IBM recently announced that IBM I 7.3 will be in extended support as of October 1, 2023. They have also announced Technology Refreshes (TRs) for more current versions of the IBM i operating system:
TR9 for IBM i 7.4 (V7R4)
TR3 for IBM i 7.5 (V7R5)
Let’s take a look at some of the key technologies included in these TRs.
A variety of enhancements have been made in this latest release that improve upon the usability and integration of the IBM i’s database. Starting with Visual Studio and Code for IBM i, the tooling has become more advanced and now includes increased interaction with the database.
SQL has received some notable improvements. SQL Error Log Facility (SELF) provides answers regarding whether SQL statements are failing or ending in a warning condition. New SQL built-in functions like ENCRYPT_AES256 and HTM:_ENTITY_DECODE now play a large role in shifting the workload from the programmer to the query.
Database engineers can expect more automation and improved productivity with the latest round of enhancements, including QSYS2.DUMP_PLAN_CACHE – which has a new filter that allows users to capture detail relating to specified SQL statements. Systems administrators will benefit from additions like NETSTAT_JOB_INFO and SYSTEM_VALUE_INFO which continue the journey towards offering SQL alternatives to CL commands and API’s.
A number of these built-in IBM i SQL tools have been added to help users unlock new levels of productivity. Some of these new additions allow users to generate spreadsheets, send emails containing database files, rename IFS objects, study historical job detail, and much more.
HA and BRMS
PowerHA SystemMirror now offers job queue tracking, which provides users with more visibility into the status of active or past jobs at the time of a failure. To create quicker system recovery, resubmission of failed jobs has been simplified.
For Db2 Mirror, the Health Center GUI contains new ways for administrators to see into the products as well as some updates to improve the process of gathering information for mirrored database environments.
The BRMS SQL service has been enhanced to improve IASP History Synchronization, allowing two systems to be combined into a single recovery report.
RPG continues its journey towards becoming a modern language with another round of enhancements. Its new built-in functions aim to make programmers’ lives easier. The new %LEFT and %RIGHT functions assist in string manipulation by returning either the left three or right three characters from a string. These functions also contain both a “natural” and “standard character size” mode, which allows programmers to field different types of languages. Additional enhancements have also been made to enumeration definition.
Access Client Solutions
ACS 220.127.116.11 contains enhanced run SQL script support. Users can perform a search across all SQL tabs that they have open. Users can have a single page with multiples SQL scripts open and can perform a search that provides a consolidated view of where the search item shows up. Other additions include IFS upload location preferences, upload and download performance management capabilities, and auto-generation of SQL to perform actions such as Insert, Update, Delete, and more.
Improvements made to Navigator emphasize greater ease-of-use for system administrators. The most notable of which includes Table Filtering – which allows users to filter on a column and define how the filter should be applied. Users can also establish a filter and then save it as a favorite. Advanced Job Scheduler is moving towards full support as nearly all functionality needed to leverage AJS towards a graphical UI is now present. Other Navigator enhancements include improvements to VPN connection creation, printing support, work management capabilities, and security views and capabilities.
IBM i 7.4 (V7R4) TR4
Prior to this most recent TR, IBM announced the release of TR4 for IBM i 7.4 (V7R4) in April of 2021. Some of the key technologies from TR4 for IBM i 7.4 (V7R4) can be found below.
The introduction of the Query Supervisor allows you to define an exit program to be called if any one of a series of thresholds are breached. These thresholds include:
- The amount of temporary storage consumed
- The number of input / output operations
- The total run time of the query itself
- The exit program can then raise an alert or end the query to help prevent wider impact to users or system resources.
Uniquely, the Query Supervisor has been designed to work while the query is running, although detail of the activities performed by the supervisor can be found in Plan Cache within the SQL Performance Center.
In addition, QSYS2.QUERY_SUPERVISOR is a new view that provides threshold rules defined for the supervisor and can be used from the “Run SQL Scripts” within Access Client Solutions (ACS).
IBM i Services
The ever-popular IBM i Services—runnable from ACS—have once again been refreshed with a total of 19 new or improved services made available for use. These services are invaluable to system administrators and provide a great alternative to the 5250 green screen and APIs. Below are two of the most useful new ones.
With NVME hardware starting to become commonplace in IBM Power Systems, IBM introduced a new service: QSYS2.NVME_INFO. Using this service will provide information such as:
- The device type
- How much capacity remains
- Whether they are running a degraded service
- An indication as to whether the temperature threshold has been exceeded
- And probably the most important, the estimate of life remaining
Remember, NVME devices will last for many years but will not last forever. Similarly, the QSYS2.SYSDISKSTAT view has been enhanced to provide lifetime remaining statistics for solid-state drives (SSD).
Another powerful service making its debut is QSYS2.SECURITY_INFO. This one is a real time-saver as it provides security-related information pertaining to a large array of IBM i system values such as:
- Server Security Level (QSECURITY)
- Password Level (QPDWLVL)
- The dangerous default create public authority (QCRTAUT)
- Auditing (QAUDLVL and QAUDLVL2)
- A large selection of user password system value controls
The services can be kept up to date via the Db2 for i Group PTF:
- 7.4 – SF99704
For more information on IBM i Services: www.ibm.biz/Db2foriServices
Monitoring IBM i System Limits
How close are you to reaching the maximum number of spooled files in *SYSBAS? Or how about the number of rows in a logical partition? IBM provides a service called QSYS2.SYSLIMTBL, which you can run via ACS to find out.
In addition, IBM now provides the once-a-day QSYSOPR messages (message ID SQL7062) that will warn you when you have less than 10% of these and other limits.
The warning thresholds can be adjusted to fit your environmental needs.
Db2 Mirror for i
Providing continuous availability by way of a pair of active nodes in an active/active cluster, Db2 Mirror for i provides the capability to both read and write to two partitions at the same time while appearing to the outside world as one. With TR4 for IBM i 7.4 comes the ability to include the following as elements that can be replicated:
- Data queue entries
- User spaces
- User indexes
Visit IBM’s website for more information on the latest Technology Refreshes.
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