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New Tools, Insights, and Solutions Mark COMMON 2012 Vendor Announcements

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MC Press Online talks with more than 20 vendors to find out what the latest technology announcements are coming from the COMMON expo floor.

 

COMMON this year was held in the happiest place on earth—Disneyland. It's a great place to vacation, and I hope many of those attending the conference and expo took advantage of the entertainment and vacation opportunities either before or after the show. Living only about 35 minutes from Disneyland, I of course haven't set foot in the place in 20 years. A lot has changed in that time, it turns out, and it is way more fun than it used to be. It's also way more expensive, but so is everything.

 

What also has changed a lot—just in the past year—are the products and services that the IBM Power Systems vendors have to offer. The tools are getting much easier to use, are much more powerful, and provide senior-level RPG programmers with opportunities to modernize their systems without learning 15 impossible programming languages and techniques. Let's face it: just showing up for work can be a challenge. Who needs to retool one's entire knowledge base every six months?

 

Maybe you were at COMMON doing what you were supposed to be doing—attending seminars—and you didn't have time to pick up on all the latest announcements. Or maybe you weren't able to attend COMMON. Either way, that's where we come in. You don't have to visit all the booths; you just need to read the following story, and you'll be up on the latest product developments. Mobile applications and development tools to create them effortlessly seemed to be a major theme at this show. Clearly, the world sees mobile devices as a way to extend the reach and influence of workers heretofore trapped behind a desktop computer.

 

There may have been a few announcements in the more than 20 we cover here, so if you know if any we missed, be sure to drop me a line. We'll cover it in a future issue.

 

Abacus Solutions

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Figure 1: Scott Johnson (account executive) and Josh Osborne (iSeries solution engineer) at the Abacus booth at Common 2012.

Patrick Schutz, partner at Abacus Solutions, was busy answering questions at the company's booth at COMMON when attendees found out there was a new IBM i cloud provider in town. Abacus offers IBM iSeries hosting with operating system versions ranging from V5R4 through 7.1 for as little as $500 per month. For that, the company (or individual) gets a single LPAR and up to 1000 CPW processing capacity, 4 GB of memory, about 1000 GB of storage, licensing for an unlimited number of concurrent users, a weekly backup, and a virtual private network of 1.5 MB bandwidth. The price includes OS and hardware support Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 5:00. Such a deal. Abacus, whose headquarters and major data center are in Marietta, Georgia, offers a variety of other services too. First on the list is an IBM i or AIX performance assessment to see what might be causing your performance issues and then recommend hardware upgrades based on capacity planning modeling. Abacus also will do a thorough audit of your data center to allow you to optimize hardware, space, and resources.

 

The company also offers business continuity services for a variety of platforms, including IBM i, Linux, AIX, and Windows. It also offers hosting services on the above platforms so you don't have to keep up with the day-to-day tasks of running a data center. You can provide your own hardware, or Abacus can provide it, or you can use the Abacus turnkey private cloud.

 

ARCAD Software, Inc.

ARCAD Software came to COMMON having just announced the release of V8.15 of the full range of ARCAD products. ARCAD security and change management software now includes solutions for a variety of release management, configuration management, build management, regression testing, data extraction, application analysis, and more. ARCAD-Observer's application analysis capabilities are now integrated directly into Rational Team Concert. The company also has a new strategy for retrieving changed software components from a Team Foundation Server or Visual Studio environment for .NET developers. The retrieval function offers two major benefits. First, it makes it possible to automatically build cross-references between native IBM i and .NET components. It also provides for their automatic and secure synchronized deployment into production with the native components.

 

BCD Software

Eric Figura, BCD Software's director of sales and marketing, and Marcel Sarrasin, the company's product manager, outlined the new features and updates to the company's Presto, WebSmart PHP, and Clover Query products.

 

BCD used COMMON as a forum to announce V4 of Presto 4, V4.4 of WebSmart PHP, and V3.6 of Clover Query, its business intelligence tool that allows users and developers to create real-time Web reports that access data onboard IBM i and other platforms.

 

With Presto 4, its green-screen Web enablement and modernization tool, BCD introduced optimized layouts for mobile devices. When an iPhone, iPad, or Android device is used to access a Web-enabled green-screen, Presto's built-in intelligence automatically detects the device type and determines the optimal layout. Other devices can be supported using custom layouts.

 

Also in Presto 4 is a feature that is catching on among tool developers—a virtual keyboard for function keys. Some have likened this feature to training wheels. If you are used to accessing certain information using IBM i-style function keys, you can still do so with the virtual keyboard. Some mobile devices, it turns out, including iPhones and iPads, don't have function keys on their keyboards.

 

Users now can view and save DB2 data as CSV spreadsheets or HTML pages with the new Export Data element. The resultant spreadsheets can be opened in Excel without copy and paste or use of macros. The spreadsheet (or HTML page) is populated with the results of an SQL query defined in Presto and can be added to a screen as a clickable button.

 

Presto 4 also has a new global setting as well as visual editor group selection and snap-to elements to allow developers to move elements as a group or apply properties to the entire selection.

 

Figura announced that WebSmart PHP now comes as a standalone PC licensed edition, which means developers can develop PHP applications without an IBM i. It never was necessary to have an IBM i to run WebSmart PHP programs, since they're open source, but you needed one to authenticate the license key for developing PHP applications with the WebSmart IDE. Developers should call BCD for pricing.

 

Other new features in V4.4 include an interactive debugger in the WebSmart IDE that allows making changes on the fly, and a syntax validator to validate any new or existing PHP file from any source.

 

Also updated are SmartCharts with versions of graphs for non-Flash devices (iPad), but users still can continue to use the Flash versions for other devices. The tool also has new functions, making it easier to retrieve Nexus Web portal user info and enhanced security features in the program templates that protect against injection of client-side scripts.

 

Clover Query 3.6 expands the number of database types from which you can create Web-based reports to include MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server. New templates allow users to create Web-based reports, graphs, spreadsheets, and even PDFs from DB2 for i or other databases and display them together in ways that are transparent to users. SmartCharts also has been updated to support non-Flash devices such as the iPad.

 

Cilasoft

Guy Marmorat, president and CEO of Cilasoft spoke with MC Press Online about his company's introduction of Elevated Authority Manager (EAM), a product that allows IT managers to grant specific authorities to individual users. It will also track activities of users given these temporary authorities. The idea is to reduce the number of high-level permanent user profiles, something compliance auditors are calling for to better meet government and payment-card industry standards. EAM provides two authority management scenarios—"swap" and "adopt." With swap, a user inherits authority by switching to another user's profile. With adopt, the user adopts a target user's profile authority. Managers can control these special authorities for certain commands and time periods.

 

CNX Corp.

Robert Swanson, senior partner at CNX Corp., and developer Scott Salisbury were on hand at COMMON to discuss the latest features of Valence 3.1—officially announced at the spring RPG & DB2 Summit last March—and talk about new features in V3.2, which is planned for release in October. While the Valence Nitro App Builder dashboard and query builder was the big announcement for V3.1, expect to see new Sencha Touch drag-and-drop features in V3.2. That release will be the ninth major release of the Valence Framework since it was launched in May 2008.

 

A number of larger companies have now come on board and are using Valence for their Web development, Swanson reported. Valence offers the IBM i community access to the same technology used on all the feature-rich Web sites you see today running on other platforms, but Valence is designed explicitly for RPG programmers.

 

The core Valence framework is still free to all IBM i developers, but premium features, including the Nitro tools, are licensed on a per-machine basis for an unlimited number of developers.

 

Other Nitro features include a browser-based file editor for viewing, editing, and downloading data in any IBM i database file; a lightweight source editor for maintaining front-end JavaScript code; and an integrated instance manager for cloning, updating, and managing multiple Valence server instances.

 

Crossroads Systems

Crossroads Systems announced the upcoming release of SPHiNX 8.3 for general availability on June 29. SPHiNX 8.3 offers significant automation enhancements designed to save organizations both time and money in their backup and archiving activities. The software update for the Crossroads data protection and storage appliance, which provides reliable disaster recovery capabilities for midrange server and open system host environments, will allow system administrators to do more with less, saving both time and money. SPHiNX 8.3will allow greater automation in performing typical daily tasks, such as replication, export of data to physical tape, and storage reclamation after data is successfully stored offsite. SPHiNX now has user-defined event policies with the ability to trigger other events automatically in order to eliminate further user intervention.

 

DRV Technologies, Inc.

DRV Technologies announced V5.0 of the DRV FlexTool Solutions Suite, which includes SpoolFlex, FormFlex, Secure Checks, MessageFlex, and now DataFlex. The new report writer module—DataFlex—extracts data from multiple database files and outputs to PDF, Excel, CSV, and additional file formats. Chris Burns, DRV's vice president of sales and marketing, said many organizations are looking for a simple, affordable way to reduce paper waste and make processing reports and documents more efficient. DataFlex is a simple-to-use report writer with a flat price of $3,000 for an unlimited number of users.

 

New features in SpoolFlex include advanced Excel formatting options and the ability to output a report to HTML formatting and embed it in the body of an email distribution. FormFlex has added barcode support for different formats, and a "form within a form" feature to create complex form sets.

 

MessageFlex now has the added ability to filter messages by ID, message type, and severity. There now are enhanced logical operands to all solutions used for conditioning and data selection.

 

Halcyon Software

Halcyon Software introduced Document Management System V3.0, Advanced Job Scheduler V9.0, and Halcyon Systems Operations Suite V4.0 at COMMON.

 

Document Management System V3.0 ensures reliable archiving, rapid retrieval, packaging, and distribution of business information, documents, and reports from spool files in IBM i (see "Halcyon Announces Document Management System V3.0 for IBM i").

 

Key enhancements to Advanced Job Scheduler V9.0 include a migration utility for rapid importation of jobs from other standard or third-party job schedulers into the Halcyon product, a command list to check appropriate conditions before jobs are processed, improved reporting, and an "FTP error-trapping" feature to detect issues pertaining to file transfers.

 

With the latest release of Systems Operations Suite, which has a new graphical front-end, IT administrators now can also access the suite's management dashboard and manage alerts remotely from a smartphone or tablet. Halcyon's Enterprise Console now gives Halcyon customers a portable dashboard view of their entire enterprise right on their preferred mobile device. They simply need to download the appropriate smart app.

 

Halcyon also announced its education initiative to help college students studying IT learn how to manage IBM Power Systems technology (IBM i, AIX, Linux, and Windows servers). The company donated $30,000 in software licenses to the IT department of Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska. The college, which serves more than 49,000 students annually, has a long history with IBM Power Systems technology and COMMON.

 

"As the first generation of IBM i professionals are coming close to retirement, we believe it's critical to educate the next generation of professionals to learn this critical technology, ensuring continued growth and vitality of our industry niche," said John Dominic, vice president of sales at Halcyon. Well done, Halcyon, and let's see more of this type of support from other companies.

 

inFORM Decisions

Dan Forster, president of inFORM Decisions, briefed editors on its soon-to-be released new product called iCapture, a more intelligent version of the company's iScan document capture module. Using any scanner, fax solution, or multi-function printer, iCapture will recognize and capture data on forms for input into index fields, check databases to verify accuracy, and deliver data and images into inFORM's iView, iMail, or iFax modules running on IBM i.

 

The company also is poised to release an updated version of its iDocs engine, the central processing solution that monitors output queues for spool or database files or XML data for routing and processing. iDocs uses simple menus for users to set up rules for either manual or automatic distribution of reports, forms, and MICR-embedded checks.

 

IntelliChief

Brian Smith, director of marketing at IntelliChief, was on hand at COMMON to brief the press on the paperless process management solution provider's recently introduced IntelliChief Mobile module. Users connect to their IntelliChief document management system dashboard and customized "in-boxes" through a URL and then can search, retrieve, view, sort, and manage their documents. Smith said the company employees are excited to be able to offer users "fingertip access" to all their different types of documents, including invoices, purchase orders, and check requests, as well as the corresponding document annotations and history. "IntelliChief Mobile is a great product for workers who don't have access to their computer screen on a daily basis or whose schedule takes them away from the office."

 

Key Information Systems

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Figure 2: From left, Key Information Systems' Robert Pryor (systems engineer), Pete Elliot (director of marketing), and David Black (solution architect) answer questions about IBM PureFlex.

Key Information Systems' solution architect David Black and systems engineer Robert Pryor recently returned from training on IBM PureSystems platforms in time to brief editors at COMMON on KeyInfo's new IBM PureSystems Competency Center going into Key's headquarters building in Woodland Hills, California. The high-tech hardware and solutions installation is designed to help educate and—dare we say—impress Key's top-tier clients in Southern California. The new center has meeting rooms for demonstrating, testing, and providing advice and instruction on IBM's latest high-tech platform. Installation of the ambitious Competency Center, co-located with Key's IBM-authorized Business Partner Innovation Center (BPIC), has been overseen by two of Key's top-flight IBM technology specialists: Scott Pond, Key's chief technology officer, and Julie Gutierrez-Farley, director of solutions architecture. Key reportedly has invested more than $2 million in its innovation center over the past five years to give SoCal customers hands-on experience with the latest IBM technology.

 

LANSA

LANSA announced the availability of LongRange, a tool for RPG developers to build and maintain mobile applications without learning JavaScript, HTML, or CSS. LongRange Server uses RPG or CL with DDS on the server side and a downloadable native LongRange mobile app on the iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

 

The solution supports the unique features of mobile, including GPS, camera, audio, and SMS. The LongRange interface running native on the mobile device automatically resizes to accommodate different screen sizes. Because the business logic created with LongRange is on the server, developer-built mobile apps don't need prior approval from Apple.

 

Users can download the app from iTunes to their mobile device, connect to the server, and be ready to use the business application. LongRange ships with pre-programmed application examples, sample code, and a set of online tutorials. LANSA president Steve Gapp told MC Press Online that developers can try LongRange free for 30 days and then purchase a license through subscription-based pricing. For more information and to download the software, visit www.longrangemobile.com.

 

Linoma Software

Susan Baird, Linoma Software's marketing manager, gave MC Press Online a brief background on her own experience coming into the IBM i world and updated us on the company's GoAnywhere Services new Secure Mail module, which offers a secure alternative to traditional email attachments. GoAnywhere Services, a product within Linoma's GoAnywhere managed file transfer suite, is a secure FTP server that runs across multiple platforms. It provides a secure portal for trading partners to leave and retrieve files. The new Secure Mail module, the need for which has been cited by numerous customers, provides for a single email to deliver multiple files by generating a unique link that is sent to the recipients instead of an attachment. The link directs recipients to download the files through a secure HTTPS connection. There is no limit on file size with Secure Mail as there is with some similar commercial services.

 

michaels, ross and cole ltd. (mrc)

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Figure 3: Steve Hansen, director of Marketing at mrc, explains m-Painter features.

mrc was at COMMON to talk about the recent completion of an overhaul of the m-Painter text editor in its m-Power rapid application development tool. Marketing director Steve Hansen said that in an effort to continually simplify the application development process, mrc overhauled m-Painter to provide cross-browser, cross-platform, and HTML5 support. m-Painter, which is an open-source WYSIWYG text editor, can now be accessed from all operating systems and browsers. Users also can include HTML5 features in their Web applications.

 

m-Painter also now includes a new "history" feature that lets users save and apply previous presentation layers to their Web applications. The feature allows developers to try different interface options without the risk of overwriting their presentation layer. Developers can preview and execute their applications from within the m-Painter interface, which should save them considerable time.

 

m-Painter has a new interface that is more intuitive, and editing source code is easier with manual cell editing. Discrete elements are separated out so the user doesn't have to sort through hundreds of lines of code to find the section he wants to edit. There is also a revert feature that catches and eliminates user errors. If a developer makes an error in the source code, m-Painter will remove the error and highlight the problem. Obviously, there is some intelligence built in there.

 

New Generation Software

Mary Lynn Treadwell, customer relations manager at New Generation Software (NGS), shared with MC Press Online that the company introduced a new software developer kit, NGS SDK, to get companies started with business intelligence, including comprehensive query, reporting, mobile business intelligence, and a Web analytics solution. The NGS SDK includes IQ Server (concurrent license), its WebRunner feature (standard interface), and one IQ Client workstation license. Users will be able to run reports and format them to tablets and smartphones as well as to the desktop. NGS provides 90 days of software maintenance, free Web-based education, and live walk-throughs. The whole idea is to get companies started off on the right foot. Users also have access to more than 40 hours of NGS on-demand education videos. Toll-free and online support is included to help with installation and setup if needed. The best thing about the NGS SDK may be the price. For a limited time through June 30, the license fee is only $475.

 

Profound Logic

Alex Roytman, president of Profound Logic, took the opportunity at COMMON to announce V4 of Profound UI, its modernization and user interface platform for IBM i. Profound UI, which was first announced two years ago along with RPG Open Access, included the first handler to take advantage of it. Since then, the company has published more than 1,000 enhancements to Profound UI in response to customer feedback. Roytman outlined no fewer than six major enhancements to the modernization suite, which include sharing user interface definitions between different file systems, deploying applications through other programming languages than RPG and other platforms besides IBM i, and building what-if scenarios through a new application preview feature. Also new is the ability to explore source members, IFS files, and reference tables through a set of dialogs in the Profound UI Visual Designer. Enhancements to existing widgets, conversion themes, and refacing skins also are included in V4.

 

Roytman said the company is beginning to think of Profound UI as an ideal tool for front-end development of PHP applications since it handles all the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript requirements that need to be incorporated into a Web application written in PHP. A number of RPG developers who have learned PHP as a means to develop Web applications sometimes get bogged down with the other requirements beyond the basic PHP language. Roytman says Profound UI solves this problem, and he has been in discussions with Zend Technologies to see if there are opportunities to partner with the PHP company.

 

Roytman, who recently moved to Orange County, California, from Dayton, Ohio, announced that the company will co-sponsor an all-day Orange County Technical Conference on June 22 in conjunction with Vision Solutions and inFORM Decisions. More details on the conference will become available as the date draws nearer, but Roytman said it would be held at the IBM Building, 611 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, California. It includes lunch and will be free to attendees. The emphasis will be on Web 2.0 skills and ways developers can "get the most out of your tools."

 

Quadrant Software

Quadrant Software CEO Steve Woodard and marketing manager Rachel Tuhro sat down with MC Press Online to discuss the company's new IP fax server solution, QuadraDocV, which supports the standard T.38 Fax over IP (FoIP) protocol. While it runs on VMware, QuadraDocV is the industry's only virtual FoIP product native to IBM i. Organizations can take full advantage of their virtualized environments and minimize data center overhead using QuadraDocV, which incorporates SR140 software technology from communications vendor Dialogic to integrate with their current telephony systems. It eliminates the need even for a physical fax card and integrates with all Quadrant products, including Formtastic. Woodard said customers wanted a virtualized product rather than something that adds another energy-consuming server to their data center. Virtualization meanwhile offers the added benefits of high availability, or at least disaster recovery, as well as flexibility. Quadrant, whose sales grew 117 percent last year, intends to focus on building up its channel partner network this year, Woodard said.

 

Raz-Lee Security

Shmuel Zailer, Raz-Lee Security's CEO and CTO, updated MC Press Online on feedback to the company's recently announced DB-Gate solution for access to remote database systems from IBM i. He also briefed us on Raz-Lee's new affordable Change Tracker object-tracking solution. DB-Gate (see "DB-Gate Simplifies Access to Remote Databases from IBM i") is a novel new way to access remote databases from IBM i using native SQL tools and interfaces available in IBM i. It uses no special hardware or proprietary software on the remote database. Zailer said response to the product has been overwhelming, and the company is devising a way to price it based on the number of connections. Zailer predicted that having easy access to remote cross-platform databases such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and MySQL will spur new development on IBM i for RPG developers.

 

The recently announced Change Tracker program allows smaller and medium-size companies to automatically and comprehensively trace software modifications at both the source and object levels without having to install a complex change management system. Even larger enterprises that already have a CMS solution can benefit from it, Zailer says, because Change Tracker can serve as a verification tool to ensure that all changes have been properly recorded and no one has circumvented the CMS program.

 

SkyView Partners

John Vanderwall, SkyView Partners CEO, was at COMMON talking to us about the company's new SkyView Policy Minder for AIX that began shipping a month ago. The solution eliminates the need to write scripts in order to get compliance information. With a Web-based interface, the latest Policy Minder version provides a centralized view of system compliance. It even offers the ability to launch compliance checks and fixes to security policy deviations across multiple partitions.

 

Vanderwall told MC Press Online that the company is moving heavily into managed services, and SkyView's increasingly popular Managed Services for Compliance Reporting can monitor critical compliance issues for an affordable monthly subscription fee. Users schedule regular compliance checks, and the resulting reports are emailed to SkyView's support staff for review. It's more affordable for users, and it's a good business model for SkyView.

 

Surround Technologies

Lee Paul, CEO and partner at Surround Technologies, introduced editors attending COMMON to a live demonstration of the rapid application modernization tool Accelerator for .Net V3.3. First introduced at COMMON Reno in 2009, Accelerator has gone through several evolutions during the past three years. Accelerator for .Net generates complete .NET code that integrates seamlessly with IBM i and allows the developer to enhance the user experience with a modern Web 2.0 front-end while leveraging the power of the IBM i back-end logic. New features in V3.3 include the Multi-Module Tree View that allows for viewing data from related modules in an easy-to-read tree view. Another feature is the Auto Refresh with Count-down Timer that allows the user to refresh data in a content window using a pre-set time interval. New Spool File Modules allow the user to search, view, and export spool files from IBM i. Remarks Modules allows the user to save notes on any record in the system with security permissions controlling who sees them. Tracking of user sign-on and sign-off provides for system–level logging of all user sign-ons and tracks orphan sign-ons and erroneous sessions. Application Record Locking permits locking of editable records when open so two users can't access the record at the same time.

 

TEMBO

TEMBO Application Generation, a subsidiary of TEMBO Group of South Africa, briefed editors on a new database modernization suite called Adsero Optima that promises to facilitate strategic system modernizations from the database engine up. The tool, AO Foundation, which is based on RPG Open Access and looksoftware's openlook open access handler, is designed to move the data in older applications onto the SQL engine. AO Foundation handles the data duplication dynamically below the covers and facilitates running parallel databases concurrently, mirroring DDS to DDL and DDL to DDS to each other. Marinus Van Sandwyk, CTO of TEMBO Technology Lab, explained the roadmap to consolidate and clean up the database. AO Foundation generates a single data dictionary, which facilitates the cleanup of the metadata and resulting tables.

 

Townsend Security

Patrick Townsend, CEO of Townsend Security, briefed reporters on the latest enhancements to its increasingly interesting Alliance LogAgent system-logging solution, noting that there is a heightened focus on system logging as a way to help deter data breaches. Townsend said forensic analyses of several of the more significant and large data breaches of recent times have shown these systems had malware installed months or years before the actual data breach. The breaches often could have been prevented if system logs had been more closely scrutinized, Townsend said. New features in Alliance LogAgent allow administrators to selectively monitor data access and change-activity at the column or field level. Sensitive data in all types of applications can be monitored without any changes either to the programs or user accounts, and IBM i security administrators can implement data monitoring quickly with no disruption to ongoing operations. What LogAgent does is simply read the various journals in IBM i and collect the log data in real time. The data then needs to be analyzed by a separate Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution from one of the more than a dozen ISVs that offer it. The SIEM software has built-in intelligence and can detect suspicious activity reflected in the logs. Among the new features in LogAgent, Townsend said, are the following:

  • Monitor read- and/or change-access by column
  • Monitor multiple columns in a single database table
  • Generate user white lists for table and column access
  • Detect and alert on changes to database tables that affect monitoring

 

Other new features are its ability to automatically route security events to QAUDJRN and to a SIEM application.

 

Townsend said that while IBM i is more secure than other platforms, it's not immune to threats, and security experts are beginning to see infections to the Apache server and in the PASE environment.

 

Tributary Systems, Inc.

MC Press Online had the distinct pleasure at COMMON of meeting Tributary Systems CEO and chairman Shawn Sabanayagam and reconnecting with Ed Ahl, the company's director of business development. The executives discussed updates to Tributary Systems Storage Director backup virtualization solution, now at V3.04, which adds support for IBM i 6.1 and 7.1 as well as the Virtual I/O Server (VIOS). Storage Director blends the best of disk and tape to help companies manage their data growth and improve their backup/restore performance without replacing their existing infrastructure. Tributary's Storage Director backup virtualization and consolidation solution is compatible with all IBM platforms from System x through IBM i, AIX, Linux, and even z/OS as well as Windows. It is an "any-host platform" to "any-storage-media-or-device" solution that virtualizes and consolidates backup storage in any heterogeneous datacenter.

 

Storage Director performs a variety of functions—from monitoring storage for reports and capacity planning to handling compression and encryption on both disk and physical tape media. Folding tape into its storage solution options is one of the features that many users appreciate, unlike other virtual tape solutions that are designed to eliminate tape and substitute disk. (Storage Director, however, can appear to the IBM i as an actual IBM 3484 tape library with LTO tape drive if a virtual tape solution is appropriate). Storage Director supports tape library distribution and consolidation while providing transparent backup-and-restore features for off-site archival requirements. V3.04 enhancements to Storage Director added LTO5 support. V4.0, which will be generally available in late August, will have support for IBM PureSystems, Ahl says. Enhanced Wide Area Network (WAN) replication capability will allows users to move data electronically to remote locations for off-site archiving, a far easier approach than physically transporting tapes offsite. Ahl said the company is working to partner with several of the larger IBM systems integrators and also is working closely with the Systems and Technology Group at IBM.

 

Vision Solutions

Doug Piper, vice president of product strategy at Vision Solutions, briefed us on the company's latest developments, including six approved solutions for IBM's new PureFlex platform.

 

Vision offers a comprehensive range of resiliency and data management solutions for all operating systems on IBM PureFlex, including IBM i, AIX, Linux, and Windows. Integration with VMware for Windows virtual migrations will be available June 11. Spanning all these platforms, Vision can protect both applications and data, eliminate unplanned as well as planned downtime, and recover data to virtually any point in time, Piper said.

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Figure 4: Eric Finkel, chief technical specialist on IBM PureSystems launch team, displays a system processor card in front of the PureApplication rack at IBM booth.

 

The company also has solutions to migrate physical and virtual servers, making it easier to move to the new IBM PureFlex server. Vision can eliminate downtime traditionally associated with system migrations, Piper said. Even Vision Solutions Portal (VSP) is integrated with IBM System Director so administrators can see important events from System Director right from inside VSP.

 

Zend Technologies

Elaine Lennox, Zend Technologies' chief marketing officer, and Mike Pavlak, solutions consultant for Zend, were at COMMON to promote the Zend Smart Start for IBM i training and consulting package engagement. Designed to help customers who want to quickly get up to speed on PHP in order to start using it for Web application projects, the two-week training and consulting offer covers 5 to 15 students for a flat fee of $20,000. At the end of the engagement, the staff is trained in the fundamentals of PHP, the PHP solution stack is installed and configured on an IBM i server and staff learns how to do it, a pilot project for the customer's team is identified, and Zend coaches the team through development and deployment of the project.

Conclusion

So that's a wrap on most of the major vendor announcements we at MC Press Online were privy to at this year's COMMON. Needless to say, IBM had a large booth in which it was demonstrating its unique PureSystems server solutions. We will be discussing these in a future article, but it's safe to say there was much buzz at COMMON about what the implications of these automated systems are for the midrange community.

 

 

Chris Smith

Chris Smith was the Senior News Editor at MC Press Online from 2007 to 2012 and was responsible for the news content on the company's Web site. Chris has been writing about the IBM midrange industry since 1992 when he signed on with Duke Communications as West Coast Editor of News 3X/400. With a bachelor's from the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in English and minored in Journalism, and a master's in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Chris later studied computer programming and AS/400 operations at Long Beach City College. An award-winning writer with two Maggie Awards, four business books, and a collection of poetry to his credit, Chris began his newspaper career as a reporter in northern California, later worked as night city editor for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and went on to edit a national cable television trade magazine. He was Communications Manager for McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, Calif., before it merged with Boeing, and oversaw implementation of the company's first IBM desktop publishing system there. An editor for MC Press Online since 2007, Chris has authored some 300 articles on a broad range of topics surrounding the IBM midrange platform that have appeared in the company's eight industry-leading newsletters. He can be reached at chriswriting@cs.com.

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    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!

     

  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.

     

  • Progressive Web Apps: Create a Universal Experience Across All Devices

    LANSAProgressive Web Apps allow you to reach anyone, anywhere, and on any device with a single unified codebase. This means that your applications—regardless of browser, device, or platform—instantly become more reliable and consistent. They are the present and future of application development, and more and more businesses are catching on.
    Download this whitepaper and learn:

    • How PWAs support fast application development and streamline DevOps
    • How to give your business a competitive edge using PWAs
    • What makes progressive web apps so versatile, both online and offline

     

     

  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks

     

     

  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.

     

  • UPDATED: Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    FortraIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using NodeRun.com as a pre-built development environment

     

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails

     

  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.

     

     

  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks

     

     

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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

    FortraRobot 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

    FortraRobot 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.