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February 28, 2015: Volume 17, Number 09|
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The IBM midrange ecosystem was built on ISV applications. When the first AS/400 was ready to be shipped, more than 2,500 applications were available. That was a huge number then and it's a huge (but undetermined) number now. So much has changed in the past 25 years. Who would expect the AS/400, now the IBM i, ISV community to resemble what it once was? And a fair question to ask is: "Should it?"
It is a bit quiet out there in Power Systems land, but IBM is getting its house in order and making a few changes as it moves solidly into the Power8 era and puts older systems out to pasture. IBM also announced a few minor upgrades to the networking and virtualization features in the Power Systems line last week, and withdrew a key piece of WebSphere software from its catalog that might affect IBM i shops.
It might seem there's only so much you can do in the field of time and attendance (T&A) management. But in fact, there's always something new. "Just when we think we've done it all, there's always somebody saying, 'Hey what about this?' and down the path we go," says Kronos vice president Barry Moore. That path was remarkably fruitful with the recent delivery of iSeries Central suite version 7.0.
"We see lots of interesting ways forward for IBM i applications," says Infinite Corporation president and CEO Bruce Acacio. He's talking about IBM midrange shops looking to modernize, but he's specifically interested in shops that have decided to leave the IBM i platform behind and migrate their applications to Linux, Windows, or Unix systems. Infinite helped "just under 200" IBM i shops make that migration in 2014, Acacio says. He expects that number to reach 400 in 2015.
If you are looking to shop for all-flash storage systems to attach to your IBM i or other systems in the datacenter, you might want to take a gander at the new FlashSystem arrays that Big Blue launched last week. IBM has partnered with memory manufacturer Micron Technology and moved from the enterprise multi-layer cell (eMLC) memory used in the FlashSystem 840 and V840 machines to more capacious and presumably less expensive NAND MLC memory in the new Flash System 900 and V9000 machines launched last week.
Recently I was teaching a group of RPGers the joys of qualified data structures. I happened to mention how much simpler some of the new DS capabilities had made the techniques I use to avoid problems caused by record locks. It turned out that more than half of the audience had never heard of the technique. I guess that we all have a tendency to think that the techniques and tools that we use are common knowledge amongst other programmers. As an educator I should perhaps be less prone to this tendency than others, but nevertheless I often fall into this trap. With that realization came the thought that perhaps a tip or two on modern versions of such techniques would be a good idea.
We rely heavily on the DSPSPLF (Display Spooled File) command. We use it all day long, you and I, usually by selecting option 5 from various work-with displays. And yet this workhorse on which we depend suffers from a glaring deficiency--searching for text is case-sensitive. We expect case sensitivity from primitive operating systems like Unixsaurus, but not from the powerful IBM i. Here are a few ways to locate text in spooled files regardless of case.
In my last article, the git tooling was introduced as a mechanism to track changes made to source code. This article expounds on that by showing how to make your local IFS git repository ("repo" for short) publicly available to others. I say "publicly" because that is the purpose of this article, though it could just as easily be applied to a situation where you wanted a private repo for a specific set of users (i.e., co-workers and/or consultants).
Unless a Federal judge overturns* the deal, IBM is going to be granting amnesty to customers using Power Systems iron who have let their Software Maintenance, or SWMA in IBMspeak, lapse. This maintenance service is available for the systems software, compilers, middleware, and related core software that is used by IBM i or AIX shops, and there are a lot of customers who have falling off the SWMA wagon. IBM wants to get them back on.
Stretched, strained, and even swamped are words that describe IT resources in a great many companies that are leaning on service providers to advance their IT objectives. This is decidedly true when it comes to implementing new technology, where skills and experience are in short supply. The circumstances occur across all platforms, but perhaps is more apparent among the users of the IBM Power Systems running the IBM i operating system, where IT staffing is known to be light.
Rainer Ross, the intrepid IBM i developer that we profiled in The Four Hundred a few weeks ago because he had developed a hotel search engine that mashed up the IBM i platform with Big Blue's Watson cognitive analytics software, has another project he has been working on. And Ross wants to get the word out that all of us need to work to get more applications running on the Power Systems-IBM i combination to ensure the longevity of the platform.
Maintenance and support is an important part of any IT vendor's revenue and profit streams and these services are also what make IT shops more or less comfortable with using a piece of hardware or software for mission-critical work. And generally speaking, maintenance prices tend to rise over time because the cost of people tends to go up, too.
Trying to keep the IBM i relevant in your organization? It probably seems like an uphill battle at times, especially if you have a CIO who knows next to nothing about the platform. Here are five fun facts that may help save the platform at your organization, or at least get the CIO to give it a second look before he kicks it to the curb.
Depending on where you live in the world, there's either a shortage or a surplus of RPG programmers at any point in time, a dynamic we have covered here in IT Jungle. But rarely has the availability of IBM i programming talent so publicly affected a company as it did last week, when the CEO of Computer Sciences Corp. blamed his company's $230 million-plus revenue shortfall in part on a shortage of RPG coders.
In most organizations, work revolves around documents and the movement of those documents. Purchase orders come in from customers and they get approved or denied, which triggers the next step in the process. It's how business has gotten done for decades, but there is room for improvement, according to inFORM Decisions, which two weeks ago launched an IBM i-compatible workflow management product called iWorkflow.
Although it started out as a technology aimed at the financial industry, data encryption has become the standard among all industries. Think about it: health records, social media accounts, and state and local records all contain personal information. At the same time, security breaches are becoming commonplace.