IBM i Growth Up, Escape the Family with New Redbook on IBM i 7.1

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The product of more than 100 people, the latest IBM Redbook dissects IBM i 7.1 into a thousand bite-sized pieces.


The Great Recession may have put a crimp in many people's lifestyles, but apparently it has only renewed interest in IBM i, according to Steve Will, chief architect for the venerable OS. According to Will, companies have been forced to reevaluate all their IT systems with an eye toward efficiency, and the numbers don't lie; IBM i on Power Systems delivers to companies a top-tier service at a very competitive price.


"As the economy declined in 2008-9, many businesses were forced to delay purchases and upgrades," Will writes in his blog, "You and i: IBM i Trends and Strategies." But he notes that "many also took a cold hard look at which platforms were really delivering for them." The customers with whom he talked "concluded that IBM i was right at the top of their list for cost-effective IT service delivery."


Finally, someone is starting to care about total cost of ownership! I guess when you have money to burn, it's not that big of a deal what you do. Tighten the purse strings a bit, and guess what? We've just re-discovered this great system! In any case, Power Systems third-quarter sales were great, with 15 percent growth year over year.  The really good news, however, is that IBM i software sales grew at an even better pace—19 percent YTY, which, as Will notes, was "faster than the platform itself." The results made for four consecutive quarters of growth for IBM i.


It's no secret that the hassles involved in moving to IBM i 6.1 have slowed adoption of the latest IBM technologies. However, that pause is giving way to a new momentum, according to Will, who reports that many companies are moving directly from V5R4 to IBM i 7.1 and skipping 6.1 altogether.


"In 2011, we have seen an acceleration of people going direct to IBM i 7.1," says Will. "The reason? It's just as easy to go directly from 5.4 to 7.1; you miss having to do another upgrade, and you also get easy access to new technologies with the Technology Refresh delivery mechanism we provide with 7.1." Customers who make the leap directly to 7.1 will wind up having a longer support window and get faster access to new hardware and virtualization enhancements.


For readers who want to easily catch up with the latest 7.1 technology, you're in luck. A new IBM Redbook was just released last month that goes into delicious detail about all the technical goodies to be found in 7.1. So if you are still stuck on V5R4 of i5/OS but you know an upgrade is in your future, you may want to download this new Redbook titled IBM i 7.1 Technical Overview, Including Technology Refresh Updates – November 2011, and you can then talk the talk and walk the walk.


This Redbook has no fewer than seven authors, and we would like to give them a little recognition, so I'm going to point out that Hernando Bedoya, Systems and Technology Group Lab Services and Training, Rochester; Ahmed Mansour, IBM Lab in Cairo, Egypt; Michael Harper, ANZ Techline in Australia; Robert Jacobsen, Global Technical Services Delivery Data Center, Rochester; Matias Centeno Lozada, Latin America SW Support Center, Buenos Aires; Jiri Sochr, IBM Delivery Centre Central Europe, Brno, Czech Republic, and Tom Vernaillen, senior IT specialist in Belgium—along with about 100 other IBMers—apparently burned a few midnight candles on this one. That's because this tome is 688 pages of blissful technical terminology covering everything from backup and recovery to virtualization and everything in between. From one publisher to another—allow us to extend our compliments to the chef!


In the Redbook, you've got your DB2 section, your Power HA section, your storage management portion. You've got security, including encryption, and, wait…"Application Development on IBM i Enhancements." This section discusses additions and modifications to 7.1 relating to C/C++, ILE RPG, ILE COBOL, and CL. It also goes into OS enhancements for PHP on IBM i, including a discussion of Zend Server Community Edition for IBM i as well as the full Zend Server and the Zend IDE Zend Studio. Readers will find enhancements pertaining to the IBM Toolbox for Java JDBC, native API support for zip files, support for Lotus, and the new Application Runtime Expert for IBM i, a GUI that collects and verifies attributes on the system's applications, runtime environment, and other features and settings.


The Redbook is filled with diagrams, code examples, charts, commands, and everything to help get the message across—short of a DVD with video. Yes, you will have to actually read it. But look at it this way: you'll be getting ahead in your career in the process. Plus, you have an excuse to get away from the spouse and kids for a few hours a day (it's far too cold to play catch out in the backyard in December, anyway).


And, as always—and this is one of the best things about these great Redbooks—it's free.