This week most of us will be taking off from work to celebrate Thanksgiving – the gratitude holiday. We all have our personal list of things for which we are thankful. But maybe we should also make a job-related “gratitude” list. This year, IBM has been in the hot seat here and there. But when it comes to the AS/400, iSeries, System i, Power i, IBM Power System, IBM i, there are legions of loyal fans. Here’s why they (and “i”) are grateful for this sturdy workhorse.
Legacy equipment often has a negative connotation, as in “how can we get our critical data off of our “old” equipment. But you don’t get to be called legacy unless your product endures. The AS/400 celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. And there are plenty of companies that still have equipment old enough that it was called AS/400 when purchased. And it still runs – not only here in the U.S. but around the world. Check out the survey results about the IBM i platform that appear in the UK edition of Computer World. The survey found that 71 percent of IBM i platform end-users agreed with the statement, “We believe our System i platform is future-proof.” A further 22 percent were neutral. Only 7 percent disagreed with the statement.
Speaking of reliability, the various versions of the IBM i are known for providing a highly stable platform that can support multiple operating environments. It’s more than an internal workflow advantage that you will be on-line and functioning every hour of the day, every day of the week, and every week of the year. It’s a competitive advantage. Downtime equals lost revenue. Many companies operate on very thin margins. Our customers rarely, if ever, have periods when they can’t do their work or their customers can’t access online services. One of the reasons is the sophistication of the software that supports IBM Power Systems like our message monitoring, where you can set sentries that send an alert if a problem is occurring or is about to occur.
The fact that the IBM Power System has been in service for so long and built a reputation for low-down time, makes it a secure choice for critical applications and data. Here are some other reasons:
- The IBM AS400 has security features built into its OS/400 operating system. The AS400 security architecture is the backbone of subsequent product lines (iSeries, System i). For example, there is authentication and authorization at user and object levels. User profiles are made up of dozens of parameters available to the user. And user authorization is mapped to the objects (every OS400 resource is considered an object). These security protocols make penetration of the IBM i family of servers very difficult.
IBM has a lot of very knowledgeable people supporting the system. But if you do not use them on a regular basis, finding them can take some time. But IBM is not the only support provider. Because it is such a long-running product, there is a wealth of tribal knowledge that gets shared in groups like midrange.com, forums.iprodeveloper.com, or many helpful LinkedIn groups. There are also a lot of products on the market to optimize the AS/400 with some companies, such as ours, that have been studying and creating support solutions for this product for more than 20 years.
You’ve got be thankful for the entertainment value of the branding debate. It gets very heated. One tech writer, Joe Hertvik, suggested we just call all the versions…Bruce. Here is an excerpt.
Why don’t we skip all the old and new names altogether and just call it Bruce? Bruce is a sturdy name like our sturdy operating system. It connotes images of dogged determination (Bruce Wayne), strength and skill (Bruce Lee), Action heroes (Bruce Willis), coolness (Bruce Springsteen), other-worldiness (Bruce Almighty), and other Bruce-like qualities. And it sounds like Brutus, which is a well-known synonym for toughness (etu, Brutus or Brutus/Bluto of Popeye fame) and college mascots.
Read the whole article here. It’s very funny.
This last reason to be grateful for IBM Power Systems is personal. I’ve written before in this blog about being on the team that brought the AS/400 to market. I learned a lot in my experience working with the “big guys” on a product. I learned about the discipline of testing; and about thinking proactively, and in detail, about the user experience to minimize any potential issues. I definitely learned a lot about working under deadline pressure.
The IBM AS/400 experience did not lure me on to a corporate job path. I had an entrepreneurial passion to create products, and I wanted to do it under my own steam, with control over the customer experience. But the fact that I got to work ringside on one of IBM’s most recognized products helped me to understand and respect corporate culture, and understand and respect a product that I continue to serve 25 years later.
What are your AS/400 stories? Please share your experiences.