IBM responds to IBM i user and developer requests with major technology upgrade announcement in advance of the annual COMMON conference.
A few years ago, we in the high-tech publishing industry would get excited when we geared up for a major announcement about a new version of the IBM i operating system, usually just before COMMON. Nowadays, with the less disruptive quarterly technology refreshes, the incremental upgrades just keep rolling out, one after another. Whereas the media used to have a press briefing at COMMON, now the major dissemination of OS upgrades comes via the blogs of IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and Senior Technical Staff Member Dawn May. Nevertheless, the fourth technology refresh (TR4) to IBM i 7.1 will be available May 18, and we thought we would give readers a rundown on what's included, since it's a major release with a lot of new features for IBM i users, developers, and system administrators. There are enhancements to the operating system, including DB2 for i, but the announcement goes far beyond that.
Back in August 2010, I wrote an article for MC TNT Tips 'n Techniques titled "Live Partition Mobility in PowerVM Enterprise Holds Great Promise," when Live Partition Mobility (LPM) was available only on AIX. The article since has received more than 2,200 reader views, although at the time I remember thinking it was apparently a dud because only a few people bothered to read it right after TNT was distributed. Were we just ahead of our time? Apparently so, because the buzz now is all about Live Partition Mobility and what it will do for the IBM i platform. Basically, LPM allows you to migrate a running POWER7 partition from one physical system to another without disrupting the running workloads— i.e., no application downtime. IBM i and PowerVM take a powder on work underway on the first system, move it over to a different system, and keep on trucking. Ah, if it were only that simple. Eventually, it will be, but for now, getting there is akin to a commercial jet pilot running through a pre-flight checklist before takeoff. Yet pilots do it thousands of times every day, and system administrators will learn to do it too, even as LPM continues to evolve and become ever more streamlined.
The payoff to such an investment will be well worth it. Not only will it allow you to gently move users over to a second system before taking down the first for maintenance, and then carefully move them back when you're done, but you can also load balance work between systems for better efficiency, consolidate workloads from several systems to one, and respond to impending system outage warnings by getting the heck out of Dodge before any trouble happens. The significance, however, is that Live Partition Mobility can be combined with other virtualization technologies, including logical partitions with shared storage and I/O, to create a fully virtualized computing platform and a robust PowerVM-based cloud. Doesn't that make you want to pick up the phone right now and order a couple new POWER7 servers? Ah, but if that were only so simple!
Part of PowerVM Enterprise edition, LPM has a few different "states" in which partitions can be moved. These include Active Partition Mobility (moving a running partition), Inactive Partition Mobility (moving a partition that is not running), and Suspended Partition Mobility (moving a suspended partition for resumption on the target system). IBM says it intends to provide PowerVM Live Partition Mobility support for IBM i partitions on IBM PureFlex Systems.
For more information about IBM i Live Partition Mobility, visit the hardware and firmware section of IBM i Technology Updates wiki on developerWorks. For information on IBM PowerVM support, refer to IBM PowerVM Standard Edition and PowerVM Enterprise Edition.
While we ruminate on the implications of LPM, let's take a look at the rest of the announcement in TR4. Because there is a lot to cover, I'm going to lean heavily on the IBM announcement text but expand or trim where I think it will help the reader.
Beyond LPM, core to the announcement are performance and security enhancements to DB2 for i, support for Java 7 or IBM i 7.1, a new IBM Rational Application Management Toolset (AMTS), a re-launch of DB2 Web Query, enhancements to PowerHA, and a lightweight Express version of WebSphere Application Server. DB2 Web Query repackaging and WebSphere Express will be available June 15.
Below is an edited version of the announcement letter, which can be found here.
Beyond Live Partition Mobility, the latest IBM i 7.1 technology refresh delivers the following:
DB2 for i
DB2 for i offers performance and security enhancements along with new features to improve the productivity of software developers. DB2 for IBM i on 7.1 included base XML data type support, enabling XML documents to be stored intact within a column in an SQL table. With new XMLTABLE support, SQL queries can use XPath syntax to refer to XML data as an SQL result set. This allows the user to query XML data using SQL, without having to shred the document into database tables or host variables.
DB2 for i three-part name support is extended to allow multiple database reference support in the form of INSERT with remote SUBSELECT. This improvement eases database administration and programming by allowing data to reside in a single location.
To learn about these and the other DB2 for i enhancements, visit the DB2 for i section of the IBM i Technology Updates wiki on developerWorks.
WebSphere Application Server - Express V8.5
IBM Web Enablement for i has been enhanced to include WebSphere Application Server - Express V8.5. WebSphere Application Server - Express V8.5 is a Java EE 6–certified application server that delivers the core foundational requirements for an agile business and application foundation. It is imperative to build an application foundation that provides flexibility for developer needs as well as resiliency and scalable operations needs.
For developers and businesses that need a lightweight, simple to use, yet powerful application server for increased developer productivity and for use as a lightweight production server for application workloads, WebSphere Application Server - Express V8.5 provides a simplified and lightweight runtime for Web applications. Extremely fast restart times coupled with its small size and ease of use make the new Liberty profile a great option for building Web applications that do not require the full JEE environment of traditional enterprise application server profiles. It is also a great option for production servers, where minimizing resource utilization is a primary requirement. Highlights for developers include the new lightweight Liberty profile, developer tool options to match project development needs, support for Java 7 and Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi), enhanced Migration Toolkit support, andsupport for the Web 2.0 and Mobile Toolkit.
For administrators and businesses that need better total cost of ownership through management efficiency and performance, the ability to respond quickly to changes in the business, or achieve simplicity and flexibility in evolving to next-generation application server environments, WebSphere Application Server - Express V8.5 delivers new Intelligent Management capabilities that extend the traditional application server with technologies such as enhanced resiliency, virtualization, and enterprise-level batch processing. Autonomic capabilities are provided that are designed to sense and respond to problems within the application server and autocorrect or route around these problems before users experience an outage. Highlights for administrators include application edition management, new intelligent routing capabilities, application server health management, and WebSphere batch enhancements.
For businesses that need to build, deploy, and manage secure and portable innovative applications that run on a multitude of mobile, server, and desktop systems, WebSphere Application Server is the flexible and efficient SOA application platform of choice.
IBM Developer Kit for Java
IBM Developer Kit for Java (5761- JV1) has been enhanced to support Java 7 for IBM i in both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Clients developing Java applications can now use the most recent Java enhancements.
This new support is available only on IBM i 7.1. The following two options have been added: 5761-JV1 option 14 Java SE 7 32-bit and 5761-JV1 option 15 Java SE 7 64-bit.
Visit the IBM i Technology Updates wiki on developerWorks to learn more.
IBM i Workload Groups
IBM Software Group support for IBM i workgroups allows the licensing of IBM software products to reflect usage. IBM i Workload Groups is now an Eligible Virtualization Technology for Passport Advantage Sub-capacity Licensing, which allows users to license an eligible software product for less than the full capacity of a server. It provides the licensing granularity needed to leverage various multi-core chip and virtualization technologies. As more customers take advantage of virtualization technologies in their server environments, IBM will continue to introduce enhancements to the Sub-capacity Licensing offering.
For details and current information about Sub-capacity Licensing terms, click here.
DB2 Web Query
More granular security options for users have been added to DB2 Web Query, and a re-launch of the product simplifies ordering. The product is being re-launched under a new "product structure." This new structure provides both Express and Standard level offerings for simpler ordering and to help match capabilities to business needs. The product also provides core-based pricing to let customers order a level of Web Query that better fits their needs and environment.
The new product provides many new functional enhancements that make the product simpler to use yet more powerful. Creating reports and dashboards is easier and faster using a single, consolidated Web-based editor. A new Web browser–based user security administration interface allows Web Query administrators to more easily manage developers and users. Not only can user accounts be managed through this new interface, those users can also be assigned specific roles, which enables more granular security controls for each user. New to the product is a Web-based metadata synonym editor to allow metadata management integration with the rest of the Web-based interfaces. Report scheduling now supports standard IBM i job scheduling for those users who want to integrate report scheduling with other batch work on the system.
Current DB2 Web Query customers with product 5733-QU2 will be entitled to the new product and will appreciate the built-in migration support in the new product to make the move simple, according to IBM.
The DB2 Web Query (product 5733-WQX) is available for IBM i 6.1 and 7.1.
IBM PowerHA SystemMirror for i now supports Metro Mirror, Global Mirror, and FlashCopy on the recently announced IBM Storage Systems Storwize V7000 and SAN Volume Controller (SVC) storage systems. The PowerHA SystemMirror for i product has also been updated with a new, easy-to-use GUI, available in IBM i Navigator. The support for these functions is now fully integrated and translated, and the requirement for the 5799-HAS PRPQ has been eliminated.
To learn more, visit the PowerHA for i section of the IBM i Technology updates wiki on developerWorks.
Application Management Toolset (AMTS)
Application Management Toolset (AMTS) from IBM Rational can be used by application providers who need to edit and compile installation scripts or application managers who need to use "work with" capabilities.
Functionally, Application Management Toolset for i is a subset of the venerable Application Development Toolset (ADTS), which is sold as part of WebSphere Development Studio for i 6.1 or as part of Rational Development Studio for i 7.1. Two of the key components of ADTS are Programming Development Manager, commonly known as PDM, and Source Entry Utility, commonly known as SEU.
IBM Rational Application Management Toolset for i provides IBM i system administrators and other advanced users with a lightweight set of tools for the common tasks of working with library file system objects and scripting with Command Language (CL).
This new offering features simple, per-processor licensing at a price every company can afford, says IBM.
POWER7 Systems Virtual Image Management
POWER7 Systems Virtual Image Management allows clients to create and manage images and system templates, expediting the process of creating and deploying virtual servers.
Virtual Image Management (a feature of IBM Systems Director VMControl V2.4 Standard Edition) provides a single, unified view of all system templates and virtual server images to help you manage and deploy systems. It allows you to easily deploy new physical and virtual systems based on system templates and images. The templates can be used to create, customize, and clone virtual and physical images.
Features include simple virtual server provisioning, self-contained images that prevent managing dependencies or problems, rapid provisioning, off-line cloning and customization, and a common model for physical and virtual servers.
For information on VMControl V2.4 Standard Edition support, refer to Enhanced function for IBM Systems Director Standard and Express Editions.
IBM Application Runtime Expert for i
IBM Application Runtime Expert for i (5733-ARE) includes significant enhancements to support easier access to the product without compromising the overall security of the system.
A number of additional enhancements have been added to improve users' ability to verify information on their environment. There's now support for low-authority users to build templates using the Application Runtime Expert tool. In the previous release, only users with *ALLOBJ special authority were allowed to use the tool. That caused difficulty for organizations with security control. Now, administrators can grant specified users permission to use the tool, using IBM Web Administration for i. Also, the Scripts and Commands plug-in now supports processing of spooled files for CL commands. Spooled files can be verified according to configuration, and users can also save the spooled files into the report file for further investigation.
Support for New Power I/O
IBM i support for new Power I/O emphasizes price/performance and configuration flexibility, especially for SSD, Ethernet, and External Storage configurations.
Visit the IBM i Technology Updates wiki on developerWorks to learn more.
IBM i Access Client Solutions
A technology preview of IBM i Access Client Solutions is now available. IBM i Access Client Solutions is the newest member of the IBM i Access family of products. It provides a Java-based, platform-independent interface that runs on most operating systems that support Java, including Linux, Mac, and Windows. IBM i Access Client Solutions consolidates the most commonly used tasks for managing IBM i into one simplified location.
Features include 5250 display and printer emulation based on IBM's Host-on-Demand, 5250 Session Manager support modeled after IBM Personal Communications Session Manager, multiple language support for concurrent 5250 emulation sessions on the same client, data transfer similar to IBM i Access for Windows Data Transfer (including support for Open Document spreadsheet (*.ods), Excel Workbook (*.xlsx), and other file formats), Virtual Control Panel with a graphical interface to the IBM i control panel, 5250 emulation for LAN Console, and consolidation of hardware management interface configurations, including ASMI, IVM, and HMC.
IBM i Access Client Solutions uses the same IBM i host servers as the other IBM i Access Family products and requires the same IBM i Access Family license (XW1) in order to use the 5250 emulation and data transfer features. For additional information, click here.
Hopefully, this shortened version of the IBM announcement letter has given you a concise overview of the main elements of TR4, but be sure to check the actual specifications and detailed information referenced above on the IBM Web site for verification, details that I may have omitted for the sake of brevity, and updates.