IBM i > TRENDS > iTALK WITH TUOHY

Alison Butterill on IBM i 7.2


Paul introduces iTalk and goes on to chat with Alison Butterill, product offerings manager for IBM i worldwide, about the highlights of the recent IBM i 7.2 announcement.

Paul: Hi everyone. This is Paul Tuohy, and welcome to iTalk With Tuohy in its new home at IBM Systems Magazine. So first of all, I would like to thank the folks at IBM System Magazine for giving me the opportunity to continue these iTalks and for providing a new home.

If you have not heard any of the iTalks before, you can check out the link on the web page for previous iTalks but basically iTalk is kind of an audio blog and interview thing that I do. I am one of these lucky people who gets to travel quite a bit and I meet quite a few interesting people in the industry so whenever I can, I take the opportunity to chat with them, get their views on the i world and maybe a little bit of both the personal side of the people themselves, so I hope you enjoy them and I hope you will tune in every couple of weeks to see who I am talking to and what we are talking about.

Of course as well, if you have any suggestions, any comments, any things you would like me to talk about or people you would like me to talk to, please do not hesitate to let me know. So without further ado, let us go onto our first iTalk in its new home at IBM System Magazine. Bye for now.

Alison Butterill
Paul: Hi everyone and welcome to another iTalk With Tuohy. I am joined again today by Alison Butterill who is the product offering manager for IBM i worldwide.

Alison: Correct.

Paul: So Ali, we chatted a couple of months ago and even though I tried to get you to talk about it—okay, I did not try very hard—but I did try to get you to talk about 7.2 and you told us it was going to be announced in a few months. It has now been announced so without further ado, Alison, and because we do not have a lot of a time here and I know there is a lot in 7.2 so what I am going to do is just hand the mike over to you. I am going to say to you please tell us about 7.2.

Alison: All right, I would love too. You are right. 7.2 is pretty exciting. It is the first full release we have had in four years and it touches almost every component of the operating system so there are so many pieces that we roll into our IBM i offering. We have the database of course. We have security. We have printing. We have WebSphere. We have security offerings, everything together in one place. This 7.2 release has something for everyone. If your passion is database, we have got a lot of new enhancements. So let me tell you a little bit about some of the highlights or what I consider highlights. Paul, if any of them take your fancy, you can ask some more questions.

Paul: Oh, be careful. We could be here for a while.

Alison: So we have a huge focus in this release on the database. We are doing a lot of new function and a lot of really interesting detailed function but from an overall big picture, we are really focusing on securing the database. That is one of the biggest highlights and it is probably the main reason that we are having a full release instead of a technology refresh. What we have done in the database is something called row column access control and it really is taking the place of having to create a logical file or a SQL view but assigning accessibility who can get to rows or specific columns of data. It gets removed from having a view or a logical file and instead is stored as part of the actual database file. Now all of you are probably going yeah, so what? Well what it does is it really helps you in locking down your data as we move into a social, Internet, and basically mobile device access world. I do not rely on a mobile phone programmer to remember to subset access to the data and I do not worry about it. I know it is in my database. You know it is one of those things that we keep hearing from our clients about how when they move to mobile device access, it is really key for them to lock down that data and open up the applications. Well this really is focused on locking down the data.

Paul: Yeah. This one has been due for a little while I think.

Alison: I think so too. Yeah. We have been working on it awhile.

Paul: Yeah. Yeah.

Alison: It touches a lot of the operating system. The operating system itself uses a lot of the function in the database so to put row column access control in required us to rewrite some of the database that is down there. So that is one of the highlights in the database. We are doing a lot of other things in database as well but that is probably the big highlight. We are doing a lot of work in IBM Navigator for i and you will see a lot of changes in there.

Paul: I am sorry. I just want to clarify that because I know there are some people who are not actually aware of this, so IBM Navigator for i is the Web replacement for what used to be old Operations Navigator once upon a time.

Alison: Absolutely correct. Absolutely. Thank you. Yeah. Specifically in the Web area, from the Web interface, this tool has had incredible uptake from our clients. It is very, very popular and everybody has got lots of opinions of what should be in there but some of the enhancements we are making in Navigator have to do with things like message monitoring and system monitoring and being able to get more information more easily. We are also providing in a PTF installation facility so you can monitor and track PTFs more easily. We are also doing some things in the performance data investigator piece of Navigator. This is something that collects information, collects performance data that you can get lots of reports about how your system performs. This time we are adding in specifically some things that let you do some batch window monitoring. Again, as we move into a world of availability 24/7, we really need to cut down the length of time that our systems are dedicated to doing batch processing. So we have some facilities that capture the information about your batch window and then we let you play the what-if game. What if?

Paul: Oh, cool.

Alison: Yeah. What if you add more memory? Does it reduce the batch window? What if I you know add another disk drive with more disk arms? Does that help? So it gives you a chance to play with parameters yourself and estimate what it is going to look like.

Paul: Yeah. You know that I come from application background so all of this stuff is really of no interest to me but that is cool actually. That is one of the ones I like.

Alison: Well you will like a lot of things, Paul. So those are probably two of the big ones. In the world of applications—giving me a nice opening there—WebSphere Application Server has always been a strategic direction for us but for many of our clients, getting into the world of WebSphere is quite a big step. So for many years, we have provided something called the Integrated Application Server. It is kind of a lightweight, easy-to-use, easy-to-get-started application server. However, it has always had its own sort of unique baseline or foundation for how we created it. In this release, we have actually moved it to the WebSphere Liberty Profile and what that means is it is now on the same code base as every other WebSphere application server product. So as you are creating things with this lightweight tool, there is no major migration effort as your business needs grow and you need to move to a full WebSphere environment. This is pretty seamless. It is pretty easy to migrate upwards so it is really, this one was really designed to protect your investment, the investment of time and energy in creating web interfaces so again, you will not see it as a big one until you actually go to do the migration from the lightweight to the full one.

Paul: I am sorry. I know people cannot see us at the moment but once you said WebSphere application, my twitch started. I remember from many years ago when we had the thing. I know it has changed a lot since but it is a-

Alison: Yeah and actually the i team and i clients who use WebSphere on IBM i, the gooey admin interface is so much easier than using WebSphere on many other platforms.

Paul: Oh yeah.

Alison: Our i team in Rochester does a great job on that.

Paul: And that is true. That is true.

Alison: So I mean we have—as I mentioned there is something for everybody in this release. Those are the ones that kind of are stand out. You would not let me bring notes to the table so those, yeah. I could not do a slide presentation for you but those are the big ones that stand out in my mind. There is, as I said, something for everyone. We have security enhancements with adding in additional applications into the single sign on suite so previously we were a little more limited but in 7.2, we have added FTP and Telnet applications that authenticate with Kerberos will also fall under the single sign on capability so really adding in.

Paul: Do you know off hand—and I know it is unfair because you did not bring your notes with you so if you do not know off hand—do you know if they are planning to do that with RDI as well? The single sign on?

Alison: I really do not have an answer for that. Rational and IBM i, the two development teams do work closely together. There has been lots of discussion about that but, Paul, I am not really sure where it stands.

Paul: Oh no, I am sorry. It is only—it popped into my head because somebody had asked me about two days ago about it. They were saying, oh can you do single sign on in RDI and I was going well I know you could not but maybe it is coming so I am sorry. That was off.

Alison: But that is an interesting question because I do not know. I thought they used a basic Telnet authentication so, well anyway something to check into.

Paul: Okay. Cool.

Alison: So—and one other thing I probably should mention because along with the announcement of 7.2, we also announced POWER8 hardware.

Paul: That is just what I was going to ask you about.

Alison: Excellent. So yes, 7.2 will be the release that is supported for POWER8 hardware so it will be in the firmware for 7.2. We will also be providing support for the new POWER8 hardware in IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 8, which as you know was announced a couple of weeks before we announced 7.2 so yup. We will have both of those releases supported on the new POWER8 hardware, which of course is going to give significant performance benefits again. It amazes me how we continue to make chips that are, you know with their lag path or their latency path, smaller and smaller and smaller and get such incredible performance out of these little chips but—

Paul: Yeah, I mean—it is a—I found out a funny thing on this. When we have, when you look at something now what POWER8 is going to be and people are still going to call it an AS/400.

Alison: Oh, I know. Yes, it is a constant challenge to get people to talk about IBM i on a Power box but you are right. It exceeds even our smallest boxes exceed the maximum capacity of the original AS/400 so it is no longer an AS/400.

Paul: Yes. I remember somebody telling me just last year when I was up in Rochester, they were saying was it on 7.1 or maybe on 6.1 where finally the last bit of the AS/400 code that had been in OS went.

Alison: That is true. I believe and I have not checked line by line but I believe every line—

Paul: As you do on weekends.

Alison: Yes, exactly. Every line of code that was in the original AS/400 or the original OS/400 operating system has been rewritten so it is no longer AS/400.

Paul: In any way.

Alison: In any way, although as part of 7.2 one of the requirements we had to do was add additional function into printing so you will see some new printing commands for color printing. It was a requirement that a few of our clients in certain industries have and we satisfied that.

Paul: Cool.

Alison: Yeah, like I said 7.2 touches every piece of our operating system.

Paul: On my old System/38 programs that I complied in ’79 still run on the 8.

Alison: Yeah, they will.

Paul: I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Alison: I know. I always say it is a good news and a bad news. We protect your investment but maybe we should not.

Paul: And I think that is the note to leave it on, Alison. So listen, thanks a million for giving us the fill in and out on the Web, folks, you are going to find all the gruesome details of what Alison has been telling us so thanks again, Ali.

Alison: Thanks, Paul.

Paul: Okay, thanks everybody. Talk to you again in a couple of week. Bye.

Paul Tuohy has specialized in application development and training on IBM midrange systems for more than 20 years.



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