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Tales from the AS/400 crypt -- they're alive!

You can smash it, flood it and even run a forklift through it, but the AS/400 (iSeries) keeps on running. These true tales illustrate just how reliable the 400 is.

After my last column about IBM's failure to market the iSeries effectively, I was talking with Kelly Schmotzer, manager of worldwide WebSphere Small and Medium Business eServer initiatives at IBM. She spoke about the iSeries with a passion and fervor I haven't heard in a while. She's a walking advertisement for the iSeries system.

Her zeal turned to complete delight when I talked of having dropped an AS/400 from a height of over 100 feet to a concrete parking lot. We fixed it up and had it running in two hours.

So as a tribute to her, I'm marketing the iSeries the way it should be done, with stories that tell the true measure of this powerful system.

Kelly, this one's for you.

John Brandt

Forgotten but not lost
In Cleveland about 12 years ago, a teacher needed a new office. The only space available was where the AS/400 was located, so the janitor put a board in the rafters and put the server on the board. A few years later, an IBM CE shows up to upgrade the system to find the AS/400 missing as well as the janitor who had since retired. After tracing cables, the CE found it still running in the rafters as it had since the day the janitor put it up there.

Stick a fork in it. Nope, not done yet
A few years ago, I installed a system at a trucking company. They wanted the system in a back office in the warehouse near the loading dock. About 1 a.m. one morning, I got the call. "Houston, we have a problem." I arrived a few minutes later to find a forklift with the blades driven through the wall and one went completely through the iSeries system. The system was still working, so I backed it up and turned it off. We put some books under the system to hold it in place and backed the forks out of the system. Seeing no damage other than the case of the system, I started it back up and went home. I got an e-mail the other day from the client who said it sat on those books running for three years until they replaced it last summer.

Do you have an AS/400 tale to tell?
Send us your stories about how reliable and invincible your 400 is.

What's a little water?
In the far reaches of northern Canada, an iSeries system was in a basement where the water was quickly rising. When the CE arrived, he couldn't get into the basement to do the backup. The manager laughed and said, "We can just use the Internet access. The iSeries is running the proxy server." The backup completed, and the system was shut down successfully without any damage.

Takes a licking and keeps on ticking
A few years ago in Fort Worth, Texas, a tornado hit downtown and caused millions of dollars in damages. One building housed a small software company who had its iSeries systems in a closet. A few of the partners in the company dodged roadblocks and police to arrive at the building and find the iSeries almost submerged in water. Once the system was removed and blown dried, it started right up.

Neither rain, nor sleet …
At 3 a.m. one morning this past May, heavy rains that had been falling on Chicago prompted the family dog to make the trip up the stairs to the second floor of the Cozzi household. The basement had flooded with over eight inches of water and in middle of the floor was Bob Cozzi's AS/400. The family unplugged the system, moved it to high ground and tilted it to allow water to pour from the frame, hoping it would dry out "before Dad got home."

When Bob returned from sunny Orlando, he got the news. He put the system close to a dehumidifier for a few weeks, plugged it in and "IPL'd" it. To his amazement, he was able to retrieve every piece of information on the system. Bob states clearly, "The iSeries is the most rock solid computer ever built! So bring on the rain!"

Next time someone tells you they have to "reboot" their NT server, tell them one of those stories. The only video I've seen of an iSeries system recently is on the "Getting to know Windows XP" video delivered with the operating system. You guessed it, a Microsoft employee sitting on an iSeries system. I assume that there are only two companies who don't want to see the iSeries on TV. One is IBM, and the other is Microsoft, each for a different reason.

Of course, I wouldn't know. I'm just a flunky programmer.

About the author: John Brandt is a site expert on and vice president of technical services, He welcomes your comments and feedback; send your e-mails to


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