The AS400 is Dead!

That's right. The AS400 really is dead!

The AS/400 was retired over twenty years ago. #internetfact

Having said that, in 2022 I know of at least two old AS/400 machines which are still whirring away powering small business that don't need internet connectivity and just need a reliable, quiet mini-computer to run their business distribution and finance systems.

The AS400 is a big creamy machine designed before the advent of the internet, the AS400 had an excellent operating system, a huge list of business applications and detailed documentation. It quickly became a global success for small and mid-range businesses.

Before following the video presentation of how, why and when did the AS400 get replaced by the iSeries and then how this got replaced by the IBM Power System let's have a look at some history:

IBM AS/400

What is an IBM AS400?

Forty years ago, IBM announced an easy to use computer series - The IBM AS400. Aimed at small businesses and medium sized enterprises, or anyone that didn't want to invest $$$ in a mainframe, these mid-range computer systems were focused on delivering better performance, a wide range of business applications that could be installed straight off-the-shelf, and offering data encryption/security the moment you power them up.

Simple to use, and a great return on investment.

The AS400 quickly became the gold standard business machine for most small businesses.

A Brief History of the AS400 System

IBM launched the System/3x machines in the late 70's - with a similar internal architecture, but hardware technology just wasn't advanced enough to keep up with the demands of the software layer. The System/38 was plagued with performance problems, but still survived and became hugely popular because of its potential.

The System/3x line was replaced by the Application System 400, or AS/400 which fully supported applications that had been running on the older System34, 36 and 38 machines.

As400 models history
So, AS400 is just a funkily named System/40 really 😉
Me. imho. of course.

IBM iSeries

The AS400 is dead, Long Live the iSeries

In the late 1990s, the next version of the AS400 was announced. IBM replaced the AS400 line with a new system , with new hardware obviously differentiated by its stylish black hardware. The IBM iSeries years commenced.

Another huge difference from the earlier AS400 generation was the new iSeries systems ability to manage Microsoft* Windows* via the Integrated xSeries* Adapter and Integrated xSeries Server.

The IBM iSeries had some radical new hardware, hugely upgraded operating system and full internet connectivity - now serving business applications across a diverse realm of user interfaces (Web, pervasive, thick client and 5250) to local and remote users.

One of the huge benefits of the iSeries was the fact that it was still fully backward compatible to earlier System/3x and AS/400 machines.

Ibm iseries ( not as400 )

This generation of the iSeries and pSeries systems-the eServer i5 and eServer p5 systems, were based on POWER5* technology, the ninth generation of IBM 64-bit processor technology.

POWER5 processors featured proven, open and flexible design that leveraged the iSeries tradition of integration, virtualization and systems-management technology to bringing increased levels of functionality and simplicity to business of all sizes.

Back in 2005 - Series* Marketing Vice President Peter Bingaman implored COMMON attendees to stop saying "AS/400*" when referring to the iSeries system. He went on to say:

"Both the eServer i5 and eServer p5 systems feature Micro-Partitioning*, which allows one server to be carved into several virtual servers, making either a great platform for server consolidation. IBM Virtualization Engine* technology also spans across the eServer family. iSeries  virtualization capabilities can help your company maintain service levels and automatically manage the changing resource demands of applications by moving computing resources to where they're needed. This can maximize its IT investment by streamlining the management of heterogeneous platforms or servers, helping save money and allowing you to focus on your business and not your IT environment."

  • IBM Director Multiplatform-This product provides a common Web-based console for systems monitoring of heterogeneous systems. (For details, see the article, "Introducing IBM Director Multiplatform,").
  • Enterprise Workload Manager for iSeries (EWLM)-EWLM monitors computing resources, response times and transaction flow to help businesses improve service-level management and capacity planning. (More information on EWLM can be found in the article "Exploiting EWLMs Power" .)
  • IBM Grid Toolbox-By connecting systems and resources through a single management interface, IBM Grid Toolbox can help companies build more secure, robust infrastructures using open standards.
  • On/Off Capacity on Demand (On/Off CoD)-This non-disruptive method for activating extra processor capacity is built into the iSeries system. On/Off CoD has been enhanced to include the Reserve Capacity on Demand and Trial Capacity on Demand offerings.
  • DLPAR-Many customers are leveraging LPAR to optimize IT investments by consolidating multiple servers onto fewer iSeries servers. New capabilities, such as uncapped partitions, allow unused processor capacity on iSeries servers to be automatically shared based on business priorities.
  • Virtual Ethernet support-Virtual Ethernet LAN support allows high-speed connections among LPARs and Windows servers. iSeries systems provide 1 Gb virtual Ethernet communication paths among multiple operating systems. Virtual Ethernet segments can be created and destroyed dynamically. Access to a virtual LAN segment can be restricted for security or traffic segregation requirements.
  • Virtual I/O-This allows the sharing of physical resources, including storage, adapters and devices, among partitions. Multiple partitions can share a server's physical I/O resources and each partition can simultaneously use virtual and physical I/O devices. Virtual I/O also allows administrators to create new partitions without adding physical I/O adapters to the system.

IBM System i

Goodbye iSeries - Hello IBM System i

In January 2006 IBM announced new System i5 processor models and new I/O capabilities,
including I/O adapters (IOAs) that do not require attachment to an I/O Processor (IOP), and
the new i5/OS V5R4 release.

During the May through February 2007 time period there were additional System i5-based hardware and i5/OS-based software announcements.

With these announcements, IBM continued on its roadmap committed to System i innovation and leadership within the IBM POWER5 processor technology by refreshing the System i5 product line with the latest advanced POWER5 processors and some enhanced I/O device capabilities. Especially important were the new processors within the popular IBM System i5 520 model system configurations and the integration of IBM’s fastest POWER5+™ processors within the System i5 570 models.

Ibm system i5 v5r4 technical overview redbook cover

The new V5R4 release of i5/OS contained even more integrated capabilities with selected IBM middleware enhancements that promotes innovation, while enhancing the value of current investments in solutions in the areas of:

  •  Integrated middleware
  •  Simplified Information Technology (IT) infrastructure
  •  Security and compliance
  •  Business resiliency

i5/OS V5R4 contained a wide range of medium to small enhancements and new functions

Taken together, this set of capabilities provided significant enhancements to assist you in providing solutions innovation, simplifying your information technology, and supporting your business resiliency and compliance requirements. System i also included enhancements to many System i licensed programs with i5/OS V5R4.

The 'i' revolution had began.

IBM Power System with IBM i Operating System

A new Powerful System - IBM POWER SYSTEM

A few short years later, comes a paradigm shift for IBM. The IBM POWER SYSTEM separates hardware from Software for the first time.

Ibm power e1080 rack view_1920x1080

So many huge differences from the original AS400 hardware range, my favourite difference is that the IBM POWER SYSTEM hardware, obviously hugely more powerful than previous machines, can now operate with multiple logical machines.

So, within one Power System you can run an *LPAR (logical partition) running Unix, or Linux, or IBM i.

The IBM i operating system is the grandson of the old AS400 operating system (OS400) and as well as being fully backward compatible is fully internet compliant, SQL focused and filled with leading edge web technology.

2006System ii5/OS
2008Power SystemIBM i
Ibm power e1080 in the lab_1920x1080

The new IBM Power E1080 server, the first in a new family of servers based on the new IBM Power10 processor, designed specifically for hybrid cloud environments. The IBM Power10-equipped E1080 server is engineered to be one of the most secured server platforms and is designed to help clients operate a secured, frictionlessiii hybrid cloud experience across their entire IT infrastructure.

The new IBM E1080 was designed to introduce several key features including:

  • Enhancements for hybrid cloud like planned industry-first, by the minute metering of Red Hat software including Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, 4.1x greater OpenShift containerized throughput per core vs x86-based serversvi, and architectural consistency and cloud-like flexibility across the entire hybrid cloud environment to drive agility and improve costs without application refactoring.
  • New hardware-driven performance improvements that deliver up to 50% more performance and scalability than its predecessor the IBM Power E980vii, while also reducing energy use and carbon footprint of the E980, allowing customers to do more with less. The E1080 also features four matrix math accelerators per core, enabling 5x faster inference performance as compared to the E980viii.
  • New security tools designed for hybrid cloud environments including transparent memory encryption so there is no additional management setup, 4x the encryption engines per core, allowing for 2.5x faster AES encryption as compared to the IBM Power E980ix, and security software for every level of the system stack.
  • A robust ecosystem of ISVs, Business Partners, and support to broaden the capabilities of the IBM Power E1080 and how customers can build their hybrid cloud environment, including record-setting performance for SAP® applications in an 8-socket systemii. IBM is also launching a new tiered Power Expert Care service to help clients as they protect their systems against the latest cybersecurity threats while also providing hardware and software coherence and higher systems availability.

Frictionlessiii Hybrid Cloud Experience Drives Modernization on IBM Power E1080
The IBM Power E1080 server helps deliver on the customer demand for a frictionless hybrid cloud experience, with architectural consistency across the entire hybrid cloud estate to simplify management and seamlessly scale applications to meet the dynamic needs of today's world.

RPG Programing Language

The primary language supported by the AS400 remained the RPG language.

This has evolved greatly over time - from RPG2 for the System/36 to RPG3 for the System/38 it evolved to become a procedural language. AS/400 introduced RPG/400 with larger variable names, SQL improvements, a free format coding option and much more.

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