No Plan To Bring .NET To Power, IBM Says
July 25, 2022 Alex Woodie
IBM says it currently has no new projects underway to get .NET to run on Power, which IT Jungle previously reported was a project that was underway at IBM. What’s more, existing efforts to run .NET applications on IBM i that have been backed by Big Blue have apparently drawn very little interest from the vendor community.
Back in March, we reported on a plan within IBM to get .NET running in a containerized Red Hat Linux and OpenShift environment running on Power, much the same as it had done with System z. Our source told us the project involved help from Microsoft, too.
The plan we reported on called for making .NET version 7 run in a containerized Power environment in a similar way that .NET version 6 was made to run on System z. The timeline given for a beta version for Power was later this year.
IT Jungle finally heard back from IBM after submitting multiple requests for clarification on the issue. The company’s spokesperson said there is no such .NET project underway on Power.
“The non-IBM spokesperson that was quoted in your article does not represent IBM or IBM’s roadmap, and merely provided misleading information and speculation on a project that is supposedly under development,” the IBM spokesperson said.
The spokesperson continued:
“As the project mentioned in your article did not include any involvement with the IBM i team, the team would not necessarily know about it, and if they did, would not likely have permission to talk about it.”
IT Jungle’s source for the original story, Torbjörn Appehl, who is a Sweden-based contractor for IBM who works with ISVs in EMEA and who has been an IBM Champion for Power since 2016, stands by his original assessment.
“The project is to port .NET to OpenShift on Power, similar to what they’ve done on S/390 architecture,” Appehl said via email. “That project is moving as you can see on my recent tweet.” (Appehl tweets from the Twitter handle Built on Power Europe.)
While IBM denies the efforts to get .NET on Power, that’s not to say that it hasn’t supported other ways to get either the .NET framework itself or .NET applications (written in C# and related .NET languages) running on IBM i.
Calvin Buckley, a member of the open source IBM i community, has spearheaded an effort to get Project Mono, an open source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET Framework, to run on IBM i.
Jesse Gorzinski, IBM’s business architect for open Source on IBM i, has been watching Buckley’s work with Mono over the past few years. Gorzinski saw the Mono project as a way for the vendor community to get more applications running on IBM i.
“At the time, several ISVs and clients expressed strong interest in running .NET applications on IBM i,” Gorzinski said. “While the IBM i port of Mono lacked some features, it provided a viable foundation for building new C# applications for IBM i. It was also possible to port some existing apps to the platform.”
There was excitement and buzz about the project, Gorzinski said, and a number of hobbyists kicked the tires with success. The business architect also points out that Buckley earned the COMMON Innovation Award in 2019 “for his fantastic work on the project.”
IBM hoped Buckley’s work with Mono and .NET would help create a lot of interest and uptake in the community, but it wasn’t to be. “Unfortunately, community adoption remained low, and ISV adoption was near zero,” Gorzinski told IT Jungle.
After consulting with stakeholders, Gorzinski determined that the best value around .NET and IBM i is delivered as connectivity from .NET applications. This realization was a driving factor in IBM’s expansion of the IBM i Access ODBC driver to support more platforms, he said.
“This spring, we began offering a version of the ODBC driver that is more easily installed and managed (see Kevin Adler’s blog entry here),” Gorzinski wrote. “This change brings container-friendliness and better developer ergonomics to .NET developers. Now, they can leverage the System.Data.Odbc NuGet package to connect to IBM i from any of the popular .NET flavors including .NET Core.”
So IBM is making headway in helping IBM i and .NET applications come together. It just isn’t likely to be delivered as .NET running directly under IBM i or on Power.
“At this time, there is low probability that another .NET framework will be ported to the IBM i platform,” Gorzinski concluded.