Many IT professionals still use the term “AS/400”. It’s seen in job titles and professional associations and certifications. It’s been woven into the content we consume online and the products that we use every day.
And yet, “Is the AS/400 dead?” is a common question heard throughout the user community. Loosely translated, what current users, jobseekers, and organizations want to know is whether a platform that was introduced in 1988 is still relevant today.
The answers typically surprise people.
What is the AS/400?
IBM introduced the AS/400 system in 1988. It was an integrated system featuring hardware (AS/400) and an operating system (OS/400), along with many core functions such as an integrated database.
Both the hardware and the software have gone through many upgrades, revisions, and name changes over the years. While many still refer to the system as an AS/400 or sometimes an iSeries IBM server, today’s hardware is technically Power Systems, which runs an updated operating system called IBM i.
From the beginning, one of the strongest features of this platform has been its upward compatibility. You can run a program created for the AS/400 in 1988 on a Power Systems server today with little or no changes.
This seamless compatibility is one reason why many companies that purchased an AS/400 years ago continue to refer to it as an AS/400 even though their Power server is an order of magnitude faster and features cutting-edge technologies.
IBM continues to update the platform today and has big plans for the future of IBM i. Every two to three years, they release new versions of the hardware and software that feature quantum leaps forward in processing power and functionality.