IBM i 7.3 TR12: The Non-TR Tech Refresh
May 16, 2022 Alex Woodie
The launches of IBM i version 7.5 and 7.4 Technology Refresh 6 a few of weeks ago garnered a lot of attention from the IBM i community, thanks to the new capabilities they bring to the platform. But IBM is also bringing some of the same enhancements to IBM i 7.3. And while it is bundling the PTFs that deliver the enhancements for version 7.3 in a package labeled TR12, it is not an official TR, IBM officials say.
IBM plans to release IBM i 7.3 TR12 on May 24, according to IBM i TR page for version 7.3 on the IBM support website. That’s the same day that IBM plans to deliver IBM i 7.4 TR6. A bundle of 7.3 TR12 enhancements will be delivered in the group level PTF number SF99727 level 12, the site says. Similar information appears on the IBM Support page for IBM i Resaves.
Support for Power10 hardware, including the entry and midrange machines due to ship in July, is one of the most obvious new features that IBM is delivering with IBM i 7.3 TR12. But a quick perusal of the IBM i technology updates webpage reveals that there are many other features introduced in IBM i 7.5 and 7.4 TR6 will also be delivered via PTF to 7.3 TR12.
Many of these enhancements are delivered via new or improved IBM i Services, those SQL-based replacements (or duplications) of traditional commands that have proliferated in recent years. Among the new or improved IBM i services coming to IBM i 7.3 TR12 are:
- Thirty new or improved application services like QSYS2.ACTIVATION_GROUP_INFO();
- Seven new or improved communication services like QSYS2.ACTIVE_DB_CONNECTIONS();
- Twelve new or improved IFS services like QSYS2.IFS_WRITE();
- Five or improved new journal services like QSYS2.ASSOCIATE_JOURNAL_RECEIVER();
- Three new or improved librarian services like QSYS2.JOURNAL_INHERIT_RULES;
- Six new improved messaging handling services like QSYS2.HISTORY_LOG_INFO();
- The new performance service, QSYS2.COLLECTION_SERVICES_INFO;
- Three new or improved product services, like QSYS2.LICENSE_INFO;
- Four new or improved PTF services like SYSTOOLS.FIRMWARE_CURRENCY;
- Twelve new or improved security services like QSYS2.SQL_CHECK_SPECIAL_AUTHORITY();
- Five new or improved spool services like QSYS2.SPOOLED_FILE_INFO();
- Five new or improved storage services like QSYS2.ASP_INFO;
- Three new or improved system health services like QSYS2.SYSLIMTBL; and
- Twenty new or improved work management services like QSYS2.SYSTEM_STATUS_INFO_BASIC.
Additionally, IBM i 7.3 TR12 is getting several other enhancements, including new HTTP functions in QSYS2 that can be used to create REST-based Web services without the overhead of the JVM, as exists in the SYSTOOLS; and the expansion of the number of parameters supported in the Call Services Program Procedure API (QARUCLSP) to 248.
The HTTP Server for IBM i (you know, the one powered by Apache) is also getting an update with IBM i 7.3 TR12. With PTF SF99722 level 39, IBM will be delivering several things, including security fixes, a new release of the IAS Liberty runtime, and updates to the new Navigator for i, among others.
Most of this stuff is fairly minor. The big-ticket items unveiled by IBM only support the newer releases, including Boolean support (only IBM i 7.5) and Merlin (7.4 and 7.5), which brings a lightweight IDE wrapped in DevOps and CI/CD software for application modernization. Anything connected to Db2 Mirror also will not run on IBM i 7.3.
IBM traditionally only actively updates two releases of IBM i at the same time, although there have been exceptions to that. With the release of IBM i 7.3 TR12, IBM seems to be taking an approach that lands somewhere in the middle. While it is not delivering updates for 7.3 (which debuted in April 2016 and is expected to be actively supported through 2023) as regularly as it has for 7.4 (released June 2019 and expected to be supported through 2026), Big Blue still wants to get some new features its developers have created into the hands of IBM i customers.
IBM’s worldwide IBM i offering manager Alison Butterill released this statement to IT Jungle regarding IBM i 7.3 TR12:
“The term Technology Refresh is used by the Power development team to reference changes to the firmware and hypervisor,” Butterill writes. “In the IBM i software, we mean a package of new functions that are being added to the firmware, hypervisor plus functionality in the operating system. There are some PTFs for IBM i 7.3, which will allow it to run on Power10 hardware and perhaps a few 7.5 enhancements are reaching back to 7.3. But it’s not the full suite of updates available for 7.4 and 7.5. Therefore, we talk about this as PTFs being delivered – not a full blown TR.”
And yet, IBM still calls it a TR in its support documents. All of which makes IBM i 7.3 TR12 yet another TR to not officially be a TR. Like the PTF rollups for 7.4 TR2 and 7.3 TR8 back in May 2020, as you will no doubt recall.