MIDRANGE dot COM Mailing List Archive



Home » MIDRANGE-L » September 2001

Re: A dumb *S36 question



fixed

> I will go ahead and apologize for being so ignorant of this, but here
>  goes.....
>
>  What is the difference between  M36, S36EE and regular old *S36.

I will try to be reasonably brief  in a history lesson to put this in
relative perspective & then you might want more info on something on the list.

Once upon a time IBM had midrange hardware called the System Thirty Four
which ran the SSP Operating System, then it grew into the System/38 and the
System/36.  The S/36 served the low end of business size & complexity of IBM
customer base & the S/38 served the high end.  The S/36 continued to use the
SSP OS, while the S/38 used something that became OS/400 via some rebranding
& continous improvement.  When the AS/400 was born, it was really a marriage
between the S/38 & S/36, in which internally it was more S/38 than S/36.

A lot of S/36 owners & users were happy with what they had & reluctant to
migrate to OS/400, especially since software prices for AS/400 was
astronomical compared to same software for S/36 & the folks paying the bills
could not see the advantage of paying so much more.  The AS/400 supported
S/36 environment which ran most SSP stuff, but it was not an exact copy, most
of the stuff.  To get your S/36 stuff from S/36 SSP to AS/400 S36E, you had
to re-write the code that would no longer work on AS/400 S36E & also
recompile all the source code.  IBM promoting how close the reality, but to
companies that used stuff not supported, this fell on deaf ears.

Many S/36 programming environments saw the inevitability of migration & they
were able to get 400/RPG from ASNA which permitted 400-like coding on the
S/36 such as external file descriptions & programs calling other programs, so
we could get a taste of the techniques.  I went down that road, but when I
got to the 400, I still found CL & DDS & SQL & UIM & etc. to be pretty alien.
 In fact I still have not got around to learning UIM, which looks to be
pretty much like HTML.

I also discovered that 400 data types much more disiplined than 36 such that
a lot of data on 36 bombs when it gets to 400 & so it has to be converted
from 36 format to 400-valid.  Data Decimal Error was a new part of our
vocabulary.

Now an enormous number of S/36 using-companies were happy with what ran on
S/36 & not inspired to move to AS/400 even though S/36 considered to be a
dead machine - no new stuff coming out for it, support drying up for software
running on it.

So IBM launched the Advanced/36 campaign, initially the AS/236 then later the
AS/436.  This box was a special kind of AS/400.  You did not have to use
OS/400 on it, it could run fine with SSP as the only operating system.  It
ran everything that would run on S/36 - you did not have to recompile your
programs, you did not have to convert your data.

It ran the S36 RPG, OCL, 3rd party stuff for S36.
Anything that ran on the old S36 box would run on the AS/36.
No exceptions. Nothing to convert or recompile.
Well, we found that we needed to get a new version of some ASNA stuff,
because AS/36 was RISC & S/36 was CISC & other technical reasons, but the
cost was almost painless.
We had a fight with our primary software suppliers who had guaranteed that
our license would be good on any upgrade to a future model of the System/36
but they did not want to honor that commitment when we moved to the Advanced
System/36.

This fight was one of the main reasons we abandoned plans to move to AS/236,
then 6 months later went with the AS/436.  We also learned that IBM had
changed tech support ... if you buy your AS/36 via a cut rate price from a
broker whose office is a phone booth with a fax machine, you have to also get
your tech support from the same outfit.

We leased a temporary IBM box that was like a lap link.
The two boxes treated it like a work station address.
The data & software from S/36 to AS/436 moved over the wire, almost
painlessly - no diskettes tapes media to mess with.

The only difference between AS/436 and S/36 was performance & cost.  When we
traded in our S/36 for AS/436, we saved $350.00 per month in electric bill
(our old S/36 5360 was the size of several refrigerators lying on on their
side & our new AS/436 was a wee bit larger than a PC tower) and we leased the
new box through IBM Global Services for about $300.00 a month, so the total
financial bite was down, and our S/36 software ran 10-20 times faster (I kid
you not) & we had lots more disk space for future growth.

I was glad of the move because the disk drives on our S/36 which we owned
outright were lucky 13 years old & I had recently learned what is involved
when you have a hard disk crash.  I was having a hard time explaining to
management what IBM "mean time to failure" meant.

Another nice thing was that you could backup the whole AS/36 to a magnetic
tape about the size of a check book, while on the S/36 we used an army of
eight inch diskette magazines - when we took backups off site, it required
several trips between computer room & auto for several people.  Our backup
magazines were in these plastic cases, with color coded spines ... the red
set, blue set, yellow set etc. ... and we found out in winter time that if
you slip on the ice & the plastic case goes into snow drift, the mess is
force fed through the cracks ruining the contents.  But now backup fits in a
pocket & the time to make it was tiny fraction of S/36 time.

Because we had software & data that would not run on S36E, when we started
using OS/400, we went with M36.  M36 was like a reality partition on OS/400 &
inside that partition the rules were old S/36.  Anything that worked on S/36
SSP worked on M36 - no changes needed, no conversions needed.  There was a
simple command to hot key from OS/400 to M36 either way on the same display
station.  The AS/36 supported up to 3 of these independent M36 partitions,
that could even be at different versions of SSP on the same box at the same
time.  But if you were going to be running more than one operating system on
the same box, OS/400 had to be the boss & the others were the guests.

We ran the company on SSP on AS/436 for a while, without OS/400 in the
picture, then with great trepidation went to M36 as a guest of OS/400.  To
our amazement, the S36 software ran much faster when it was inside M36 on
OS/400 than when OS/400 was not in the picture.

When the AS/36 hardware first came out, you could not run M36 on regular
AS/400, but new models of AS/400 came out that could do everything AS/36
could do & IBM weaned us over to them by promoting how much greater
performance could be.

A lot of AS/400 hucksters seemed to be ignorant of the AS/36 market.
We would get cold calls from vendors claiming that their stuff would run on
any model of the AS/400 & I would ask "even AS/36?" & they'd say any model,
so I'd ask for some literature & invariably what they promoting could only
run on OS/400, not on SSP.

But then a horrible thing happened.
IBM rewrote OS/400 to no longer support M36.
We had to abandon M36 or remain on an old OS/400 version.

IBM gave us good advance warning that the end was coming.
But it is too late for us to return to AS/36 world since that is also gone.

If you want to remain current on OS/400 version, M36 is not an option.
Your only S/36 option is S36E or abandon IBM as your technology provider & go
with one of the companies that have something like Baby36 or 36 emulated on a
Unix machine.

Now what is unknown to me at the moment is if IBM is going to pull the plug
on S36E like they pulled the plug on M36, and if so, how soon that end will
come ... a few years or a lot of years.

MacWheel99@aol.com (Alister Wm Macintyre) (Al Mac)







Return to Archive home page | Return to MIDRANGE.COM home page

This mailing list archive is Copyright 1997-2014 by MIDRANGE dot COM and David Gibbs as a compilation work. Use of the archive is restricted to research of a business or technical nature. Any other uses are prohibited. Full details are available here. If you have questions about this, please contact