General Question – AS400

310 pts.
AS/400 applications
Hi everyone, Just want to know the Life of AS400. Because the feedback i got from everyone is AS400 technology will go, as all the company started migrating from AS400 to other Applications like SAP and mainframes. So I am in a bit confused state, what will happen in future. Do all have any idea, what is happening?




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AS400 general question

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if it is like other shops where i watched the conversion, it goes like this:

1) high-management decides the PC applications look cool so they decide to go to .net or
an SQL Server as suggested by the vendor selling the hardware and operating system.

2) because there are no applications specific to your business model, they will suggest to
you to that maybe you need to provide better education and/or invigorate your ability by
attracting younger, more knowledgeable programmers just out of college….after all, you
know how things should work and under your tuteledge the newbies will perform just as
well as your old staff under your LEADERSHIP.

3) after many frustrating months of firing up the hardware, the network will finally be up and
running and now all you need to do is put the new software on. no, it does not come pre
installed unless you spend a lot more money.
a) of course you can always get the server in and begin installing the software while
you spend countless hours and dollars having the new CAT V cable installed and
all of the little hiccups that go with that process.

4) somewhere about six months into the project you will have advertisements out there
looking for new programmers who know the .net and SQL servers…especially since
half or more of your staff have bailed for other jobs because the schedule did not
allow all of the wonderful training that you promised them during the initial install.

5) about eight months into the project, you are behind because the vendor is not able to
provide specific issue solutions to the project afterall, and their contract is such that
if you need more help, you have to pay beucoup bucks for it, or hire outside contractors
to meet your needs.
a) at this point, one or more of the managers from other departments begin their
snickering and someone suggests that perhaps a manager from another dept
could be put over the project as Project Manager, so you can devote your time to
the technical aspect of the project.
b) your remaining seasoned staff is starting to bail at a greater frequency.
c) the maintenance contracts for the new hardware/software platform start rolling in.
d) VP and above want to know specifics as to how you intend to handle this issue
e) you know they wont listen to you and your spouse is upset because you are now
spending 10-12 hours at work a day, not 8-9.

6) about 12 months into this, you are burned out, there is a layer of dust forming on the
light switch in your office because you dont use the thing, since you are in your office
nearly 24 hours a day 4-5 days per week, plus weekends.
a) management is now questioning your ability to manage a department
b) all of your staff has been replaced by “skippies”…the pimply faced just out of
college kids that know all the new languages and platforms but can’t program
their way out of a wet paper sack, because they learned from books only with little
or no experience behind them
c) you begin sending your resume’ out, hoping to find a slower paced mom and pop
operation that has an as/400 iSeries platform.

7) 14 months into the project you are swamped with calls for programmers, but none for
managers. at this point you start feeling low, the skippies know the project would be
more successful if a dinosaur was not running things.

8) 16 months into the project you decide to take a programmer job, becuase it does pay
well and the stress associated with it will be less.

9) 18 months into the project, you have bailed (finally) and the shop is running two types
of hardware and paying maintenance on barely used software. you get the blame in
board meetings for the failure of the project.

10) the board decides to use the old system, it did work afterall and was tailored to the
specifics of the company.
a) the server and PCs are used elsewhere.
b) the company drops the new platform and pats itself on the back for saving so
much money
c) one of the skippies are placed in the role of IT manager at the age of 14, or so it
d) new development stops for a while, but the machine does keep up and running

11) you second guess yourself for the rest of your life and hate the fact that you failed when
in fact it is the bump on the log VP (or above) who failed because he/she saw some
pretty itty-bitty applications at a trade show, one of their buddies told them that is what
“we do at our shop” and they felt left out and started this whole vicious cycle.
a) they know they failed the company with this pipe-dream software but they also
know that the blame will rest with you since you are the IT director/manager
b) they vindicate their own failure by making it a triumph by revealing your weakness
and inability to adapt

12) in a couple of years, another up and coming VP will go to a trade show, see something
dont understand but know it looks cool.
a) they come up with a plan to modernize the IT department
b) and the whole vicious cycle begins again because nobody aknowledges the
last attempt to modernize the IT department.

yes this sound apocalyptic but it was meant to. i am one of those contractors who come in and set up systems when someone gets the wild hare mentality and start running around the office crying “it’s late, it’s late!!”


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  • CharlieBrowne
    I love it. Great answer. But in reality if any of us could fortell the future, we would not be spending our time on this web site. We would be on the beach basking in the sun with all the money we made becuase of our unique ability to know what is going to happen days, months, years ahead.
    62,385 pointsBadges:
  • john0linux
    I think AS400 will be around for long time, just as any other wyswyg or if it aint broke don't fix it! with embedded terminal windows why change? for big companies it is more the disruption to operations that stop upgrades not actual cost.
    10 pointsBadges:
  • TomLiotta
    Just want to know the Life of AS400. The line will be viable during approximately the same future timeframe as mainframes. The "AS400" name itself has been dead for a decade, but no one wants to let it go. (It doesn't matter if it's supporters or opponents.) all the company started migrating from AS400 to other Applications like SAP and mainframes. That doesn't make a lot of sense. First, migrations wouldn't go "from AS400 to ... SAP". SAP isn't a system platform; it's an application. SAP runs on AS/400s. Migrations to a different platform that also runs SAP would make some sense. Migration to a mainframe could also make sense; if a company has grown that much, there's not much alternative. But mainframe migration doesn't affect many AS/400s -- only the very largest. In any case, it definitely is not "all the company". Quite a few companies are getting more AS/400s. It is still the line with the best profit margins in IBM. IBM stockholders would be rightfully upset if IBM didn't keep moving the line forward. It's worth a billion dollars or more every year in sales alone. Who knows how much it's worth in services? A billion-dollar product line won't go away quickly. But maybe you wonder if the future of the line will look anything like today's systems. How long has it been since you compared how a model 525 running i5/OS V7.1 matches up against a model B50 running V2R1? How much of today's features match up with ones from back then? Is it the same system today? Did those old systems last until now? Or were they obsoleted by the evolution of the line? Would you consider them to be gone now or are the current systems the same? What exactly are you asking? Do you want to know if you can learn everything that shows up in i5/OS V8.1? V9.1? (Those are probably just a couple releases away.) Are you asking if you will be obsoleted if you don't keep learning? If IBM dropped the line tomorrow, there would still be AS/400 work available ten years from now. This forum has questions every week about RPG/400, and that's been mostly obsolete for almost 15 years. How long will it take for those companies to catch up to what the systems are capable of doing today? All by itself, that will probably cover the next 15 years for programmers in the market. How about asking the same question about a different kind of system? How about "What will be the Life of the HP Integrity systems?" Do you think those will last any longer than the AS/400 line? People rarely ask a question like that. Why not? I think it's mostly because few people think that it's a reasonable question. Yet, they feel comfortable asking about the future "Life of AS400". And I think that's because there's an underlying expectation that one line will last and another will fade away as quickly as it showed up. Don't get me wrong. I go back with HP as far as the HP 1000/2000/3000 systems. But I wasn't surprised at how the HP line has shifted in the past quarter century. Things change. You should simply expect the AS/400 to change too. Tom
    125,585 pointsBadges:
  • philpl1jb
    The stories of the end of the mid-range line started just before the line came out -- in the 1960's and the stories haven't changed much. Today, there are a few more customers moving away from this line then to it. There are currently less job opportunities with this line then there were in the past. In the US and North America there is an aging technical force to support this line and at some point retirements should create job opportunities. With the economy as it is retirements are being delayed. Phil
    54,090 pointsBadges:
  • DanTheDane
    This is the best general description to an over time situation with customers trying to convert to a pc-based solution. I have seen it several times, and unfortunately for the customers, the cost is huge, as well as frustrations during, and after, the implementation. Rudedog deserves credit for his fine description. As CharlieBrown stated it 'I love it', - so do I. The real problem is, - how do we get people to understand, that the Power-platform is unique i the market, both techically, and as an investment in doing business. DanF
    2,555 pointsBadges:
  • TomLiotta
    how do we get people to understand, that the Power-platform is unique i the market,... One definite item has to be to keep pushing hard to kill OPM questions -- particularly those that are like "I can do this in ILE, but how do I do it in OPM?" The answer should be "You don't." The old baggage is kept because of the willingness by so many to help carry it. (I'm guilty, though I try to mention conversion every time.) IBM has lately decided to break the compiler costs into separate components. That will help because there will be fewer who have the old tools available to test potential solutions. Maybe some managers will start getting the hint. For "old school" programming, there is indeed less to do nowadays. Most of it has already been done. Warehousing apps were written years ago -- there is no longer as much need for warehousing developers. Order Entry apps have been written thousands of times -- new ones are needed nowhere near as often. Invoicing -- been there, done that. Customer Maintenance, Shipping, Billing -- they've all been done to death. So many old programs are out there that the sheer volume of developers must drop. Why develop? Just clone. And purchased solutions, or even open-source, are common. Need CRM? SugarCRM runs on i, and it works great. Who needs a team of developers? Need Compliance monitoring? Buy some. Who needs developers? The build-vs-buy decision is easier every year. Now it's new developers for new technologies. An ad for a Java or Perl or a .Net developer doesn't need to mention that there's an AS/400 behind everything. Many of those who write the ads don't know it, and most applicants don't need to know it. So, "AS/400" fades in terms of references. The development is done on Linux on a PC over a SQL Server database on another PC. The implementation of the app can be anywhere. There are, of course, still lots of "old school" positions. Pretty much everyone who asks or answers anything in this forum is involved in or with those positions. But there aren't as many of those positions needed today. The total number of "systems" might be rising -- many new boxes can and do run multiple "systems" in partitions. But each pseudo-"system" doesn't need it's own development staff. "Old school" has falling enrollment. Less need for development of core applications that have already been built multiple times, higher availability of purchased or other outside applications, larger libraries of old programs to clone from... and off-loading of peripheral processing to peripheral processors... not to discount the encroachment of PC servers well into the bottom end of the market -- all of it adds up to a shrinking marketplace for "old school" assets. How often do questions come into here that are like "I am new to AS/400s; how can I..."? Each of those questions comes from someone probably replacing an "old school" graduate. Maybe more importantly, I'd bet that the majority are not in-house developers. I'd expect most of them to be newly hired by some software house. That's where the new jobs mostly are today. Unfortunately, that's not where the salaries are. Some thirty or so years ago, I saw a similar thing happening to mainframes. I effectively left the mainframe world in 1979. There were a couple mainframe contract tasks in the early years after that, but I started to move in a PC direction. Why not? The whole world was going there. Or so it seemed... But a decade later, the work that I was doing was changing to something very different. i am one of those contractors who come in and set up systems when someone gets the wild hare mentality and start running around the office crying "it's late, it's late!!" What I was seeing more and more were serious messes that been created because some office manager's cousin's roommate had been hired to do some business-critical project while having credentials like "I have a TRS-80 and can write some BASIC programs." The new project would be finished and implemented quickly and cheaply. It wouldn't be perfect, but who could complain with such low cost? Then... a disk I/O error hits. Files need to be restored. But the backups are... where? Or Microsoft releases Win95 and some of the Win3.0 functions don't work the same. Or the database isn't remotely normalized and a change to ItemDescription or CustomerAddress doesn't show up where it's expected. Or a key field is 5-digits and numeric in one table and 6-characters, right-justified with leading blank, in a related table, but the relationship is hard-coded in programming and it needs to become at least 10 characters now. (I saw that relationship in one the worst apps I had to work on.) There will always be decades that are golden and decades that are chaotic. Transitions will come and go in waves. But educated professionals will always find work. (Or work will find them.) Learn the principles rather than technical details. You can always find details in the manuals. Principles will apply no matter what. Principles will apply when the systems are named Power10 Systems and the name "AS/400" might actually be out of use. I hope that Power10 Systems won't run S/36 nor even S/38 programs, though. We all pay for the cost of IBM ensuring that they carry forward. I'd much prefer that every dollar for that effort gets applied to something new. I don't see how we could get others to even try to understand this platform when one of the main selling points that we see year after year is "It still run programs from 1978!" If growth in market share is desirable, then actions should point to the future. Tom
    125,585 pointsBadges:

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