Long denigrated as yesterday’s (or yester-decade’s) soon-to-be-dead legacy system, the AS/400 iSeries has proven to be surprisingly resilient. It’s also quite adaptable, now able to run advanced ERP systems in the cloud, for example. There are good reasons for this longevity. The time has come to take a long, serious second look at a technology that was unfairly written off years ago.
What is AS/400 iSeries?
To understand AS/400 iSeries, you have to go back to an earlier generation of enterprise computing. At roughly the same time that men in loin cloths painted images of bulls on the walls of caves, large-scale mainframe computers dominated what was then known as Management Information Systems (MIS). MIS became IT. Elvis died. The Beatles broke up, and so forth.
In the 1970s, a number of companies introduced “Mini Computers” that ran Unix and offered organizations a more affordable and flexible alternative to the “Big Iron” of the mainframe. (Thus, we use “micro” computers today, as in “Microsoft”—the microcomputer software company, but I digress…) Examples included the Data General Nova and Digital Equipment Corporation VAX. IBM’s contribution to this “midrange” system group was the AS/400.
The AS/400 runs a proprietary variant of UNIX called AIX, as well as several other operating systems. It’s a green screen computer known for high performance and reliability. AS/400 proved immensely popular, adopted at over 100,000 enterprises worldwide. Over the years, IBM renamed the AS/400 the iSeries and updated the branding and features to the point where today it is part of the company’s Power Systems portfolio.
Why is iSeries still in use?
iSeries use has dropped over the years as organizations have switched to distributed systems and new software architectures. Critics of iSeries feel the system is costly to run. Experienced personnel are retiring as well. However, iSeries is a lot more on its feet than anyone would have predicted a decade ago. Why is that?
The short answer is that iSeries is reliable. It’s fast and stable, highly available with massive hardware redundancy and CPU cores that outstrip competitors’ by a factor of three. It’s not fancy, but it works. Digging deeper, the survival of iSeries in this era is more likely rooted in an important but sometimes overlooked tension that exists in the IT world: the tug of war between reliability and novelty.
Tech vendors, and their investors, must push novelty to maintain sales growth and share prices. New features and capabilities are good for selling more tech. That’s fine, but if you take a really good look at how IT professionals are judged and compensated, it has a lot to do with reliability. Cool new IT stuff is great, but if basic systems like ERP and general ledger go down too often, IT is going to be in big trouble. Hence, the loyalty to mature, stable systems like iSeries.
It’s also costly to migrate off of iSeries. While it may be relatively expensive to run, it is invariably more expensive and risky to move applications off of the platform. Downtime is also extremely costly. In comparison to downtime, the relatively higher operating cost of more reliable and available iSeries may well be worth the money.
AS/400 iSeries, now in the cloud
Today, you can run SAP Business Suite on HANA®, S/4HANA and other ERP landscapes on iSeries in the cloud. These applications are resource intensive and the powerful IBM Power Systems CPU cores enable you to run them in a simpler physical architecture than would be required with conventional hardware. It can be a good fit with your IT operations strategy as well. AS/400 on-premises is starting to fade out as personnel become harder to find. AS/400 cloud hosting allows you to stay with the system you trust while reaping the benefits of the cloud.
Working with Symmetry for cloud-based AS/400 services
Our iSeries AS/400 managed cloud provides a complete solution, a truly competitive option for this era of the cloud. As America’s largest Power Systems SAP Basis team, we have both the hardware and the skillset to provide a complete suite of enterprise cloud services for iSeries. We are the number one cloud provider for IBM AS400/iSeries services. Our approach lets you to move to a managed private cloud or hybrid environment for SAP with IBM AS400/iSeries. This reduces your CapEx and operational expenses. We provide the hardware, administration and security.
Put the search for qualified iSeries staffers behind you. Get added flexibility and the ability to scale up more quickly and with less disruption than you can with an on-premises solution. Let us design, migrate and run an IBM iSeries cloud or support your onsite system. We back up our support with training and tutorials. Learn more in our white paper: 3 Ways to Future-Proof Your SAP® on IBM i Implementation.