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iSeries Strengths


It's difficult to pinpoint the greatest strength of the iSeries* system because depending on who you ask, you get a different response. Rather than expound on what I believe, I polled the experts. I asked IBMers who design and work on the various iSeries components. I asked the magazines technical editors, who consult with and educate iSeries users. And I asked some IT folks who use the system regularly. Certainly there were some repeat responses, but by and large, the respondents named distinct attributes.


Touting Flexibility

Take Ed Clary, CIO of Havertys Furniture, for example. His companys Linux* on iSeries implementation was featured in the magazines July issue. When I sent Ed a note asking for his thoughts, he was quick to reply. "If you are currently running an iSeries system, that typically means you have applications that require OS/400*. There is no getting around the fact that this is proprietary. If you are in this state, the good news is that you can now have the whole world opened to you with standards-based J2EE (Java* 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition), Linux, open-source applications, Intel* storage and now AIX* options. This gives a way to bridge the old to the new. Most 5250 shops are looking to move to better user interfaces and the iSeries system gives you this."


While Ed's shop is clearly on the bleeding edge, others use their iSeries systems for more traditional workloads and are perfectly happy with their 5250 applications. The fact that the iSeries system has the capability to run Java, RPG and other applications also makes it versatile, an attribute that several people cited in their responses. IBM's Bill Berg, senior technical staff member, says this: "New technologies are provided as part of the package and work with what you have already-C++, LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol), Java, WebSphere*, XML, et cetera, are provided and configured in the context of the existing system, with hooks to the database, RPG and the existing operations environment."


Talking Reliability

Reliability is another attribute praised by several respondents, both IBMers and non-IBMers alike. Michael Ryan, president of Ryan Technology Resources and technical editor for the magazine, explains, "Without a doubt, its one word-reliability. The iSeries system is also extremely flexible and expandable, but thats not why people buy it. Its the reliability. Most iSeries shops have very little unscheduled downtime. I'm working at a client who has been experiencing some hardware problems recently. I told this client that they've had more downtime than all of my other clients put together over the last 24 years. And thats whats so interesting, this client has had four unscheduled downtime events, and thats more than all my other clients combined. Try that on a Windows* server!"


IBMer Kevin Paterson agrees with Ryans assessment. "The thing I like about the iSeries system is it stays up for extended periods without an IPL required with consistent performance," says Paterson, a staff software engineer. "Also, it is not about the hardwares aesthetics, which are acceptable, it is about trusting in the past and knowing that ones system can remain online and available in between the thousands of reboots of its various connected clients (i.e., Windows XP servers) and the very servers it competes with. When I walk in the lab, I see hundreds of iSeries systems and one thing is constant-the recipe by which they are running, the OS/400 operating system, which represents quality and the fusion of best practices for server-centric functionality."


Bryan Burns, system operator for Lake Zurich, Ill. headquartered ECHO Inc., has been with the outdoor power- equipment manufacturer for five years. During that time, the company has moved from an AS/400* 620 to an iSeries 820 to an eServer i5 system. According to Burns, "None of the systems ever crashed-not one minute of unscheduled downtime." Burns also appreciates the fact that the system "calls home" to report problems to Rochester and dispatch help, often before the administrator is aware theres a problem.



"Without a doubt, it's one word -- reliability. The iSeries system is also extremely flexible and expandable, but that's not why people buy it. It's the reliability" - Michael Ryan, president, Ryan Technology Resources

Evelyn Hoover is the content director of IBM Systems magazine. She can be reached at



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