IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems - June 2018 - 35
Built for Business
Five underlying architectural principles of IBM i continue to deliver value
to businesses today
By Diana Kightlinger k Photography by John Roberts/EyeEm
hy can't we store
XML and JSON
documents? Query the web via
HTTP function calls to APIs in the
cloud? Get in-memory database
capabilities?" These are requests
that Michael Cain, senior technical
staff member at IBM, regularly
hears from clients. There's
just one problem with adding
these capabilities: They've been
available from the beginning.
"For example, the ability to
take advantage of all the memory
available in the system has been a
hallmark of Db2* for i for 30 years,
since the AS/400 was introduced,"
says Cain. "If you count the
System/38, you can add a decade."
The AS/400 has evolved into
the IBM Power Systems* platform
running IBM i-with the "i" for
"integrated." But the innovation
built in from the start was
designed to meet the needs of
business then and create value
that would last for decades.
That meant a system that could
seamlessly incorporate new
technologies, both hardware
and software, and reinvent
itself every few years without
disrupting clients. So you may
wonder: Did it work?
business. Read more about the
launch of the AS/400 in "The
AS/400 Represented a Bright New
Day for IBM" on page 29.
A Business Computer
The Five Sacred
Developers were charged with
developing a midrange business
computer to perform simple
operations on massive amounts
of transactional data-as opposed
to complex operations on small
amounts data, as is the case for
research or science. The solution
had to be affordable to clients with
minimal technical expertise. And
the team that took up the challenge
rode the perfect storm to success.
The IBM Rochester group had
the technical capability, financial
resources and independence to
try new concepts in the S/38,
introduced in 1978. Many of
the key attributes still found in
IBM i began here. By 1988, the
group had the savvy to build
the AS/400, taking the best
of the S/36 and S/38, adding
new twists to meet changeable
needs, and turning that into
the quintessential system for
In his book "Fortress Rochester:
The Inside Story of the IBM
iSeries," Frank Soltis, the former
chief scientist behind the AS/400,
calls the five principles underlying
the platform sacred. Yet users
may take them for granted, not
recognizing how they support
smarter business decisions, better
programs and tough budgets.
Db2 has been systematically enhanced
since its inception in 1995.
The five architectural principles behind
the IBM i platform are technology
independence, object-based design,
hardware integration, software integration
and single-level store.
IBM i's built-in security, governance and
control protects organizations' data from
those who tried to appropriate or misuse it.
ibmsystemsmag.com JUNE 2018 // 35