IBM Power Systems Marches on with IBM i Strategy and New IBM i 7.4.1 Release

December 9th, 2019 IBM Power Systems Marches on with IBM i Strategy and New IBM i 7.4.1 Release

Ron Gordon
Director » Power Systems

Recently, IBM Power Systems published an AIX Strategy and Roadmap whitepaper (see my blog article Is AIX Dead? IBM Publishes AIX Strategy and Roadmap Document). At the time the AIX paper was released, many people asked, “What about IBM i? Is there a subliminal message here? Is IBM i dead?“ As to not leave its IBM i customers in the dark, IBM Power Systems has now published an IBM i Strategy and Roadmap Paper. The pdf demonstrates IBM’s commitment to the IBM i platform. I highly recommend that all IBM i customers review this paper, as it provides a great outlook and strong promise of futures, and continued support and focus from IBM Power Systems. The IBM i pillars, roadmap, IBM i supported applications, and open source should all give you confidence as you continue with IBM i as your Power Systems operating system.

Part of the IBM i strategy is continued availability of customer requested items. IBM calls these RFEs, for Requested Future Enhancements, which they always ask users to provide to the development team. These RFEs will help direct future development, new features, and functional improvements based on technology changes. In the recently announced IBM i 7.4.1 release, IBM is demonstrating its full commitment to the growth of IBM i by enhancing the usability, performance, and resilience of the IBM i operating system and environment.

As IBM announcement letters can be lengthy and sometimes difficult to extract key messages and information, I’ll list and make comments on some of the content changes in IBM i 7.4.1 that I believe are most important or interesting. For in-depth descriptions, you can google or certainly access the IBM i 7.4.1 announcement letter. You may also want to contact your Mainline representative for a further discussion on applicability and implementation of the new IBM i 7.4.1 and IBM i 7.3 TR7 releases. These releases GA’d on November 15, 2019.

Here are highlights of the newly announced content:

Db2 Mirror for i:

I really like the concept of Db2 Mirror for i. Db2 Mirror is a separate product from IBM i integrated Db2 database and only runs on IBM i-enabled systems (no AIX, Linux or z support). It was announced in IBM i 7.4 as a product that creates a duplicate real-time synchronized copy of the Db2 data in the IBM Db2 for IBM i database. It is architected as two servers connected to two different SANs, where this new facility ensures that an update on one of the Db2 SANs is immediately updated in the secondary SAN. Since this is instantaneous, the systems need to be local and will require RoCE. Its usage is for high availability of data by different systems, as well as common data sharing with distributed workloads. The changes to IBM Db2 Mirror for i now provide support for the IBM Power System 922, when 940 firmware is installed. Additionally, LPM now supports (with 940 firmware) Db2 mirror partitions. IBM is providing an Application Evaluation Support Tool to allow users to analyze the applicability of Db2 Mirror for i. Since many IBM i users utilize internal storage, and not SAN storage, IBM has issued a statement of direction, as follows:

Statement of Direction for IBM Db2 Mirror for i: IBM plans to introduce the support for internal disk as a storage option on the Db2 Mirror for i product.

Integrated Web Server:

The IWS is enhanced to help users deploy REST APIs and can deploy the IWS into user-created subsystems, in addition to using scripted interfaces. This will enhance application programming exploration of REST APIs, for improved application integration.

Digital Certificate Manager:

A new user interface to manage digital certificates on IBM i that allows filters and do visual quick sorting and identification and also see certificates that are expiring or have expired. This should save admin time in managing and support digital certificates.

IBM i System Transport Layer Security:

IBM i now includes support for TSL v.1.3 protocol. This provides that latest support of TLS security features. Some application programming will possibly be required, but security is always a high priority. If you are using TLS, this should be exploited.

IBM i Db2:

IBM i 7.4.1 supported Db2, and now supports the new advanced SQL capabilities, as well as the ability to use SQL to access IBM i operating system data. Most IBM i customers use IBM i Db2 as well as IBM i for reports. This enables the ability to use SQL to pull selected data.

IBM PowerHA SystemMirror for IBM i:

PowerHA SystemMirror for i 7.4 adds several improvements to the administrative domain that simplify the deployment and management of high-availability environments. This, if used, can save admin time for basic functionality of PowerHA system morrow?

Backup, Recovery, and Media Services for IBM i:

BRMS has improved the tape image catalog management for backups, using a virtual device. BRMS has added Change Control Group Attribute API for better management of backups.

Rational Development:

Rational Development has added functionality and ease of use improvements to Rational Development Studio and Rational Developer for IBM i, including improved use of SQL syntax verification; library list control to adjust the library list being used within a connection; as well as expansion and enhancements of the refactoring support within RDi.

IBM i Client Access Solutions:

CAS interface enhancements are focused on improving the tools used by database engineers and system managers to manage and access the necessary information on IBM i. These improvements include filter and search capabilities within schemas to make finding things faster and more intuitive.

Open Source:

IBM i now includes ZeroMQ which is an open source universal messaging library, as well as the Python binding for ZeroMQ. If you are message queuing for commits, this open source tool may be an alternative to what you are using. Or, if you are not doing commits, this may be a low-cost way to incorporate 2 and 3 phase commits in your programming model.

Hardware support of IBM i 7.4.1 and IBM i 7.3.7:

Several hardware support items have been added, such as the support of firmware 940, new 2.5 inch SSDs, support for NVMe devices, license key injection by the HMC or Novalink, and DLPARs can be now be used to assign SR-IOV logical ports to LPARs that are configured with restricted I/O high-speed, low latency traffic. These new supported capabilities may be important for performance improvements, ease of application code deployment where licenses are tied to serial numbered servers, or to increase SR-IOV manageability.

This has been a high-level overview of the changes made in IBM i 7.4.1 and IBM i 7.3.7. Please contact your Mainline Account Executive directly for a deeper look at these changes and how they might apply to your organization, or click here to contact us with any questions..

Related Information:

Blog: Is AIX Dead? IBM Publishes AIX Strategy and Roadmap Document

Blog: IBM Power Systems Software Announcements for 4th Quarter 2019

Vlog: Artificial Intelligence on Power Systems

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