Eradani Debuts DevOps Suite for IBM i
October 4, 2023 Alex Woodie
It’s been five years since Dan Magid, the former CEO of Aldon and an executive with Rocket Software, has been involved in the IBM i change management and DevOps business. But with next week’s launch of Eradani DevOps at COMMON’s NAViGATE conference, the longtime change management expert is getting back into the game. This time, however, Magid is taking a decidedly different approach.
What makes Eradani DevOps stand out from other change management tools on IBM i is its focus on open source tools. The folks at Eradani have realized that application developers in the mainstream IT world have pretty much settled on a small number of open source tools for managing their development, specifically Git for source code management and Jenkins for continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD).
The goal with Eradani DevOps, then, is to remove the barriers to adopting Git and Jenkins-based offerings in the IBM i context, thereby bringing more standardization to development and deployment processes.
“What’s different about what we’re doing here is we say, go out and take whatever tools you want to work with, whether that’s GitHub, GitLab, Azure DevOps – whichever tools you want to work with – and we’re going to just fill in the gaps to make it work with the IBM i code,” Magid says. “Basically, it allows the IBM i people to use the same set of tools that everybody else is using. We’re not asking people to adopt a special kind of Git environment for your IBM i.”
The Eradani DevOps suite contains three individual modules, including iGit, iBuild, and iDeploy.
Eradani iGit provides the core mechanism for integrating IBM i with Git (including GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket and Azure DeveOps) and bringing Git-based version control to the entities that IBM i developers work with, including libraries, source files, and source members.
Eradani iBuild automates the build process for IBM i developers and integrates with Jenkins, Azure DevOps, or Apache Maven for CI/CD pipelines . It maintains the dependency mappings among the program objects and creates the command for building them.
Eradani iDeploy, meanwhile, automates the deployments of binaries to target IBM i environments while maintaining approvals, rollbacks, and status visibility.
Customers can use all three Eradani DevOps components, or just use one or two of them. They can even use competitors’ products for one or more of the functions if they like, Magid says. It’s all about maximizing the freedom and flexibility for the user.
“You can use just iGit and something else to do your creates and deployment,” he tells IT Jungle. “You can use iGit and iBuild and something else to do your deployments. It’s kind of up to you how you how you want to do that.”
Past Is Prologue for Change (Management)
This is the first new product for Eradani since Magid launched the company back in 2019. For the past four years, Eradani has been focused exclusively on its only product, Eradani Connect, a tool for API development on IBM i.
While the API business has flourished, Magid could not ignore the siren call of the IBM i change management business. That is not surprising, as it runs in the Magid bloodline.
Magid was the longtime CEO of Aldon, which his father, Albert Magid, founded with partner Don Parr back in 1979 to provide change management tools for IBM’s midrange server (with a smattering of mainframe tools). Magid oversaw the sale of the Emeryville, California-based company to a private equity firm in 2007 before the company was eventually sold in 2011 to Rocket Software, where Magid continued as an executive for years.
Magid says he’s glad to be back in the change management business, but with a new perspective on what it will take for customers and Eradani to succeed in a new IT environment.
“I’m now in a place that I know a lot about, and am comfortable talking to customers about these issues, in this environment, and things that we can do,” Magid says. “And I know all of the things that were hard and were frustrating about how we’ve done things before. We have the opportunity to say, what would happen if we started over? How would we do it differently given 25, 30 years of additional technology? What might be different?”
“We had an interesting talk with a CIO who had his IBM i developers in the room and he said ‘We have 400 developers in our company and all of them are using our Git-based system, except the people sitting in this room.’ And he said ‘I want to get everybody on the same set of tools,’” Magid says.
Glue for Git and IBM i
However, there’s a bit of an impedance mismatch between how tools like Git work and how change management has traditionally been done on IBM i.
For example, in Git, users don’t typically work in terms of checking out code, like they do on IBM i. Instead, everybody has their own repository in Git, and when they finish with their changes, they perform a “push” or a “pull” into a shared repository.
“As an IBM i user, I’m used to a certain way that things have worked. You do a check out, you do a promotion, it moves through the lifecycle. Things work that way,” Magid says. “That is hard for IBM i users to get their heads around, which is a different way of thinking about the world when you’re working with Git.”
Another difference between Git-based change management and traditional IBM i change management is where changes are tracked. In the IBM i world, the tools are managing the libraries, source files, and source members that developers are working with. But in Git, things are done differently.
“In Git, you may still have things in libraries and source files and source members, but what it really is managing is a repository,” Magid says. “And that’s really its source of truth, what’s in its repository that it’s managing. That also is something that that IBM i users need to wrap their minds around, that there’s this repository thing that’s separate.”
This difference provides an opportunity for Eradani and its DevOps tool. According to Magid, the software functions as “the glue” that keeps the Git repository in synch with the libraries, source files, and source members that the developers are actually working with in PDM, SEU, RDi, VSCode, or whatever development tool they’re working in.
It’s much easier for a Python developer to learn RPG Free than it is to learn the traditional change management processes that an IBM i shop uses, Magid says. That’s why it’s so important to bring the new DevOps processes to IBM i, and that’s why Eradani is taking a lightweight approach that works with what’s already been built in open source.
“We have the advantage of having started this in 2019 and not in 1990,” Magid says. “We said ‘So if we were going to start from scratch today, how would you do this?’ And so that’s why we’ve taken this approach, to say we’re not going to create a big IBM i-oriented system for managing development, which was exactly the right choice and the right thing to do historically.”
A lot of Eradani’s competitors, including some that Magid worked at, have sophisticated systems for doing checkouts and promotions and deployments through IBM i-oriented system.
“In some ways, that is a great approach for IBM i people. It’s just not the way we’re doing it,” Magid says. “We’re doing it saying, let’s make things easy for open source people to work with the IBM i. They can use the tooling that they want to use . . . . Our philosophy is freedom of choice.”
Eradani DevOps is available now. You can find more information at www.eradani.com.