• Subject: Re: Computerworld article - it's not just the box dummy!
  • From: John Hall <jhall@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 12:46:55 -0400
  • Organization: Home Sales Co.

Scott Cornell wrote:
> 
> Having read the very positive front page article on the AS/400 in this
> week's Computerworld, I like many others on this list was feeling
> pretty pleased.  However, if you dig a little deeper, in the
> Corporate Stratagies section (p35 in the hard copy), there's an
> article about a construction firm replacing their legacy computer
> system with a whiz bang NT/Oracle/packaged business management
> software solution.  The old system was described as "storing
> information in unconnected files rather than a database," "taking too
> much spit and gum to paste together results," and having "sci-fi-like
> character commands."  The old system was run on, you guessed it, an
> AS/400.
> 
> Now, you, me, & everybody else on the list knows that the problems
> mentioned probably had more to do with the software package
> (described as 10-15 years old, possibly making it a RPGII port from a
> s36, thus pre-relational DB technology??)  But, probably nobody
> outside our cozy little world knows or cares about that.  All this
> construction company VIPs knew is it took too long to get answers out
> of it's AS/400.
> 
> I wonder how much of the image problem our favorite box suffers
> from stems from a relative lack of quality software solutions (and I
> mean real quality, not just the lack of a GUI)?  I know there's
> gazillions of apps available for the 400, but how much is garbage
> code holding the box back?  God knows I've seen enough junk RPG
> programs (from big name vendors even) to last me a life time - and
> I've still got quite a bit of life time to live yet (assuming any of us
> survive the Y2K disaster :))
> 
> Just a thought - what's the list's perception?
> 

<soapbox>
One of the AS400's great assets is also one of its biggest problems -
Backward compatability.  The above example is being repeated over and
over again.  At my current company we are running some code which was
originally written in 1981.  This is great in terms of migrating from
S34 to S36 to 400.  But when managers look at what the system can do
they say oh - its too outdated.  

Nothing wrong with the AS400 - the problem is that the managers haven't
asked for a design change in 10 years and then someone shows them a new
package and they say look at all the things I can do on NT/UNIX that I
can't do on the AS400.  We all know this is BS.

The Y2K problem will cost IBM a lot of sites because of the cost of
converting the old software vs buying a new system.  IMHO IBM cannot do
enough or invest enough of its own resources to simplify this change
over.
Yeah I know companies should have been working on this all along and IBM
shouldn't have to pay for these problems.  But the point is they will
pay by losing customers.  Also the lack of a true Date data type over
all these years is a major contributing factor.  I am not sure but I
don't think the Date Type is supported 100% across all applications
(SDA,DDS etc)even now.  The press is always saying how programmers used
6 digits to save disk space but the new Date Type only uses 4 bytes !

I am sure everyone on this list has written numerous date handling
routines to do what IBM finally saw fit to include in RPG IV  (ADDUR,
SUBDUR, etc).  

oh well - guess I had a little too much caffine this morning....
</soapbox>

John Hall
Home Sales Co.
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