Reader Feedback on AS/400s Are From Rochester, RS/6000s Are From Austin
October 22, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Doug Mewmaw’s article about his experiences while visiting a System p technical conference while being a hard-core System i guy not only shows what two different worlds the AIX and i5/OS platforms inhabit, but how the differing cultures behind the platforms and the expectations of programmers and administrators in these two environments link to each other in their respective AIX and i5/OS stacks to create radically different operating system platforms that now share a single hardware platform.
It is a bit like having one brain, but two minds. Which, if you ask me, explains some of the crazy things IBM does and sensible things it does not do, now that I think of it.
Great, great article! I have often wondered why the pSeries guys are like ostriches when it comes to performance. A very nicely worded reason!
Have a great day.
Great article. . . . love it. Well expressed.
Very nice article and great analogies. You were very kind to your new “p” friends.
Culture is everything, isn’t it? Be it Mars or Venus or Mainframe or Windows or System i, most of us really know the nuances of just one culture (platform).
Years ago, when I was an SE with IBM it took at least a day with a customer who was in one of these other cultures to see enough that they saw the light. The AIX world is as it is because it is part of the Unix world. In these worlds computer scientists who “know” things and view that knowledge as an asset, are not necessarily looking to change to something better (a different culture) . IBM will no longer give a day to most customers looking to change systems since it is easier to sell what they already want.
Going back and working on those platforms or their derivative applications such as WebSphere, et al, make me think I am performing a type of function that I don’t feel like when I am using a System i. I think the word that best describes what it is I think I am doing when I cross over the line from i to whatever is “work.” There are no big road pavers over there. It’s like getting out the tar buckets and the pebbles and starting from there. It’s like–OK I said it, “work.”
Once you’ve been on top of one of those big road pavers, you know just how much “work” it is on the other side and progress sure is a lot slower.
Don’t get lost in “p” since we need good “i” guys like you over here.
Get used to things being different. I work for a county in Western New York. We have been an “AS/400” shop. The sheriff’s whole system was on the AS/400 as well as the financials for the county. All critical systems were on the AS/400. Everything was critical–uptime was critical–and we have a hot backup and run MIMIX. We had to get the sheriff’s blessing just to switch to the back-up machine to upgrade the OS.
Now a new younger generation has been elected. The hourglass and waiting for response is okay and normal. The AS/400 is going out the door and being replaced by “cheaper” servers (you know the story). This response time thing just slays me no end. Response was critical a year ago and now it appears that what is important is to have “Windows” so you can point and click. But it is what this younger group has grown up with. It’s normal to them. Shut down and reboot is a standard operating procedure.
We’re appears we’re getting old, comrade–products of a different time.
Thank you for a great article. I got a chuckle from reading it. Was I surprised about what you found? Well, honestly, yes and no.
Yes, because I was surprised by the performance mentality from the IBM System p folks. To me, these are people who are running IBM’s flavor of Unix on IBM hardware. I hope that assumption is correct. If not, please excuse. If so, I have the same reaction as you do: That you are surprised that no one seems to care about performance management.
And No, because at my former position, we converted from an AS/400 to a Sybase database running on top of Unix. It was touted as the “Latest and Greatest,” and of course the AS/400 was touted as “old fashioned.” There are so many things taken for granted on the AS/400-iSeries-System i that you don’t appreciate them until you lose them. As a result of the conversion, I had to [re-]learn Unix, which I had not used since high school. My first reaction was: This operating system has not been changed since the 1970s–much like your observation. I was so sick and tired of using the Unix editor and having to try to remember the keys that controlled cursor movement, since the normal arrow keys were disabled. They thought that this “editor” was good. I was appalled that this editor is still even used!!!! It is amazing! I am sure somewhere in the computer room there was a card reader lurking under the covers.
So, I totally agree with you–blow out the candle and flip the switch. But, in order to do that, you have to realize there IS a switch, and based on your findings, I don’t think that realization has hit yet! And the more important question is WHY hasn’t it hit yet?
Thanks again for the great article!