AS/400 users get a Windows boost

IBM announced Monday its plans for rolling out products and programs to help AS/400 users interested in running Windows NT/2000 applications in their shops.

AS/400 users are notoriously loyal to their machines, which have a reputation for reliability, scalability and easy manageability features. However, many of them want to run Windows-based applications not available for the AS/400 platform – without sacrificing their AS/400 investment or hiring Windows-trained personnel. To solve this dilemma, IBM offers a special PCI card equipped with an Intel 700MHz CPU that fits into the AS/400 chassis and runs a copy of Windows NT/2000.

The card, called AS/400e Integrated Netfinity Server, relies on the AS/400’s storage, power and scheduling resources, boosting its reliability, claims IBM. Big Blue even says up to 20 per cent of all AS/400s ship with the integrated card. However the card is limited to one Intel CPU, and therefore cannot handle things such as business intelligence or other compute-intensive applications requiring SMP technology.

Taking this initiative a step further, IBM on Monday at its Solutions 2000 developers show in Las Vegas announced the rollout of an external integrated Netfinity server. This will be a full-blown Netfinity machine that will attach to an AS/400 through a high-speed connection. The first such Netfinity model available will be the Netfinity 6000R, which will have up to four Intel CPUs, letting it run more enterprise-scale Windows applications.

Although attached only by an external cable running traffic at 1G byte/sec, it still relies on the AS/400’s advanced storage and workload scheduling architecture. It can also be managed using AS/400 based tools, said IBM.

The external integrated Netfinity machine will be available sometime next year, and pricing hasn’t been determined, said Craig Johnson, an AS/400 manager.

In other news, IBM announced it would offer a program for ISVs to certify their Netfinity applications on the Integrated Netfinity Server platform. IBM claims that will allow users to have the same confidence in deploying these applications on the card as they do when deploying applications on a standalone Netfinity. Among some of the companies that will participate in the validation program are Siebel Systems, which makes e-business software, and J.D. Edwards, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor.