Sat, Apr
5 New Articles

IBM i Has Now Had More Life Than the AS/400 Did

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

There’s value in recognizing what customers have: a modern infrastructure to build upon.

It’s official. The date has passed. IBM i and IBM Power Systems have now been brands in business longer than the AS/400 was.

The AS/400, which was announced in 1988 and lasted until 2000 with the iSeries rebranding, still carries that old moniker today when referring to either IBM i (an operating system) or IBM Power Systems (the hardware).

When a new version of the operating system—or heck, even a cumulative PTF package—is released, leaders of the IBM i community break things down with their most important or even favorite features. We talk about row and column access control. We talk about open source. We talk about Db2.

So what’s changed in the last 12+ years of IBM i?

IBM i Is More Open

I spoke with an industry executive who didn’t want to talk to me a year or so back about upgrading his company’s POWER5 machine. He shut the conversation down by saying, “The AS/400 is closed. It doesn’t communicate with anything else. It’s just old.”

It was, by all aspects, an argument based out of ignorance. This CIO obviously didn’t realize exactly what he was running in his nationwide organization and too sure of himself to be enlightened. To be fair, he was running many POWER5 machines on V5R3. He simply couldn’t do what he could do if he were running POWER9 and IBM i 7.4.

While the IBM i operating system is a closed, proprietary operating system, it does integrate incredibly well. That’s what the “i” in IBM i stands for, of course. Starting with the Open Source Solutions licensed program and advancing toward the modern RPM model of software management, IBM i has embraced the value of open source. And they’ve been doing that for years.

IBM i Is More Secure

The security of IBM i has grown consistently, from dropping old protocols and ciphers to adding row and column access control. The architecture is designed with security in mind.

While security features have been trending upward, consumer confidence in security has been slipping according to Syncsort survey data. In 2017, the number of customers feeling very confident in IBM i security was 40 percent. Now, that number is 25 percent. This could be because of the heightened focus on security in the last few years, shining a light on the fact that while IBM i is highly securable, it’s certainly not shipped that way. Also, though application and database modernization has been a focal point for the last 15 years, security modernization simply hasn’t. People are getting the message. The trick now is to educate people on how to secure the system in 2020. As education grows, confidence will swing back up.

IBM i Is More Modern

Perhaps that aforementioned CIO’s green-screens gave him the impression that IBM i can only do green screens. The AS/400 brand died when Geocities, Hi5, and AltaVista were still relevant…or things anyway. It died before the first camera phone came out. It died before the USB stick and Bluetooth were invented.

Modern IBM i applications can be modernized—from the database to the code to the user interface. They can both run and plug into AI systems to do image recognition. They can even work on mobile devices.

The age of “green screen is the best for heads-down data entry” is over, replaced by systems that can read and write data into a database automatically, without the need for data entry personnel.

Perception vs. Reality

Yes, IBM i can do a lot more than the AS/400 ever could. And now it’s been around longer as a brand. The more we do to transition our users to thinking in terms of the application, not the platform, the better.

Why? Because when people think in terms of an application, it turns into something manageable. How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time. This allows an IT team to modernize a single application. The architecture underneath the application layer is frankly none of the users’ business.

It reminds me of one of the fundamental questions to ask a user when doing requirements gathering: Tell us what you want to have and when you want it. The “what” and “when” are fair game. The “how” should not and does not matter to the end user.

When teams have to modernize their entire infrastructure, it becomes a daunting task, and any modest improvements are greatly overshadowed by the entire elephant remaining seemingly intact.

I have this debate a lot when customers are involved. Am I going to correct customers who want to use the term AS/400 or iSeries? No. What I do is consistently speak in terms of the current architecture. If they’re using a System i machine from 2007, then that’s what I call it. I tell them we’re migrating from the System i to a new Power Systems machine. I tell them we’re updating them to IBM i 7.3 or 7.4 as part of the migration. I talk about the value they’re getting on the new technology. The more we use the new (and most long-lived) terms, the more the customer understands they’re not getting just “a new AS/400.” Once it clicks, and it most often does, the perception shift is palpable. That customer will be more apt to open themselves to change. They’re more likely to adopt a standard of continuous modernization. They’re more likely to invest in the systems regularly so that the next time they order a new machine, it isn’t on the cusp of the end-of-service date for both the hardware and operating system.

There’s value in recognizing what they have: a modern infrastructure to build upon.


Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: