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Is 2021 Really the End of IBM's AS/400?

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

Back on June 21st, 1988, IBM rolled out what it called Application System/400, or as it's more popularly known, AS/400. This was a revolutionary computer system at the time. It was designed to be a high-performance and integrated server for business applications that required the processing of complex procedures.

Today, AS/400 is surprising still used by a great deal of insurance companies, which shows its continued usefulness. These servers are used for their most essential programs, which involve calculating premiums, among other things.

Compared with servers that came before AS/400, this one was faster and more precise. It did what it needed to do well and was an effective replacement for older technology. However, the world has changed and with that, come new needs.

As time went on, software got better, as did actuarial methods. When this happened, computers got upgrades that let them processed more complex calculations. This made it possible for auxiliary tables, intricate information structures, and more.

Thanks to the AS/400, automation within major industries became possible. However, this did not mean that this server did not come with its limitations.

The AS/400 did have some limitations and issues, that lingered on as time went on. These included the following:

Rounding-off Errors
Performance-related Issues
Collecting and retaining only basic forms of data
Having only relational information structures
Limited to only holding a few dozen combinations, where every additional combination exponentially increases the degree of complexity
Inability to run complex arithmetic models, including machine learning, given the lack of resources, memory, and processing power they contain
Trouble with analyzing information it is provided
Difficulty with managing data, given its use of auxiliary and linked tables, which it uses to manage complex datasets
Inefficient saving of data, which gets saved separately
Requires multiple layers to process information properly to extra channels
Information is not able to be properly secured, given the out-of-date technology it uses that lacks any sort of encryption

BigData Changes Everything

Recently, the emergence of BigData has made it possible to perform highly-complex mathematical calculations. This has been incredibly helpful in processing massive amounts of information that has no structure to it yet.

The era of BigData is here. This has turned out to be incredibly helpful for the insurance industry, given its needs and demands. It is now possible to calculate millions of data points at mindblowing speed. You can quickly calculate all kinds of information, such as the following:

The number of hours an individual travels on a daily basis
The specific roads an individual takes
The hours during which an individual is traveling
The number of messages an individual sends and receives
The premiums an individual should have

The AS/400 was useful for a long time, yet is now largely irrelevent in the wake of new options available. As with Kodak, the AS/400 worked well for a while, but once technology changed, the AS/400 failed to change with it. The world has moved on from relational tables to unstructured data, like in a stream. This is closer to how Reality actually functions, which make sense that we are moving away from tables and structured data. It was nice knowing you, AS/400, but it is now time for the world to move on.

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