The IBM AS400 through the current IBM iSeries has been prized for performance, stability, and dependability for more than three decades and continues to serve countless businesses today. According to the market intelligence company iDatalabs, 28,148 companies are using the IBM AS400, but other sources peg the number as well over triple that figure.
The benefit that these operating systems continue to bring to major corporations and organizations in the finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and government sectors and beyond is undeniable. But like all legacy technologies, they require skilled service and support in the digital age.
While legacy mainframes and their OS such as the AS400 are perceived by some as outdated, perceptions are relative. The real challenges for organizations are 1) finding the talent skilled in AS400 services and support and 2) coping with the end of manufacturer support, two sides of the same coin.
The first challenge is exemplified by the recent announcement surrounding the ending of i7.1 support. Although the issue of finding qualified talent is a downside, it is far from insurmountable, and the benefits of continuing to use these systems still far outweigh the challenges.
Many companies with an AS400 server OS are dealing with a skill shortage now, or one they will be facing one very soon. Some of the veterans in the platform are reaching retirement age. When they do retire, organizations will lose the accumulated knowledge of these experts.
Skilled people certainly exist in the IT talent pool, but the cost of bringing these experts in-house can be enormous. At a time when IT budgets are already stretched thin, hiring IT talent with legacy expertise can lead to budget problems elsewhere, potentially diverting funds from other vital projects and competing with budgets for hiring new talent with the latest digital-technology skill sets.
Outsourced iSeries management has become a viable solution for many organizations as they face the prospect of finding the right management partner. The best course of action in this case is to have a good understanding of what to look for in third-party iSeries support.
With AS400 managed-services support, companies can keep their legacy server platforms operating at an optimal level. Most importantly, they will have ongoing access to skilled experts who function as an extension of their in-house team to support digital transformations that will keep iSeries vital for years to come.
With a legacy mainframe server and OS, health checks and assessments are essential. These include in-depth performance analyses and identification of opportunities for greater integration with new systems and platforms. Examples include new storage-software solutions as well as cloud integrations. Assessments can uncover challenges to system performance that may be slowing down a company’s operations.
- Remote monitoring: A managed-services team should offer comprehensive remote monitoring to ensure that performance or operational challenges can be proactively identified and the proper course of action can be taken.
- Remote backup: It’s not uncommon for organizations to lack sufficient backup for their legacy servers, so it is imperative that a managed-services provider have the planning and facility relationships for provisioning a fully managed remote data backup from their existing facility to a secure secondary location.
- AS400 migration support: iSeries end-of-support management partners should have clear processes for and successes in mainframe migration. Their processes should work in concert with iSeries assessments and application-mapping support teams to determine the workloads that can be rehosted as well as those that can be migrated via batch-job migration. Because legacy mainframe applications develop extremely complex interactions, some applications require full rearchitecting and/or reengineering.
Outsourced managed-services iSeries management support gives an organization’s in-house IT staff ongoing access to experts certified in the intricacies of mature AS400 applications. This comes at a fraction of the cost of finding and paying for in-house expertise, and ensures that the organization can continue to reap the benefits of its legacy mainframes while adapting to evolving operational needs.