IBM i Access Turns Its Attention To Database
July 13, 2015 Dan Burger
It’s been just about two years since IBM i Access Client Solutions (ACS) was introduced. IBM didn’t make a lot of noise about it. Maybe that’s because IBM doesn’t market products. It markets ideas. On the other hand, it might be because ACS delivered system administration with navigation features that most people have been working with for 10 to 15 years–features such as the capabilities to drag and drop, scroll down a page, and use a mouse instead of F keys.
IBM i Access Client Solutions is a replacement for the severely haggard iAccess for Windows, a product with thousands of users–all of them doing IBM i system admin work on Windows-based PCs. In case you haven’t heard, that product is no longer being enhanced and will not support Windows 10.
Tim Rowe, who supervises the ACS development team, says companies that are preparing to roll out Windows 10 and those that deal with regulatory compliance issues (auditors do not like the use of unsupported software) are now coming to realize they need to investigate ACS.
What IBM lacks in marketing prowess is made up for by circumstances that shine a light on the product. If you’ve read about ACS in previous issues of IT Jungle publications, you’re familiar with its attributes and capabilities. If not, you can catch up by reading articles noted in the Related Stories section at the bottom of this page.
As a general statement, the ACS tools are used primarily for 5250 emulation, data transfer, and system management. But there is another task it performs that, Rowe says, is not to be overlooked: database management, and it is becoming increasingly important.
“I have thousands of users who have database engineers or people on staff that pay attention to the database architecture,” Rowe says. “They are defining SQL scripts, doing plan caches, and doing the kinds of things to assure the database is working efficiently. There should be tens of thousands of people doing these things, but that’s a topic for another day.”
Rowe says increasing database administration functionality is “the focus area” for the i Access development team.
“To do an ACS product, it must have database admin tools in it. We are heads down cranking out some new things because that’s some of the stuff customers have asked us to provide. We have some proof of concepts up and running. There are working versions of a handful of database admin tools. We have internal users, but nothing ready for the Technology Preview stage yet,” he says.
When a product gets to the Tech Preview stage it is ready to be tested by external users.
Rowe says the Access Client Solutions team is 100 percent devoted to that product, but he also notes there are “multiple teams that play in this space and are looking at leveraging the infrastructure capabilities of ACS for other things.”
Under the category of “other things” are tools and components that coordinate with and complement the systems management pieces–Web Navigator, IBM i Access Mobile, and the App Runtime Product with PTF distribution support for multiple systems are examples that Rowe specifically mentioned.
To download the latest version of ACS, follow this link.
That’s the easy part. Some of you can already guess what’s coming next.
What you’ll find with that download is the Preview license. Rowe says the real license will replace the preview license “soon.” In this case, soon is defined as three to six months. To get a real license now is an adventure–like the worst scavenger hunt you’ve ever been on. Or, if you’re familiar with IBM product licensing, it’s just a different version of the worst scavenger hunt you’ve ever been on. If you are looking for a silver lining in this dark cloud, those that have licenses for the old iAccess for Windows product do not need to have a new license for ACS.
I’d like to give you more help, but at least I’ve given you a warning.