Upstart i Developer Brings AS/400s to the Cloud
March 17, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
What are the first two letters in “cloud computing?” Why, CL of course. And wouldn’t it be neat if there were a set of CL commands that let AS/400, iSeries, and System i machines reach out across the cosmic Ethernet and make use of cloud-based services? Well, thanks to programmer Garry Taylor, you can do just that.
I have no idea who Garry Taylor is, and the Whois database has no idea where his site, PinkDirtyNeon, is located on the Internet, but Taylor sent me an email yesterday announcing the launch of a beta program for two cloud computing CL commands–one that lets you store data on Amazon‘s Simple Storage Service (S3) storage utility and another that let’s you park data on Google‘s Docs service–and a third that lets you send messages, called Tweets, from your i box out to the Twitter buzzfest that all the kids are crazy about these days. Based on his name and the fact that he spells program “programme” I am guessing he is from Down Under.
“PinkDirtyNeon was founded with the aim of creating software to marry the IBM i to the growing range of cloud/network services popping up all over the Web,” Taylor explained to me in his email. “Previously, to integrate with these services, one needed a knowledge of network programming and the languages and tools required to build such software. To make matters worse, most of these cloud services provide programming libraries only in a small range of languages such as Python, Ruby or .NET. This meant that creating a link between your AS/400 system and these services was troublesome and time consuming.”
The new CL commands look and feel like any other CL command, and you don’t need to install the PASE AIX runtime environment, or cope with Java or PHP.
S3TOOLS is the CL command that Taylor has created to allow an AS/400 to create, upload, download, and delete objects stored on the Amazon S3 service; the command can be used in batch mode or interactively. Companies can use it to archive key files offsite into S3, which is very inexpensive. We’re talking 15 cents per GB per month for the first 50 TB of storage you use; if you use over 500 TB, it drops down to 13 cents per GB per month. It costs 10 cents per GB to transfer data into the S3 facility, and it costs from 17 cents down to 10 cents per GB to move data out, depending on the size of your data sets. (You can find out more about Amazon Web Services S3 at this link.)
GOOTOOLS is a similar CL command that allows the uploading of Word, Excel, PDF, OpenOffice, or plain text files into the Google Docs service, which is a similar storage utility but one that is not as generic as Amazon’s S3 in that it is really designed to handle the kinds of files end users cope with from their desktop and laptop computers each day, not the files that applications use. (S3 and some related utilities can be and are used by applications as well as people.) This command can be used in batch or interactive mode as well.
The SNDTWEET command that Taylor has created does just what it says it does: sends a message from an AS/400 to the Twitter network, which might be useful as an alert reporting network that is side-by-side in the IT world with text messaging through cell phone networks and beepers, if people still have them. (Some people still have pocket protectors, after all. . . .) You might also want to use the command to notify employees that their paychecks have been cut, or that they now have permission to run an ad hoc query because system utilization is low. (I made those two up out of desperation to sound cool. I happen to think Twitter ought to be more aptly named Gnat, and should be squished, which is how I know I am not 13 any more. Not even close.)
All three CL commands are in beta testing now, and Taylor is giving them away for free during the beta test period. When they become generally available, he plans to charge for them, but has not set prices yet.
I am afraid to ask what Pink Dirty Neon is short for. Some things are best left up to the imagination.