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e Server magazine

September 1997: Volume 13, Number 1


AS/400e Series: Right Here, Right Now

What Everyone Has Been Waiting for!

By Jackie Jansen  Photo: IBM AS/400e series family of servers

o more holding your breath, no more water cooler rumours, no more fancy speculation, the AS400e Series is here. The AS/400e Series is a powerful, new family of systems designed to embrace the latest Web technologies and to help businesses take advantage of opportunities on the Internet. Complementing the new AS/400e Series is a new version of the operating system which enables companies to optimize e-business opportunities. According to Lori Allan, General Manager AS/400 Division Canada, "As customers look to move to an e-business environment, the application characteristics and the decision criteria change dramatically.

As businesses connect their mission critical applications to the web, demands on system robustness and integrity become much more critical. Think about customers ordering on-line over the web and these orders driving manufacturing scheduling and logistics systems... The decision criteria for such mission critical, highly available applications are more stringent. The hardware and software must be reliable, available and highly secure."

The AS/400e Series was designed to meet these stringent requirements. According to the Gartner Group a PC Server is available approximately 94.8% of the time. Over the course of one year this equates to 19 days of unscheduled downtime. Gartner Group goes on to say that the AS/400 has a 99.98% reliability equating to 1 hour and 45 minutes unscheduled downtime over a full year. It is amazing what a few percentage points difference in availability will do to your ability to reliably conduct business day and night. The AS/400e is positioned as an ideal solution for the new world of e-business. The AS/400e series continues to provide excellent integration and simplicity while also delivering tremendous increases in performance and unprecedented Internet security.  Photo: IBM AS/400e Series (System Model)

We promised you 70% compound growth rate per year. The new AS/400e series deliver 4.6 times the processing capabilities of previous AS/400s! This is the largest increase in our 30 year history. This explosive growth in AS/400 performance gives you the ability to perform safe and secure e-business transactions and electronic commerce efficiently over the Web. The new systems includes uni, two-way, four-way, eight-way and twelve-way processors. The high end of the AS/400e series can have up to 20GB of memory (not disk!) and 1 Terabyte or 1000 GB of disk storage. The AS/400e Series can truly utilize the increased memory capacity since the hardware, operating system, database and applications are all fully 64-bit enabled. From the smallest model to the largest, the AS/400e Series provides you with a 170 times growth factor.

Let's get down to some actual numbers. There are 8 new models in the AS/400e Series, 4 System models and 4 Server models.

The e-server models are ideal for newer applications such as e-business, data warehousing and data mining. All existing F-model and later models can upgrade directly to the AS/400e Series. To simplify the purchase process, IBM has packaged the new operating system, OS/400 Version 4 Release 1 with all AS/400e systems and servers, eliminating user-based pricing for OS/400. Customers with existing RISC systems (4xx and 5xx models) can install OS/400 V4R1 on their current hardware. Depending on the model, the customer will see a 5% - 30% performance improvement from the software alone. You will be able to upgrade directly to V4R1 from V3R1 and beyond.

OS/400 V4R1 allows for the integration of the industry's first firewall solution on a separate processor card - all part of one system package - instead of forcing you to buy a totally separate system. Since the firewall runs on a separate PC processor, attacks against the firewall do not affect the performance or integrity of the server. Internet Connection Secure Server/400 (ICSS) provides support for Internet's Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Full 128 bit encryption is supported in Canada. This provides a secure encrypted connection between your AS/400 and your customers browser. Secure Electronic Transactions or SET is the technology that supports credit card information being authorized electronically by a financial institution over the Internet. The industry standards definition for SET should be completed later this year and will be provided within 90 days of the definition being finalized.

OS/400 V4R1 provides improved system availability through IPL time reduction, PTF apply improvements, install time reduction, improved error recovery, concurrent maintenance improvements, RAID-5 on the MFIOP (e-series only) and performance improvements to the save process. The IPL time reduction is quite interesting. The normal IPL time is reduced considerably in V4R1 and you have a new option - Fast or Slow IPL! I am quite serious, you get to choose and your choice is ? We are announcing support for more functions than I can possibly cover in this article. Some of the features you have been asking for and are now here are: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), multiple HTTP servers, routing internet protocol, network printing enhancements, and Net.Data enhancements. Give three cheers for 100 Mbps ethernet support as well.

AS/400 Client Access has branched into two new families, Client Access Family for Windows and Client Access Family. The new Client Access Family for Windows includes client for Windows 95, Windows NT and an enhanced client for Windows 3.1. Current Windows 3.1 support will still be available in the base Client Access Family. Native TCP/IP connectivity has been added to the SNA and ANYNET options that were available previously in the enhanced client for Windows 3.1. Support has been added for Hayes Autosync modems providing for an inexpensive connection of PCs to your AS/400 system. The Client Access Family for Windows includes new Data Transfer and Database Access GUI functions. It also includes Lotus Mail 4.5, a POP3-enabled e-mail product. This mail product supports the Windows NT 4.0 operating system. The client access enhancements are available for V3R2, V3R7 and V4R1.  Photo: IBM AS/400e Series (Server Model S10)

IBM is also giving you a glimpse into the future with these announcements. IBM is announcing plans for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) as well as the intention to incorporate the Java Virtual Machine in the Machine Interface (MI) in a future release of the AS/400. IBM intends to deliver an industry standard Java language compiler/interpreter that executes on AS/400.

IBM intends to provide native Lotus Domino in a future release of OS/400, giving you greater reliability and scalability. We will provide built-in ActiveX support which will enable the AS/400 to serve Windows based network solutions while providing fast access to DB2/400. Windows NT will be provided in the future on the Integrated PC Server. AS/400 and NT integration will include hardware devices, user profiles, database, and file systems, making the mixed environment less complex and less costly for you to manage.

While you are reading this article your friend down the street, or maybe he's your competitor is already receiving his brand new AS/400e Series computer. Can you afford to be left behind?. Get on board - these are the tremendously exciting announcements that you have been waiting for. If you simply need more power at a lower cost then the e-series is for you. If you are investing in applications like e-business, data warehousing and data mining you can't afford to miss these announcements. T < G


Jackie Jansen is a senior consulting I/T specialist, providing national technical and marketing support for the AS/400 in Canada. Jackie frequently speaks at AS/400 Technical Conferences and User Group meetings. [See her column "Tips from Jackie", also in this issue.]

(*) For some points of reference the AS/400 F02 has a performance rating of 5.5, the smallest 400 is 13.8 and the 4-way 530 has a performance rating of 509.9.

(**) PCI is the industry standard Peripheral Component Interface technology, SPD is the AS/400 Division's book technology. It stands for Systems Product Division.