IBM i 7.1 TR6 Updated, Licenses Less Restrictive, And i 6.1.1 Ends On Power7+
June 3, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Technology Refresh number 6 for the IBM i 7.1 operation system, which came out in February with the entry and midrange servers based on the Power7+ processors, still has that new car smell about it. But ahead of some Power Systems announcements due on June 10 and in conjunction with a special silver anniversary promotion for Solution Edition setups, IBM has rolled out updates to TR6. The company also tweaked IBM i licensing and said Power7+ is the last stop for IBM i 6.1.1.
Yes, I know. That is an update of a refresh. Kinda funny, ain’t it? It feels a bit like the old way of doing things, when we have Version, Release, and Modification updates to OS/400, as in OS/400 V5R4M1 as it was known inside the system even though its marketing names were i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 5.4. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Still the Technology Refresh methodology, which adds hardware or software feature support without requiring requalification of the operation system or the databases and applications that ride on top of them, is a much better way to upgrade software functionality. So don’t think I am in any way complaining. It is just an observation that sometimes you cannot wait until the next version, release, or Technology Refresh to come along to add something.
Such was the case on May 28, when IBM slipped out an update to TR6 for IBM i 7.1. In announcement letter 213-129, the big change is an update to the Apache-derived WebSphere Application Server Express (5722-WE2 in the IBM catalog) that moves it up to the V8.5.5 release level and importantly has improvements to the so-called Liberty profile of the app server that is designed for developers and deployment in production where resources are on the skinny side. The Liberty implementation of WebSphere meets the Java EE6 web profile standard, and now supports Java Messaging Service (JMS) and Message Drive Beans (MDB) to add messaging services to simple web application serving. The Liberty server also got a bunch of administration, security, and logging enhancements.
With the TR6 update, you can now natively attach IBM’s SAN Volume Controller, which virtualizes SAN storage arrays for servers, as well as its Storwize V3700 and V7000 storage arrays directly to Power Systems iron running IBM i. You had to attach these through the Virtual I/O Server, an AIX partition running on top of the PowerVM hypervisor, before now if you wanted to have IBM i link to these storage devices. This native support was made available by PTF patches on May 31.
The update also includes something called IBM i Client Access Solutions, which consolidates a bunch of different tools for linking clients of various kinds to the IBM i system and which bears the product number 5733-XJ1. This set of access tools is written in Java and runs anywhere that Java 6.0 or higher is installed. It has, says IBM, all of the popular iAccess functions and is meant to run in the client memory without actually being installed on the client; that means putting it on a thumb drive or a LiveCD or booting it over the network. It has similar functions to the IBM i Access for Windows tool (5733-XE1), and you will need to buy IBM i Access (5733-XW1) if you want to do full-on 5250 green-screen emulation or data transfer, according to one presentation I have seen. But the announcement letter very clearly says it can do 5250 emulation and data transfer. So go figure. See for yourself, here are the features for the new Client Access tool, which runs on IBM i 6.1, 6.1.1, or 7.1:
The new Java-based Client Access will be available on June 14.
IBM is making a few IBM i licensing changes in conjunction with the TR6 update as well. The first is allowing for IBM i licenses on existing Power Systems machines to make the jump to new PureFlex iron. At the moment, to buy a PureFlex setup, you have to shell out dough for at least one core of IBM i, AIX, or Linux on a p260, p260+, p460, or p460+ server node. Starting June 25, you will be able to move an existing single core license for IBM i from a Power Systems machine to fire up the first core on a PureFlex setup.
IBM is also allowing customers who want to shift their IBM i licenses as well as various licensed program products (LPPs in the IBM lingo) from internal data centers to those run by managed service providers to be able to do so. IBM is charging an unknown administrative fee and making customers sign contracts that ensure there are no shenanigans with the licenses, but this is an important and necessary development if IBM i is to have a cloudy future. (That would be a good thing, ironically.)
That leaves one last item. The 6.1.1 release of IBM i, which was tweaked to support Power7 iron and also supports Power7+ chips, will not be supported on any future Power8 or higher iron. No surprises there, really.