Programming / Change Management
2015 Guide to Manufacturing SoftwareFor all manufacturing industries, growth remains top of mind. Post-recession cautiousness has given way to confidence and more ambitious business goals. From automotive to fashion, more manufacturing leaders are ready to take bigger risks in the hopes of bigger payoffs, and optimism is the highest itâ€™s been in years. To help manufacturers choose the right software in a rapidly changing industry landscape, this guide will explore four key technologies that are essential to any successful manufacturing operation:&nÂ &nÂ nterprise Resource Planning (ERP)&nÂ &nÂ nterprise Asset Management (EAM)&nÂ &nÂ onfigure Price Quote (CPQ)&nÂ &nÂ upply Chain Management (SCM) See Moreâ€¦
2016 IBM i Marketplace Survey ResultsNow in its second year, HelpSystems surveyed over 800 IBM i users from around the world to produce the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. The expanded 2016 survey builds on last yearâ€™s results to provide even greater insight into the IBM i marketplace.From manufacturing and retail to finance and healthcare, IBM i professionals from around the world reported their plans and concerns for their IT environments, revealing how IBM i is being used and how it relates to their broader IT objectives.Download the survey results to see how over 800 of your peers on the platform address:&nÂ &nÂ odernization &a&obile applications&nÂ &nÂ ardware &a&perating systems&nÂ &nÂ T concerns &a&nitiatives&nÂ &nÂ ata growth, storage, &a&ecurity&nÂ &nÂ he future of IBM iâ€¦
2016 State of IBM i Modernization White PaperAfter surveying 400+ IBM i professionals, we discovered:Â -Â The state of IBM i modernization in today's businesses and their goals for the futureÂ -Â The effect legacy applications have on the businesses' internal and external processesÂ -Â The #1 concern upper managers have with the IBM i, and how to combat it ...and much much more! Download your copy of The 2016 State of IBM i Modernization today.â€¦
2016 State of IBM i Security StudyDrawing participants from healthcare, communication, transportation, finance, and many other industries, the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study analyzed 177 servers and partitions. Now in its 13th year, the study provides compelling insight into security weaknesses affecting many IBM i systems. Some of the most dangerous defects include:Â -Â Unmonitored network accessÂ -Â Lax system auditingÂ -Â Dangerous default security settings The alarming results show improperly configured servers where users are allowed to keep default passwords and traffic passes through exit points like FTP and SQL unmonitored.â€¦
3 Compelling Drivers for Implementing an HA Solution on an IBM i Cloud with MIMIX1. Affordable Cloud Solutions 2. Efficiencies of MIMIX 3. Rising Cost of Downtime This white paper is a collaborative effort between Connectria Hosting, a pioneer in the development of the IBM i Cloud, and Vision Solutions, the leader in High Availability and Disaster Recovery solutions including MIMIXÂ®, the standard for complete, scalable HA/DR protection for the IBM i.It will provide a review of the core causes and costs of both planned and unplanned downtime and will then provide a detailed discussion of current options for IBM i High Availability and Disaster Recovery in the Cloud.Most importantly, as you read you will learn why true HA and DR protection are now within reach of even the smallest of businesses.â€¦
5 Ways to Control Access using Application AdministrationNever heard of Application Administration? Donâ€™t be surprised. Although itâ€™s full of function, itâ€™s one of little-known features of IBM i. Application Administration (or App Admin as itâ€™s commonly called) has been around for a while but the additional features provided in the latest releases as well as recent Technology Releases makes this a feature worth exploring again. Carol Woodbury, President of SkyView Partners, has written a white paper describing how you can use Application Administration (a feature of i Navigator) to control access to various client functions as well as functions available on the IBM i and network features such as ODBC and FTP access.â€¦
5 Winning Strategies to Combat Information OverloadTodayâ€™s businesses must be available 24/7 with fewer people having to manage more complex systems and processes. IT departments receive a constant bombardment of information from a diverse variety of operating systems, business applications, and critical processes and support a complex array of servers and devices running across their entire network. With tight resources and the need to keep costs in check, more and more is expected of IT operational staff to handle this information efficiently. They need to ensure a swift response with appropriate actions, that essential data is received at the right time, prove service levels are maintained, that contingency and high availability strategies are fully operational, and that vital busiâ€¦
8 Very Good Reasons to Use Your Power i For ShippingLearn how companies are reducing shipping costs by Centralizing all of their Shipping Systems and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) on One Platform with One Vendor. See how companies deployed an enterprise-wide, multi-carrier shipping solution to manage both their Parcel and Freight shipments directly from their IBM i, and seamlessly integrated it to their back end IBM i ERP and WMS. This Whitepaper examines eight reasons for centralizing standalone shipping solutions on the IBM i. In addition, you will see how a Modular TMS Solution integrated with ERP has driven significant efficiencies and cost reductions in companies shipping and transportation operation.â€¦
Automate IBM i Operations using Wireless DevicesDownload the technical whitepaper on MANAGING YOUR IBM i WIRELESSLY and (optionally) register to download an absolutely FREE software trail. This whitepaper provides an in-depth review of the native IBM i technology and ACO MONITOR's advanced two-way messaging features to remotely manage your IBM i while in or away from the office. Notify on-duty personnel of system events and remotely respond to complex problems (via your Smartphone) before they become critical-24/7. Problem solved!â€¦
DR Strategy Guide from Maxava: Brand New Edition - now fully updated to include Cloud!PRACTICAL TOOLS TO IMPLEMENT DISASTER RECOVERY IN YOUR IBM i ENVIRONMENT CLOUD VS. ON-PREMISE? - COMPREHENSIVE CHECKLISTS - RISK COST CALCULATIONS - BUSINESS CASE FRAMEWORK - DR SOLUTIONS OVERVIEW - RFP BUILDER Download your free copy of DR Strategy Guide for IBM i today. The DR Strategy Guide for IBM i is brought to you by Maxava â€“ innovative global leaders in High Availability and Disaster Recovery solutions for IBM i.â€¦
IBM i Security: Event Logging & Active MonitoringA Step by Step GuideActive monitoring is one of the most critical and effective security controls that an organization can deploy. Unlike many Windows and Linux server deployments, the IBM i can host a complex mix of back-office applications, web applications, and open source applications and services - leaving millions of security events to actively monitor.This eBook discusses: - Real-time security event logging and monitoring - Security architecture and logging sources on the IBM i - Creating the IBM security audit journal QAUDJRN - Enabling IBM security events through system values - File integrity monitoring (FIM) - A step by step checklist begin collecting and monitoring IBM i security logsâ€¦
Mobile Computing and the IBM iMobile computing is rapidly maturing into a solid platform for delivering enterprise applications. Many IBM i shops today are realizing that integrating their IBM i with mobile applications is the fast path to improved business workflows, better customer relations, and more responsive business reporting. The ROI that mobile applications can produce for your business is substantial. This ASNA whitepaper takes a look at mobile computing for the IBM i. It discusses the different ways mobile applications may be used within the enterprise and how ASNA products solve the challenges mobile presents. It also presents the case that you already have the mobile programming team your projects need: that team is your existing RPG development team!â€¦
Overcoming Common IBM i Mobile Development ChallengesCreating mobile applications for IBM i on Power Systems doesn't have to be difficult! Mobile applications can take your business to new levels of engagement, customer support and competitiveness. By making your ERP, Sales, Line of Business, and other applications mobile, you empower your workforce to get more done - from anywhere, at any time.If your business runs on IBM i (formerly known as AS400 or iSeries) there's no need to worry. You can easily make your RPG applications available on any mobile device! Read this free white paper, and learn how you can overcome the most common challenges to mobile for IBM i shops, including: - How to go mobile with limited staff or budget - How to make any RPG developer a mobile superstar - Whether to câ€¦
PCI and What it means to IBM iWhile one may think that PCI is a thing of the past and that itâ€™s already been implemented, major breaches (most notably of the Target PoS systems) have brought it back into focus. Some retailers are just now understanding how PCI applies to them and other organizations have started to accept credit cards when they didnâ€™t in the past. To refresh everyoneâ€™s memory, hereâ€™s an overview of what PCI means to the IBM i community and what organizations that use an IBM i to store, process or access cardholder data need to be aware of.â€¦
Robot in Modern IBM i EnvironmentsAs hardware and software technologies evolve, so too does the complexity of the data center.IBM i often serves as the backbone for business-critical applications, including ERP packages, leaving other servers to run email, print serving, and the websiteâ€”but users and other computing technologies still draw data from the transactional database on IBM i. Robot systems management solutions have been helping customers manage IBM i operations for over 30 years. This white paper is intended primarily for IT management and attempts to explain, in plain English, the components of modern IBM i environments and how Robot can be deployed to maximize business objectives. See Moreâ€¦
Virus Got You Down?Does a virus have your server down? Perhaps itâ€™s the latest worm, Trojan horse, buffer overflow or denial of service attack thatâ€™s got you or one of your servers down. While one of these bugs may be affecting one or more of your servers in your enterprise, it is highly unlikely that the server affected is a Power server running IBM i. IBM i may be running your core business applications or it may be hosting your website or running Domino. Whatever its function within your enterprise IBM i has remained unaffected by virus and malware attacks. Why is that? Viruses and other ailments spread by infecting a host that is vulnerable. Letâ€™s take a look at how IBM i and the applications running on it can remain unscathed by the viruses and malwarâ€¦
When Management Turns its Back on Security: The Business EffectsIn this white paper we hope to explain why the decision to secure- or not secure â€“ data on the IBM i needs to be a business decision ... not a technical decision. Something is preventing management from understanding the need to secure the electronic data. So letâ€™s explore why we think this happens....â€¦
IBM i Security Administration and Compliance
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Does the title of this article seem absurd? In the past few years, change management (CM) software (a.k.a. change control, software configuration management, and more recently, application life management) has been somewhat co-opted by IT managers. CM is seen by many as a solution to strengthen IT controls in order to pass audits and comply with Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. Don't worry; this is not another Sarbanes-Oxley article. It's actually just the opposite. While the benefits of using CM tools are real, what excites me is that these tools are really all about allowing programmers more time to program. This article looks at the value of CM tools from a programmer's perspective.
First, a brief background is in order. I am one of those 40-somethings in our industry who cut their teeth on the System/34 and System/38 before landing on the AS/400, now relabeled the eServer iSeries. I had a brief stint on the S/3 but somehow missed the S/36. Go figure. I guess that S/3 experience puts me in the late 40-something crowd. Now, I seem to do a little less programming every year. Some of my peers see that as a good thing.
Ever since getting into computers, I have always been curious about how to do things more quickly. If an assignment took an hour, I would look for a way to do it in a half hour. I'd then take that half-hour task and see if I could do it in 15 minutes, and so on. Perhaps I like to work better and faster, or perhaps I'm just lazy. It can be a fine line. Nonetheless, after developing application software products in the early half of the 1980s, my interests turned toward developing tools that make life easier for myself as a programmer (and to make life easier for other programmers, which I suppose has ensured my continued employment).
In the interest of full disclosure, my day job is working for a software vendor. You can see which company at the end of this article. As such, I am hardwired to see how cool CM and other tools are for programmers.
Change management tools are often purchased by IT managers with varying responsibilities. This is a good thing: The right tool can make them more effective in their jobs. After all, these folks need to justify their budgets: What are they spending and why? But in some ways, it seems a shame that the value of CM tools is seen as largely managerial in nature. My programmer's background tells me a predominant benefit is that CM tools let programmers code more quickly, more accurately, and with fewer interruptions.
So why should programmers love CM tools? Let me address this by answering some questions that come up in the day of a life of a programmer.
What Am I Supposed to Be Doing?
In many companies, meetings are called frequently to review the same set of open issues and review their status. Long-winded email chains that may get too few or the wrong people involved can add to the confusion. Phone calls or informal, friendly visits from end users may result in the actual problem or requirements being misunderstood by one or both parties. While it may be comforting to just write off communication errors as "not my fault," in the end, no one is happy.
A well-implemented CM tool could get you, the programmer, out of many of these meetings yet still ensure that you're receiving concise information in real time about issues assigned to you. You can receive notifications when priorities and assignments change. You should have less confusion (and fewer disputes) about what was requested, in what order of priority the work should be done, and the exact scope of that work. You should spend more time programming and less time trying to figure out what you should be programming.
Where's the Source Code?
With IT staff coming and going and some folks working at home and in other remote locations, it can be difficult to keep the locations of the current copy of the source code straight. Standards change, naming conventions change, and different applications use different library and source file conventions. Even with good policies and procedures, one "cowboy coder" can muck up the works for the rest.
CM tools ensure that the source is kept in the correct logical place and that code is returned to its rightful location. After a one-time configuration step telling the CM tools about your setup, deploying a change becomes a simple task. You just indicate you are done and let the tool do the rest of the work, which is a set of boring, repetitive, error-prone mechanical tasks that are rightfully beneath you. You'll find it's a great improvement to be able to apply the time you currently spend sweating deployment details on developing better code.
Similar rules apply to new and deleted code. New code should be placed in the correct location. Deleted code should be taken out of your normal production view of the application but still kept available through the CM tool's archives. You spend more time programming while preventing deployment issues created by accidentally misplacing your source code and objects.
Can't PDM Be More Aware of What I'm Doing?
I've always liked Programming Development Manager (PDM) because it's significantly better than the old System/38 programmer's menu we used back in the '80s. PDM's item lists make it easy to work with multiple items at a time. User-defined options let me create custom tasks. The repeat key for options makes me more productive. I could go on and on here.
But a number of things about PDM drive me crazy. For instance, you must constantly jump from one source file to another when working on interactive programs stored using standard source file names. When working on projects in which everyone works in a shared development area, you should be able to know what is clearly "yours." If I'm working on multiple changes at the same time (and who isn't?), I want to easily distinguish between those various sets of source and objects, preferably in a single list. In the age of search engines like Google, I want more robust searching of PDM member and object filters beyond just text searches in the source.
A good CM tool presents you with a user interface that takes the best of PDM and exposes its developer-oriented functionality in a single easy-to-use interface. In addition to eliminating the above-mentioned annoyances, advanced features of the CM tools are logically integrated in this CM-enabled, PDM-like interface. Some examples of these features are "where used" analysis, source differencing and merging, source archive review, controlled promotions, work assignment reviews, and the coordination of simultaneous changes to the same item. When you have this self-contained view of your applications at your fingertips in a single place, you can spend less time jumping from place to place and more time developing great code.
Is There a Simpler Way to Install My Changes?
There's more to the story than just managing and archiving source code: Objects need to be installed properly in order to be of use. Furthermore, the artistry in the source code we write can easily be compromised by screwing up a single step or parameter in the long list of repetitive deployment tasks, thereby impacting the user's impression of both the developer and the entire team or organization. We need to compile these programs so they can be used by end users. Have you compiled all of the objects correctly? Did you specify the correct location for every object? How is data retained and converted when deploying database file changes? What if some objects are in use when you decide to install a large change? Do you have to log in at night to install changes? If a change fails to install correctly, will you be made aware of it immediately?
A CM solution keeps track of the correct way to create the objects and moves them in orderly fashion. This gives you back the time you currently spend sweating these details so that you can do better development and more of it.
What If I Need to Install Changes on Other Servers or Partitions?
This is even more involved than deploying changes on the same server. In addition to the points mentioned above, you have another set of manual tasks and worries. Just for starters, you now have to bundle the objects into a save file, send the objects to the remote system, start another emulator session, sign on to the remote system, and restore the objects.
Ideally, you should simply place an order for a certain set of objects that need to be deployed to a production server (or set of servers). You should select the objects from a simple list or by a group identifier you assigned when you started working on a change—for example, "distribute all objects for project XYZ now that I am done." You should not even have to designate where they go; the CM tool should be aware of their logical destinations based on the application you are working on. The CM tools automate these detailed, boring, repetitive, and therefore error-prone tasks, freeing you to do what you like to do.
Can I Spend Less Time with the Users?
People in your end-user community legitimately need to know when a change is accepted, rejected, underway, being tested, and/or finally implemented. As a programmer, you tend not to be opposed to the users being in the loop (hopefully!), but you would like this to occur with minimal effort in your part.
Your CM solution should allow (and remind) you to make notes about a specific change and separate out comments specific to the users. You should be able to enter these notes when appropriate for you: when starting, when in the midst of, or when completing a change. The users can be notified later at the appropriate time as a change progresses through to the live application. This side effect of CM can reduce and hopefully eventually eliminate calls about status from users and department members, cutting down on the traffic at your desk. This improved communication with the users (which you need to participate in only marginally) can turn visits to the break room into "attaboy" accolades for the new report or feature the users just got instead of those odd stares that seem to be asking "What do you actually do for the company?"
What If I Screwed Up a Change?
Mistakes are hopefully rare, but when they happen, we are expected to jump through hoops to resolve them quickly. Typically, what you need to do right away is place the previous version of a program back into the live system to buy some breathing room while a full correction is formulated. Without a CM tool in place, you have to copy the source or objects out of the live system when you initially implement each change. Then, while moving the old items out and moving the news ones in, you have to check for any dependencies. What if the defect was subtle and you really need, for example, to get the great-grandfather version of something back quickly? That can turn into a little research project of its own.
The archival process is built into the deployment process of a CM tool, so rather than relying on hand-saved archives, you can use a CM tool to easily roll back a single change or set of specific items in a change without worry, whether recent or not, giving you the ability to reliably go back to the way the program worked before the change. CM tools can help to minimize the stress in these situations, turning a potential crisis into a minor blip.
But CM Is Still a Control Tool, Isn't It?
Well, at the end of the day, there is a strong control aspect to CM tools, especially when it comes to the steps taken after the code is written. A well-implemented CM tool does not impact your creative ability to produce great software; it enhances that ability by allowing more time to focus on the task. Other members of your team will be more aware of what you are doing, and managers can use some of this information for measuring team and individual performance. This level of scrutiny raises concerns sometimes that this information will be used for nefarious purposes. In reality, if this happens, your shop may have issues bigger than the presence of a CM tool. A more common outcome of a successful CM tool installation is increased awareness of how much is getting done, improved quality through automation, and the delivery of better and more timely applications to the user community.
Certainly CM products do not have a lock (pun intended) on making a programmer's life simpler. Some of the benefits mentioned here can be achieved by using good practices and building some nominal in-house tools. There are also many other types of development tools out there to make your life easier.
Increasingly, CM tools are being viewed less as a programmer tool to be welcomed and more as a manager's tool to be resisted, when in reality CM tools make a developer's job easier and more gratifying. I hope this article has helped derail some of those perceptions. I really believe CM tools should be seen largely as "drudgery reduction" tools for those of us who develop software. If you add up just some of the benefits mentioned above, you will find that equipping IT managers with better information about the development process is a small price to pay to spend more time doing what we like and doing it even better. That's why we got into this industry in the first place...to program computers.
Marty Acks joined MKS in 1998 and plays a strategic role in defining the company's product direction for MKS' iSeries (AS/400) products. Mr. Acks is an authority in the area of change management and software configuration management. Prior to joining MKS, he held a variety of technical and management positions with Professional Computer Resources(PCR) and Pansophic Systems. Mr. Acks co-founded Silvon Software in 1987.
MartyÂ Acks joined MKS in 1998 and plays a strategic role in defining the company's product direction for Application Lifecycle Management offerings. Mr. Acks is an authority in the area of software configuration management and change management. Prior to MKS, Mr. Acks held a variety of technical and management positions with Professional Computer Resources (PCR) and Pansophic Systems and co-founded Silvon Software.