May 2, 2014 marked another chapter in the life of IBM i. This operating system stands the test of time and continues to expand its technology support with another new release. IBM i 7.2 surpasses the 7.1 and even previous 6.1 releases. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what we think is important to know about this release and point you in the right direction for more information.
POWER8 and 7.2
Along with the 7.2 software release comes new hardware models for IBM i, at the lower end first with the new POWER8 S814 and S824. This new hardware promises to deliver higher performance and lower cost of ownership than the previous POWER5, POWER6, and POWER7 processors. There are other models in this first set of announcements, but they are for Linux/UNIX workloads and not available for IBM i.
The new models should be available for purchase in June/July 2014. Again, these are the lower end servers, and IBM will add additional, larger scale servers as the year rolls along.
Mobile Computing for IBM i
To take advantage of iAccess for Mobile, install IBM i Access for Web, product ID 5770-XH2, on 6.1, 7.1, or now 7.2, and you’ll be able to access IBM i from your mobile devices. This gives your iPhone, iPad, and Android devices—along with your desktop browser—access to common IBM i systems administrator functions like printer output, messages, active jobs, and 5250 emulation.
Once you have iAccess for Mobile installed, you only need to run a small setup script, and then point your browser at the URL. But be warned, you may need some additional features like a VPN connection. We can’t forget about security! Here’s an example of how the URL will look where HOSTNAME is the HTTP server where the software is loaded: http://HOSTNAME:2011/iamobile.
Because DB2 (the database for IBM i) is built into IBM i operating system, it is important that IBM continues to enhance this part of the OS. With 7.2, they have developed enhancements in performance for SQL, old queries, and mobile access.
With security being so important these days, IBM delivered new capabilities in 7.2 known as row and column access control (RCAC), which provides security above and beyond the object level. The new RCAC feature of DB2 for i allows systems administrators to set rules on column and row access, but prevents them from seeing or updating the data. This creates a nice separation of duty; the end user can work with the data, while the engineer can only create the rules or policies.
These are some of the other advantages of RCAC that IBM has listed on the website blogs:
- No database user is inherently exempted from the row and column access control policies.
- Table data is protected regardless of how the table is accessed.
- No application changes are required to take advantage of this additional layer of data security.
- Both rows and/or columns can be controlled through simple or complex logic, including the ability to mask what data is projected.
- Groups of users can share the same policy, or not.
- The implementation of the policies is part of the DB2 data access layer itself.
For an excellent overview of what’s new in DB2 for i, check out the presentations available from Kent Milligan at IBM.
In the systems management space, IBM has enhanced management of their PTF (defect and enhancements) distribution and inventorying. These enhancements are contained in the IBM Navigator for i area. You can send, remove, and apply PTFs through this feature. Another nice feature is the ability to compare PTFs across partitions. Administrators with multiple partitions will really like this area.
In the development arena, IBM has focused enhancement for RPG Free, Rational, and web development. RPG Free now supports all SPECS as free format except I and O specs. Rational Developer now has free-form enabled, too. In addition, there are some Java enhancements and support for 2.4 Apache web server on IBM i.
The new IBM Knowledge Center is a repository for all IBM products and hosts all the documentation for the IBM i 7.2 release. We recommend this section if you need a quick overview of what’s new. Another helpful resource is the Wiki for DeveloperWorks, which offers another good summary of the enhancements.
Now, the main OS levels that IBM is supporting are 7.2, 7.1, and 6.1. Hopefully the new version will inspire the remaining 5.4 customers to move up to one of these levels and start taking advantage of these new features!
Wondering if HelpSystems products were ready for 7.2? You bet! HelpSystems software has been certified at all of these levels by our testing and support teams. Read the full story in our press release.
Good luck on 7.2!