AS/400 on PASE to Expand Application Portfolio

Ken Deats

San Diego, PartnerWorld 2000 -- In one of the first in a group of long anticipated moves IBM has promised to raise the marketing profile of the stalwart AS/400 platform, Tom Jarosh, AS/400 general manager, announced the AS/400 Portable Application Solutions Environment (PASE) with claims that it will make it easier for business partners to port their Unix applications to the AS/400.

In a nutshell, PASE is designed to expand AS/400 solutions by acting as an integrated AS/400 runtime for porting Unix applications but not by running as an emulated Unix OS on or under OS/400. It uses a subset of AIX libraries and the AS/400's processor's ability to switch runtime modes. PASE applications are integrated with the AS/400 file systems and DB2 Universal Database. It can call Java and AS/400 ILE applications and can exploit all aspects of AS/400 operations environment.

"AS/400 PASE is designed to meet requirements of highly compute-intensive applications that favor a Unix environment," says Edward Sitarski, VP os supply chain planning at J.D. Edwards. "With its improved porting speed for Unix applications, PASE allows us to bring our Active Supply Chain suite to market faster on AS/400."

Not all Unix applications are expected to PASE-able, however, and they must pass detailed business and technical assessment factors before being ported. From a business perspective there must be a strong market opportunity and the partner must have a track record of existing Unix development and IBM relationships. Technically, PartnerWorld for Developers, AS/400 (formerly Partners in Development) analysts use a shell script for assessing a solution's portability by checking for the use of APIs and other system services such as database calls.

By way of caveat the announcement says that while most Unix applications should prove suitable for the port to AS/400, some that favor AS/400 PASE runtimne are those that rely heavily on functions such as fork without exec, which is a function not supported in AS/400 ILE. Those applications would have to be converted to use spawn. In assessing the feasibility of porting these applications, the complexity of the developer's existing Unix build and test environment and its available AS/400 programming skills will weigh heavily. For more detailed PASE information, visit http://www.ibm.com/as400 for more information.