Why are iSeries, System i, AS/400, etc… owners so fanatical?

IBM’s servers are somewhat enigmatic. Computer experts are always praising the virtues of these systems, but it’s often difficult to get specifics on WHY.

And IBM isn’t of much help either. They’ve been success despite doing a HORRIBLE job of marketing their systems.

If fact, you can visit their web site right now and ask them for information via their live chat. You’ll probably find that even their own employees can’t explain the basics of iSeries.

Another reason that you’ve never heard of iSeries servers is that they’re incredibly resilient. With Windows systems, you’re constantly hearing about crashes, viruses, hacks and malware. And although Linux systems don’t crash as often, they usually cause more damage when they go down. iSeries servers simply don’t make headlines like this.

IBM has already sold hundreds of thousands of iSeries and AS/400 servers over the years, and most of the System i installations are in smaller businesses. (Usually under 100 employees)

System i has been around for a VERY long time. (About 4 years longer than PCs) One of the reasons that it’s survived so long is that it’s outlasted many other competitors such as:

  • Univac
  • NCR
  • Control Data
  • Wang VS
  • DEC
  • Burroughs

In fact, many argue that it would’ve also beat UNIX if the World Wide Web had never been created.

But despite being old, iSeries is not obsolete. And another reason you never hear about them. Other systems like Windows are designed to be obsolete within a few years. You need to keep buying the same software over and over, every few years… just so you can stay current. This requires a lot of marketing.

Instead of marketing their product aggressively, IBM has focused on building the best product they could. iSeries owners keep their systems for much longer than with other vendors, and they’re incredibly loyal. This has created enough repeat business and word-of-mouth for IBM to maintain market dominance by letting their clients do the selling for them.

iSeries servers are strong like a tank, and incredibly robust & resilient. Many companies have reported owning them and running them continuously for several years, without any downtime at all.

Also, iSeries servers are a completely integrated solution. IBM supplies everything, including software, OS and hardware. Although this locks you into a single vendor, you end up making your money back with lower TCO, cheaper integration and increased reliability.

That’s a good general overview of the reasons behind iSeries fanaticism. I’ll go in a bit deeper to show some of the technical features that make IBM systems so incredibly different and noteworthy.

(Image Source:IBM Media Resources)

2 thoughts on “Why are iSeries, System i, AS/400, etc… owners so fanatical?

  1. John Andersen

    We are so fanatical because AS/400, iSeries and now IBM i are so reliable! There are other reasons, but reliability is certainly a big one.

    Eleven years of working with them I have never had to IPL (reboot) a system because of a software glitch.

  2. Stephen West

    The reason AS/400 owners are fanatical is “Experience”.

    The AS/400 (a rose by any other name…) can gracefully handle terabyte size tables. I have seen efforts to move applications with large (500GB and larger) files to UNIX and Windows fail because those systems could not handle large databases. The experts in UNIX and Windows insisted that their solution would be more performant, but the solution failed to go live because it was CLEAR that the performance was significantly slower.

    I asked the AS/400 ops manager to backup a 600 GB file and a 1.2 TB file to tape and he handed it to me in less than 2 hours. It took a month and a half to load the data onto the UNIX server because there was no high-speed tape drive available for the system and the data had to be “imported” over ethernet. Eventually the proposed UNIX solution was scrapped for several reasons.

    The AS/400 had none of the shortcomings that were “discovered” in the proposed UNIX solution. Unfortunately, significant time and money was spent to gain this “Experience”.

    Now go forth and buy an AS/400 and you too will become a fanatic!

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