Transitioning from AS/400 to Blue Chip Cloud

Creating the AS/400 cloud

A world-leading specialist technical manufacturer has successfully transitioned from their 1997 AS/400 environment to IBM i within Blue Chip Cloud. They’ve been a Blue Chip hardware and maintenance customer since 2003. Here is how we put them on the path to an AS/400 cloud.

Until 2017, Blue Chip had provided this manufacturer with IBM AS/400 hardware maintenance on its legacy 9406-310 model. Blue Chip’s Client Director, Claire Gallagher, would facilitate review meetings once a quarter to ensure that her team was aligned with the company’s ERP roadmap and to provide them with any updates.

Upgrading a legacy AS/400 system from 1997

“In February 2017, Transcontinental’s IT team was given the go ahead to look at hardware upgrades for their legacy system,” Claire explains. “They had some concerns around supportability; the ERP they run is Prism from Infor, which is business-critical. It runs the business’s manufacturing 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Claire, alongside Blue Chip IBM i experts Chris Walton and Kevin Lee, liaised with the company’s IT manager to mastermind an approach for their upgrade. The first phase involved planning and testing, with the second phase focusing on the hardware upgrade itself.

However, Claire points out: “They were on such an old version of the OS, they needed to get up to a more stable version first”.

The testing would ensure that all the applications would work on the new hardware that was available to the company, which would be dictated by the OS version available to them. 

Broadening the scope

Blue Chip provided quotes for three upgrade options. Initially, the manufacturer considered the managed service solution, based on its success with a well-known media brand which hosts with Blue Chip Cloud.

The scope seriously widened when the company then considered rolling out the project to all its sites around the world.

However, this was scuppered when, later on, corporate changes meant the project had to be put on hold, as Claire explains.

“We started looking at the bigger picture, after which the business went through a restructure before being sold.”

The UK arm split from the group, becoming a single entity in its own right. Blue Chip refocused its efforts on the operation and waited for the dust to settle before resuming the transition project.

The IT manager got back in touch to inform Blue Chip that upgrade options were back on the table. They planned to either upgrade on-premise to 54 or 7.1 or move to Blue Chip Cloud. At this point, Blue Chip IBM i operations experts Marilyn and Graham joined the project.

A fully managed AS/400 cloud solution

The company’s IT manager, along with the rest of his team, were given the green light for the cloud option in July 2019. The next step was the proof of concept and in September work began on the new solution. From the start of 2020, Graham started rebuilding their system at Blue Chip’s Disaster Recovery site in Bedford.

“Getting the OS from v3r2 to v5r4 was the biggest hurdle,” Graham explains. “In the end, I didn’t go through the upgrades because it would’ve been impossible. Instead, I’ve built a vanilla v5r4L path. I obtained the customer software resources for their licence programmes so I could match what they’ve got on their system.”

“I also obtained system values, such as network attributes, which would include the system name and job schedule entries.”

With access to the relevant information, Graham and Marilyn have built a system with:

  • Licence programmes
  • System values and names
  • TCIP configuration
  • Job schedule entries

With the project in full swing and confirmation that the manufacturer’s applications can be run on the latest version of OS, the next step was to use the migration tool to get the company’s data across.

As Claire says, “the end goal was to get them to IBM i v7r1, so that they can move to our cloud.”

“that’s when we’ve really started testing,” says Graham. “Once we got their programs loaded and installed in the IBM i v5r4 system, they logged on, checked and tested to make sure everything works. Once they’re happy with it we upgrade it to v7 and migrate into the cloud.”

Blue Chip’s unrivalled expertise in migrating AS/400 to the cloud

Despite the legacy hardware involved, Blue Chip approached the cloud transition project with confidence, in the knowledge that it has access to the relevant migration expertise and hardware for testing, as well as the infrastructure within its cloud to support different versions of OS. In short, the manufacturer has been able to move from an outdated and unstable OS/400 v3r2 system, to fully supported, stable hardware at v7 in Blue Chip’s IBM i cloud.

Often, organisations can feel ‘stuck’ with their legacy technology. Even more up-to-date technologies can be perceived as outdated and immovable. However, as this project demonstrates, no migration is too complex for the experienced engineers at Blue Chip.

If you have a legacy system that needs revitalising, get in contact with Blue Chip today.


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