Every time I do a posting that comments on the sad fate of AS/400 (aka iSeries, System i or Power Servers) many passionate responses come in. Rather than respond to each one separately I will use this posting to expand on and clarify the previous one.
First, I share your collective frustration with what has happened to this once great product line. Some of you clearly are not aware of my background. I became the very first public advocate for the AS/400 product line in 1986 through a series of speeches and white papers that introduced its code name ‘silverlake’ to an unsuspecting world. During the following 20 years I was the author of more than 50 white papers about AS/400 with a combined circulation of over 2 million copies. A very high percentage of the predictions and observations I made about AS/400 and its successors proved over time to be true. Whether I like it or not, my name will be associated with this product for as long as anyone remembers it.
The information I have about the Power product line and what it offers to those running OS/400 applications comes directly from people still working with IBM and many who have retired or left. It would be unfair to name them but have no doubt about the accuracy of the characterizations I offer.
In 1999 IBM made the de facto decision to start cutting back on investments in AS/400 that led to a steady decline in the installed base, revenues, and profit contribution to IBM. By 2008 all that was left was a guest operating system maintained by a handful of programmers that ran on the Power server platform. Not a single person within IBM is currently dedicated full time to market or even to oversee the unique needs of this community. By design, IBM intentionally followed the roadmap it used to phase out OS/2 to handle the wind down of the AS/400 / iSeries.
I know how hard all of this is to take emotionally for those of us familiar with all the things that made this product exceptional. We know how reliable, easy to program and operate,and elegantly designed the product is. Our love of it, however, has not stopped IBM from making a business decision to harvest this product for whatever profits it can make.
Having said all this, the Power family of servers remains a fine product line with or without OS/400 (some call it i5OS) as one of the guest operating systems. It is a great platform on which to run those applications, including World, for as long as anyone cares to. While few OS/400 and RPG specific enhancements should be expected in the future, it is reasonable to assume that the Power servers on which they run will continue to improve significantly as time passes. In this sense the environment that those running World experience will become steadily better.
I have never suggested that those with code, including World, running in this environment need to rush into doing anything else. Keep using it for as long as you like. The point of the article was to report on the fact that the installed base of World customers is steadily declining and to comment on the implications of that decline over time. I am sorry to be the conduit for unwelcome news, but my goal is to provide insight and observations that are not obvious or available elsewhere.
Those with other information or opinions remain welcome to continue to express them.