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Just how invincible is the iSeries (AS/400)?

Over the years we've all heard stories of the iSeries (AS/400) being nearly indestructible. It may have been thrown from a moving vehicle, caught in a fire, sealed in a wall or immersed in water and still came out smelling like an iSeries. Our readers wrote in with their own iSeries stories.

Over the years we've all heard stories of the iSeries (AS/400) being nearly indestructible. It may have been thrown from a moving vehicle, caught in a fire, sealed in a wall or immersed in water and still came out smelling like an iSeries. Our readers wrote in with their own iSeries stories. Here are a few. Want to share your incredible iSeries story! We'd love to hear from you.

The AS/400 tumbles end over end

Many years ago when the first small AS/400s came out, I had a vendor come in to do a demo on some software we were looking at. He brought the AS/400 with him on a luggage cart (this box was a bit bigger than a large desktop PC.) I went to pick him up at the airport. I saw him headed toward the escalator, so I waited downstairs for him to get there. He got on the escalator, pushing his 400 on the luggage cart in front of him. And, of course, the inevitable happened. It fell. End over end all the way down the escalator. Thank goddess there wasn't anyone on the escalator ahead of him. We didn't know what we were going to do about the demo. All the "big wigs" in the company were scheduled to come in to see the software. We got back to the office, powered up the machine, and it worked like a champ!

-- Cindy Howard

Nine inches of water no threat for S/34

Many years ago, I was doing some work for a customer in Glasgow, Scotland. Their computer room was two feet below ground level. There had been heavy snow for a few days and then a sudden thaw. Needless to say, there was about nine inches of water in the computer room. The fire service pumped out the computer room and the power was restored. Two fan heaters were placed at each end of the S/34 and left for a couple of hours. The S/34 was connected to the power and it fired up the first time!

The next demonstrates robustness above other offerings.

Some years later I was working for a printer manufacturer who built printers for IBM. The U.S. head offices insisted that we got rid of our IBM S/36 running Maapics and replace it with another Windows-based server. The new server was installed during a hot summer. After about an hour, the new server went down with a thermal check. The S/36 was running just fine. Engineering was called and an engineer dispatched. The only way that this new server could be prevented from a thermal check was to put all the office fans around it to keep it cool. So the machine ran cool, but there was a lot of very hot staff! That was my last day at that company as I'd secured another job with an S/38 shop.

-- Brent Westbrook
Hosting Services Manager

The AS/400 is tarred

Back in the late 1980s we were working on a six-foot AS/400. The two-storey office building my employers were located in was having some roofing repair work done. The repair people neglected to check for leaks in the roof before they started applying the tar. Of course, the roof that started to drip the tar was located directly above our AS/400. A fair amount of tar dripped on to the AS/400 -- even down the side and somewhat into the vents that ran along the side, so some must have gotten into the unit itself. The roofers sheepishly came down to clean the machine off after we reported the mishap. All ended well, there were no problems for the machine itself -- despite the insides not being cleaned.

Not only is the AS/400 durable, it can also keep you warm!
The same company I was working for had reorganized and was now working out of a condo-type three floor building with the AS/400 located in the basement. As it turns out, the machine generated so much heat that during the winters we were located there -- we barely had to turn the heat on to warm ourselves up. Talk about a money-saving feature!

-- Ron Jennings

Past tales of AS/400 endurance

It fell off the back of a truck? No problem
About 12 years ago a colleague and I were asked to install a new AS/400 E20 at a depot 30 miles away. So we loaded it into the transit van outside the office and commenced our journey. Within two minutes of the journey, the system had moved toward the rear doors of the transit van, though not quite close enough for concern. (No, we hadn't secured it in place, as we didn't think it would be necessary at the time.)

After going another 200 yards down the road (doing about 50 mph at the time) we heard a bang. The temperature inside the transit got slightly cooler, and the rear view mirror was filled with an alarming view of the road behind us, including a large, cream-colored rectangular box on its side with debris scattered between us and it! I immediately realized that this was the gleaming new system we were supposed to install, and it was now in tatters on the asphalt.

I slammed the van into reverse. (Luckily there wasn't much traffic.) My colleague and I got out see what appeared to be utter devastation and had visions of our being fired. To our amazement it appeared that only the covers were damaged. To prevent from being fired, we hurriedly got ourselves together and somehow managed to lift the tattered looking E20 back into the transit -- this time making sure we secured it.

We continued to our destination, installed the system and powered it up, praying that it would IPL OK. We cheered with excitement as DST appeared and continued the IPL through to OS/400. We had installed the systems "successfully'," and to the day I left the company my boss was none the wiser!

Hooray for AS/400s!

-- Ian Showell
iSeries / AS/400 Systems Recovery Engineer
Business Continuity & Recovery Services
ITS Services Business
IBM U.K. Ltd.

Not even fire can destroy it
I work for an IBM Business Partner in the United Kingdom, and we were called in after a fire in a manufacturing plant that had gutted the entire building. The customer's AS/400 (a 5-way LPAR) had died of heat and smoke inhalation and had been condemned by the IBM engineer and our own ex-IBM engineer who had inspected it for the insurance company. The only trouble was that the machine had died with incomplete backups and still probably contained a lot of important data.

We took the burned out towers to a warehouse and hooked up the parts we thought we could use to a donor processor and rebuilt and restarted each LPAR, recovering the load source on each one and then booting the system. They were lucky -- they never lost more than one disk in any RAID array, and we were able to take backups of each LPAR for the customer. Most of the RAID cards and IOPs worked, as did most of the towers and the internal disks in the system unit.

In the end the customer actually bought back two disks from each burned out RAID array from the insurance company and smelted them so that if someone else bought the disks they wouldn't be able to do what we had done.

-- Richard Shearwood

The 400 didn't miss a beat
My only "WOW" story is that a former employer's shop had an AS/400 that was on a UPS, but an expansion cabinet housing four DASD units and a tape drive somehow was left unprotected, plugged into the wall. This particular site was subject to power outages of 10 minutes or more in duration at least once per month. The UPS kept the main 400 box going without missing a beat. The only way we figured out that the expansion cabinet was unprotected was that the tape drive had to be reset whenever there was a power outage. This was at an out-of-state site and the building engineers swore up and down that all of the AS/400 was plugged into the UPS. Well...

We can only figure that the operating system was loaded *before* the expansion DASD was added. The system seemed to suspend operations until power was restored, but there were never any error messages (which in itself is a little scary) and nothing adverse ever occurred.

-- Dan Bale

I smell smoke
These systems are remarkable! I just wanted to share a couple of interesting events I've experienced with two of my iSeries systems over the last few months. Actually, I acquired a few more grey hairs and a couple more scowl wrinkles, but here goes anyway:

1. I received a call from the folks at one of our remote plants (another state). They told me the iSeries was smoking, and they had pulled the plug. They said the smoke was so bad it was hurting their eyes. I contacted IBM service, and they reported to the site within a couple of hours. The main power supply was replaced and the system IPL'd with NO failing components. Upon further investigation, I found the machine had not been IPL'd since June 17, 2001.

2. I received a call from the folks at a different remote site (another country). Apparently they had contractors working on the roof Thursday, and the workers had dropped a piece of heavy machinery on the roof, resulting in a huge hole. Within a couple of hours, the rain came. Well, the contractors wouldn't work in the rain, so the workers left, leaving a huge gaping hole in the roof. It rained all night, thus going through the ceiling directly into the computer room. The iSeries was drenched and shut down when the power went out. The electrician unplugged the system and moved it to a dry area. He took the back panel off and placed a fan directly into the unit for the weekend.

The next morning he came in, called me and we replaced the back panel and plugged the machine in. Well, the system came up without hesitation and NO failing components. Upon further investigation, I found the machine had not been IPL'd since Oct. 8, 2001. The system even applied PTFs I had set to be applied at the next IPL in preparation for the OS upgrade.

Way to go Rochester!

-- Kim Kuras

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