobol, RPG apps. A program that was created in 1988 for AS/400 will run on Power Systems hardware even today, with little or negligible changes. This is why iSeries consulting firms are required to manage AS/400 infrastructure alongside platform infrastructure.
The forward compatibility is why companies queued up to purchase AS/400. Even after multiple revisions and upgrades, none of the legacy applications were disrupted and continue to run as iSeries Cobol and RPG apps. This aspect prompted companies to look for a stable non-myopic platform.
This is one of the other reasons why companies that use robust systems today still refer to their server infrastructure as AS/400. Because these companies would have upgraded their AS/400 systems to the new iSeries platform and yet there could be several legacy applications running on the new platform as iSeries Cobol or RPG native applications.
A Brief Chronology of the Evolution of the AS/400 System
- In 1988, AS/400 (IBM Application System) supersedes System/38. AS/400 provides additional features, including support for relational database and integrated DB2 along with native apps, which now we call iSeries Cobol or RPG programs. The OS, which was object-based, is retained, and renamed to OS/400. The AS/400 was classified as an advanced computer because of its single-level storage and virtual machine concepts.
- In 2000, IBM introduced the IBM eServer iSeries, which are a new generation of server computers made for the newer problem domains and e-business use cases with new iSeries Cobol business applications. AS/400 is rebranded to eServer iSeries. The operating system of the AS/400 is named i5/OS to related to the Power5 processor series.
- In 2006, iSeries underwent a name change and it was renamed as system i with no disruption to existing app infrastructure, iSeries Cobol, or RPG programs. The name change was intended to distinguish the iSeries from the System p platforms, which run AIX and Linux. System i5 is touted as a potential replacement for Windows-based server infrastructure for small and medium organizations. The name of the system i was then trimmed to i5 from i5/OS.
- In 2008, IBM introduced the IBM Power Systems by integrating the system i and System p series of hardware/software server technologies, and that includes iSeries Cobol apps and RPG native apps. The single unified server series is named as Power Systems. The variants of Power Systems server infrastructure support IBMi (i5), Linux, and AIX (Unix).
IBM iSeries has become an all-in-one cognitive computing platform. Also, there are various reasons why iSeries consulting is necessary for organizations looking for modernization.
Why is AS/400 still used by Thousands of Companies?
There are easily over 100,000 companies using the AS/400 server hardware technology alongside iSeries Cobol business-critical applications running on newer hardware. AS/400 systems often co-exist with IBMi server series platform technologies. Banks, hospitals, distribution centres, retailers, government agencies, and manufacturing plants use AS/400 and AS400 iSeries systems despite procuring the newer IBM iSeries platforms.
AS/400 systems have a reputation within the organizations having heavy requirements, often making it the default choice for health information systems, ERP, and banking use cases. IBM conducted a recent survey, in which it was found that almost half of IBMi users relied on IBM i/AS400 infrastructure to run a majority of the iSeries Cobol business applications and information technology workload.
What Could be the Potential Challenges of AS/400?
The AS/400 is a robust technology that can easily manage use cases of heavy-hitting magnitude. But what could be the challenges that this server platform could face? Here’s a look into two of them.
AS/400 is Incorrectly Perceived as non-relevant or Outdated
Even though AS/400 was created in 1988 and was rebranded and upgraded several times, the legacy platform is still good for many modern-day use cases, which can be resolved by iSeries Cobol and RPG integrative programs. Because the server technology was built in the 1980s, there is a perception that it is outdated.
Because of this, decision-makers are often confused on whether to retain it or replace it. AS/400 continues to be the dominant server-side hardware that powers business-critical iSeries Cobol and RPG applications of innumerable major companies in the world. So, replacing an AS/400 system is effecting change only for the sake of it.
AS/400 programmers are hard to find or moved to other technologies
AS/400 programmers are few because the technology is old and not many people are taking training on the same. So, to operate and maintain AS/400 systems, companies require skilled programmers with iSeries Cobol or RPG skills.
And, shortage of skilled programmers is the reason that companies are looking to outsource their AS/400 systems maintenance. An AS400 iSeries consulting organization such as Integrative Systems will provide the complete spectrum of IBM Power Systems consulting, including iSeries Cobol, RPG, Java, .NET, C++ app development. The broad spectrum of iSeries activities includes but is not restricted to consulting, operations, development, transition, migration, upgrades, new application development on legacy and contemporary server-side technologies.
Why are IBMi and AS/400 so Popular than Ever?
Simply put, IBM iSeries is a forward-integrated, upgrade-ready modernization platform. Its well-thought architecture ensures that it is future proof. Even down the road, a century from now, with artificial intelligence literally taking over the day-to-day activities of humankind, IBM Power Systems and iSeries Cobol or RPG business apps of today would provide at least base support to such future technologies.
AS/400 IBM iSeries Systems are Scalable
IBMi offers businesses to start off with basic four-core servers and even max their compute infrastructure with 250 core server machines. IBM i always have the processing infrastructure that supports heavy workloads of iSeries Cobol, RPG, Java, C++ driven business applications. There has never been a case where a company had a workload for which there was no adequate server infrastructure from the iSeries.
IBMi Power Systems are Secure
Working with an iSeries COBOL and RPG programming services firm can help make iSeries Cobol applications secure. It can be done in multiple ways, such as lax auditing systems, tightening dangerous settings that relate to security, and monitoring network access, to name a few. An iSeries consulting services firm can provide all the tools and techniques to secure platform server applications.
IBM i is Modern and Modernization Friendly
IBM i can run iSeries COBOL, RPG, C++, Java, PHP, SQL, and .NET applications. ILE equipped applications can cross-integrate to provide lots of opportunities for diversified application development. The support for native and freeware/open-source applications create a powerful premise where there are no constraints of price, performance, opportunity, and modernization.
IBMi Systems are Reliable
RAS (Reliability, Availability, Serviceability) is inbuilt, and all Power Systems hardware modules exhibit RAS attributes. RAS ensures that the system and iSeries Cobol, RPG business applications remain in service with high availability percentage. IBM has invested in research to reduce the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF). This aspect makes the IBM i series an important part of a global server infrastructure that powers the day-to-day activities of billions of people around the world.
Integrative Systems provides a complete gamut of modernization, application development maintenance, and iSeries consulting services. Reach out to Integrative Systems [email protected] for all your IBM Power Systems related needs, including migration, transition, server upgrades, new server procurement consulting, technology landscape analysis, defect resolutions, capacity planning, and more.