IBM readies AS/400 push

The latest pitch: IBM's midrange servers as the dream machines for software hosting.

IBM is poised to give its midrange AS/400 platform a face-lift, positioning it as the hot box for software hosting.

On 26 October, IBM will detail its application service provider (ASP) launch program for the AS/400, says Tom Jarosh, general manager of IBM's AS/400 division.

IBM will announce a dedicated ASP sales team; an ASP Worldwide Centre For Competency in Rochester, Minnesota; and a list of terms and conditions for ASPs interested in basing solutions on the AS/400. It also will begin branding ASPs "AS/400 Certified Hosting Sites" as part of the campaign, according to Jarosh.

The October announcement will be one of the ways IBM intends to up the visibility of the AS/400 in the coming months. This past summer, IBM publicly repositioned its S/390 mainframe as an e-commerce server. And the company has been pushing various models from its Netfinity and RS/6000 server lines as systems well suited for ISPs/ASPs.

In the post-October timeframe, IBM is planning on further beefing up the AS/400 operating system, called OS/400, say company officials. IBM plans to enhance OS/400's Java support, and will add more e-business infrastructure hooks in the form of virtual private network, digital certificate and LDAP extensions over the next couple of years, say IBM officials. In December, IBM is planning to start beta testing version 5.1 of its MQSeries for AS/400 middleware, which will increase cluster and messaging queue management.

IBM also is actively looking into whether to add new dedicated server AS/400 models to its lineup. In August, it rolled out its AS/400 For Domino system. Depending on customer feedback, it may do similar single-function AS/400s for Java and web serving, officials say.

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