IBM Encourages IAS and IWS Users to Move to Java 8
December 1, 2021 Alex Woodie
IBM is now encouraging IBM i customers to move to Java 8 for their Integrated Web Application Server (IAS) and Integrated Web Services (IWS) environments. While the IAS and IWS environments can still run on older versions of Java, they are not fully supported by IBM, the company announced last month.
IAS is a lightweight Java application server for IBM i that serves as a foundation for developing and running Java Server Pages (JSP) and Java servlet-based applications. It is based on WebSphere Application Server Liberty, the slimmed down and open version of the traditional IBM WebSphere environment. It has a similar memory footprint to Tomcat, but has the advantage of giving customers the option to adopt enterprise Java capabilities (which Tomcat lacks).
IWS, meanwhile, is the integrated IBM environment for exposing ILE applications, such as those developed in RPG and COBOL, as web services using SOAP and REST standards. In addition to generating the APIs with the IWS client, the IWS environment also provides the engine for running them in production. The two environments (IWS and IAS) share components, so IBM treats them similarly.
The move away from Java 7 has been in the works for two years, and now it’s official. In its November 1 announcement, titled “Deployment of web services requires Java 8 or higher JRE,” IBM declared:
“Starting in November 2021, integrated web services PTFs will produce Java code that requires the IWS server to be using the Java 8 or higher Java Runtime Environment (JRE). In the past, you could run servers using the Java 7 JRE.”
IBM followed that up on November 22 with an “official support statement” for both IAS and IWS. The statement provides some nuances on what combinations of Java, IWS/IAS, and the IBM i operating systems that IBM will actually support in its customers’ environments. In short, while IBM says it’s “requiring Java 8,” that’s not exactly true — at least, if you’re willing to make due with something less than “full” when it comes to the support department (and then only if you’re running on old IBM i OSes).
For instance, IBM i customers with extended support contracts for IBM i 6.1.x and IBM i 7.1 can still qualify for “best effort support” if they’re running older versions of IAS, including IAS version 7.1 on JDK 5.0 and IAS version 8.1 on JDK 6.0; customers with extended support contracts for IBM i 7.2 can also run IAS 8.1 with JDK 6.0 and get some support from Big Blue.
Similarly, for IWS, IBM’s support graph shows that customers with extended support contracts for IBM i OS versions 6.1.x and 7.1 can still get “best effort support” for IWS 1.3 on JDK 5.0 and IWS 1.5 on JDK 6.0. And customers with extended support contracts for IBM i 7.2 can also get “best effort support” for IWS 1.5 running on JDK 6.0.
However, if you happen to be a customer with a version of IBM i that’s fully supported by IBM — i.e. version 7.3 or 7.4 — there is no option to use those older IWS/IAS and Java environments and also get support from IBM, “best support” or otherwise. If you’re on a recent version of IBM i, IBM is now requiring you to be running the most recent releases of the Web environments, IWS 2.6 and IAS 8.5, on JDK 8.0 in order to receive full support (the only type of support offered for those IBM i OSes).
“Best effort support” is just like what it sounds. IBM says customers can still create IBM Support cases, “and support will assist the best they can,” which is not a guarantee of anything. What’s more, no defect or development support is available for customers on “best effort support. Customers must be on a “full support” contract to get that.
IBM provided some advice for customers looking to move their IWS and IAS environments forward. “If you are currently running IWS v1.3/1.5 or IAS v7.1/8.1; IBM highly recommends you upgrade to IWS v2.6 or IAS v8.5 BEFORE you upgrade to IBM i 7.3 or later,” the company stated.
IBM encourages IWS users to read this IBM Support document for instructions on how to migrate from versions 1.3 or 1.5 to version 2.6. Unfortunately, there is no direct migration method for IAS 8.5, and customers must manually recreate the environments, IBM says.
If you think this all sounds quite confusing, then you’ll appreciate that there are even more nuances when it comes to the specific licensed program products (LPPs) that make up IAS and IWS, which carry product numbers 57xxSS1, 57xxDG1, and 57xxJV1. There are specific options under the 57xxJV1 product that are either fully supported on various versions of IBM i, offered with “best effort” support, or not supported at all. IBM encourages customers to contact IBM Support if they have questions about it.