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Ever since Blog and Wap created the first two cave-computers (Blog in a high-tech development pueblo out in the wilds of Boca Raton, Wap in the small California cave where he stored his wheel), there have been benchmarks.

In this article, I'm going to introduce you to some standard benchmarks currently making the rounds in the IT industry, and then I'm going to try to relate them to the world of midrange computers and specifically to the iSeries, RPG, and native DB2/400. I'll explain a little bit about what benchmarks do and what the pitfalls are that surround any attempt to compare two different computers, no matter how simple the test.

I'll address some of the problems of "sponsored tests" and the paid pundits who run them, and I'll try to help you determine exactly how big a grain of salt you'll need when reviewing the results. I'll also take a short sidetrack into the almost mystical world of "case studies" and "white papers." I'll try to keep that part short; those who know me know it's easy for me to go off into a rant about these folks, and really, there's little we can do except to laugh at them.

More productively, I'll get into some specifics about the iSeries and talk about how "proper" techniques can be completely different, depending on exactly what you are testing. No single methodology can handle everything, but you need to know what the assumptions are in any test to be able to determine its validity in your business.

Today's Industry Standard Benchmarks

There are a couple of primary players in the benchmark game today. The Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) is probably the oldest organization and, in my opinion, the most balanced and impartial. Although their tests were at least partially inspired by the old TP1 tests from IBM, the first TPC-A test was really an outgrowth of the DebitCredit test, with a lot of honest thought given to how to make these tests fair. For an excellent insight into what can make or break a benchmark, I recommend reading Omri Serlin's account of the history of the TPC and those first tests. This is a guy with a lot of credibility.

The other major test organization today is SPEC, the Standard Performance Evaluation Cooperation. The primary difference between the two groups is that SPEC focuses more on CPU-level measurements. For example, the new version of the Web server tests relies on a simulated back-end. Other tests include tests of NFS file systems and of graphics performance. The JVM tests are all designed to measure basic machine-level functions like the JIT compiler or floating-point arithmetic. The TPC tests, on the other hand, are intended to exactly model the entire transaction stream, from front to back. Not only that, TPC tests require external auditing, which is probably a primary reason that SPEC tests have achieved more participation than TPC tests. The SPEC organization recently lost its long-time guiding light when its president of a decade and a half, Kaivalya Dixit, passed away in November. I will be interested to see what effect this might have on the direction of the organization as a whole.

Here's an interesting note for those of you concerned about raw performance. The SPEC JBB2000 test compares Java Virtual Machine (JVM) execution pretty much at the bare metal level, doing CPU-intensive tasks. The result is a raw performance number, which is reported along with the number of CPUs used to generate the number (nowadays, they actually report the number of CPU cores, to properly measure chips with multiple cores per chip). If you divide the raw performance by the number of CPU cores, the top 10 machines are smaller machines with four or fewer cores (the one exception was an 8-way p5 Model 570). I think this is reasonable; the more CPUs you have, the higher your overall number but the lower your per-CPU number due to the overhead of managing the multiple CPUs. The interesting thing was that all of the machines except two were xSeries or p5 boxes. But even cooler was the performance of big boxes. For anything with 16 or more CPUs, the top three performers were pSeries boxes--a couple of Model 570s (one each on AIX and Linux) and a model 595 on AIX. But the real shocker was number four: a 16-way (32 core) i5 Model 595!

So, if you want Java performance in a little box, it's IBM xSeries or p5; and for a big box, it's p5 or i5. Who'd'a thunk it?

One other note about the tests: By far, the overwhelming favorite choice for JVM is IBM's JRE 1.4.2. The i5 test was reported last October using JRE 1.4.2. There were several older iSeries benchmarks posted, all back in 2000, all using JREs 1.3.0 and older. And every one was horrible, with numbers roughly one-eighth that of the newer JRE. I've said over the years that the iSeries JVM wasn't very fast, and evidently I was right. But according to these numbers, that may no longer be the case. And for those of you who have managed to get decent performance out of the box in these bad years, you may be in for an extraordinary performance boost with the newer boxes.

Benchmarking vs. Benchmarketing

Even back in the beginning, benchmarks were suspect. First, there's the idea of who is running the benchmarks. If Blog sponsors a test and the BlogPC outscores the iWap, is anybody really surprised? I didn't think so. The only surprise would be if the iWap outscored the BlogPC, at which point I'd predict a spike in iWap sales as well as an immediate opening in the BlogPC testing department.

This extends to the case studies and white papers you'll see from "independent" sources such as Forrester, Gartner, and the ITAA. I'm not going to go into great detail, but if you see something like "in a report commissioned by Microsoft, Forrester Research found that ...", I don't think you'd be paranoid to assume that Forrester found exactly what Microsoft wanted them to find. Similarly, since the ITAA is fundamentally the PR arm of large IT corporations, they're going to say whatever will best fatten the bottom line of their sponsors. Note that many of these organizations have serious misconceptions when it comes to the real industry of software development; for example, the ITAA considers the key feature of open-source software to be "the ability to modify the source code." This misses several points, including the fact that iSeries customers have been able to modify their source code since the earliest days of the platform and that the key issue in open source is licensing, not modification.

Then there's the concept of "tuned" machines, where the contestants are configured to eke out every last iota of performance for that particular test, even though the computer is then useless for just about any normal purpose. It's like funny cars vs. stock cars; the funny cars are basically just a fiberglass shell around a machine that has nothing to do with the original stock car. You can't drive it to the grocery store, but you can hit 300 mph in the quarter mile.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/050123-Lies%20Liars%20and%20BenchmarksV400.jpg

Figure 1: Here's a 1967 Mercury Comet "configured" for a TPC-C test.

Another component of benchmarks is the mathematics involved. If you have more than one test run, then you immediately start getting into the mathematical esotery of statistical analysis. How many runs are being made? What are the maximum and minimum run times, and what explains the difference? What is the average time? What is the median? Do you throw out outliers? It quickly gets confusing.

Finally, you have to take into account the test itself and what is actually being tested. It depends on the test, but let's look at a simple database performance test. When you read the database, is information being cached? Does the test run better with one job at a time or multiple jobs running simultaneously? (This last question is of crucial importance for the real world, since chances are you won't be dedicating a single machine to each of your production tasks.)

With all this negativity, you might get the idea that I don't like benchmarks, but that's not true. Used correctly, I think benchmarks are a great tool, no matter how primitive. At the very least, benchmarks can point to problem areas in a design, and run properly, they can help you avoid potentially troublesome design decisions--or at least make sure you're making those decisions based on facts rather than hype. De-hyping the hype is one reason why I started the IAAI Web site, which I'll get back to a little later. There are also some excellent online articles addressing these very issues; a favorite of mine is on the Dell Web site.

Testing on the iSeries

So how does all this relate to the iSeries? Well, we have to realize that the iSeries tends to do things differently than any other machine. Some things it does a little differently, some things a lot differently, but in either case, we need to be very careful when testing to make sure that we create a level playing field if we want to test against other platforms. At the same time, the incredible flexibility of the iSeries means that even on the same box, there are many ways of doing something. We need iSeries-only tests to determine which of the many options is the best for a given situation.

In my opinion, iSeries-only tests are more important than tests against other platforms. For example, one of the big problems we face as iSeries developers is the unfounded belief that other platforms perform better than the iSeries. I'm sure you've heard people say how much faster a program is when using SQL Server than the same program is when accessing an iSeries database. The problem is that the comparison is typically between some highly tuned SQL Server connection and some Visual Basic application using a standard ODBC connection to access a few records on the iSeries. This is hardly a fair test. Call a server program on the iSeries using the Java toolbox, or talk to a socket, or even use an RPG-CGI program, and I'll show you just how fast I can return a record. So, before we can compare the iSeries to other platforms, we first need to know the best way to write programs for the iSeries. Only then can we compare the iSeries in its best light.

Another bizarre concept I've heard recently is that Java is as fast as RPG at processing business rules, even when both are running on the iSeries. And despite the recent revelation that the 1.4.2 JVM is much faster than previous versions, I'm still highly skeptical that a SELECT can outperform a CHAIN. It just doesn't make sense to me, and no test I've run to date has proven me wrong.

Some Gotchas About Testing on the iSeries

There are definitely some issues to watch out for when testing on the iSeries. OS/400 is so much more sophisticated than any other popular operating system out there that everything needs to be taken into account during tests. For example, a poor security design can actually affect performance negatively, yet running multiple jobs simultaneously can actually increase performance, sometimes significantly.

For example, Vern Hamberg always insists that one do a CLRPOOL when testing; and for certain circumstances, that makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, using CLRPOOL means you're removing one of the benefits of OS/400's sophistication: Native I/O is vastly improved when you don't clear your storage pools. In fact, in one of my benchmarks, I ran multiple jobs, each accessing different parts of a file. I found that by starting all the jobs simultaneously, overall performance increased dramatically. It seems that even reading a record close to a record another job will be fetching tends to make access to subsequent records faster.

So What Do We Do?

I think we need to create a comprehensive suite of benchmark tests. I think we need a set of machine-intensive benchmarks like the SPEC tests, which measure everything from disk I/O to computation. We can compare native I/O to SQL to JDBC; math in RPG, COBOL, and Java; program-to-program calls using OPM, ILE, and service programs; RPG-to-Java using various methods; data queue performance; sockets performance; you name it. It would be nice if some of these programs could even run on PCs; the Java tests certainly could, and my guess is that there are some smart C programmers out there who could help with the sockets stuff.

Next, we need another set of programs dedicated to throughput. We could probably get some good direction from the TPC-C tests and then put together some tests based on end-to-end transactions. My guess is that the world would want to see the results of a browser-based technique first, but I think there's a call for thick-client performance as well. We may need to create an entire set of "business tasks" in this case--things like importing item information into an Excel spreadsheet or dumping sales results to a graph in a PDF file.
This is one part of what I plan to accomplish this year. I started this last year with the iSeries Advanced Architecture Initiative (the IAAI), but I haven't been able to devote a lot of time to it. By the time you read this, the IAAI Web site should have a couple of white papers and a number of new tests (including a re-run of Bob Cozzi's EVAL vs. MOVE tests). In addition, I'm going to start really trying to hammer out what a real test environment would look like. It seems to me that we're going to need to test more than just simple file maintenance; we'll need pricing and scheduling and shipping and inventory and all of the things we expect to see in a real, live system.

This will allow us to develop some guidelines and recommendations for architectures based on the workload of a given site. I'm pretty certain that the best answer for a high-volume, low-item-count online storefront will be completely different from the right solution for a long-lead-time, make-to-order shop.

After we've gotten the information on the best techniques for the different requirements types, then we may even try to replicate the results on other platforms. As I noted in the section on machine performance tests, Java could certainly port, and anything else would require support from helpful people (or maybe vendors in the case of conversion or migration tools). All of this together might allow us to have some real, hard numbers to guide IT decision makers in the process of determining their long-term direction in hardware and software.

If you're interested in helping with this process or if you've got some suggestions as to what areas should be tested, please drop a line in the forums or contact me directly: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been working in the field since the late 1970s and has made a career of extending the IBM midrange, starting back in the days of the IBM System/3. Joe has used WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. Joe is also the author of E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
List Price $39.95

Now On Sale

WDSC: Step by Step WDSC: Step by Step
Discover incredibly powerful WDSC with this easy-to-understand yet thorough introduction.
List Price $74.95

Now On Sale

Eclipse: Step by Step Eclipse: Step by Step
Quickly get up to speed and productivity using Eclipse.
List Price $59.00

Now On Sale

Ever since Blog and Wap created the first two cave-computers (Blog in a high-tech development pueblo out in the wilds of Boca Raton, Wap in the small California cave where he stored his wheel), there have been benchmarks.

In this article, I'm going to introduce you to some standard benchmarks currently making the rounds in the IT industry, and then I'm going to try to relate them to the world of midrange computers and specifically to the iSeries, RPG, and native DB2/400. I'll explain a little bit about what benchmarks do and what the pitfalls are that surround any attempt to compare two different computers, no matter how simple the test.

I'll address some of the problems of "sponsored tests" and the paid pundits who run them, and I'll try to help you determine exactly how big a grain of salt you'll need when reviewing the results. I'll also take a short sidetrack into the almost mystical world of "case studies" and "white papers." I'll try to keep that part short; those who know me know it's easy for me to go off into a rant about these folks, and really, there's little we can do except to laugh at them.

More productively, I'll get into some specifics about the iSeries and talk about how "proper" techniques can be completely different, depending on exactly what you are testing. No single methodology can handle everything, but you need to know what the assumptions are in any test to be able to determine its validity in your business.

Today's Industry Standard Benchmarks

There are a couple of primary players in the benchmark game today. The Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) is probably the oldest organization and, in my opinion, the most balanced and impartial. Although their tests were at least partially inspired by the old TP1 tests from IBM, the first TPC-A test was really an outgrowth of the DebitCredit test, with a lot of honest thought given to how to make these tests fair. For an excellent insight into what can make or break a benchmark, I recommend reading Omri Serlin's account of the history of the TPC and those first tests. This is a guy with a lot of credibility.

The other major test organization today is SPEC, the Standard Performance Evaluation Cooperation. The primary difference between the two groups is that SPEC focuses more on CPU-level measurements. For example, the new version of the Web server tests relies on a simulated back-end. Other tests include tests of NFS file systems and of graphics performance. The JVM tests are all designed to measure basic machine-level functions like the JIT compiler or floating-point arithmetic. The TPC tests, on the other hand, are intended to exactly model the entire transaction stream, from front to back. Not only that, TPC tests require external auditing, which is probably a primary reason that SPEC tests have achieved more participation than TPC tests. The SPEC organization recently lost its long-time guiding light when its president of a decade and a half, Kaivalya Dixit, passed away in November. I will be interested to see what effect this might have on the direction of the organization as a whole.

Here's an interesting note for those of you concerned about raw performance. The SPEC JBB2000 test compares Java Virtual Machine (JVM) execution pretty much at the bare metal level, doing CPU-intensive tasks. The result is a raw performance number, which is reported along with the number of CPUs used to generate the number (nowadays, they actually report the number of CPU cores, to properly measure chips with multiple cores per chip). If you divide the raw performance by the number of CPU cores, the top 10 machines are smaller machines with four or fewer cores (the one exception was an 8-way p5 Model 570). I think this is reasonable; the more CPUs you have, the higher your overall number but the lower your per-CPU number due to the overhead of managing the multiple CPUs. The interesting thing was that all of the machines except two were xSeries or p5 boxes. But even cooler was the performance of big boxes. For anything with 16 or more CPUs, the top three performers were pSeries boxes--a couple of Model 570s (one each on AIX and Linux) and a model 595 on AIX. But the real shocker was number four: a 16-way (32 core) i5 Model 595!

So, if you want Java performance in a little box, it's IBM xSeries or p5; and for a big box, it's p5 or i5. Who'd'a thunk it?

One other note about the tests: By far, the overwhelming favorite choice for JVM is IBM's JRE 1.4.2. The i5 test was reported last October using JRE 1.4.2. There were several older iSeries benchmarks posted, all back in 2000, all using JREs 1.3.0 and older. And every one was horrible, with numbers roughly one-eighth that of the newer JRE. I've said over the years that the iSeries JVM wasn't very fast, and evidently I was right. But according to these numbers, that may no longer be the case. And for those of you who have managed to get decent performance out of the box in these bad years, you may be in for an extraordinary performance boost with the newer boxes.

Benchmarking vs. Benchmarketing

Even back in the beginning, benchmarks were suspect. First, there's the idea of who is running the benchmarks. If Blog sponsors a test and the BlogPC outscores the iWap, is anybody really surprised? I didn't think so. The only surprise would be if the iWap outscored the BlogPC, at which point I'd predict a spike in iWap sales as well as an immediate opening in the BlogPC testing department.

This extends to the case studies and white papers you'll see from "independent" sources such as Forrester, Gartner, and the ITAA. I'm not going to go into great detail, but if you see something like "in a report commissioned by Microsoft, Forrester Research found that ...", I don't think you'd be paranoid to assume that Forrester found exactly what Microsoft wanted them to find. Similarly, since the ITAA is fundamentally the PR arm of large IT corporations, they're going to say whatever will best fatten the bottom line of their sponsors. Note that many of these organizations have serious misconceptions when it comes to the real industry of software development; for example, the ITAA considers the key feature of open-source software to be "the ability to modify the source code." This misses several points, including the fact that iSeries customers have been able to modify their source code since the earliest days of the platform and that the key issue in open source is licensing, not modification.

Then there's the concept of "tuned" machines, where the contestants are configured to eke out every last iota of performance for that particular test, even though the computer is then useless for just about any normal purpose. It's like funny cars vs. stock cars; the funny cars are basically just a fiberglass shell around a machine that has nothing to do with the original stock car. You can't drive it to the grocery store, but you can hit 300 mph in the quarter mile.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/050123-Lies%20Liars%20and%20BenchmarksV400.jpg

Figure 1: Here's a 1967 Mercury Comet "configured" for a TPC-C test.

Another component of benchmarks is the mathematics involved. If you have more than one test run, then you immediately start getting into the mathematical esotery of statistical analysis. How many runs are being made? What are the maximum and minimum run times, and what explains the difference? What is the average time? What is the median? Do you throw out outliers? It quickly gets confusing.

Finally, you have to take into account the test itself and what is actually being tested. It depends on the test, but let's look at a simple database performance test. When you read the database, is information being cached? Does the test run better with one job at a time or multiple jobs running simultaneously? (This last question is of crucial importance for the real world, since chances are you won't be dedicating a single machine to each of your production tasks.)

With all this negativity, you might get the idea that I don't like benchmarks, but that's not true. Used correctly, I think benchmarks are a great tool, no matter how primitive. At the very least, benchmarks can point to problem areas in a design, and run properly, they can help you avoid potentially troublesome design decisions--or at least make sure you're making those decisions based on facts rather than hype. De-hyping the hype is one reason why I started the IAAI Web site, which I'll get back to a little later. There are also some excellent online articles addressing these very issues; a favorite of mine is on the Dell Web site.

Testing on the iSeries

So how does all this relate to the iSeries? Well, we have to realize that the iSeries tends to do things differently than any other machine. Some things it does a little differently, some things a lot differently, but in either case, we need to be very careful when testing to make sure that we create a level playing field if we want to test against other platforms. At the same time, the incredible flexibility of the iSeries means that even on the same box, there are many ways of doing something. We need iSeries-only tests to determine which of the many options is the best for a given situation.

In my opinion, iSeries-only tests are more important than tests against other platforms. For example, one of the big problems we face as iSeries developers is the unfounded belief that other platforms perform better than the iSeries. I'm sure you've heard people say how much faster a program is when using SQL Server than the same program is when accessing an iSeries database. The problem is that the comparison is typically between some highly tuned SQL Server connection and some Visual Basic application using a standard ODBC connection to access a few records on the iSeries. This is hardly a fair test. Call a server program on the iSeries using the Java toolbox, or talk to a socket, or even use an RPG-CGI program, and I'll show you just how fast I can return a record. So, before we can compare the iSeries to other platforms, we first need to know the best way to write programs for the iSeries. Only then can we compare the iSeries in its best light.

Another bizarre concept I've heard recently is that Java is as fast as RPG at processing business rules, even when both are running on the iSeries. And despite the recent revelation that the 1.4.2 JVM is much faster than previous versions, I'm still highly skeptical that a SELECT can outperform a CHAIN. It just doesn't make sense to me, and no test I've run to date has proven me wrong.

Some Gotchas About Testing on the iSeries

There are definitely some issues to watch out for when testing on the iSeries. OS/400 is so much more sophisticated than any other popular operating system out there that everything needs to be taken into account during tests. For example, a poor security design can actually affect performance negatively, yet running multiple jobs simultaneously can actually increase performance, sometimes significantly.

For example, Vern Hamberg always insists that one do a CLRPOOL when testing; and for certain circumstances, that makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, using CLRPOOL means you're removing one of the benefits of OS/400's sophistication: Native I/O is vastly improved when you don't clear your storage pools. In fact, in one of my benchmarks, I ran multiple jobs, each accessing different parts of a file. I found that by starting all the jobs simultaneously, overall performance increased dramatically. It seems that even reading a record close to a record another job will be fetching tends to make access to subsequent records faster.

So What Do We Do?

I think we need to create a comprehensive suite of benchmark tests. I think we need a set of machine-intensive benchmarks like the SPEC tests, which measure everything from disk I/O to computation. We can compare native I/O to SQL to JDBC; math in RPG, COBOL, and Java; program-to-program calls using OPM, ILE, and service programs; RPG-to-Java using various methods; data queue performance; sockets performance; you name it. It would be nice if some of these programs could even run on PCs; the Java tests certainly could, and my guess is that there are some smart C programmers out there who could help with the sockets stuff.

Next, we need another set of programs dedicated to throughput. We could probably get some good direction from the TPC-C tests and then put together some tests based on end-to-end transactions. My guess is that the world would want to see the results of a browser-based technique first, but I think there's a call for thick-client performance as well. We may need to create an entire set of "business tasks" in this case--things like importing item information into an Excel spreadsheet or dumping sales results to a graph in a PDF file.
This is one part of what I plan to accomplish this year. I started this last year with the iSeries Advanced Architecture Initiative (the IAAI), but I haven't been able to devote a lot of time to it. By the time you read this, the IAAI Web site should have a couple of white papers and a number of new tests (including a re-run of Bob Cozzi's EVAL vs. MOVE tests). In addition, I'm going to start really trying to hammer out what a real test environment would look like. It seems to me that we're going to need to test more than just simple file maintenance; we'll need pricing and scheduling and shipping and inventory and all of the things we expect to see in a real, live system.

This will allow us to develop some guidelines and recommendations for architectures based on the workload of a given site. I'm pretty certain that the best answer for a high-volume, low-item-count online storefront will be completely different from the right solution for a long-lead-time, make-to-order shop.

After we've gotten the information on the best techniques for the different requirements types, then we may even try to replicate the results on other platforms. As I noted in the section on machine performance tests, Java could certainly port, and anything else would require support from helpful people (or maybe vendors in the case of conversion or migration tools). All of this together might allow us to have some real, hard numbers to guide IT decision makers in the process of determining their long-term direction in hardware and software.

If you're interested in helping with this process or if you've got some suggestions as to what areas should be tested, please drop a line in the forums or contact me directly: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been working in the field since the late 1970s and has made a career of extending the IBM midrange, starting back in the days of the IBM System/3. Joe has used WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. Joe is also the author of E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at joepluta@plutabrothers.com.


MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
List Price $39.95

Now On Sale

WDSC: Step by Step WDSC: Step by Step
Discover incredibly powerful WDSC with this easy-to-understand yet thorough introduction.
List Price $74.95

Now On Sale

Eclipse: Step by Step Eclipse: Step by Step
Quickly get up to speed and productivity using Eclipse.
List Price $59.00

Now On Sale

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    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things


    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!

     

  • 2020 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    HelpSystems

    This year marks the sixth edition of the popular IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, HelpSystems sets out to gather data about how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT initiatives it supports. Year over year, the survey has begun to reveal long-term trends that give insight into the future of this trusted technology.

    More than 500 IBM i users from around the globe participated in this year’s survey, and we’re so happy to share the results with you. We hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful as you evaluate your own IT projects.

  • AIX Security Basics eCourse

    Core Security

    With so many organizations depending on AIX day to day, ensuring proper security and configuration is critical to ensure the safety of your environment. Don’t let common threats put your critical AIX servers at risk. Avoid simple mistakes and start to build a long-term plan with this AIX Security eCourse. Enroll today to get easy to follow instructions on topics like:

    • Removing extraneous files
    • Patching systems efficiently
    • Setting and validating permissions
    • Managing service considerations
    • Getting overall visibility into your networks

     

  • 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

    HelpSystemsIT 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

     

  • IBM i Resources Retiring?

    SB HelpSystems WC GenericLet’s face it: IBM i experts and RPG programmers are retiring from the workforce. Are you prepared to handle their departure?
    Our panel of IBM i experts—Chuck Losinski, Robin Tatam, Richard Schoen, and Tom Huntington—will outline strategies that allow your company to cope with IBM i skills depletion by adopting these strategies that allow you to get the job done without deep expertise on the OS:
    - Automate IBM i processes
    - Use managed services to help fill the gaps
    - Secure the system against data loss and viruses
    The strategies you discover in this webinar will help you ensure that your system of record—your IBM i—continues to deliver a powerful business advantage, even as staff retires.

     

  • Backup and Recovery Considerations for Security Data and Encrypted Backups

    SB PowerTech WC GenericSecurity expert Carol Woodbury is joined by Debbie Saugen. Debbie is an expert on IBM i backup and recovery, disaster recovery, and high availability, helping IBM i shops build and implement effective business continuity plans.
    In today’s business climate, business continuity is more important than ever. But 83 percent of organizations are not totally confident in their backup strategy.
    During this webinar, Carol and Debbie discuss the importance of a good backup plan, how to ensure you’re backing up your security information, and your options for encrypted back-ups.

  • Profound.js: The Agile Approach to Legacy Modernization

    SB Profound WC GenericIn this presentation, Alex Roytman and Liam Allan will unveil a completely new and unique way to modernize your legacy applications. Learn how Agile Modernization:
    - Uses the power of Node.js in place of costly system re-writes and migrations
    - Enables you to modernize legacy systems in an iterative, low-risk manner
    - Makes it easier to hire developers for your modernization efforts
    - Integrates with Profound UI (GUI modernization) for a seamless, end-to-end legacy modernization solution

     

  • Data Breaches: Is IBM i Really at Risk?

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIBM i is known for its security, but this OS could be more vulnerable than you think.
    Although Power Servers often live inside the safety of the perimeter firewall, the risk of suffering a data leak or data corruption remains high.
    Watch noted IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses common ways that this supposedly “secure” operating system may actually be vulnerable and who the culprits might be.

    Watch the webinar today!

     

  • Easy Mobile Development

    SB Profound WC GenericWatch this on-demand webinar and learn how to rapidly and easily deploy mobile apps to your organization – even when working with legacy RPG code! IBM Champion Scott Klement will demonstrate how to:
    - Develop RPG applications without mobile development experience
    - Deploy secure applications for any mobile device
    - Build one application for all platforms, including Apple and Android
    - Extend the life and reach of your IBM i (aka iSeries, AS400) platform
    You’ll see examples from customers who have used our products and services to deliver the mobile applications of their dreams, faster and easier than they ever thought possible!

     

  • Profound UI: Unlock True Modernization from your IBM i Enterprise

    SB Profound PPL 5491Modern, web-based applications can make your Enterprise more efficient, connected and engaged. This session will demonstrate how the Profound UI framework is the best and most native way to convert your existing RPG applications and develop new modern applications for your business. Additionally, you will learn how you can address modernization across your Enterprise, including databases and legacy source code, with Profound Logic.

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

    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.

    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).

  • 5 New and Unique Ways to Use the IBM i Audit Journal

    SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericYou must be asking yourself: am I doing everything I can to protect my organization’s data? Tune in as our panel of IBM i high availability experts discuss:


    - Why companies don’t test role swaps when they know they should
    - Whether high availability in the cloud makes sense for IBM i users
    - Why some organizations don’t have high availability yet
    - How to get high availability up and running at your organization
    - High availability considerations for today’s security concerns

  • Profound.js 2.0: Extend the Power of Node to your IBM i Applications

    SB Profound WC 5541In this Webinar, we'll demonstrate how Profound.js 2.0 enables you to easily adopt Node.js in your business, and to take advantage of the many benefits of Node, including access to a much larger pool of developers for IBM i and access to countless reusable open source code packages on npm (Node Package Manager).
    You will see how Profound.js 2.0 allows you to:

    • Provide RPG-like capabilities for server-side JavaScript.
    • Easily create web and mobile application interfaces for Node on IBM i.
    • Let existing RPG programs call Node.js modules directly, and vice versa.
    • Automatically generate code for Node.js.
    • Automatically converts existing RPGLE code into clean, simplified Node.js code.

    Download and watch today!

     

  • Make Modern Apps You'll Love with Profound UI & Profound.js

    SB Profound WC 5541Whether you have green screens or a drab GUI, your outdated apps can benefit from modern source code, modern GUIs, and modern tools.
    Profound Logic's Alex Roytman and Liam Allan are here to show you how Free-format RPG and Node.js make it possible to deliver applications your whole business will love:

    • Transform legacy RPG code to modern free-format RPG and Node.js
    • Deliver truly modern application interfaces with Profound UI
    • Extend your RPG applications to include Web Services and NPM packages with Node.js

     

  • Accelerating Programmer Productivity with Sequel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Most business intelligence tools are just that: tools, a means to an end but not an accelerator. Yours could even be slowing you down. But what if your BI tool didn't just give you a platform for query-writing but also improved programmer productivity?
    Watch the recorded webinar to see how Sequel:

    • Makes creating complex results simple
    • Eliminates barriers to data sources
    • Increases flexibility with data usage and distribution

    Accelerated productivity makes everyone happy, from programmer to business user.

  • Business Intelligence is Changing: Make Your Game Plan

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIt’s time to develop a strategy that will help you meet your informational challenges head-on. Watch the webinar to learn how to set your IT department up for business intelligence success. You’ll learn how the right data access tool will help you:

    • Access IBM i data faster
    • Deliver useful information to executives and business users
    • Empower users with secure data access

    Ready to make your game plan and finally keep up with your data access requests?

     

  • Controlling Insider Threats on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericLet’s face facts: servers don’t hack other servers. Despite the avalanche of regulations, news headlines remain chock full of stories about data breaches, all initiated by insiders or intruders masquerading as insiders.
    User profiles are often duplicated or restored and are rarely reviewed for the appropriateness of their current configuration. This increases the risk of the profile being able to access data without the intended authority or having privileges that should be reserved for administrators.
    Watch security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses a new approach for onboarding new users on IBM i and best-practices techniques for managing and monitoring activities after they sign on.

  • Don't Just Settle for Query/400...

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhile introducing Sequel Data Access, we’ll address common frustrations with Query/400, discuss major data access, distribution trends, and more advanced query tools. Plus, you’ll learn how a tool like Sequel lightens IT’s load by:

    - Accessing real-time data, so you can make real-time decisions
    - Providing run-time prompts, so users can help themselves
    - Delivering instant results in Microsoft Excel and PDF, without the wait
    - Automating the query process with on-demand data, dashboards, and scheduled jobs

  • How to Manage Documents the Easy Way

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhat happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Everything is harder.
    You don’t need to stick with status quo anymore.
    Watch the webinar to learn how to put effective document management into practice and:

    • Capture documents faster, instead of wasting everyone’s time
    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task

     

  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach

    SB_PowerTech_WC_GenericGet actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite.

     

  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericYou need to know when IBM i disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends

     

     

  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericMany business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation.Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying? It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, see how HelpSystems data automation software will help you stop re-keying data.

     

  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_GenericWhen it comes to IBM Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"

     

  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericToo much paper is wasted. Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets.And distributing documents is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

     

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days

     

  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • 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

     

     

  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.

     

  • 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.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • 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.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In 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

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    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.

     

     

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    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.