Midland Information Systems Company History
In 1981, Midland Information Systems, Inc. was established in Minneapolis, MN by Terry Swenson as a business computer reseller for large computing systems such as IBM, Unisys, DEC, SUN and other midrange business systems. Terry also owned RBSI, a Disaster Recovery company that provided a 24/7 operation center for banks, hospitals and other large institutions when unplanned and catastrophic failures occurred. Midland and RBSI were both run out of the same building. In those days, Disaster Recovery efforts often involved recovering data from a 60MB reel-to-reel backup tape inside of a make shift operations center in an 18 wheeler sitting in the company’s parking lot, or a remote data center like RBSI’s. In 1989, Terry Swenson sold the RBSI Disaster Recovery business to SunGard to focus on reselling the industry’s most reliable platform, the IBM AS400.
In 1995, IBM finally heeded customers’ increasing demands to open up the AS400 to the network, and provided exit points for users to connect to the system and access the DB2 database with the release of OS400 V3R2 and V3R7. AS400 exit points undoubtedly paved the way for many new technologies of the future, and prevented what could have been a mass migration off the platform. Exit points allowed companies to shift away from old dumb terminals and menu driven applications, and was tantamount for the platforms survival. Exits also paved the way for all the new technologies we have today on the IBM i, as well as the need for new security technologies.
In 1997, Midland moved its warehouse and data center to Altamonte Springs, FL. Midland significantly grew its IBM business by selling used AS400 systems and providing professional services and support to companies around the world, and including enterprises, IBM Business Partners, software vendors and hardware brokers. In 1998, Mr. Swenson sold the remaining IBM AS400 operations to new owners Mike Illies (President) and Henry Rodriguez (Vice President), which then moved Midland’s headquarters to Longwood, FL. From this day forward, Midland’s business was primarily driven by IBM’s successful AS400 platform, which had become the core platform for the majority of enterprise’s mission critical business applications, and still is to this day.
As the used and refurbished hardware industry grew, there was a growing concern and need for a common code of ethics and safe guards to protect the rights of both end user and resellers. Midland saw the importance of regulating and monitoring the used IT hardware industry, and decided to join a group of IT resellers that compiled a set of common safeguards needed to ensure the safe acquisition of used equipment for both end users and resellers. The Association of Service and Computer Dealers was formed as a non-profit association to help promote, protect and support the safe commerce of used IT equipment. ASCD later became ASCDI (to include international parties), and has hundreds of members today that include industry leading technology companies such as the largest IT manufactures in the world, resellers, Telecom giants, Business Partners, maintenance and leasing companies.
All end users of used IT equipment and members alike benefit from ASCDI’s active role in fighting for software transfer rights, repair/maintenance rights, international import/resale restrictions, enforceable laws/regulations, counterfeit parts, safety/recycling and many other aspects these industry leaders believe necessary to protect the used equipment industry. As a result of forming this united group of voices, ASCDI has helped countless small companies, individuals and the industry as a whole win many important legal battles around the world, including DOJ Consent Decree “IBM”, ECLAT “Europe”, Waste and Electrical Equipment Directive “Europe”, Anti-Competitive “Sun” and later “Oracle”, Antitrust “Avaya”, US Federal Acquisition and Government Bids, Resale of Trademark Products “US Supreme Court”, US Customs and EU Trade negotiations to name just a few.
Midland can attribute a lot of its success to its strong technical expertise on the AS400 platform, which companies rely on to provide a turnkey solution. From 1997 to this day, Bill Campbell has been head of Midland’s technical services division, and has become known as a “go to” technical resource in the industry. Since most companies at the time did not have their own IT personnel with these skillsets, they had to rely on IBM, a software vendor or a Business Partner to provide these costly professional services. There were not a lot of companies like Midland capable of meeting a customer needs from top to bottom, and at an affordable price. Over this period, performing data migration, conversion and upgrade services became a key part of Midland’s business. In some instances, Midland would even provide remote technical support by phone for DYI customers.
Companies using older unsupported operating systems and systems have no viable upgrade path available, so they must rely on a company like Midland that has the both the technical knowhow and resources available to safely migrate legacy applications to a newer and supported system model and operating system. More complicated migrations involving multi-step OS upgrades or require multiple physical systems to complete a migration, can only be performed by a very small handful of solution providers like Midland. Midland maintains a large warehouse containing hundreds of systems with OS versions dating back to the System/36 CISC days, has 100’s of thousands parts in stock and capable of building an AS400 system from scratch that would resemble exactly how it would ship from IBM back in the day, but with the latest PTFs applied.
In 1999, IBM began shipping the new iSeries systems with V4R4, which enabled companies to create virtual systems within a system, called Logical Partitions (LPARs). Larger AS400 shops were quicker to jump on this new capability, driving a lot of new system sales and services. In the years leading up to the year 2000, the big concern on every business leader’s mind was the Y2K bug that prevented applications from recognizing the correct year. Every company in the world with critical data on a AS400 had to test their applications to ensure they would still be running after the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. As expensive as these business systems were, most companies opted to purchase or rent a used AS400 to replicate their business environment and conduct their tests. Compounding this problem, some companies were still operating on CISC based 48-bit processor systems, and had to upgrade to IBM’s new 64-bit RISC based processor systems. As a result, Midland had sold, rented and leased more used systems than many years prior and combined. By the end of 1999, Midland had a customer base of over 10,000 customers worldwide.
At the same time, Midland’s solutions division offering best of breed AS400 software products to address common business problems and improve efficiencies. Our core set of solutions were primarily based on AS400 security projects, helping companies address compliance requirements using exit programs for network auditing and access controls, encryption and masking sensitive fields for data protection requirements, backup encryption, event log forwarding for SIEM and SYSLOG Servers and Database Activity Monitoring. Midland became the first Enforcive (formerly BSafe) Security Business Partner in the United States, and would be involved in implementing security at some of the largest companies in the world. Due to the acquisition by Syncsort, Midland expanded is security solutions to include Multi-Factor Authentication (aka MFA and 2FA), Secure File Transfer (SFTP and FTPS), Tokenization and Anonymization, and advanced Privileged Access Management for integration with ServiceNow and other enterprise ticketing systems.
In January of 2000, Midland expanded its business operations and became an IBM Business Partner, with certifications to resell AS400, RS6000 and storage product lines, as well as various IBM software solutions. In this same year, Midland built a new warehouse, data center and consolidated its operations minutes from downtown Orlando to its current location in Apopka, FL. Midland’s AS400 software business was just starting to take off, providing exit point security, auditing, compliance, operations monitoring, high availability and performance optimization solutions. AS400 systems in this period had some pricey features required for interactive performance, and often caused companies to seek alternative ways to improve performance. Companies that could not afford a new AS400 upgrade would either purchase features on the used market, or seek out software solutions to help alleviate performance issues. Regardless of the direction, Midland was able to help companies achieve their performance goals economically.
As new applications and data uses exploded, fast economical storage quickly became an ever increasing and consistent thorn in almost every IT budget. The storage industry was quick to respond with many new technological advancements to help companies address these issues, including IBM’s industry leading Storwize storage systems. Midland began selling new and used Storwize V7000 and V5000 storage systems to meet these demand, providing companies affordable and scalable storage solutions to meet any enterprise requirements. Midland also sells the world’s fastest storage systems, the IBM FlashSystem 900 and V9000 to address the most demanding application workloads and capable of delivering micro-second response times.
These new storage hungry solutions also had a significant effect on backup windows, causing Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) to be exceeded. For meeting RTO, a number of solution might need to be considered, which Midland offers many High Availability and Disaster Recovery options for protecting data using various replication solutions that keep operations online and ensure quick recovery. Other companies with a greater tolerance for application downtime, lesser recovery point data loss costs and risks, have many more affordable options available, such as using a Virtual Tape Library (VTL), cold site, cloud or similar entry level DR type recovery solutions to explore. Midland also offers an extensive line of new and used LTO, 3590, 3592 and other tape media options from the leading tape cartridge manufactures.
The solution division has since expanded beyond the IBM i and IBM z Mainframe platforms, and now offers 24/7 managed security services (MSSP) for clients around the world, including Cybersecurity and Network Threat Management for SIEMs, Firewall Management, Endpoint/Cloud/Email Security, Data Loss Prevention, Vulnerability Management, Identity and Access Management, and Penetration Testing services. Many companies today have come to the conclusion that security threats have exceeded their expertise and budgets, and are seeking professional services to manage their environments. Even many larger companies are seeking managed security service engagements to help mitigate security risks and rapidly respond to internal and external threats.
As part of an e-Server rebranding initiative to promote IBM Systems as innovative e-Commerce ready platforms, the AS00 product line was renamed to the iSeries in 2000. The first “i” in iSeries was to signify “integrated”, subtlety describing all the included features and capabilities of the platform, including: OS400 Operating System, DB2 Database, Software and all the other technologies needed to support an e-Business. Too much of the industry’s bewilderment, IBM would change the platform’s name again to “System i” in 2006, and shortly thereafter to “IBM i” with the release of OS400 V6R1. IBM knew the importance and value the integrated “turnkey” architecture provided businesses, which is probably why they did not stray from the “i” theme. To this day, the largest companies in the world still rely on the IBM i “AS400” platform to run their most critical business applications. In fact, most people today still refer to the platform as AS400, versus any other reiteration IBM deemed hip over the decades.
IBM announced the first of a series of POWER Server models in 2004 with the release of V5R3 OS, which included the POWER5 model 9406-520, 9406-550, 9406-570 and 9406-595. The POWER5 server line was a very significant technological achievement, that provided many significant new capabilities and performance advantages over competing platforms. Some of its key features include support for AIX, simultaneous multithreading (SMT) and micro-partitioning to name just a few. Although the “5” in POWER5, obviously represents a fifth generation model, it was the first server family to be openly marketed with “POWER” in the Server line name for the OS400 operating system, which was actually a succession from the RS/6000 server line of processors for the AIX operating system. Today, IBM POWER Servers are capable of running three operating systems, OS400, AIX and Linux.
IBM POWER System customers have always upgraded their systems for various reasons and at different intervals, but most decisions are based on a cost savings analysis. Midland provides customers with a detailed report demonstrating the total cost of ownership over the course of three years. Companies upgrading their servers often see the upgrade exercise as an expense, however Midland helps companies understand the advantages of an upgrade using TCO assessment report. Other companies running applications on x86 servers will appreciate learning about the cost savings from consolidating their many server workloads onto a single IBM POWER system. Changing platforms is not an easy decision, which is why cost analysis reports are important in understand how operating costs can be reduced by over 50% as the result of lower licensing costs, lower personnel costs, less downtime, less security risks and faster response times. Helping companies see the value of an IT purchase is one of Midland many value added strengths that have contributed to building a long history of loyal customers.
In 2018, Midland signed a partnership with Lenovo to remarket the world’s most reliable x86 Windows Servers, and shortly thereafter, Nutanix Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) solutions. Although the advantages of running x86 Applications with Nutanix on an IBM POWER Server has many significant advantages over an x86 environment, Midland offers both pre-packaged Nutanix solutions for any workload size.
Midland has a long history of providing end to end IT services and products to meet all our customers’ demands, from printer toner cartridges and Zebra labels, to IBM server upgrades and professional services. Midland today now serves over 30,000 customers worldwide, and are extremely proud to state most are repeat customers. Midland staff is certified by IBM and other vendor or industry specific authorities to ensure the products and solutions companies purchased from us are designed correctly the first time, and any pre or post-sales support needed will be available to assist your company.
Since Midland’s long successful history is heavily entwined with the success of the IBM AS400 platform, below is a short history of the progression of platform, beginning with the first RISC based processor.
IBM AS400 to IBM i and POWER Server Model and OS/400 Version History
1995 Cobra A10, Power1 9402-400 and 436, 9406 models 500, 510 (V3R1, V3R6)
1996 Muskie A25 and A30, Power1 9406 models 530, 540 (V3R2, V3R7)
1997 Apache RS64 and A35, Power1+ 9406 models 6xx and 150 (V4R1)
1998 NorthStar RS64 II, Power2 9406 models 170, 250, 7xx, 650, S40, SB1 (V4R2, V4R3)
1999 Pulsar RS64 III, Power3 9406 models 270, 820 (V4R4)
2000 Istar, Power4 9406 models 820, 830, 840, SB2, SB3 (V4R5)
2000 SStar RS64 IV, Power4 9406 models 270, 800, 810, 820, 830, 840 (V4R5)
2001 IBM POWER4 9406 model 890 (V5R1)
2003 IBM POWER4+ 9406 models 825, 870 (V5R2)
2004 IBM POWER5 9406 models 520, 550, 570, 595 (V5R3)
2005 IBM POWER5+ 9406 models 515, 520, 525, 550, 570 (V5R3)
2007 IBM POWER6 models 9117-MMA and 570, 9409-M50, 9408-M25, 9407-M15, and BladeCenter JS12, JS22 (V5R4)
2008-9 IBM POWER6+ models 8203-E4A 520, 8204-E8A 550, 8234-EMA 560, 9117-MMA 570, 9118-575, 9119-FHA 595, and BladeCenter JS12, JS22, JS23, JS43 (V6R1)
2010 IBM POWER7 models 710 8231-E1B, 8231-E1C and 8231-E2B, 720 8202-E4B, 8202-E4C and 8202-E4D,730 8231-E2C and 8231-E2D, 740 8205-E6B, 8205-E6C and 8205-E6D, 750 8408-E8D, 755 8236-E8C, 760 9109-RMD, 770 9117-MMC, 780 9179-MHD, 795 9119-FHB, and BladeCenter PS701, PS702, PS703, PS704, and PureSystem p260, p460, p24L, and PowerLinux 7R1, 7R2 (V7R1)
2011-12 IBM POWER7+ models 710 8231-E2B, 8231-E1C and 8231-E1D, 720 8202-E4B and 8202-E4C, 730 8231-E2C and 8231-E2D, 740 8205-E6B, 8205-E6C and 8205-E6D, 750 8233-E8B, 755 8236-E8C, 760 9109-RMD, 770 9117-MMB, 775 9125-F2C, 780 9179-MHD, 795 9119-FHB, and BladeCenter PS701, PS702, PS703, PS704, and PureSystem p260, p460, p24L, and PowerLinux 7R1, 7R2 (V7R1)
2014-15 IBM POWER8 models S812L 8247-21L, S814 8286-41A, S822 8284-22A, S822L 8247-22L, S824 8286-42A, S824L 8247-42L, S812LC 8348-12C, S821LC 8348-21C, S822LC 8335-GTA and 8335-GCA, E850 8408-E8E, E870 9119-MME, E880 9119-MHE (V7R2)
2017-18 IBM POWER9 models AC922 8335-GTG, L922 9008-22L, S914 9009-41A, S922 9009-22A, S924 9009-42A, H922 9223-22H, H924 9223-42H, E950 9040-MR9, E980 9080-M9S (V7R4)
2020 IBM POWER10 models TBD (V8R1)