New Nav Puts SQL Services Within Reach
September 15, 2021 Alex Woodie
IBM delivered new Technology Refreshes (TRs) for IBM i 7.3 and 7.4 last week, and there’s a lot of good stuff in there. Arguably one of the biggest announcements is the overhaul of IBM i Navigator, which the folks at IBM have taken to calling “New Nav.” But what makes New Nav so special?
But it’s what IBM did with the insides of New Nav that really make the difference. Instead of basing the software on IBM commands and APIs to fetch data, it is now relying on SQL Services and REST to do the heavy lifting of interrogating the system to retrieve various values.
“For the last year and a half, our team here in IBM i development have been heads down creating a brand-new Web user experience for Navigator,” Tim Rowe, the IBM architect for IBM i development tools, said during the announcement webcast hosted by COMMON. “We are super excited about this.”
Once you get past the GUI, the most visible change that IBM i shops will see with New Nav is the ability to monitor and manage multipole IBM i systems or LPARs from a single screen. In the old Navigator, users had to have multiple tabs open to manage multiple system or LPARs, which could be confusing.
With New Nav, an administrator will be able to pick and choose what system metrics he or she wants to manage. There will be obvious ones, such as CPU utilization, ASP utilization, or the number of active jobs.
New Nav lets users pick and choose from these common metrics, and any other ones for which there is an SQL service already built — and IBM has developed hundreds of them over the past few releases of the operating system.
“[I’m] really excited about the power and flexibility that this is providing from the ability to have a dashboard where you can easily visualize what’s going on across one or multiple systems,” Rowe said.
But there’s more to it than that, as Rowe showed during his live demo. For example, when users click on active jobs, they will be taken to the active job display, where they can see all the different jobs that are active on a particular system or systems. Administrator can also filter the jobs, for example, to only see the jobs that they submitted.
New Nav functions as an interactive dashboard that users can customize to fit their liking. They can drag and drop different SQL Services onto the dashboard, enabling them to peer into various aspects about the current state of their system or systems. And if things get a little too cluttered, no worries — New Nav gives user the ability to revert to the default.
From the sound of it, a New Nav feature called custom charts is shaping up to be near and dear to admins’ hearts.
“When you click on custom charts, it’s going to open up a new window, and this window is a place for you to go and create monitor charts,” Rowe said during his demo. “I can go create a chart where I can go monitor [a given system]. I want to monitor a handful of different metrics, in this case CPU utilization, system ASP used, and the number of active jobs currently on the system. And as I click on these, you can see the different metrics that are shown. You can easily see what’s going on. Again this is intended to be a visual so you can see very quickly easily what’s going on with a particular system and the metric.”
The new interface also gives users the ability to copy the SQL code powering a given service. “You can go off and use this in other ways if you so are interested,” he said.
The first release of New Nav does not contain everything that was in the previous Navigator release, which was very feature rich, Rowe said. “But it contains the majority of the items that were considered incredibly important and were needed for users to do their jobs from a day-to-day perspective,” he said. (It’s unclear what Old Nav features are not supported in New Nav; IT Jungle has a line in with IBM to find out.)
One item that is brought forward is Performance Data Investigators (PDI) information. New Nav allows users to pull up data and charts powered by the PDI data, enabling them to visually see the data that PDI is collecting.
It also supports some new things that didn’t exist on Navigator before, Rowe said, including information on file shares. “You can see whether the path is available. I can see how many users are currently accessing this file share,” he said. “Some of this information you just couldn’t find before.”
What else can admins do with New Nav? According to Rowe, with the click of a button, they can pull up a screen that shows exactly which users have disabled themselves, either through exceeding the number of password attempts or some other transgression. “I can’t tell you how many times customers have disabled their profiles trying to access the file share,” Rowe said.
All in all, the IBM team is really excited about what’s in New Navigator and what it’s going to provide, Rowe said. “There’s a ton of features, functions and it’s very usable and very fast,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to our user community getting their hands on this.”
The New Navigator will ship as part of the HTTP PTF Group, which will be built the last week of September, Rowe said. So IBM i’ers haven’t gotten their hands on New Nav just yet. But if Rowe is right, it will be well worth the wait.