Vendor Selection Checklist for Your IBM i Software Support Service Endeavors

Mar 25, 2022 Prateek Shetty

Legacy systems like iSeries have been the backbone of many businesses for over three decades now, especially for businesses that are into manufacturing, transportation, freight, etc. These businesses have huge amounts of data to process which requires a behemoth like AS400 to do the heavy lifting.

As reliable as these systems are, IBM, the manufacturer of these machines has been supporting the hardware aspect of it by releasing newer models which have more horsepower under the hood. Regardless of the hardware upgrades, the software support that IBM provides is limited to OS and other trivial updates. The biggest drawback of these systems is the developers that were managing/maintaining these systems are close to retiring or already moved on to greener pastures, aka retirement. Along with that, AS400 systems have 5250 green screens which scream modernization. Now CTOs are in a bind since the millennial developers are aware of modern technology but not RPG. The CTOs/CIOs are left with just two options- Completely move away from iSeries or hire a third-party legacy support team.

The first option is easier said than done, not only are these systems reliable and there is always the fear of the unknown, working with iSeries for decades and moving to completely new technology can be scary. The nightmare doesn’t end there. Another nightmare is migrating your data from DB2. Migration, along with its plethora of advantages, also entails risks that if not handled with care can cause serious repercussions, most technology leaders are hesitant to move away from on-prem servers to the cloud due to the fear of change and unfamiliarity. That being said, below is the checklist that can come in handy while you’re selecting a vendor for your AS400 support services endeavor:

Here’s how you can tell if you iSeries systems are in safe hands

  • AS400 systems and tools Expertise: Although this is a no-brainer, many organizations tend to fumble with this, as certain system integrators are well known in the tech world due to their branding and marketing stunts, which can lead to CTOs going for the wrong vendor. Going for vendors who say “we provide software development services for all systems” is the wrong route. Most of these vendors might not have a legacy system or iSeries specific skills at all. Decision-makers should look for vendors with extensive expertise in iSeries, Mainframe, RPG, RPGIV, etc.
  • Fixed Price Package: Every IT head has been allotted a budget by the company to achieve desired goals following a preset IT roadmap for the year. Going for a vendor with unclear or hidden costs can cost you a lot of… dollars. Look for partners who offer fixed-price packages that cater to your exact needs. Look for a pricing model that offers you flexibility so that you pay for what you use and how much you use.
  • Remote +On-site support: Typically these systems are used by large organizations which have multiple plants/offices where their servers are stored. Choosing a vendor without skills to extract data remotely from these machines is not a good decision, as virtual/digital-first can demand remote skills. On the other hand, CTOs relying on vendors with only virtual presence is not a good idea either. Projects of this level require many hands on deck. A remote presence of your vendor can cause friction among the team be it due to lack of a stable network while communicating, trust, etc.
  • Process Oriented: A vendor without a process and a transparent approach is a no-go. Go for vendors who provide a detailed roadmap for your support endeavor.
  • 360 Degree RPG Programming: This is something to keep in mind while hiring a team for your support work. Since iSeries software support involves heavily on RPG language, it is wise to evaluate the RPG skills and quality of the developers that hire. This includes, custom RPG coding, columnar to 3 tier, and fixed to free form.

Maybe Your Support Partner is closer than you think!

Nalashaa has been working in the IBM i space for over a decade now and has a pool of IBM i skilled developers to deploy. Our support program includes all the above and a few more. We have expertise in migration and modernization along with application development for iSeries systems. If you are serious about adopting a support program for your AS400/iSeries systems, drop a note to us at

Prateek Shetty

Prateek is a B2B tech marketer with a keen interest in content marketing. B2B writer by day, Netflix junkie & gamer by night.