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December 3, 2016: Volume 18, Number 49|
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The IBM i operating system is proprietary; its Licensed Internal Code (LIC) is private, and good luck getting into the innards of DB2 for i. But for all the top-secret code running in an IBM i server, there's a surprising amount of open source technology available for the platform, too. Here are the top seven open source products every IBM i shop should have, or at least be aware of.
We are coming into the home stretch for the Power Systems and IBM i business here in 2016, and there are still some things going on that we need to tell you that Big Blue is up to with the product line. We have discovered that IBM is giving away certain licensed program products for the IBM i operating system for free, and that it is also mothballing a bunch of peripherals starting next year.
As we prepare to step onto the IBM midrange escalator to 2017, one of the areas of high interest is disaster recovery and high availability. Maxava, one of the leading vendors in those fields, added subscription-based, multi-platform systems monitoring to its feature set in early 2016 and as the year winds down it is expanding its managed service provider (MSP) business to take its software to a more localized level.
The IBM i server is unlike any other computer system on the planet, with unique architectural elements like single level storage and TIMI that simplify programming and boost security. But the 64-bit RISC server also has unique performance characteristics, especially compared to its X64 brethren. To ensure long-term success with the platform, it's critical to maximize performance.
Why work hard to find a back door when you can go through the front door? This is the gist of the enlightened hacker mind, which understands there is an excess of user profiles equipped with administrative privileges floating around most shops. Now new software from Townsend Security can detangle the complexity of authority levels and give intelligent SIEM tools the data they need to keep hackers out of IBM i.
Big changes are expected in national policy when Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. From healthcare and climate change to tariffs and international trade, Trump has promised to do things that will help to "make America great again." But what will this mean for IBM, one of the most American of success stories, and specifically its Rochester, Minnesota, plant, home of the IBM i server?
The major suppliers of servers to the datacenters of the world that are public have turned in their financial results in recent weeks, and those numbers do not look good even though they are nothing as alarming as what we saw ahead of the recession in 2001 through 2003 or the Great Recession that started at the end of 2007 and we think ended maybe two and a half years later. We may or may not be heading into a national or global recession in the coming year or maybe the one after that, but as far as the server market is concerned, we are halfway there right now.
If all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you ever got. Some people do more with what they've got. Some businesses do more with what they've got. Ake Olsson is a "do more" guy and the energy he puts into IBM i modernization projects has resulted in multiple successes. He loves to learn and travels great distances to do that . . . and to change.
IBM is a big organization and when it comes to the IBM i business, it has been focused on selling through the channel, and has had control of the top several thousand key accounts, for so long that making deals formally and vocally is not something it feels it needs to do. But if you poke around inside Big Blue, you can find all kinds of weird things.
You just escaped from a meeting on IT objectives and your backup strategy took a beating. Slow, inefficient, antiquated, completely lacking a recovery plan were just some of the stones that were thrown. So, what's your next move? One option is virtual tape backup. If high speed, multiple server and multiple storage technology capabilities, and a redundant data recovery strategy sound good. Storage Director from Tributary Systems deserves investigation.
It takes a bit of time to drill down into the annual Power Systems announcements from Big Blue, which in the case of this year happened across September and October. We have told you all about the new systems, such as they are, and updated IBM i 7.2 and 7.3 software releases, as well as various other components. In this week's installment, we are going to drill down into some of the new peripheral cards that IBM is putting into the Power Systems iron.
Different companies have different ways of dealing with the emerging IBM i skills shortage. Some shops may look to college grads for fresh new faces, while others may seek to retrain existing IT personnel in IBM i skills. Still others will seek to exit IBM i through wholesale migration to X86 or cloud platforms. At Fresche, the skills shortage presents an opportunity to get a well-regarded code analysis tool called X-Analysis into the hands of more people.
Midsize manufacturers and distributors have unique requirements when it comes to delivering their products to market. Automation and integration of business processes are playing a big role in achieving higher efficiency. For example, there was a time when GPS tracking gathered truck location and activity data for only the largest freight hauling specialists. But now there are small and midsize manufacturers and distributors that can track their own fleets, adding a customer feature that improves satisfaction rates and provides analytics that increase efficiencies.
Infor generally received high marks from users of its A+ application, according to a recent report by the Frantz Group. However, the fact that many users of the IBM i-based distribution system are going five to 10 years between ERP upgrades means many are missing out on potentially valuable features, the report concludes.
The IBM i community got a peak at the latest RPG website last week when the official wraps were taken off www.ile-rpg.com. While it may appear to be new, the website is in fact a resurrected (and updated) version of an older website, rpglanguage.biz, that was essentially abandoned by its previous owner. The website's new owner, TEMBO Tech Labs, is confident that it will help spread the word about RPG's prowess as a business language.
Even though high-level languages make it unnecessary--and in many cases, difficult--to understand what is going on "under the covers," I have always found a basic knowledge of internal processes to be invaluable. This is particularly true when it comes to resolving mystery bugs. I was reminded of this recently by a number of problems related to parameter passing that appeared on Internet lists and also in my email directly from customers.