As always, there were plenty of announcements. Let's look at what the vendors, including IBM of course, told us.
The COMMON Conference and Expo concluded its inaugural visit to Austin, Texas, last week and featured the usual mix of IBM i professionals seeking education opportunities and independent software vendors unveiling enticing software upgrades and strategic-alliance announcements.
Held at the Austin Convention Center, a mere two blocks from the onetime home of celebrated short-story writer O. Henry, the conference featured more than 340 sessions and labs for approximately 1,000 attendees.
Huffing and Puffing
The conference unofficially opened with its annual COMMON Cares Charity 5K Run/Walk, in which more than 30 attendees hustled up the local Lady Bird Lake trail to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Austin.
COMMON President Randy Dufault officially opened the conference with a welcoming speech Sunday afternoon, assisted by Colin Parris, general manager for IBM Power Systems and Technology Group. A central theme of the conference was the upcoming 25th anniversary in June of the Silverlake project, which married the S/36 and the S/38 to create the IBM i's forerunner, the AS/400. The "i25" birthday celebration plan is to use Facebook and other social media to unfold the story of the platform's history in 25 chapters, available on a staggered schedule over the next few months. For more details, see the IBMi25 Facebook page. Parris' remarks emphasized the idea that the "legacy" tag applied by some to the IBM i actually should equate to the idea of "proven" to underline the platform's long-established capabilities.
Dufault and COMMON also took time to acknowledge the untimely passing of John Earl, a founder of security vendor PowerTech and a COMMON volunteer for more than two decades. John received a posthumous Distinguished Service award, and Alaskan Drew Dekreon received the first John Earl Speaker Scholarship, an annual award established in John's memory by PowerTech, Help/Systems, and the Earl family to help COMMON attendees whose organizations are otherwise unable to send attendees to the conference.
Nearly 70 companies participated in the conference expo, and as usual, a number of them took that opportunity to tout product enhancements and alliance announcements.
NewGeneration Software (NGS) and Maximum Availability (MAXAVA) jointly unveiled NGS-IQ Cloud, a completely new and cloud-based query, reporting, and analytics service available on a subscription basis. Aimed at companies that need such services but want to avoid the expense of installing supporting software at their own sites, the offering combines NGS's NGS-IQ reporting and business intelligence suite with MAXAVA's Data Stream real-time data replication software. The service will be hosted by Baseline Data Services' Indianapolis data center.
Raz-Lee Security launched iSecurity Change Tracker, an automatic change identification tool for its iSecurity suite. Change Tracker automatically monitors and logs object changes made to native and IFS production libraries at object and source levels. The module functions independently of any other change management software and records all changes to all files and who made them, for auditing and troubleshooting purposes. Raz-Lee also announced adoption of its products by Comarch Poland, a European managed-services provider.
Computer Keyes predicted May availability for kLink, a mobile application server that securely distributes documents from IBM i IFS directories to any browser or mobile device. With built-in hacking protections included, kLink will also provide free corresponding mobile apps for Apple and Android devices and will only show documents residing in registered public directories on the IFS.
Software tool company mrc augments its flagship m-Power product with User-Defined Dashboards, which access enterprise portals or intranet pages to display business metrics in single-page views. The dashboards display information in a pre-set format that was previously defined by a programmer or an m-Power user and gives users the ability to control what data is seen, revise display structure and layout, and create multiple dashboards, as well as save and share the dashboards with other authorized users.
IntelliChief enhances its eponymous IntelliChief document-management app with automated email data-capture features that extract information from electronic communications and attachments. This change provides single-lookup capabilities for enterprises seeking to capture, for example, differences between purchase orders and subsequent email communications with customers. The new feature then highlights document differences for manual checking. The upgrade also supports access to IBM i-based documents from browsers and virtually any mobile device.
United Computer Group rolls out its IBM i Solution Edition for VAULT400, a platform-specific version of the company's risk-mitigation and business-continuity planning service. The services include cloud-based backup and recovery and are available for IBM Power 7+ 720 and 740 Express machines.
ARCAD Software, in cooperation with IBM, delivers ARCAD-Rational Power Pack, an integration of its toolset for managing the application lifecycle with IBM's line of Rational application-development products. The integration includes a dedicated repository for software built using Rational Team Concert and ARCAD Observer, access to the Rational Jazz-based team development environment offered via Rational Developer for Power Systems Software, and the ability to analyze team-build code using ARCAD's suite of analysis, integration, and multiplatform application-delivery products.
Quadrant Software revealed impending release of QuadraDoc V5 5.5, a new version of its document-output management solution that is already integrated with SAP's NetWeaver. The upgrade adds support for integrating email and Adobe PDF documents with fax and other electronic communications.
EXTOL forecast a Q4 release for EXTOL EDI Integrator for i 6.4, the next version of its native IBM i application for handling external partner commercial transactions. Version 6.4 will feature a new UI, automated file transfer with scheduling, enhanced user-reference fields for sharing data from different documents, enhanced security, and customizable dashboards. When released, 6.4 will be available only for V6R1 and V7R1.
Other vendors emphasized product announcements made in the past few weeks that have previously been covered in other MC Press Online publications. These include Remain Software's Gravity workflow-management solution, ProData Computer Services' SQL Audit database-environment monitor, looksoftware's newlook v10 mobile and web development suite upgrade, availability of Profound Logic's Profound UI 4.5 as an open-source framework, LANSA's Commerce Edition Mobile and an upcoming V11 release of its LongRange mobile app builder, Midrange Performance Group's Performance Navigator V16 and Power Navigator V6 releases, Zend's Zend Server 6 for IBM i, Remain Software's TD/OMS 6.5 release, and Linoma Software's GoAnywhere OpenPGP Studio.
In addition, Help/Systems recently announced its InterMapper App for Splunk Enterprise and its acquisition of the ShowCase family of BI products from IBM. BCD International unveiled mobile-app development product WebSmart Mobile, supported by the WebSmart 9.5 upgrade, and the Presto 4.7 version of its green-screen modernization tool.
Upcoming COMMON U.S. national events consist of the COMMON Fall Conference and Expo September 9-11 in St. Louis, the 2014 Annual Meeting and Expo May 4-7 in Orlando, and the 2014 IT Executive Conference, also held May 4-7 in Orlando.