IBM Unveils New and Improved IBM i Services
April 14, 2021 Alex Woodie
If you like IBM i Services — those SQL-based methods for executing a range of tasks in the operating system — then you’re in luck, because IBM has included a handful of new and improved IBM i Services in the Technology Refreshes (TRs) for IBM i 7.4 and 7.3, which were unveiled yesterday and ship this Friday.
IBM has developed an affinity for IBM i Services in the last few releases of the operating system. And why not? Users seem to like having a SQL-based alternative to CL commands and APIs. And since the IBM i Services are so easily accessed in Access Client Solutions (ACS), it’s seen as a win-win for IBM and its customers.
There are 10 new IBM i Services and seven enhanced ones in IBM i 7.4 TR4 and IBM i 7.3 TR10, according to IBM’s Db2 for i Architect Scott Forstie.
Here is a rundown on some of the more interesting IBM i Services that IBM is shipping with these releases:
NVME_INFO: Forstie dubs this IBM i Service a “fuel gauge” for NVMe drives. “What does a fuel gauge tell you? It tells how your device is trending. Are you nearing end of life for that device?” he says. “The fuel gauge will help you to be proactive in your management and understanding of SSDs and spinning disk.”
SYSDISKSTAT: This is another component of the “fuel gauge” for disks, as it provides statistical insight into spinning disk and solid-state drives (SSD).
USER_SPACE_INFO and USER_INDEX_INFO: These IBM i Services are views that provide details and attributes about user spaces and user indexes.
USER_SPACE and USER_INDEX_ENTRIES: These are new table functions that can be used to query the contents of user spaces and user indexes.
“If you have user spaces and user indexes today, how do you know they exist?” Forstie asks. “How do you know the attributes of them and the data within them? Prior to these SQL services, you might use the Work With Object (WRKOBJ) command look into a library to see them. With SQL you’ll be able to look across all libraries very easily and see all the attributes of who created this, who owned it, when was it last used, how big does it become.”
“And there is also companion series [i.e. the table functions] that lets you drill into them and see the data within,” Forstie continues. “Your alternative to this before your SQL services would be to write your own program against a system API. So it’s for ease of use, not just for systems management but also application developers.”
SECURITY_INFO: This service provides a view for the current security configuration. Forstie foresees the SECURITY_INFO service being used to update an easy-to-use dashboard that eliminates the need to hunt for security-related information in different places.
“Security is always a topic where we’re left feeling, you can do more . . . to help clients understand what is their security implementation and how can they more easily manage it,” he says. “With this TR, there are some very interesting services being added. The first is SECURITY_INFO . . . . It’s a single stop dashboard for all of your IBM i security configuration.”
Other new and enhanced IBM i Services include:
OBJECT_STATISTICS: A table function used to find objects is enhanced for improved performance through support for generic object names.
MESSAGE_QUEUE_INFO: A table function that pulls up information about message queues is enhanced to include a message type filter, which will improve performance when searching for specific messages.
QCMDEXC: This is a new scalar function that provides “an essential building block for clients to modernize SQL-based systems management solutions,” IBM says.
System Limits: IBM has enhanced this service to include more alerts when system limits are approached or exceeded.
ACTIVE_JOB_INFO: IBM says it has enhanced this SQL alternative to WRKACTJOB “by adding return columns for the job name, job user, and job number, which makes it much easier to search and subset active job detail.”
IBM has included hundreds of IBM i Services in the operating system over the last years, and these new and enhanced services are likely to continue adding value to the administrators and developers who use them.