Current Events & Commentary / Analysis of News Events
IBM announces a new cloud storage product inside IBM i 7.3 TR 1.
It’s October and that means two very important things:
One, I get to impose my yearly Sheriff of Nottingham-style 10 percent candy tax on my three kids after Halloween. And two, IBM has released its fall announcement for IBM i, in this case the news that IBM i 7.3 Technology Refresh 1 and 7.2 Technology Refresh 5 have been announced.
While there are many overlapping updates, I’ll speak to 7.3 Technology Refresh 1 as it’s the latest and greatest.
IBM Cloud Storage Solutions for i
First and foremost, most people know I’m not a huge cloud proponent. I view cloud as a strategy where you pick your spots where it makes sense and glean savings or efficiencies compared to on-premises solutions.
With that being said, the big fish in this Technology Refresh is the Cloud Storage Solutions for i.
As per the announcement letter:
“Cloud Storage Solutions for i (5733-ICC) is a new Licensed Program Product that is based on an API that gives IBM i clients a portal for connecting to public and private clouds in order to send and receive data. The initially supported public cloud is SoftLayer. Private clouds are also supported through backup recovery service providers who implement the API infrastructure.
BRMS is enhanced to take advantage of Cloud Storage Solutions for i by utilizing cloud storage to move the data off site, without the need for a local tape drive. This is the automated option when conducting normal backup and recovery operations. Command line and custom scripts are available to utilize cloud storage.
Cloud Storage Solutions for i can also be used independently of BRMS to mirror IFS files to cloud storage for sharing and distribution through command line instructions and custom scripts.
The initial version will support VPN-based connections for security, and FTP transfers can also be used to send and receive data.
Additional features include asynchronous transfers, parallel transfers, and a transfer progress indicator.
Cloud Storage Solutions for entitlements are acquired on a per virtual server (per partition) basis. An entitlement is also available for an unlimited number of virtual servers or partitions for a machine.”
This product will be available on October 28.
I’ll use this to give you a little insight into the COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC). I’m not going to speak on behalf of the CAAC as it’s not my place. What I will say is that we had a great discussion with IBM about this product under a year ago, and I’m really pleased to see this offering come to fruition so quickly. Why does this matter? IBM works with customer advocates to ensure that what they’re working on is what customers want. They do the same for the ISVs. When they roll out a brand-new feature like this, you can be sure that it was vetted in advance. In short, IBM is listening to you.
This product is great for everybody who wants to back up their data to off-site cloud storage as well as for IBM Business Partners and ISVs who want to host their customers’ backups.
Is it a solution to back up major amounts of data? No. We’re all bound by our ISPs in terms of Internet throughput. You can only push so much data through your pipe at one time. For large amounts of data, you could probably take advantage of a LAN-connected solution via the API. I’ll come back to this at a later date because I haven’t seen it in action yet. Keep an eye out. This solution is money.
Container Support for USB Flash and RDX Drives
IBM i has had some limited USB support in the past, but 7.3 Technology Refresh 1 has support for you to load a USB drive with PTFs among other things. Evidently, containers make USB Flash and RDX look like a stack of DVDs. More to come on this, but I’ll assume it’s very similar to a USB-mounted image catalog, based on IBM’s description. This solution will be a silver bullet for Business Partners and consultants who do on-site upgrades.
Rational Developer for i V9.5.1
Not to leave out the Mac users until third on the list. Maybe this should’ve been much nearer the top. Big news is that RDi now is supported on MAC OS X. Additionally, RDi has added Kerberos support so developers can take advantage of Windows (and Mac!) Single Sign-On (SSO).
Other features in RDi are:
- ILE RPG Outline subset to referenced variables
- ILE RPG live model improvements
- IFS synchronization support for local projects
- Run SQL Queries from RDi, now with Formatter!
- Visual Explain
- Improved Spool File support
- Block nesting shows containing procedure/subroutine
- EGit plugin support—Easy integration with Git for source control
IBM i now has support for the Perl programming language. Maybe this should’ve been near the top too.
Perl has been around forever, so there’s a rich support community online. Also announced is Node.js V6. We’ll have it available in our developer tool arsenals by the end of 2016. IT managers in 2016 cannot ignore open source. Period.
Of course, there’s plenty of updates for DB2 in this update. Here are the features as per the IBM developerWorks page for 7.3 TR1 enhancements:
- JSON_TABLE() table function
- Enhanced INCLUDE SQL statement
- Add BINDOPT and INCFILE to SET OPTION
- Add PERCENT_RANK as an ordered OLAP specification
- Enhanced QSYS2.SYSPARTITIONSTAT catalog
- Enhanced REPLACE() scalar built-in function
- Debugger enhanced for SQL procedures, functions, and triggers
DB2 for i Performance Enhancements
- Improved Inlining support for SQL Scalar User Defined Functions (UDFs)
- Statement deterministic functions
- Faster implementation of the following Built-in Scalar functions: LPAD, RPAD
- Faster implementation of the following DB2 for i catalogs (views):
QSYS2.OBJECT_LOCK_INFO, QSYS2.SYSPROGRAMSTAT, QSYS2.SYSPROGRAMSTMTSTAT, QSYS2.OUTPUT_QUEUE_ENTRIES, QSYS2.OUTPUT_QUEUE_INFO
DB2 for i Services (New)
- QSYS2.PARSE_STATEMENT() table function
IBM i Services (New and Enhanced)
IBM i Access Client Solutions
IBM i 7.3 Technology Refresh 1 also includes IBM i Access Client Solutions updates. Those updates actually went live late this summer. You can read about that here in my interview with IBM’s Tim Rowe, who’s the Business Architect for Application Development and Systems Management for IBM i.
Access Client Solutions has been rolling out updates regularly since it’s inception. To be exact, eight updates (full releases or fix pack updates) have been released in the last 18 months. They make a roundup announcement to include in the Technology Refresh announcement, but for a regular update on all things ACS keep watching this space. I’m sure I’ll hear from Mr. Rowe again very soon.