IBM Rejiggers Development Tools on Entry Power 520 i Editions
July 7, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
At the prices that IBM has historically charged for the AS/400 and its successor systems, you’d think that the compilers and related application development tools would just come as part of the system, much as the DB2/400 database did–and still does in the most recent DB2 for i incarnation inside the i 6.1 operating system. But, when Software Group was created more than a decade ago, the former system product groups started losing control of the software stacks that ran on their systems–that were for all intents and purposes the systems.
That is why the i platform has been subjected to the will (for it most surely is not a whim) of Software Group, with a larger IBM strategy impinging on the iSeries, System i, and Power Systems-i strategy whether the people in charge of the OS/400 and i5/OS platform in Rochester or Somers liked it or not. When IBM bought Canadian software development firm Rational Software in late 2002 for $2.1 billion, all of the platforms Big Blue sold would eventually be shaped to support the Rational way of thinking about software development. There’s nothing wrong with this strategy, and it is in fact why IBM bought Rational: to rationalize (get it?) its software development across its disparate platforms (mainly z/OS, OS/400, and AIX) as well as those it doesn’t control that are important in the data center (mainly Linux, Solaris, and HP-UX). But there is always some resistance to such homogenization, and the i community is well known for resisting such efforts on behalf of IBM, or at the very least making their hostility to the idea known.
When the new Power Systems were launched in early April right after i 6.1 came to market, the Power 520 i Edition entry machines in their pre-setup Express Editions (yes, I know, that is an unwieldly way to name products) were configured with a lot of software, including WebSphere Development Studio (licensed program product 5722-WDS on V5R4 machines and 5761-WDS on 6.1 machines) as well as Rational Developer for i (5733-RD1). The WDS license is the server-side of the WebSphere toolset, while RDi V7.1 is an Eclipse-based development workstation that includes application diagram support for ILE RPG, ILE COBOL, and CL. The application diagramming function for RPG that was one of the features IBM charged for last year in WDSC AE is now part of the base RDi product, as are many other WDSC AE features such as support for i5/OS program calls through a J2C connector, single sign-on support using enterprise identity mapping, a technology preview of phase one of Screen Designer, and integration between IBM’s Rational ClearCase software change management system.
RDi is priced on a per-workstation basis for $795. WDSC was bundled for “free” with the WebSphere Development Studio server-side tools, which cost $4,150. The RDi tool does not include compilers for the i5/OS platform, but is a program editing, verifying, syntax checking, and debugging environment that in turn can talk to the compilers installed on the System i server. The WDS distributed in three pieces, each with its own price: the ILE Compiler set, the Heritage Compiler set, and the Advanced Development Tool Set (ADST). The ILE Compiler set includes ILE RPG, ILE COBOL, ILE C, ILE C++, and IXL C for C/C++; it also has the *PRV compilers for ILE RPG and ILE COBOL. The Heritage Compilers will include the System/36 compatible RPG and COBOL compilers, the System/38 compatible RPG II and COBOL compilers, RPG/400 (sometimes called RPG III and the first AS/400 native RPG compiler), OPM COBOL (the first AS/400 native COBOL compiler). ADTS remains unchanged.
Now, when the single-core variants of the Power 520 i Edition Express configurations came out in the spring, the included the WDS ILE Compiler set and a license to RDi V7.1 in their base price. On June 24, IBM did a switcheroo in the configurators, and now these Power 520 Express boxes with the i software stack include a WDS license for that single core that includes the ILE compilers, the Heritage Compilers, and ADTS, plus a license to Rational Developer for i for SOA Construction V7.1, a separate product (number 5733-SOA). This is the Rational development tool that includes an Eclipse-based IDE for Web and the Enterprise Generation Language (EGL) programming language that Big Blue is pitching as a means of creating the next generation of Web applications and extending legacy applications to the Web.
IBM says that it is offering RDi V7.1 at an “attractive price” when customers have ADTS installed on the Power 520. This trade-up will be priced and in the IBM configurators on July 15.
It is hard to say what this change means, but clearly entry i shops and their resellers want the Heritage Compiler set and ADTS on the machines and they are not going to pay extra for EGL, no matter how much IBM might tell them or their software partners how great the software is for legacy application modernization. Basically, the entry box contains all of the compilers entry i shops need, and if they want to use RDi, then they have to pay a small fee. I think giving EGL away is probably the only way any entry i shop is going to use it, and I think most shops won’t try it unless it is free. Software vendors are not going to embrace it, either, unless it is part of the entry machines, either, since they are not going to get thrifty i shops to pay extra for EGL support. If you have a better understanding of what IBM is doing, I would love to hear it.
Also on June 24, IBM announced that it has delivered a plug-in for Rational Business Developer V7.1 called Migration Extension for IBM i, which does some shapeshifting on RPG applications so they can be regenerated as either Java or COBOL applications through the EGL facilities. (Technically, the extension tool converts RPG to what IBM calls “fully converted EGL source code,” which in turn is used to generated compiled COBOL that runs on the iron or Java code that runs within Java Virtual Machines.) For mainframe shops that use Software AG‘s Adabas relational database and its Natural programming language, Rational Business Developer V7.1 has been equipped with a similar tool, called Rational Migration Extension for Natural, which coverts the Natural programming logic and Adabas databases to EGL code that executes as Java or COBOL applications that run against the mainframe variants of Oracle or DB2 databases.