Is IBM AS/400 system a good choice for employment anymore?

sidioussidious Posts: 3Member ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello,
I currently work an IT technician in a large company. The work is good but entry level. I'm 43 and have dabbled here and there with networking, as/400, SDS type systems. I'm looking to find a career in a certain system that will still be relevant and is in demand in the IT field.
My dream job would entail not managing others while being responsible for a particular program system. I have known people
who specialized in IBM AS/400 and seemed to make a nice living while remaining relatively removed from the office politics and random lay-offs associated with large companies these days.
Is AS/400 a good choice as a reliable specialization?

Thanks

Comments

  • gespensterngespenstern Posts: 1,243Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    It looks like a question from mid-2000s. Nowadays there's no AS/400 as IBM renamed it to system i and scrapped the hardware part for it in favor of system p which later was renamed to Power Systems. These days Power Systems servers can run either AIX (native to them), system i (which was moved to Power Systems from now defunkt system i hardware) or linux.

    As for whole IBM market it is slowly declining, being pushed out by Windows on Intel from one side and Linux on Intel on another. IBMs products are really pricey (like ~10 fold compared to a similar intel-based hardware) and the only reason I see people still buy them is because it's necessary to support older legacy software code which often dates back to 1970's and so far was considered cheaper to stay on older IBM systems then redesigned for Windows or Linux on Intel. But some folks do jump the ship altogether hence the decline.

    PS I personally did some projects on mid-business and enterprise class Power Systems running AIX. It wasn't paid exactly well. I say that a typical IBM engineer with 10+ years of experience is getting around 80k-100k which isn't that high. Bright heads make more, freshmen make less. I also know a few IBM AIX/Power Systems engineers and been on IBM Enterprise summit in Vegas once and I can tell the IBM engineers share a few things in common: almost all of them are old (50+), almost all of them are white, almost all of them are men and almost all of them are skeptical on IBM's (both z systems and power systems) prospects and finally almost all of them are sure that it's going to last enough to have them employed until retirement.

    Two or so years ago IBM completely divested their Power System manufacturing business to Global Foundries and didn't get any money in return, instead, they paid a hefty sum to Global Foundries just to accept IBM's manufacturing facilities. Also in an attempt to revert the course IBM opened Power Systems architecture in a similar fashion they did with IBM PC decades ago in hopes that the industry will pick it up.

    So I'd say the future is pretty grim, however, it's declining slowly so it's not going to vanquish in like a few years for certain, they have some time.
  • RoyalRavenRoyalRaven Posts: 142Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Great info from gespenstern.

    From what I've encountered, I've only run across projects to move away from the AIX platform for two reasons: cost (IBM) and lack of skilled (available) personnel to support them. From what I gather, Linux on other hardware seems to be the trend...unless you have a very unique and justified reason to keep the more expensive hardware in-place.

    Everyone I know who's worked on these systems touts their robustness and performance, however, it's pretty much becoming a niche product.
  • joelsfoodjoelsfood Posts: 1,027Member ■■■■■■□□□□
    Let's remember that Aix and AS400 are two different platforms.

    That being said, I definitely would not hinge my career on AS400 at this point unless you're 50 or older (or maybe even 55, with a regular 65yo retirement age). It is definitely a platform on the down swing. I'm sure some systems will be around for decades yet to come, but not enough that you want to pin your whole career on it. Time for some expansion. :)
  • jeremywatts2005jeremywatts2005 CySA,S+,A+,N+Cloud+,MSDFS,MSMISSM Posts: 340Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I worked for Rockwell EC back in 1998 and was laid off in 2002. This was one of those huge companies back in the day. We had an ACD phone system and Premysys equipment we serviced and sold. Eventually the system started going the way of the dinosaur with VOIP, which Rockwell tried. Eventually though they just could not keep up with the massive size switches they were selling. You are talking about 3 -5 refrigerator and I mean large refrigerator cabinets to house the cards. Then you had to replace chips on the cards for upgrades and backup on DAT or some big proprietary VHS like tape. It ran a proprietary OS. The thing was a beast to learn and work on and at the end of the day when I got laid off I never worked on one again. There were thousands of us let go as they spun down the division. Guys were literally contemplating suicide after having been there almost till retirement and now in their late 60's looking for more work. It was bad
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youPosts: 2,715Mod Mod
    I'd rather be proficiant on various systems than on just one. And I resemble that remark 'unless you're 50 or older'. Some people at our 'young' age are not even THINKING of retirement.
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • joelsfoodjoelsfood Posts: 1,027Member ■■■■■■□□□□
    Ha, I hope that no one took the fifty or older as an insult,. I was just trying to estimate time that AS400 specialization would still hold enough job opportunities to be worth it. Was more of a jab at the time remaining for OS400 than a comment about anyone here on the forum. :)
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youPosts: 2,715Mod Mod
    joelsfood wrote: »
    Ha, I hope that no one took the fifty or older as an insult,. I was just trying to estimate time that AS400 specialization would still hold enough job opportunities to be worth it. Was more of a jab at the time remaining for OS400 than a comment about anyone here on the forum. :)
    LOL.. it is quite alright.icon_cheers.gif
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • sidioussidious Posts: 3Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Awesome. That's exactly what I was wondering about. The companies in this area (Mississippi) have really outdated systems but they still get the job done. We often call companies for tech support that have gone out of business or stopped supporting our software by 10+ years.
  • RHELRHEL Posts: 195Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    There are still some very large companies buying into IBM over Intel. Typically, it will be the companies who can directly correlate revenue to system performance and often have big pockets for infrastructure.

    IBM AIX is *much* more expensive, but it also runs laps around similar Intel offerings running Linux. If you control the proprietary hardware and the operating system that runs on it, you have the ability to truly fine tune the product for performance. Linux will run on about anything, even a toaster. That's great for versatility, but a one-size-fits-all solution simply cannot compete with proprietary design.

    Another key aspect is that Intel's primary business is the consumer... PCs, and more specifically, laptops and mobile devices. A giant chunk of their business is focused on mobility and low battery consumption.. Two things that don't typically add up to 'power'.

    IBM on the other hand, is almost entirely about enterprise performance.

    These days, it's up to the company to decide whether cost saving or bleeding edge performance is most important to their business. Unfortunately (for IBM systems engineers), many companies can't justify the substantial cost to stick with IBM.
  • gespensterngespenstern Posts: 1,243Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    joelsfood wrote: »
    Let's remember that Aix and AS400 are two different platforms.
    Not exactly, they are different OSes for sure, but they run on the same hardware these days and general Power Systems knowledge such as hardware, clustering, network/disk virtualization, LPARs and HMC are the same and this knowledge comprises a significant part of running a system i on top of Power Systems.

    They were different platforms earlier. Since then IBM got rid of system i hardware and modified system i to be able to run on Power Systems. Hardware and low-level software is the same, OSes are different.
  • TechGromitTechGromit A+, N+, GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Posts: 1,905Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    As for whole IBM market it is slowly declining, being pushed out by Windows on Intel from one side and Linux on Intel on another.

    As of 2012, the install base for AS/400 was around 150,000 unique customers. I wouldn't call AS/400's dead quite yet. I'd say if you have experience in AS/400's and your willing to relocate, Sticking with AS/400's would be a wise move. However, I wouldn't recommend anyone young entering the computer field to pursue AS/400 as a career choice. I have a good 10 years experience on AS/400's and if a good security job came up supporting them, I wouldn't be opposed to taking it.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • gespensterngespenstern Posts: 1,243Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    TechGromit wrote: »
    I have a good 10 years experience on AS/400's and if a good security job came up supporting them, I wouldn't be opposed to taking it.

    I don't have that many years and for the most part I worked with AIX, but I wouldn't mind such an opportunity as well. The problems is, I've got zero calls on this from recruiters during last year and plenty of calls on other stuff in my resume. Based on that I'd say it's certainly not a hot area...
  • joelsfoodjoelsfood Posts: 1,027Member ■■■■■■□□□□
    4 hits in the last 370 days from recruiters for jobs that flagged my aix experience. Hence, my suggestion not to depend on it. :)
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy SABSA, GCFA, GPEN, CISM, RHCE, Security+, Server+, eJPT, CCNA Posts: 4,047Mod Mod
    OP joined the forum in Feb 2009, and decided to post today icon_lol.gif
    Goal: MBA, Jan 2021
  • ImYourOnlyDJImYourOnlyDJ Posts: 180Member
    Every place I've been to has been moving away from IBM. As mentioned above though its not going to happen overnight. One thing to keep in mind as more companies move away there will be more AS/400 people competing for those jobs.
  • SteveLordSteveLord Posts: 1,717Member
    Wow! I personally....have not heard AS/400 in a long time!
    WGU B.S.IT - 9/1/2015 >>> ???
  • sidioussidious Posts: 3Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Stalker Alert.....
  • alias454alias454 Posts: 648Member
    I wish our AS/400 would go away. It has been on the chopping block for the last 5 years but they just can't pull the plug.
    “I do not seek answers, but rather to understand the question.”
  • gespensterngespenstern Posts: 1,243Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    Just read in the news:

    What's happening at IBM? (It's dying)

    Guess where these layed off guys are heading to if all they did during their career was, say, AS/400 or Power? Guess how does it impact salary ranges for IBM specialists on the market?
  • NemowolfNemowolf Posts: 319Member
    Coming from a government prospective, you might find yourself in a niche position to make a handsome wage as a part-time or full-time administrator to aged but required AS/400 systems still in production at the City, County or even State Level. I worked in the county court house and we had one production AS/400 that we had no resources internally to service or maintain and had to go to the county itself for support. Their only tech was retired and brought back to work 10 hours a week to do system maintenance and train an intern. They also support one or two other surrounding county and courthouses with their systems as well.
Sign In or Register to comment.