Volume 10, Number 31 -- September 7, 2010

MKS Offers Full Support for IBM i 7.1 in ALM Tool

Published: September 7, 2010

by Alex Woodie

IBM i shops that rely on application lifecycle management (ALM) software from MKS can now use all the goodies in IBM i 7.1 without worrying that the ALM tool, called Implementer, can't keep up with the new technology. Implementer 2010, which shipped in late July, supports the IBM i 7.1 OS itself as well as new features, like the SQL capabilities. It also supports the new Rational Developer for Power development tool, and is improved for the Japanese IBM i market.

The 100-plus enhancements that MKS made with the latest release of Implementer can be grouped into two general categories. In the first are those new IBM i capabilities that makes MKS developers' lives easier, or makes Implementer function better.

The second category includes all the new IBM i OS features that MKS customer requirements manager Marty Acks thinks will be used by MKS clients, which are primarily ISVs and large IBM i shops that do their own development. In this respect, the IBM i 7.1 features that MKS added to Implementer 2001 provides a glimpse into what leading-edge IBM i shops are doing, and what they think is important.

Today, only a small percentage of organizations that use the IBM midrange server have upgraded to i 7.1. (Heck, many iSeries and System i shops are still pondering the move to IBM i 6.1.)

But one day IBM i 7.1 will be a widely used OS, and its new technologies, like Open Access: RPG Edition, solid state drives, SQL and XML enhancements, and column-level encryption for DB2/400, will be widely used by mainstream IBM i shops. Until then, they will remain somewhat exotic technologies of the future, used only by the biggest and most advanced.

Some of the new features didn't require much work to support. The new Rational Open Access: RPG Edition is one of the features that will work with older releases of Implementer, according to Acks. The elimination of the "classic" Java virtual machine (JVM) with IBM i 7.1 required a fairly minor patch, and is only a concern for customers that use the Implementer Server capabilities, Acks says.

Other new IBM i 7.1 features required more work. The new SQL field procedures, which enables column-level encryption (and decryption) in DB2/400 is one of those features. So is the new "rich" XML data type introduced with 7.1 and the use of solid state drives in Power Systems boxes running IBM i 7.1. MKS needed to adapt its code analysis tools to allow developers to use these new functions and have their work fully supported and tracked through Implementer.

MKS focused a lot of attention on improving Implementer's support of SQL, which is really becoming a powerful tool that a lot more IBM i developers are starting to use, according to Acks.

To that end, MKS bolstered SQL support in a variety of ways, including: retaining field order in SQL tables; supporting long SQL names; supporting SQL sequences; and supporting materialized query tables (MQTs).

Implementer 2010 also adds support for the teraspace storage option, which is available under PASE and which is used with the new JVM that IBM i now shares with AIX. MKS says teraspace is useful for supporting very large executable files. Support for the new PDF printer file option was also added.

Another focus area for Implementer 2010 is support for Rational Developer for Power Systems Software, the new converged, Eclipse-based development tool that's the follow-on to Rational Developer for IBM i (which itself was the successor to WDSc). MKS' software can function as a plug-in for each of the supported IDEs from IBM.

MKS supports the current version 7.5 and 7.6 releases of RD for Power. For those IBM i shops who haven't made the leap yet to the latest development tools (or, in other words, the bulk of all you all out there), MKS also supports RDi versions 7.5 and 7.1 and WDSc 7.0. (Heck, MKS is even making active enhancements to its support of the classic SEU and PDM tools, something that can't be said of IBM.)

Improved support for CA Technologies' 2E environment was another focus area for Implementer 2001. MKS says it improved the reject and lock deletion processes for IBM i shops using these still-popular CASE tools.

Enhancements for Japanese users of Implementer occupy the fifth and final focus area for the 2010 update. Acks says the translations of product content--including RDP, RDi, and WDSc plug-ins--has been improved over Implementer 2008, the last release of the product to be translated into Japanese; MKS did not offer a Japanese version of Implementer 2009.

This release is fully enabled for the double byte character set (DBCS), and certified under the CCSID 1399 character set. MKS also certifies under CCSIDs 5026 and 5035; the company does not use Unicode for Japanese versions of its software because CCSID is more widely used, Acks says.

Implementer 2010 will likely be the last major release of the venerable IBM i-based change management system for some time. Acks says the development team at MKS is taking a more piece-meal approach that will see a higher frequency of smaller updates and service packs, instead of the "big bang" approach. It's the same schedule that's been adapted by many software companies as a way to deal with customer reluctance to take the time to install big updates.

Implementer 2010 runs on i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 6.1 and 7.1 releases of the operating system. Implementer 2008 users have until the end of January to upgrade to a newer release before MKS ends support for that product. Implementer 2011 works with MKS Integrity 2007 and 2009, and will undoubtedly work with the new release of the flagship MKS product that is due out later this year.

For more information, see the MKS website at www.mks.com.


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