• Subject: Re: What About Price vs. Performance?
  • From: Scott Klement <klemscot@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2001 17:58:45 -0500 (CDT)

I agree with you that the AS/400 (& iSeries) is a great platform, but
you seem horribly misinformed as to WHY.

On Wed, 4 Apr 2001, Joe Pluta  wrote:

> So why don't we move all of our applications to Linux?  Well, because
> Linux is harder to maintain and doesn't scale nicely and doesn't have
> all the wonderful development tools I'm used to on the AS/400 for
> building large-scale business applications.  Try to write a working
> business application in C++ that accesses customer data, tracks
> promotions and deals, provides picking and ship confirmation from lot
> numbers, supports government licensing (such as FDA), projects
> requirements, manages your warehouse, prints orders and pick lists
> with bar coding, accepts payments of all types, handles dunning,
> supports RMAs, performs currency translations, provides online
> inquiries into historical data going back for years, and integrates
> with a multi-company, multi-currency general ledger.

I'm confused.  Why do you think that you couldn't do that on Linux?
I'm fairly confident that I could write software to do all of these
things on Linux.

Then, you could even run your Linux applications on the new AS/400's
which are supposed to be able to run Linux in a logical partition.
That makes it as scalable as OS/400 is.

The AS/400's databases are better than anything I've seen under Linux.
But, with careful design, you could work around this problem.  Or you
could settle for something like Oracle.

> Ain't gonna do it.  You're not going to do it in Visual Basic, either.

Visual Basic would be fine for the front-end... but not on the server
side of things.   VB only runs on Windows, though -- and I hate Windows.

> So, if you don't, and won't ever, need the trappings of an enterprise
> business application, maybe you don't need an AS/400.  Unless you need
> things like a single-tape backup, 24/7 operation, easy to use menuing
> systems, 99.9% uptime, and integrated web and email serving all on a
> single machine.  

My AS/400 won't do 24/7 operation because it has to be taken down to do
that single-tape backup that you mentioned.   It also needs to be IPLed

My FreeBSD (which is similar to Linux) servers however _DO_ run 24/7.
The only downtime I experience with it is when there's a hardware problem.
Currently, my FreeBSD machine has been running for 178 days without a
single second of downtime.   I had it down 178 days ago because one of
the hard drives crashed.   It continued to run with the faulty drive
online (something Windows generally wont do) but I felt the need to 
replace the drive. :)

Granted, if I had bought higher-quality hardware for it, and hot-swappable
drives, I wouldn't have had the downtime. :)

> A machine that has regular OS upgrades that don't
> break your existing applications and can usually be done overnight
> without a whole lot of technical knowledge.  

Actually, my most recent OS/400 upgrade broke several of my applications.
(Operational Descriptors just dont work on V4R5!  I had to change them to
not use opdesc.  Several other apps didnt work, including the OS/400 
telnet server, until I installed PTFs.)

My last 10 FreeBSD upgrades didn't break any compatability.  However,
this is one area where FreeBSD is much better than Linux.

> Oh, and did I mention the  fact that the AS/400 has never had a native
> virus?  

This is largely because people don't have AS/400's at home to write them
on.  I wouldn't boast about it too much, though -- it might convince me
that I should write a native virus!   It would actually probably be easier
on OS/400 due to all the well-defined exit programs, exit points, 
validity checking programs, command processing programs, etc.

> And that it runs
> COBOL and RPG, two of the best languages for writing business
> applications?  With a native database?  And it supports Java natively?  
> And SQL?  And can act as your central server, not just for email, but
> for printing and file serving as your company grows?

Unless you have existing COBOL and RPG programs and/or programmers,
there's very little point to using them.   There aren't all that many
people out there that are familiar with them -- and the people that
you can find are an aging group.   (Eventually we'll all retire.)

OS/400 is an awful file server.  I have a 486sx25 with 8mb of RAM that
grossly outperforms my brand new Model 270 as a file server.   

> But it costs more than a Wintel box.  Yes indeed.  But you get what
> you pay for.  And if you can't sell that, then you need to learn
> Linux, because that's how you can hook the bottom feeders.  A nice
> Linux box for web serving, a Wintel desktop and Microsoft Office for
> all those pesky back-end needs, and a 24/7 pager link to the
> consultant.

The AS/400 is THE BEST database server I've ever seen.   It's
exceptionally stable because its built on high-quality hardware, and
the OS is stable because it wasn't written by Microsoft.

However, its HORRIBLY lacking in flexibility.   Any other computer 
platform in the known world will do a lot more things, and do them a lot
faster and cheaper.   Someone at IBM has to wise up to this, or the AS/400
WILL die out.

And they need to start focusing on the AS/400's *GOOD* features instead of
pushing it as a web server which ANY OTHER PLATFORM can do just as well.

And how many web servers get SOOOO much traffic that they can't be run on
a PC?   Yahoo is run on FreeBSD on a PC.   Google is run on FreeBSD on a
PC.  Microsoft.com is run on Win NT/2000 clusters.   How big do you
think you need to scale a web server?!

They also need to recognize that scalability goes in both directions.  
While you can't scale a PC up to support a very large enterprise, at the
same time you really can't scale an AS/400 down to fit the
price/performance needs of a small company or student.  

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