The iSeries Blog


September 18, 2007  8:42 PM

Solaris on System i?

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM and Sun recently announced that IBM System x and BladeCenter will be able to run Solaris, and the two are also working to get Solaris to run on the mainframe.

So is Solaris on Power that far behind? Obviously Sun is committed to its open-source vision for Solaris, and getting Solaris to run on as many systems as is humanly possible. Will IBM allow Solaris to run side-by-side alongside AIX and i5/OS? I think Solaris and i5/OS could happen quicker than Solaris and AIX just because Solaris and AIX are the two major competing Unix operating systems right now.

September 13, 2007  1:58 PM

LANSA and Avnet Partner Solutions offer new System i packages

Mark Fontecchio Adam Trujillo Profile: Atrujillo

System i application developer LANSA announced Wednesday a partnership with IBM distributor Avnet Partner Solutions in order to bring LANSA’s so-called “Lease of Life” legacy modernization hardware, software and consulting bundle to System i users.

The press release describes the result of this partnership as a consortium that sells packaged System i server lines with software and an “ROI calculator” (i.e. Excel spreadsheet), which is designed to help users determine a legacy modernization approach via LANSA’s Rapid Application Modernisation Process (RAMP).

LANSA offers the option to take their “RAMP Challenge,” which is essentially a survey with check boxes which will presumably determine what system to see you. Perhaps System i users save money money through the Lease of Life consortium because LANSA (and Avnet) have developed this self-consult survey, thereby saving on their consulting overhead.

More investigation is needed to determine how useful the Lease of Life consortium really is. If someone has tried it, let me know. My initial impression is to label this effort a repackaged sales pitch.


September 12, 2007  2:01 PM

BCD’s WebSmart PHP now available

Mark Fontecchio Adam Trujillo Profile: Atrujillo

After four months of beta testing, System i application tool developer Business Computer Design Int’l Inc. (BCD) released WebSmart PHP for general availability today. WebSmart helps System i developers create PHP-based applications that can run on Linux, Unix and Windows servers. The tool also supports DB2 UDB and MySQL.

BCD is offering WebSmart PHP free for a 30-day trial. The normal licensing fee for the complete application is $4,250 for up to two developer seats and $1,950 for additional seats. BCD also offers an unlimited license for $13,500, according to their press release. Discounts are available.


September 12, 2007  9:21 AM

Reader feedback on DB2 on i, Domino separation

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IT Jungle has some good reader feedback about IBM’s decision to “yank support for DB2/400…as a data store for Notes and Domino databases…” Here’s one user comment:

I note with disappointment IBM’s decision to not fully support Lotus/Domino on DB2/400. Although this decision does not affect a huge swath of your customers, it creates an impression that IBM does not fully support the System i product, DB2, or both. The purchasing committee has noticed.

Check out all the feedback and then let me know what you think.


September 10, 2007  9:34 AM

Is DB2 dead?

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Actually, are all relational DBMSs dead? Maybe not yet, but according to a recent blog, they’re past their time.

Michael Stonebraker over at The Database Column argues that RDBMSs like DB2 and Oracle have outdated designs that don’t perform as well as SQL DBMSs today that are column-oriented:

In short, the world of 2007 is radically different from the world of the late 1970s. However, none of the major vendors have performed a complete redesign to deal with this changed landscape. As such they should be considered legacy technology, more than a quarter of century in age and “long in the tooth”.

In every major application area I can think of, it is possible to build a SQL DBMS engine with vertical market-specific internals that outperforms the “one size fits all” engines by a factor of 50 or so.

Does Mr. Stonebraker have any biases? Well, of course! He is the co-founder and CTO of Vertica Systems, which sells a column-oriented DBMS. Still, the guy is no slouch, as he was the main architect of Ingres and PostgreSQL databases.

That hasn’t stopped the lively discussion that Stonebraker’s post has caused. One development manager has already written that the RDBMS was dead; he later added another post saying that while not dead, RDBMS is legacy.

And as you can expect, there has been plenty of opinions differing from Stonebraker’s bold claim. One IBMer said that all the claims about older, well-run technologies dying out are getting old:

My concern is with someone once again announcing that a popular, highly used, highly effective piece of technology is on its way out the door. Heck, IMS is heading for Version 10 and growing and we still have a herd of shops running pure VSAM.

Another IBMer wrote that these claims are similar to the promise of flying vehicles and automatic tooth-brushers in The Jetsons. A third IBMer, in addition to disagreeing with Stonebraker, calls the post a “marketing shill.” Obviously IBM has a hand in this game as well.

What do you think? Have you explored DBMSs other than DB2 and Oracle, or are those working just fine, thank you very much?

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September 10, 2007  8:35 AM

PGP System i open source success story

Mark Fontecchio Adam Trujillo Profile: Atrujillo

Thanks to David and his team for sending us their System i open source success story.


My fellow System i developers were searching for a solution for PG encryption of data to send between a state department and a bank institution. After weeks of searching and some trial and error with beta and vaporware, the only solution appeared to be a $15,000 one. I happened to overhear a phone conversation about it, so I asked some questions.I’m a Java developer, and I’ve done encryption for web services before, so I figured I could probably come up with something that would get our project back on track and save the customer some money.Turns out I was right. I used an open source Java API for OpenPGP, provided by The Legion of the Bouncy Castle — a well respected cryptography solutions provider.

I’d never used/programmed PGP before, but in only 3 hours I had a working prototype on my local laptop. Wikipedia taught me about PGP, and the Bouncy Castle documentation and source code taught me how to implement it. Another 5 hours later, my System i developers and I had the full-blown solution running on the System i, called from their RPG program. It was a big team accomplishment!


September 5, 2007  12:29 PM

Oracle certification issues on the i5

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

One System i user I recently talked to would like to run all his Oracle software — both the databases and the E-Business Suite — on the same hardware and software platform. And seeing as he is a senior System i technical analyst, he would like that hardware platform to be the i5.

Therein lies the problem. The Oracle certification matrix is a guessing game, according to this person. First off, Oracle doesn’t certify its Database Server or E-Business Suite to run on i5/OS. It does certify both to run on AIX, which can be carved into a partition of its own on the System i, but the database team wants to run Oracle applications on Linux. Why? According to this person, that’s what Oracle recommends and besides, that’s what they’re familiar with anyway.

OK, so run them on Linux on Power, right? Wrong. Oracle has certified Oracle Database Server to run on Linux on Power, but not the E-Business Suite. So now this person isn’t sure what to do. Oracle Database Server will likely get migrated off the System i and onto x86 unless IBM and Oracle can come together and figure out how to certify the E-Business Suite on Linux on Power.

Who else out there is dealing with these kind of software certification issues? Let me know about them because I’d like to write a full story.


September 5, 2007  9:58 AM

Biometrics on System i

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

John Ghrist at the System i Network looks at why there aren’t more biometrics vendors on the System i.

Ghrist asked one of the few System i biometrics vendors out there, Valid Technologies, about it:

I put that question to Greg Faust, Valid Technologies’ CEO. “There aren’t more biometrics vendors in the entire enterprise market space, let alone the System i market, because companies at the enterprise level are slow to adopt new technologies,” he opined.

Ghrist added that biometrics should catch on with System i users because of its ease of use: No longer would there be passwords upon passwords to remember. Simply stick your finger down, have it read your unique print, and be on your happy, System i way. I have another theory why biometrics isn’t taking off on the System i or other enterprise platforms such as the mainframe or Unix boxes. Security on those servers is much better compared to x86 distributed servers, and so right now there is no need for biometric enhancements.


September 5, 2007  9:36 AM

PHP, RPG and System i – The app development trifecta

Mark Fontecchio Adam Trujillo Profile: Atrujillo

Thanks to Search400.com reader Aaron for sending us an email about his experience with PHP on System i.


At my last company (dental insurance) I was brought in to migrate away from a Lotus web server onto a LAMP stack that talked to RPG on System i. It worked (mostly) like a charm with about 20 RPG developers and 3 web programmers. A fair amount of the business logic was done on the RPG side while the PHP front ends took care of capturing/cleansing/display input/output. Although with session based variables available in PHP some of the business logic was just beginning to be moved on to the web side as well. The Zend platform was in the beginning stages of being evaluated when I left.

I’ve since taken those lessons and applied them as an IT Manager at my current job which is also based on System i. Again, it works wonderfully. Here we use it more for reporting than anything else over the intranet but it has given us a flexibility that the company did not have before (example: hooking up lat/long info from the platform application directly to Google Maps via PHP and displaying truck location on demand where previously you had to either login into vendor’s site and give truck # or call an 800 number and have it automatically faxed). I have considered using the Zend platform on the iSeries itself but have yet to determine a great reason to do so when LAMP over to the iSeries seems to deliver everything I need at the moment.

I’ve worked on a fair amount of different platforms over my career and I believe that the marriage of PHP and RPG on the i is one my favorite combo yet (provided I have the developers for them).


September 5, 2007  9:12 AM

System i security and auditing software announced

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Help/Systems has announced the release of Robot/Security, its i5/OS-based security monitoring and auditing software. More information at the Help/Systems Web site.


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