The IBM System i departmental computer system, now 25 years old, began as the previous generation of midrange computer systems for IBM i users and was merged into the IBM Power Systems in April 2008. "Created as an application system, the AS/400 helped fuel the explosion of industry applications for midsized companies," wrote Colin Parris, general manager for IBM's Power Systems business in a blog post. "Renowned for its simplicity and reliability, it generated the industry's most passionate user community." The platform was first introduced as the AS/400 (Application System/400) on June 21, 1988, and later renamed to the eServer iSeries in 2000. As part of IBM's Systems branding initiative in 2006, it was again renamed to System i. The code name of the AS/400 project was Silver Lake, after the lake in downtown Rochester, Minn., where development of the system took place. In April 2008, IBM announced its integration with the System p platform. The unified product line is called IBM Power Systems and features support for the IBM i (previously known as i5/OS or OS/400), AIX and GNU/Linux operating systems. Here's a look at the IBM System i over the years.
by Darryl K. Taft
IBM i's rich heritage dates back to June 21, 1988, when IBM debuted the new Application System/400 family of computer systems. Running OS/400, the original predecessor to the IBM i operating system, the six new AS/400 models were then dubbed IBM's "most massive hardware and software undertaking ever." As part of the AS/400 introduction, IBM and a host of IBM Business Partners announced more than 1,000 software packages, in the biggest simultaneous applications announcement in computer history.
Launched as a powerful new family of easy-to-use computer systems, the AS/400 was designed to provide business solutions for the biggest, fastest-growing segment of the world's economy: small and intermediate-size companies. Photo credit: IBM Archives.
Actors from the hit TV show M*A*S*H helped launch the new AS/400 family of products in a series of 1988 IBM commercials. The screen shot above features a new AS/400 system in the background. A voice-over by actor Alan Alda touts the AS/400 as the perfect computer system for growing businesses. Photo credit: YouTube screenshot
Some of the biggest early adopters of AS/400 systems were banks and insurance companies. In 1993, IBM issued a press release announcing that the world's largest life insurance company, Nippon Life Insurance Co., ordered 2000 AS/400'sone of the largest AS/400 installations to date. Image credit: IBM Archives
In 1997, IBM announces a new family of AS/400e Series servers designed to help small and midsized companies take advantage of business opportunities on the Internet. The new sleek black chassis design and the ability of IBM i systems to take advantage of Internet and/or cloud business opportunities are attributes that carry forward to today. Photo credit: IBM Archives
In April 2008, IBM makes big news with the launch of its new generation of Power Systems serversbringing System i and System p server brands together into one consolidated portfolio. Power Systems clients are given a choice of three operating systems: AIX, Linux and the newly named IBM i operating system (replacing the former i5/OS and OS/400 brands). Pictured above are the desk-side and rack-mounted versions of the Power 520 Express servers announced that April. A newer version, the Power 620 Express server, would soon replace the 520. The Power 720 Express server, announced Feb. 5, 2013, incorporates the latest POWER7+ processor technology. Photo credit: IBM
Today, Power Systems servers running IBM i fuel business expansion in growth markets around the world. In the fall of 2012, Bank Ekonomi Raharja, an HSBC-owned bank, announced it had upgraded its core banking system with IBM Power Systems servers running IBM i. The new infrastructure enables the bank to streamline its businesses processes and expand its services to meet the demands of a rapidly growing customer base. Photo credit: IBM Indonesia
Cloud solutions are another key play for Power Systems running IBM i. IBM Business Partner Advanced Ticketing (previously IRIS Ticketing) recently announced that its ticketing solution, TALENT Sport, runs on the IBM Power Systems servers running IBM i to meet the peak demand for ticket sales required by larger stadiums and sporting venues, without any downtime.
Running IBM i on a new Power 720 Express server, Slovenian health care products giant Kemofarmacijia has used insight from big data to evolve its online operations. Working closely with IBM and its partner MZR, Kemofarmacijia designed a new IT infrastructure with advanced analytics and cloud capabilities. According to the company's CIO, Zoran Lemut, pictured above, the company is now able to offer its customers a personalized online shopping experience, automatically promoting different ad spots to different customer segments.
At the IBM i COMMON Users Group conference in Austin, Texas, in April, the company unveiled an IBMi25 Facebook page with videos and a set of stories that served as a platform for users around the world to come together and share memories and ideas. To date, more than 325,000 impressions have been shared socially. The first in a series of videos posted online features insights from IBMers Frank Soltis, AS/400 chief architect, and Steve Will, IBM i chief architect. The video can be viewed online at bit.ly/142PWuN.
On June 10, IBM unveiled its latest IBM i solutionthe new IBM PureFlex Solution for IBM i. Specially packaged and priced for small and midsized IBM i clients, the new PureFlex offering is ideal for companies that want to run IBM i on expert integrated systems, and fully integrate and manage their x86 compute nodes in the same chassis. Pictured on the left is Jeff Howard, vice president of marketing for IBM PureFlex Systems, joined by Steve Will, chief architect for IBM i.
On June 21, Colin Parris, general manager of IBM Power Systems, delivered a message to the entire IBM i community thanking IBM i clients, business partners, ISVs and IBM employees for the work they have done with the AS/400 and IBM i. "Together you created the industry's most successful integrated system and, in the process, the industry's most unique and passionate community ...," Parris said. "Now, with a new release of IBM i on the horizon for 2014, may I wish you all success for the next 25 years." Photo credit: IBM