IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems - June 2018 - 23
The Toronto-based RPG and COBOL
development teams on announce day.
calculations? Yes, some cognitive
workloads can be run directly
on the platform, though a more
typical approach would be
to deploy IBM i applications
that interact with cognitive
applications on other platforms.
Alternatively, using IBM's
cloud-based services, extensions
can be created to IBM Watson*
cognitive and analytics
services. The point is, through
Power Systems and IBM i, various
options exist. Not surprising,
since these are business tools,
"We've always been a business
OS. As such, one thing we've
always done is implement open
standards and create interfaces
and extensions that allow for
integration," says IBM's Steve
Will, chief architect, IBM i.
"We're not re-architecting our
OS to become a cognitive or
AI environment. We architect
IBM i to be able to support those
interfaces and extensions.
"We haven't closed the door to
running AI on our box; in fact,
that's one of the things we're
looking at," he adds. "But we start
by integrating. The 'i' stands for
'integration,' and we'll integrate
wherever necessary to make
tomorrow's business applications
viable on IBM i."
This level of adaptability
resonates with IBM i clients, but
as far as cognitive computing, it
doesn't end there. Nelson points
out that interest in cognitive and
AI is data-driven. Enterprises have
amassed all this data and are
continually seeking new ways to
exploit this information.
"You don't do cognitive starting
from scratch. You have to have
the data to go with it, then you
can leverage that data in new and
different ways," he says. "Being
a database machine is natural for
the cognitive world. That's the
beauty of what we've got."
The AS/400 Represented a Bright New Day for IBM
Steve Will remembers the bright sunshine.
On June 21, 1988, at IBM Rochester, the conditions were picturesque, an all
too rare occurrence in an all too brief Minnesota summer. To commemorate the
official introduction of IBM's new AS/400 business computer, employees like
Will gathered in the parking areas outside the massive facility.
"I remember distinctly the celebration in the parking lot on announce day,"
he says. "Groups of people who it seemed like had been working without ever
seeing the sun for the previous six to nine months were now finally getting to
come out and celebrate something that we had all worked on together. It was a
very exciting time to be a programmer."
Will, now the chief architect for the IBM i OS, had only been with IBM for
three and a half years in 1988. Compared to most Rochester employees who
were developers on either the System/36 or System/38, Will was something of
an outsider. He had actually been working on Fort Knox the never-completed
initiative to combine the System/38 with the mainframe when he was pulled into
Silverlake, the code name for the creation of the AS/400. Much of the hardware
from Fort Knox made its way into AS/400 Release 1. To help facilitate this, Will
developed much of the low-level communications between the processors.
Dave Nelson has similar reflections on another seminal event in the early
years of the AS/400: the transition from the original CISC-based 48-bit processors to the 64-bit RISC processors in OS/400 V3R6 and V3R7. As someone
new to the AS/400 team (Nelson previously worked in storage) he was struck by
the dedication and passion of everyone involved.
"We had people working two shifts. That wasn't mandated, but everyone
wanted to be as productive as possible," he says. "Or you'd come in here on a
Saturday and the place would be at least half full. Again, no one told them they
had to be here, but they wanted to be here because they wanted the project to
Will believes everyone involved with each of these milestones knew they had
done something important.
"At both of these points we were introducing essentially a brand-new architecture into business computing," he says. "We were delivering something that
was going to stand the test of time."
Nelson, who's now a director for IBM i, adds: "The AS/400 was very, very
important to IBM's product portfolio. People knew that, and it drove them. The
AS/400 turned the day for IBM."
ibmsystemsmag.com JUNE 2018 // 23