Vendors continue to develop modernization solutions to enhance IBM i legacy code.
Despite the relatively modest attendance at this year's COMMON Conference, there was a lot of energy at the show, partly because the IBM i vendors had many enhancements to their product lines. The modernization trend for the i platform is in full swing, and that means work for both product developers and IT staff members, who must evaluate all the new technology and incorporate it into the user experience.
Below is a list summarizing a few of the major announcements that vendors briefed the media on at the show. It's followed by a list of the expo exhibitors and their Web sites so that you can follow up on their new products if your vendor isn't mentioned.
10ZiG Technology (formerly BOSaNOVA)
The company startled show-goers by announcing it had remade itself into 10ZiG Technology and would no longer be representing BOS products. The company said it picked the name 10ZiG after the Sherpa who guided Sir Edmund Hillary up the slopes of Mt. Everest because it wants to symbolize the idea of guiding users through the tricky path of technology selection. "There are many alternatives for thin clients that are all different, depending on the user's situation," says company president Martin Pladgeman. "We do the research and can ensure that a user doesn't take the wrong path and invest in a solution that doesn't work," he told MC Press Online.
Martin Pladgeman, president, and Jennifer Phillips, marketing director, of 10ZiG Technology, sport shirts with their new company logo during the expo at COMMON.
The company, based in France, had a large contingent of sales and technical people at the expo and reported good traction for its products among attendees. ARCAD Software develops solutions that manage change and modernize business applications in the IBM i environment. CEO and Chairman Philippe Magne was everywhere, it seemed, with a coterie of followers; perhaps it was the Sony video camera the company gave away in a drawing.... ARCAD exhibited its integrated application lifecycle management suite, including ARCAD-Open Repository, ARCAD-Skipper (change management), ARCAD-Observer (application analysis), ARCAD-Qualifier (test automation), and ARCAD-Customer (help desk). ARCAD-Skipper WAP helps reduce downtime associated with data file updates for 24x7 business applications. Using state-of-the-art high availability and change management processes, this product allows companies to convert IBM i database files with minimal interruption to app availability.
First-time COMMON attendee Corey Bedenbender of Dot Foods (center) was the lucky winner of a camcorder at the ARCAD Software booth. Pictured with Corey are Joelle Cilley, ARCAD senior sales executive, and Philippe Magne, ARCAD CEO.
At the urging of users, Business Computer Design, Int'l. (BCD) and Aldon have integrated Aldon's Lifecycle Manager into BCD's Web development tools. At the same time, BCD has put a lot of effort into enhancing its product line. Here is what their literature says:
"Aldon and BCD announced a strategic technology partnership aimed at bringing new levels of process automation and efficiency to Web application development and modernization for the IBM i platform covering PHP and RPG-CGI centric projects."
The partnership integrates Aldon Lifecycle Manager with WebSmart ILE and WebSmart PHP, providing users with a host of new benefits when building Web applications or modernizing legacy ones.
IT managers will gain a better view of all IT assets and projects at any given time and ensure compliance standards are met, while developers are free to focus on application innovation rather than administrative tasks, according to the company.
Benefits that users can expect with the joint solution include the following:
• Advanced software configuration management (SCM) concepts such as concurrent development, multiple release management, emergency changes conflict management, and source comparison
• Advanced deployment management concepts such as scheduled deployments for after-hours, easy and secure multi-platform deployments, simple management of all deployments via a GUI console, and rollback capabilities
• Audit compliance aids such as automatic historical tracking of all changes and deployments, advanced reporting, finely tuned security via role-based profiles, and separation of duties
• Centralized management of all software assets from all platforms to increase vision and teamwork and easily comply with best-practice standards for centralized control and tracking
• Cross-referencing to tie database changes in other applications to WebSmart ILE programs that reference those files, thus preventing unexpected downtime of critical Web applications.
BCD briefed the press on its extensive efforts during the past year to upgrade and enhance its product line. If you missed any of these earlier announcements, here is a summary. The company has a complete suite of modernization tools--called the Clear PATH Modernization Suite--that includes the following:
• WebSmart ILE application development tool is now improved with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), allowing users to create and manage entries connected to different LDAP data sources. WebSmart 8 is also available with XML document capabilities.
• WebSmart PHP with built-in change management has added support for the FTP path that makes it easier to publish and manage content on the Web.
• Clover, BCD's real-time IBM i Web reporting and query tool, is now able to import query definitions from IBM Query/400. Advanced reporting features on Clover help manage dynamic library lists, handle change management, and call back-end RPG programs or reports. Clover comes with unlimited user licensing and is an affordable alternative to DB2 Web Query.
• Nexus Portal, a portal for secure and controlled access to enterprise information, is in the process of being enhanced with a Google Search Appliance portlet, allowing search of any indexed network drive. Nexus Portal now gives search result text previews. Using Portal, users can more easily secure and organize Clover reports.
• Presto, BCD's rapid green-screen-to-Web enabling tool, is now able to run on V5R1 instead of V5R4. Users can now run Presto without installing WebSphere Application Server.
• Catapult, a PC and IBM i client/server application for automated report and document distribution, has been rewritten to increase performance up to 15 times faster in most cases than was previously possible. It also now has a modern user interface and a new "grab rule editor" to improve process flow when creating distribution rules.
Collectively, these advancements make it even easier for developers to bring existing RPG applications to the Web, develop new PHP or RPG Web applications, create real-time Web reports, distribute reports and documents, and control access to enterprise information.
Halcyon Software Inc.
The company announced Network Server Suite V6.0 supporting native AIX monitoring, launched Message Management Suite V3.0 for IBM i, and also announced a strategic partnership with Network Services Plus, Inc. Halcyon develops multi-platform systems management software to help organizations proactively monitor, manage, and automate mission-critical systems and business processes. Channel manager John Dominic told MC Press Online the company is having good success with its new managed services approach through second-tier suppliers. The autonomic monitoring capabilities are finding an enhanced role in shops where there is a need to fill a void of laid-off or retiring IBM i operations personnel.
The company introduced to attendees its new version of DBMoto V6.6 with new features designed to improve data replication speed and performance in large-scale data integration implementations. The latest version has improvements in the form of enhanced support for Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and My SQL Enterprise database systems.
Key Info (rebranded from Key Information Systems)
This California-based systems integrator that worked with IBM, Systech, and Talend to develop the Smart i business intelligence appliance on Power Systems had a booth at COMMON this year that was crawling with people. After a proof of concept at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, Key announced the general availability of the Smart i at COMMON. The latest news? The company is developing a mobile client for Smart i that users can employ to access reports from the data warehouse. The company had systems architect Dave Brown demonstrating the product at its booth in Reno. We'll have more on that in a future issue. Meanwhile, Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO at FIDM and a longtime COMMON member, talks about how Smart i will open up BI for small and medium businesses in a professional-looking video posted on You Tube.
Systems architect Dave Brown demonstrates the technology behind Key Info's mobile client for Smart i in Key's booth at COMMON.
This longstanding human resources solution provider is showing customers how they can achieve major savings in labor costs by running a tighter ship. That means using the company's proven solutions to schedule employees to work more when they're needed and less when they're not needed. Larry Cassella, Kronos division sales manager, briefed MC Press Online on the company's recession-fighting software solutions that HR and IT managers need to look at if they want to save major labor costs.
Lansa announced a new product, iFusion.net, that is an extension of its tried-and-true LANSA Repository and creates a platform to tie the IBM i and Microsoft .NET environments together. iFusion.net is a new solution that combines IBM and Microsoft technologies to form a unified architecture to enable organizations to integrate their custom legacy systems with Microsoft solutions or applications built with the .NET Framework. The platform promises to go beyond the limits of previous interoperability solutions to create composite applications that deliver real-time enterprise data and on-demand functionality.
Steve Gapp, left, president of LANSA, and Dave Brault, product marketing manager, were on hand at COMMON to explain to users the innovative iFusion.net platform that can enable integration of IBM i legacy systems with Microsoft .NET applications.
looksoftware announced ilook, a free software offer to the IBM i community aimed at helping i customers better experience modernization through using a GUI. Classic green-screen users will be able to convert to a GUI through ilook at no charge.
Based on looksoftware's smartclient technology, ilook provides a cloud-deployed plug-in that will provide a rich user experience for IBM i OS screens while integrating tightly with the desktop and IBM's online reference library.
Marcus Dee from looksoftware said, "ilook has been created in response to input from IBM i community leaders who believe many i customers need help getting started with application modernization." Modernization consultant Trevor Perry (newly elected to the COMMON Board of Directors) adds, "ilook provides a practical, easy, and no-risk step up that will enable many more i customers to modernize sooner."
ilook will be available for free download this coming June.
In addition to ilook, looksoftware announced a solution for Infor's BPCS application called, appropriately, "snap for BPCS." The latest version of looksoftware's snap is designed to improve reuse of BPCS LX and earlier versions of BPCS, enabling easy plug-and-play integration with nearly any other application. snap for BPCS can non-invasively connect existing back-end applications to other applications. Connectors for snap include MS Outlook, SharePoint, mobile front-ends such as the iPhone and BlackBerry, and the recently announced "snap for The Cloud."
A major benefit of snap for BPCS is its full support for customizations found in the majority of BPCS implementations currently in production.
General availability of snap for BPCS is scheduled for November 2009.
The high-availability software company from Aukland, New Zealand (with additional offices in California, the U.K., and Japan), was at COMMON telling users about its new delivery model for *noMAX HA software suite now available in the form of a software subscription option. Customers who choose the new *noMAX Subscription Edition products will no longer need to purchase a software license but will simply pay a quarterly or annual subscription fee that includes the cost of software use, updates and support, and even Web-based user training. It also includes periodic oversight of the *noMAX environment by experienced Maximum Availability technicians. Maximum Availability plans to continue to fully support existing customers that have purchased *noMAX under the traditional model and will continue to provide them with regular software enhancements, upgrades, and support. New customers wishing to purchase the software outright will still be able to do so.
This popular tool vendor says it is proving the worth of m-Power by developing a new business intelligence solution with it that the company will be rolling out this spring. Consultant Brian Crowley tells MC Press Online the solution can access virtually any database, including DB2, SQL Server, and Oracle among others.
New Generation Software (NGS) has announced its June 2009 availability of Release 7.0 of the NGS-IQ suite of business intelligence solutions. This release enables IBM i ISVs and application developers modernizing legacy applications to quickly add advanced and customizable Web-reporting features without Java, PHP, SQL, or other programming skills.
Release 7.0 continues to build on NGS' commitment to both on and offline development in response to customer feedback, indicating a strong desire for enhancing the productivity of mobile workers and telecommuters.
New real-time Web-reporting and HTML-formatting features will simplify report presentation and legacy application modernization to give users secure, controlled, graphical Web-browser access to data stored on the IBM i. External data stored in SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, and other databases can be accessed using the previously introduced IQ Connexion module.
Patrick Townsend Security Solutions
The company announced that it will begin offering subscription-pricing plans to help companies meet critical security needs during the current economy. The new pricing programs will complement the company's existing perpetual licensing plans and will make it easier for all companies to move forward with data security initiatives during a period of limited capital budgets. Townsend also announced it has begun a strategic alliance with Solutionary, Inc., a leading managed security services provider. The partnership will help the two companies to more fully serve customer needs by making it easier for users to bring their IBM System i into compliance with a total corporate strategy for monitoring enterprise servers and security devices.
Profound Logic Software
Profound Logic Software announced the release of Atrium, an enterprise portal for the IBM i. Atrium is the latest addition to Profound Logic's modernization suite of products and will be released in the third quarter.
Atrium allows businesses to eliminate complicated green-screen menus that require users to drill down to various levels of options to access a particular application. Legacy menus will be replaced with navigation menus from which users can select. Atrium users will also be able to tie directly to AS/400 user IDs.
Completing the modernization suite, Atrium provides a way for users to integrate all of their RPGsp Web applications, Genie-enhanced screens, and iData database views into one location. Users can also integrate other third-party applications, Web sites, and data, regardless of whether they are located on the i or other platforms.
Profound Logic is issuing a call for businesses who are interested in beta testing Atrium to apply for that opportunity.
Quadrant announced the release of IntelliChief 2.5, its document management, workflow, and imaging solution.
In Release 2.5, IntelliChief builds upon the foundation of previous editions, adding more capabilities to help companies process documents more efficiently. The new features in this release include these:
• Performance Metrics gives users the ability to access historical information and create their own performance reports.
• Matching of Workflow Documents verifies via IntelliChief whether there are documents waiting for a match and determines whether they can be routed to their final destination.
• Enhanced WebForm Usage allows users to use an Internet browser to create and fill out a form. Release 2.5 allows re-editing before Web forms are approved.
• Improved Notifications improves workflow of documents by triggering email notifications to users, alerting them of documents pending approval, time limits, and more.
• Improvements for Handling Multiple Documents allows users to electronically retrieve and view multiple documents on their screens.
• Document Attachment Options allows users to define how they want attachments to behave when they are emailed. Each document can be sent separately or consolidated into one large file.
• Hardware and Software Updates are easier now. IntelliChief now supports MS Server 2008 and MS SQL 2008.
Release 2.5 is free of charge to existing IntelliChief customers.
RJS Software announced the release of DeliverNow, a significantly upgraded version of its WinSpool product for delivering IBM i reports. The major enhancements consist of the added ability to deliver reports from other platforms and a sleek new Web console.
DeliverNow automatically monitors, converts, and delivers reports from key business systems on any platform, including IBM i, Windows, Linux, and AIX. Reports can be converted into PDF, RTF, HTML, and many other file formats and then sent to any output directory. PGP is used to encrypt email and SFTP and FTP transmissions.
DeliverNow has a base price of $5,000 and supplies current WinSpool users with an easy upgrade path. RJS, however, will continue to support the individual products that have since been rolled into its new offering.
Vision Solutions announced the release of iTERA HA 6.0 and MIMIX HA 6.0, including advanced autonomics paired with full-featured high availability enhancements.
The solution's self-managing capabilities require little in-house expertise and are equipped with a unique virtual role-swap capability, allowing customers to test and validate the readiness of their role-swap easily.
Major new features within iTERA HA 6.0 include these:
• Faster installation
• Powerful self-correction
• Faster resynchronization and audit performance
Major enhancements within MIMIX HA include these:
• Improved performance through optimization, providing faster replication
• More-flexible auditing
• Powerful IBM i integration
Both of these upgrades extend the ease-of-use, flexibility, and performance capabilities while continuing to deliver accurate replication, comprehensive object and data coverage, advanced autonomics, and improved role-swap capabilities, the company said.
Vision Solutions also showed COMMON attendees its RecoverNow product, an affordable data recovery and continuous data protection solution. These are some of the benefits of RecoverNow:
• Faster, more reliable, and complete recovery from backup tapes alone
• Quick and easy recovery of many files, objects, or libraries
• Powerful continuous data protection (CDP) "rewind" capabilities to recover damaged or deleted data
Vision's RecoverNow can use storage available on virtually any platform as a target, including machines or partitions running Windows, Linux, IBM i, AIX, or other UNIX versions. It can also support SAN or NAS environments, meaning SMB customers can reap countless benefits from the fast recovery and CDP from RecoverNow without investing in a second IBM i server, the company notes.
RecoverNow works in conjunction with the IBM i Save-While-Active process, eliminating downtime when performing backups on the production system. Existing Vision HA customers can implement RecoverNow in the environment to provide CDP capabilities on top of data protection delivered with HA software.
Rich Karuse, senior product marketing manager at Vision Solutions, pauses at the company's booth before heading off to give a session for users on high availability.
Zend, successful in having IBM preload Zend Core with all new IBM i servers, continues to integrate with the IBM i platform. Word on the street is that Zend is approaching IBM with ideas for closer ties with IBM's tools. Zend Studio is Eclipse based and so is RDI, so who knows what beautiful music they might make?
It's a Wrap!
That's about all the time and space we have for COMMON updates, but we will be visiting these and other companies in future issues to discuss their new products. In the meantime, look for individual releases published in MC Press Online and a follow-up rundown in a future issue of MC Systems Insight. Below is a list of the exhibiting companies and their URLs provided by COMMON for further reference and research.
ARCAD Software, Inc.
Business Computer Design Int'l, Inc.
CCSS USA Corporation
Crossroads Systems, Inc.
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