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How the latest TRs strengthen IBM’s core OS



October 7, 2020

Alex Woodie

Yesterday was Technology Refresh (TR) Day for IBM and the IBM i-Operating System, and Big Blue did not disappoint. The company introduced new releases of IBM in 7.4 and 7.3 that bring a number of new features to the core operating system, as well as surrounding offerings such as Db2 Mirror, ACS and RDi. In this article, we will look at core OS enhancements and related key features.

During a FELL webcast on Tuesday, IBM̵

7;s chief architect Steve Will broadly touched on a number of improvements that will soon be available in the TRs. Most of the new features will be delivered on November 13 for both versions of the operating system, with the exception of the Db2 Mirror, which is a 7.4-only affair.

One of the notable changes going forward is that SQL Services – the useful SQL-based scripts that have spread like rabbits in recent iterations of the operating system – will henceforth be referred to as “IBM i Services” in 7.3 TR9 and 7.4 TR3 and forward OSer.

According to Will, the change was made to reflect the ongoing development of how people interact with the system. In other words, they go mainstream and become a core element of the operating system itself, and are no longer banished to be a function of the integrated database.

“[They] was originally called SQL Services, because SQL is the technology you use to obtain them. But it’s really trying to create services around many of the features that are on IBM in that you previously had to go to a CL command or to a screen that was only available via a [green] the screen, ”Will said in his Joint webcast Tuesday. “The SQL services that we have built and built and built have become a very large portfolio of services that give you an overview of things on the operating system, so you can innovate using SQL and not necessarily have to work directly with green screen CL commands . ”

The new TRs bring no less than 29 new SQL services – that is, IBM i-services – to merge with hundreds of existing services. It also provides a number of updates to the Db2 database. IBM’s Db2 for i-architect Scott Forstie will discuss these IBM i-services in more depth during a FELL webcast tomorrow, and we’ll keep you posted on the improvements in a future issue of this newsletter.

IBM also combines a number of open source enhancements in these releases, although the company has already announced them and in most cases has made the new open source software available for download via RPM. Jesse Gorzinski, IBM’s Open Source Business Architect, delivers an update today during a Joint Webcast, which you can watch here.

Webcasts are hot during these COVID times, but web services and APIs can be even hotter. To accomplish this, IBM improves how the Embedded Web Server (IWS) responds to requests for Web services from the outside world.

With the new release, IBM gives customers more control over the security configuration associated with the IWS and how it handles requests, which can be over SOAP or REST protocols. In particular, IWS can now integrate with third-party security services using JAI, and authenticate connections using JSON Web Tokens, or JWT, according to IBM.

SQL services are now called IBM i services.

“It’s not that they were insecure before,” Will said. “What people have asked of us is to make it possible for a third-party security server to be connected in there, so that they can have more specific control from a third party about whether these web services should come in and who they should run under and so on. further. ”

IBM i-professionals who have been frustrated trying to move large IBM i-objects from one system to another will appreciate the new ObjectConnect over TCP / IP commands introduced in IBM in 7.4 TR3 (they are not supported in 7.3 ).

The new commands will allow users to share IBM i objects across two IBM i systems connected over TCP / IP, and the connection will be encrypted with TLS. The new ObjectConnect command adds existing ObjectConnect commands that either require the SNA Enterprise Extender or require two LPARs to be on the same server, which is not very useful. It also uses less disk space than FTP commands, Will said.

Duplicate tape media will also increase in 7.3 and 7.4, according to Will. This can also help reduce wear on tape drives and tape media by reducing the number of passes over the tape head. IBM is also making efforts to speed up IPLs (or initial application load for the uninitiated), Will promised.

“We have this continuous effort to ensure that our IPL time improves over time,” Will said. “It gets a little difficult to do that, because when we add more integrated functionality to IBM in, sometimes we end up adding some things to the IPL time, while also trying to reduce the IPL time. At least there is a significant effort in both 7.3 and 7.4 which is now being rolled out in the recent Technology Refresh that we announce today, which will help in many IPL time improvements. ”

IBM in 7.3 will now also be able to generate a Universal Unique Identifier that is compatible with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) version 4 UUID specification. IBM had already sent that option in 7.4.

IBM gives IBM i-customers more opportunities to use third-party web services offered in IWS.

Db2 Web Query, the business information tool based on technology OEMed from Information Builders, also gets an update. In December, IBM will release Db2 Web Query version 2.3, which will provide machine learning features to the BI tool. As always, Will encouraged IBM i-customers to use the EZ-Install tool, whether they are installing Db2 Web Query for the first time or upgrading to the latest release. We will give you more information about this release when it becomes available.

Access Client Solutions (ACS) is the de facto standard GUI for collaborating with IBM, and then of course there will be some love with the latest TRs. IBM prepares to release ACS version 1.1.8.6, due in December.

One of the better improvements in ACS is the ability to pull in Content Assist tips by pressing the space bar and CTRL buttons at the same time. Will predicted that this feature will be widely used by the IBM i community.

“If you’re a longtime IBM i-user, think of this as the GUI version of F4 for commands,” said Will. “It’s so much more powerful than that, because it looks at all the different options you can have for the SQL you build. . . It helps you gather and get preferences that you can transfer from one script to another, so you do not have to set them every time you do so. ”

Similarly, IBM provides some powerful time-saving features when using ACS to access IFS. In short, IBM has done some things to really speed up how quickly IFS content fills the screen.

“This allows you to get thousands of objects that are in a particular directory or just from the root in seconds,” said Will. “And with some of the advances we made in the previous technology update, so you can subset which part of IFS you want to watch – these two things combined can make use of IFS and ACS as fast as you can imagine, really.”

If freaky-fast IFS monitors do not tickle you, more file uploads in ACS 1.1.8.6 may be required. “The ability to upload multiple files is really something many of our customers have asked us to be able to do,” said Will.

An ACS update associated with the TRs provides support for uploading multiple files.

Still not impressed? How does it sound to have IBM in the Access ODBC driver available on Mac OS and IBM in? “When you create application packages, IBM in Access can be used in these locations while using the same ODBC driver wherever you are,” explained Will.

IBM did not ignore application development and language upgrades with these TRs. On the RPG front, it added several improvements, including% LIST built-in feature, FOR-EACH Opcode and other new features, which Tim Rowe, IBM’s architect for application development and system administration products, will talk about in tomorrow’s Joint webcast.

Db2 Mirror, the continuous accessibility offer that was unveiled in 2019, has also been updated. Like PowerHA, the collection of logical replication offerings and storage-based replication offerings. We will cover these improvements, as well as updates to BRMS, in a future issue of this newsletter.

As previously mentioned, IBM’s architects provide in – depth work on specific topics related to IBM in TRs. You can register for all three presentations here. You can also access the announcement letter for IBM in 7.3 TR9 at this link and find it for IBM in 7.4 TR3 here (PDF).

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