TRs for IBM i 7.3 and 7.2: Enhancements, No Big Surprises
October 4, 2017 Dan Burger
With each Technology Refresh, we are reminded that the pace of enhancements IBM brings to its IBM i operating system and related software products is significant and that certain areas are more significant than others. So, the IBM i community is either aligned with these upgrades and eager to put them to use or it’s not yet ready, willing or able to be technologically current. As usual, there are IBM i shops watching as the enhancements unfold and making decisions on whether the enhancements can deliver benefits to their business in terms of productivity and solving business challenges.
Steve Will, chief architect for IBM i, was first to announce the latest TR – IBM i 7.3 TR3 and IBM i 7.2 TR7 – in his blog. As we’ve come to expect, database enhancements are most conspicuous. The success of the IBM midrange computers, many would say, has been dictated by the integrated database and the future success of the system will absolutely depend on database innovation. Using SQL capabilities to access IBM i operating system details is the underpinning of the IBM i roadmap. For an overview of most of the TRs, the database is the starting point.
Will and other members of the IBM i development team emphasize the importance of data-centric architecture, which allows organizations to define at the database the necessary attributes for handling the data. The goal is to solve business data problems at the database level, because solving business problems outside of the database consumes more time is less efficient in the big picture.
One of the keys to IBM’s version of data-centric design is the use of JSON, a technology used to describe, store, consume and publish data. JSON enhancements have been a regular feature of recent TRs. The latest enhancements include the capability to build JSON objects from Db2 for i relational data. IT Jungle explores the JSON enhancements elsewhere in this issue.
“Ever since the creation of the TR architecture and the underlying strategy of making TRs our primary delivery vehicle whenever possible,” Will says, “most of our development teams are alert to new requests from our customers, whether through the various advisory councils we have, or through requests for enhancements (RFEs). So, as usual, these two TRs have new functions from a wide array of IBM i components.”
Most functions in the TR announcement will be generally available October 27, 2017. Some exceptions have been noted.
For years, open source has been a focus area for the growth of IBM i and the IBM i community, and there’s been a procession of open source tools supported by IBM i – the Apache Web Server, Linux on Power, PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python and Node.js are some of the technologies integrated with IBM i. Support for additional technologies come in an irregular pattern and at TR time the most recent activity is highlighted. That’s why we see Nginx (a Web server option) and Eclipse Orion version 13 (an independent development environment that integrates with Git and Bluemix) getting recognition now even though they’ve been available for several months.
Rational Developer for i has added several features to improve code quality. Now at version 9.6, RDi benefits from compatibility with Eclipse 4.6 and the resulting integration with other app dev tools that are at Eclipse 4.6. Error reporting has been enhanced. The setting of IBM i connections and libraries for all the selected i projects has been approved. And support for the latest updates to the RPG language are included. These and other RDi upgrades will becoming generally available in November. A closer examination of RDi will be included in an upcoming IT Jungle article.
Rational Developer for i 9.6 is now compatible with Eclipse 4.6. This brings new base functionality and additionally allows better integration with other modern application development tools.
Error reporting has been enhanced to use annotations that will highlight the columns within the line that have caused compile errors. This location information will be maintained even as lines are added and deleted from the source. As the cursor hovers over an error, the message will appear along with a link to second-level help.
Improving software installations must have been an often-heard request because the latest TRs are including the capability to use virtual media copied to a USB flash drive. This is in addition to the familiar DVD media image that many IBM i admins use. The DVD is not being replaced.
Cryptographic Coprocessors – which contain hardware engines, perform cryptographic operations used by IBM i application programs and IBM i SSL transactions – are available on a variety of system models. With this TR, IBM i adds the support for the 4767 Cryptographic Co-processor, a co-processor that earlier this year replaced the 4765. The 4767 adapter provides access to updated Common Cryptographic Architecture APIs, automatic CPU off-loading of SSL/TLS handshakes, and is the most secure physical adapter available for secure cryptographic master key storage.
Db2 Web Query for i and Db2 Web Query DataMigrator are both receiving enhancements. In the case of Web Query, report authoring and advanced data analysis have been simplified with added visualizations and improved navigation. DataMigrator improvements can be found in building transformations, data flow, filtering, and scheduling. These upgrades will not be generally available until December.
Additional details on the TRs can be found at the TR overview home pages: