About IBM AS 400/iSeries: History, Features, and Characteristicsby@integrativesystems
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About IBM AS 400/iSeries: History, Features, and Characteristics

by Abel WilliumJanuary 24th, 2022
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IBM AS400 or IBM iSeries or IBMi is an application server used by large organizations because of its proven scalability, security, robustness, and low cost of ownership. The OS is application-centric and not processor centric. The AS400 is equipped with a legacy OS: Operating system 400, that enabled the programs written for the older system (System/34 and 36) to move to AS400. The OS400 is known by various names like iSeries, OS/400, etc. In the year 2000, the AS400 was named the IBM i series. And again, in 2006, it was renamed as IBM system i.

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“AS400” and “green screen” have become synonyms now, and you will get various articles and blogs out there describing the platform – but none of them paint a simple and easy to remember picture for the audience. All the information about AS400 is very disorganized and hence difficult to consume or comprehend for a non-technical business reader.

What AS400 is?

IBM AS400 or IBM iSeries or IBMi is an application server used by large organizations because of its proven scalability, security, robustness, and low cost of ownership (TCO – Total cost of ownership) compared to IBM mainframe (IBM z)

Every company that used AS400 wants to reap the benefits of its large volume data storage capacity and valuable information stored in it. Also, the introduction of new technologies forces companies to modernize AS400 systems and harness more excellent value. However, due to some limitations, companies face more significant challenges to update the AS400 systems.

History of IBM AS/400

Three decades is a very long time for technology to stay in this competitive world.

The year 1988 was significant in terms of technology when IBM launched AS400 and they have not looked back. AS400 or Application System 400 is very popular among companies that require robustness and scalability on their part. The operating system of AS400 is known by various names like iSeries, OS/400, etc. Like everyone else, we like the original name because it shows what is unique in the system. And, that specialty is –The OS
is application-centric and not processor centric.

In 1979, there was a minicomputer launched by IBM, and they named it System/38. This was for business and departmental use and launched as a complete product line. Different architectures of System/38 were System/3, System/32, System/34, and System/36. After the launch of this, IBM realized that for thousands of programs written in legacy code, compatibility is the key for uncountable programs developed on legacy code. They released AS400 in 1988. The AS/400 is equipped with a legacy OS: Operating system 400, that enabled the programs written for the
older system (System/34 and 36) to move to AS400.

In the year 2000, the AS400 was named the IBM iSeries. And again, in the year 2006, it was renamed as IBM system i. Furthermore, two years later (2008), the System i and p product lines were combined, and now the new product line is known as IBM power systems. Moreover, the operating system was renamed from OS400 to i5/OS and finally to IBM i.

Unique About IBM AS400

This is the most common question we hear frequently. People simply want to know- What is the big deal in implementing AS400?

The IBM AS400 has come a long way

Undoubtedly, it will be difficult for anyone to keep calling an application with a single name when multiple names have been changed over the years. The changed names are enough to create confusion. But the reality is IBM as/400 iSeries is very different from its predecessors like the RPG AS400 system. The IBM i runs on the latest IBM Power9 System, and this is
one of the most demanding and data-intensive systems on the planet.

In IBM “i,” the “i” stands for INTEGRATION. And this feature makes it the most potent, forward-thinking, and efficient platform for organizations. So, without worrying about the future of IBM iSeries AS400, everyone must continue to build up awareness around the capabilities of this platform among communities and the C-level management. “IBM i” is the name of
an exceptionally advanced, upgraded, adaptable, and highly secure framework running on IBM iSeries. The framework was introduced in the 1980s and still serving unique business purposes efficiently.

How is it different from other OS?

Key Features of IBM AS400:

  • AS400 offers the most productive, easiest, and cost-effective way for creating (client and server) applications.   
  • AS400 enhancements include TCP/IP support for Code400, debug support for Java, Visual age for RPG, and enhancement to builder and runtime.     
  • AS400 contains user-specified line commands and help for the year 2000 keywords.      
  • ILE RPG for AS400 includes improved use process and support for indicator data sections and unpredictable-length fields.
  • ILE COBOL for AS400 enhances assistance for date, time, and timestamp to help you modify COBOL.
  • ILE C for AS400 is improved with native loop enablement of ILE C runtime and case optimization support.

Is IBM AS400 Dead?

This is the most common topic discussed throughout the AS400 iSeries user community, and the motive behind such discussion is that
current organizations, jobseekers, and developers want to know if the platform is still relevant today as it is an old platform introduced in 1988.If
you fall into one of the above categories, the answer may surprise you.   

  •  Since the beginning, compatibility is one of the most robust features of this platform. You can efficiently run a program on IBM Power Systems that was created for IBM AS400 in the year 1988, that too with minimum or no changes.      
  • Due to this seamless compatibility, most of the companies that purchased AS400 years ago still refer to it as AS400 despite their Power server being of higher magnitude and
    features with cutting-edge technology.
  • IBM has big plans and continues to provide regular updates for the platform. IBM releases a new version of the software and hardware every two to three years, and those versions feature quantum leaps forward in terms of processing and
  • There are more than 10K companies worldwide that are using IBM AS400 to manage their most mission-critical business tasks. These companies include government agencies, banks, hospitals, manufacturing firms, and distribution centers.

Companies That Use IBM AS400

AS400 servers are still fairly used. As per iDatalabs – “About 10.1% of companies use the IBM hardware and have their servers, which makes it the second most popular server type after HP servers with 24.7% users “.

However, this data may seem a little deceptive, as they measure hardware, not the OS. Also, cloud hosting services are measured in a separate category. When iDatalabs looked at the two OS linked with the IBM hardware, they found that only 1.0% of organizations are using IBMi operating system. IBM hardware also supports other popular operating systems, but iDatalabs does not display the actual data of what percentage of the companies are using the IBM architecture.

German multi-national manufacturing giant Robert Bosch is the biggest users of IBM AS/400. In 2016, the company generated a revenue of about $88 billion by manufacturing industrial & consumer goods, and other technology products. On the other hand, Bosch runs its own internal IT operations, and they opted for IBM AS400 due to its performance, reliability, and scalability.

The Future of The IBM AS400 is in the Cloud-AWS and Azure

In 2021, IBM is celebrating 33 years of AS400 launching, and till now, they have not taken a back seat. The platform is regularly getting upgrades in software and hardware, and IBM is trying hard to boost processing power and add more functionality. An increasing number of companies are benefiting from the hybrid cloud solution that combines system hardware and cloud-based software. IBM is expected to follow suit and tailor system updates on the way to integrate with cloud technologies. Popular cloud
services like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are also looking to boost capabilities with IBM AS400 to take advantage, as many companies are still using the platform.

What Can IBM AS400 Offer You?

  1. Security and Data Protection Solutions: IBM AS400 software program can provide security, privileged get entry to control (PAM), Multi-aspect Authentication (MFA), Password Self-service (PSS), SIEM and SYSLOG forwarding, DB2 database encryption, price tag gadget integration, large information analytics integration, and database replication
    and conversion equipment for MySQL, DB2, MS square Informix, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Teradata, and Sybase.
  2. AS400 for Security Access Controls: Securing the data exit points, DB2 database record is essential on AS400. The AS/400 has multiple access ways that need to be audited and secured to get security from numerous internal and external vulnerabilities, threats, and regulatory
    compliance necessities.
  3. Encryption, Scrambling, and Tokenization: Any AS400 DB2 database record with sensitive statistics needs to be encrypted or have a similar protection mechanism to mask or hide the unique records. AS400
    encryption uses the AES256 algorithm and it’s the most secure and most standard security measure for protective sensitive data.
  4. Auditing, SIEM, and Ticket System Integration Software: The AS400 has many unique occasion log sources that comprise security, operational,
    overall performance, and application info required to discover and isolate significant incidents, which might also need to be incorporated into your company SIEM Ticketing system.
  5. Database Replication, Conversion, and Migration: The database replications tools can convert data to and from any database format on various OS and keep the disparate databases synchronized in real-time and without locking source documents. The database replication software program updates the remote database like any other insert, replace, and delete operation.

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