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Oracle Drops the Ball with MySQL on the i. Will IBM or Zend Pick It Up and Run With It?

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With Oracle announcing end of life for IBM i distributions of MySQL, I'll discuss the potential for alternatives of MySQL on the i.

 

Oracle has decided to no longer support MySQL on the IBM i, and I for one am very disappointed in this recent announcement. When I first heard that you could run MySQL on the IBM i, I initially thought to myself, "Why would I want to use the MySQL database when I have DB2?" In this article, I intend to tell you why you would want to and why it's such a loss that Oracle will no longer be providing IBM i binaries. I'll also explain some of the options that we have without it.

 

A few months ago, I attended an event in Chicago that featured some of the industry's most innovative speakers, including Alan Seiden. I used PHP on Linux awhile back and was interested in using PHP on the IBM i. I spoke with Alan about quite a few interesting topics, but the one topic we discussed that really opened up my mind was when I asked him why you would ever use MySQL on the IBM i. And he told me that you could use the MySQL storage engine as the interface to access DB2 tables. When he told me that, it really hit me! That's it! That's the reason!

 

You could take any existing open-source project that is using MySQL and put it on your i and make it think that it is using MySQL when it is actually using DB2. You could enable all of these open-source projects running on the i to access your existing DB2 tables, and you wouldn't have to change a lick of code!

 

I have been using Drupal quite extensively lately, which is an open-source Content Management System (CMS) that uses PHP with MySQL, and I am planning to utilize this on the i. And if I were to use MySQL to interface with my DB2 tables, the code would be standardized to utilize all of the database interaction. And to top it off, I could easily transfer my code to any other server with any operating system that supports PHP and MySQL and have it run. 

 

Because I'm used to using PHP on Linux and it's been a few years since I've used it seriously, I recently decided to refresh some of my PHP skills and learn all the nuances of using PHP on the i by signing up for a course at Zend. I decided to take the Zend Server for a spin, and while perusing the forums, I found a discussion about MySQL being discontinued on the IBM i! The forum links to an official end-of-life announcement on the MySQL Web site that states the product is EOL "due to very low demand."

 

Low demand? That is contradictory to what I've found. When I contacted Zend, I was interested specifically in the IBM i class that was being offered. I saw only one available class listed for the year, and I asked if there was only one class because of lack of interest from the IBM i community. The gentleman I was speaking with said "definitely not" and went on to state that the IBM i community is now a large percentage of the Zend community, which was nice to hear. I'm not saying that PHP is dependent upon MySQL, but they have been tied together for quite some time, and it would have been really convenient to use it with Drupal and other open-source projects. Since my discussion with Zend, I now see that there are several IBM i classes available.

Using DB2 with PHP

MySQL is not the only database that PHP uses, and that wasn't what my original intention was when I was thinking of using PHP on the IBM i. I was simply going to use DB2. The one thing that I did like about using MySQL with my PHP code was the portability part of it. But that's not too big of a problem if you encapsulate your database calls.

Using DB2 with Drupal

MySQL is also not the only database that Drupal uses, but it is the recommended database. You could also use MariaDB, PostgreSQL, and SQLite right out of the box. Or you could use Microsoft SQL server or Oracle with an additional module.

 

What's nice about Drupal is the database abstraction layer, which provides functions to call your SQL queries and takes care of all the database-specific details, so it doesn't matter which database you are using. And because Drupal is so flexible and it's open-source, you can create modules to provide DB2 access from Drupal. I found a nice article on the IBM Web site that shows you the steps to do that using IBM DB2 Express-C and you can view that by clicking here. It's from 2006, but the concepts should be equivalent.

Just Another Roadblock

The thing that really bothers me about this is that RPG programmers have been struggling with GUI solutions on the i for a very long time, and there always seemed to be indecisiveness and complexity at every turn. We finally get a simple solution that as easy to install as a PTF and Oracle decides to pull the plug on the standard that has been accepted by almost every open-source solution that uses a database.

 

I am an open-source advocate, and I am considering getting involved in promoting the DB2 installation option for the install of Drupal. Because we already have so much to consume when implementing all of these new technologies, it is really desirable to just click on the DB2 database option during the install. And I was really impressed with the ease of installation for the Zend Server on the IBM i. When the Zend Server installation was completed, there was a single green-screen window that said something like "Would you like to install MySQL? Yes or No". With one press of the Enter key, MySQL and the GUI administration tool were installed on my IBM i.

 

But when I think about participating in Drupal to support DB2, I realize that's only one open-source project that now works easily on the i. For any additional project that currently uses MySQL, I'd have to dive down into the low-level details and build a specialized component for DB2. When MySQL runs on the i, this isn't needed. You simply install and use it "as is."

 

MySQL is open source, so perhaps IBM or Zend will provide an easy solution to installing MySQL on the IBM i.

Oracle and Android

While I'm on an Oracle Rant, what about Android? Supposedly, Java was made open source, so why is Oracle suing Google for Android copyright infringements on Java? And why did the Apache Software Foundation leave the Java Executive Committee? Way to go, Oracle! You're taking reputable tools that have been created by years of dedicated work from developers who believed in what they were making and giving it a bad name. Nice job. I want to express my sympathies to all the contributors to these supreme projects who have to watch this happening.

Not Throwing in the Towel

This article is an expression of my current frustration toward Oracle, but I am by no means throwing in the towel. What Oracle is doing right now is extremely frustrating, considering the impact it has on the standardization of open-source projects and their ease of use on the IBM i. But I guess that would have been too easy. IBMers and the open-source community are a persistent breed, and we'll find the way. Perhaps the open-source community is seeing what Oracle is doing and making a movement toward alternatives; I've already seen recommendations that Drupal begin replacing MySQL with MariaDB.

The Strength of Open Source

The fact of the matter is that MySQL is Open Source.  So, there is nothing stopping you or I or IBM or Zend from creating the binaries for the i.  So, with that in mind you can feel confident in your decision to start using Open Source in your software development and know that ridiculous decisions, such as this one by Oracle, will not disrupt your plans. 

 

I believe this to be an opportune moment for IBM or Zend to show their commitment in this pursuit and help the IBM i programming community by providing these utilities for us in an easy-to-use format that matches the installation processes that we are already accustomed to. 

References

MySQL Product Support EOL Announcements, January 10, 2011

 

Using open source software to design, develop, and deploy a collaborative Web site, Part 9: Understanding the database layer, October 17, 2006

 

MySQL is still alive on IBM i, by Alan Seiden

 

as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7,

Thomas Snyder

Thomas Snyder has a diverse spectrum of programming experience encompassing IBM technologies, open source, Apple, and Microsoft and using these technologies with applications on the server, on the web, or on mobile devices.

Tom has more than 20 years' experience as a software developer in various environments, primarily in RPG, Java, C#, and PHP. He holds certifications in Java from Sun and PHP from Zend. Prior to software development, Tom worked as a hardware engineer at Intel. He is a proud United States Naval Veteran Submariner who served aboard the USS Whale SSN638 submarine.

Tom is the bestselling author of Advanced, Integrated RPG, which covers the latest programming techniques for RPG ILE and Java to use open-source technologies. His latest book, co-written with Vedish Shah, is Extract, Transform, and Load with SQL Server Integration Services.

Originally from and currently residing in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Tom is currently involved in a mobile application startup company, JoltRabbit LLC.


MC Press books written by Thomas Snyder available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Advanced, Integrated RPG Advanced, Integrated RPG
See how to take advantage of the latest technologies from within existing RPG applications.
List Price $79.95

Now On Sale

Extract, Transform, and Load with SQL Server Integration Services Extract, Transform, and Load with SQL Server Integration Services
Learn how to implement Microsoft’s SQL Server Integration Services for business applications.
List Price $79.95

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    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.