TEMBO Bolsters Database Modernization Kit
March 26, 2018 Alex Woodie
TEMBO Technology Lab is shipping a new release of its software designed to help IBM i shops modernize their databases for the SQL age. The South African company made mostly minor tweaks to its flagship product, dubbed AO Foundation, which should position the product to do more down the road.
Since it entered the IBM i discussion in 2012, TEMBO has been building database modernization tools and evangelizing the benefits of the SQL Query Engine (SQE) as the modern, up-to-date database engine that IBM i shops should strive to use, as opposed to the older CQE engine that used DDS flat files used by many (possibly most) existing RPG applications.
While the benefits of the SQE are many (IBM doesn’t even enhance the old CQE engine, which powered “native I/O,” any more), it’s the pain of moving that has stymied many IBM i shops. Old RPG applications weren’t written with the idea that SQE would be the engine handling data movement between the application and the database. As a result, RPG programmers coded all sorts of data validation routines into their code, among other things.
According to TEMBO, replacing these validations with triggers and referential constraints managed by the database would contribute to a reduction in the volume of RPG code by 80 percent. These smaller RPG programs would be easier to maintain, the thinking goes, and it would also pave the way to a true implementation of a modern model-view-controller (MVC) architecture.
Achieving that MVC goal would, in turn, be a stepping stone to achieving true separation of data and business logic, and thus position legacy RPG-based applications nicely for native deployments into modern cloud architectures and the software as a service (SaaS) business model. You could say a lot of things about the folks at TEMBO, but thinking small isn’t one of them.
TEMBO describes AO Foundation’s job as providing a centralized “component management platform” for Db2 for i, the relational database at the heart of the IBM i server platform. In order to allow IBM i shops to migrate from the native I/O and DDS data types to the SQE engine and DDL data types without performing the equivalent of open heart surgery on the code, TEMBO takes upon itself to manage much of the complexity that such an operation inherently requires. A big part of that is complexity involves the handling of validation rules.
With the V5R2M0 release of AO Foundation, the company has made a series of changes to its Validation Rules Repository (VRR), where the old RPG validation rules are defined, which can form the basis for the creation of database-resident triggers and referential constraints going forward.
TEMBO says it now allows a user to view multiple types of validation rules, including dictionary rules and field or file rules, in one location within the VRR. This will position the software to be able to support the creation of RPV IV service programs from all three types of validation rules – including dictionary, field/file, and custom rules –in the next (third) release of the VRR. A future release will allow all three types of validation rules into trigger programs, the company says.
The new release also adds a new Registry Manager to the AO Foundation product. According to TEMBO, the Registry Manager will be used as an “umbrella grouping or the storage of metadata for various different objects for use within the AO environment and functions.”
The Service Program Register is the first item added to the new Registry Manager. This component will be used to store all the metadata relating to service programs. In subsequent releases, the company will add “procedure parameters and return values for functions.” An “importer” function will also be added in a future release to retrieve all the metadata for existing service programs, as well as a “Builder” component that will use the registered metadata to compile and create service programs.
While the V5R2M1 AO Foundation enhancements may not seem like much, Marinus van Sandwyk, founder and CEO of TEMBO, assures us there’s a lot to them. “The brevity of the . . . release letter belies the significance and sheer scale of the work underpinning this announcement,” van Sandwyk says.
AO Foundation is designed to handle all aspects of database modernization. That includes serving as a metadata repository (or a data dictionary), managing all tables (i.e. physical files), defining the complete logical layer (i.e. logical files, indexes, and views), and the management of constraints, triggers, IO servers, and enterprise services.
“AO enables a genuine data-centric, modern DB2 implementation that is self-aware and self-enforcing,” the company says. “AO Foundation helps companies maintain the integrity of their data and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.”