During Collaborate we spoke with many World customers. What struck me was the strength of their continuing emotional attachment to a combination of World and the IBM platform on which it runs. As they still do, I will refer to that platform as AS/400, even though it is now just one of three environments on Power servers.
More than one lapsed into evangelical mode as they ticked off the virtues of software and an OS that almost never fails, is easy to understand and use, and that is so familiar and comfortable. It was strange hearing this since they each assumed I needed to be sold.
None of them knew that I had been the first AS/400 evangelist in the world starting back in 1986 – almost two years before it was even announced. The original news that IBM had a computer code named ‘silverlake’ under development came out in a white paper I published early in 1987. On one level it was nice to hear them echo back points I had been the first one to make over 20 years ago. Overall, however, it was a sad reminder that a golden age has come and gone.
The reality is that there is little left to remain loyal to. OS/400 lives on as a guest operating system on a generic combination of firmware and hardware that IBM calls the Power system. Nearly all enhancements now come as improvements to the Power platform and not to OS/400 itself. The once mighty installed base continues to atrophy.
There is nothing wrong with continuing to run code written for OS/400 on what has evolved into an outstanding server platform. It is reliable, cost effective, energy efficient and offers the flexibility of also running AIX or Linux software. There is also no urgent reason to replace OS/400 specific applications such as JDE World. Such applications will run just fine on Power servers for many years to come.
My concern is that loyalty to a technology that time has now bypassed is keeping World customers from accepting the inevitable – the time has come for many of them to embrace the changes that have occurred and make plans to move on. Once that acceptance has occurred a number of exciting possibilities emerge. Future postings will explore a number of them.
As the original AS/400 evangelist, it took me a long time to accept the reality of its demise. Like all software environments, AS/400 will live on for a very long time in the form of code that has not yet been replaced or converted to something else. As a viable foundation for the development of new code it is now completely obsolete. There is no great rush, but organizations dependent on a large base of code that runs only under OS/400 need to develop plans to move on over time. Obviously, the JDE World community includes many organizations that fit this description.
As always, comments and opposing opinions are welcome.