IBM i 7.3 And 7.4 Get Their Autumn Tech Refreshes
October 9, 2019 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Big Blue is hosting its IBM Systems Technical University this week, and used the occasion to quietly launch the Technology Refreshes, or TRs as they are known, for IBM i releases 7.3 and 7.4. If you were running around the Venetian Hotel, you could probably stitch together the extent of the updates to the platform, and to be honest, we are still trying to get all of the details, which were not available as we went to press.
We will tell you what we know now, and then circle back and drill down into the details as appropriate.
First of all, the IBM i 7.4 TR1, the original update to this release of the operating system that started shipping in June, was revealed in announcement letter 219-492 and IBM i 7.3 TR7 was unveiled in announcement letter 219-489. IBM has completely changed the interface for its developerWorks site, which is now the IBM Community wiki, and if you go to the IBM i Technology Updates page – which covers more than just IBM i and so therefore uses the AIX terminology of Technology Updates instead of the IBM i-specific Technology Refresh terminology that means a slipstream tweak to the operating system to add new functionality – you will see that both IBM i 7.4 TR1 and IBM i 7.3 TR7 are missing from the list of TRs that are discussed. But we found this link to IBM i 7.3 TR7, and we also poked around and found this link for IBM i 7.4 TR1. So go figure.
It seems logical that IBM would do these announcements in October, as it tends to do, particularly with TechU going on, so this cannot have come as a surprise to many. Nonetheless, we thought it would be next week because we somehow had it in our heads that TechU was also next week. So we were not surprised that IBM had not reached out to us for a heads up until we saw it had happened.
Our intrepid techie, Doug Bidwell, was poking around and thinks that this link for fall enhancements to RPG refers to at least some of the enhancements in the TRs that were just announced and that will be available on November 15. Bidwell was also poking around and found a new 64-bit ODBC driver for Access Client Solutions that runs in the PASE AIX runtime environment; this is for ACS PASE Application Package 188.8.131.52, product number 5733-XJ1.
IBM i 7.3 TR7 is available on machines that use Power 7, Power7+, Power8, and Power9 processors, which IBM i 7.4 TR1 is only available on iron using Power8 and Power9 processors.
Here are the tweaks that have been made to IBM i 7.3 with TR7. This is IBM’s own wording, more or less:
- The Integrated Web Server environment can now be deployed in a user-specified subsystem, giving users better control and management of system resources. The IWS has also improved the programmatic deployment functionality.
- Cluster administrative domain has increased usability of key functions, such as support to replicate an encrypted password, and allows changes to the synchronization option on inactive nodes.
- IBM Db2 for i includes new and improved SQL capabilities with attributes that are valued by business computing solutions.
- PowerHA SystemMirror for i brings several enhancements to the PowerHA portfolio, including:
- Improvements to the administrative domain, such as support for replicating user-profile passwords that have been set with the QSYSUPWD API
- Increased capacity of the administrative domain with support for synchronizing up to 200,000 monitored resources
- Faster and easier management of the administrative domain so users can easily sort and filter monitored resources with the WRKCADMRE command
- Simplified setup and implementation of the administrative domain with a streamlined way to easily find and add many resources using a single command
- Integrated and streamlined recovery from a data center outage in a HyperSwap® with a LUN-level switching environment that enables HyperSwap protection to be restored with a single command
- Backup, Recovery, and Media Services for i provides virtual tape image catalog and backup administration improvements.
- RPG includes overloading for procedure calls. RPG now has a framework to generate many other data languages, such as XML, JSON, YAML, and HTML from RPG data structures, that help enhance programmer productivity.
- Rational Developer for i (RDi) includes refactoring functionality and improved indexing and searching within the preferences support.
- Access Client Solutions (ACS) schema support provides better search and find capabilities. Additionally, “Run SQL Scripts” has been enhanced with many updates, including content assist, integrated save-as favorites, timestamps showing query execution times, and more.
- With new open source enhancements, popular technologies for messaging between application components, storing data, and so on are easily available in RPM form.
- SR-IOV logical ports can be assigned to IBM i LPARs that are configured with restricted I/O. This allows high-speed, low-latency network adapter usage while still being able to use Live Partition Mobility.
- License keys can be added to an IBM i LPAR through the HMC or Novalink interface. This saves time for administrators because they no longer need to sign in to each individual LPAR when additional keys are required. Managers of multitenancy environments with multiple servers will find this especially helpful, as will those migrating to a new server.
And here are the tweaks that have been made to IBM i 7.4 with TR1 that are above and beyond those listed above, which may have already been available in IBM i 7.4 base or added with the TR1 update that is coming again in November. This is, once again, IBM’s own wording, more or less:
- The Digital Certificate Manager (DCM) has added a new GUI that simplifies and improves certificate management on IBM i.
- IBM i System Transport Layer Security (TLS) is enhanced to comply with emerging industry standards for TLSv1.3 and improve support for TLSv1.2.
- IBM Db2 Mirror for i has new capabilities, such as the initial version of the application evaluation support tool and support for Live Partition Mobility and the S922.
There are also some hardware enhancements – processors and peripherals – that IBM made, which we will get into in the next issue of The Four Hundred. None of this new hardware is available immediately and we want to get a little more information. Stay tuned.