The iSeries Blog

February 12, 2009  2:10 PM

Hey Microsoft, stop infiltrating my i

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

The Rational Developer for System i blog has this to say about the auto correct feature of Microsoft Office products:

I don’t know how many times a day I have to hit Ctrl+z to undo Word or PowerPoint’s “auto correction” of my i to an I (as in Rational Developer for I, Rational Team Concert for I, or IBM I). So I finally bit the bullet and removed those auto-correction rules since I don’t generally write about myself in Word or PowerPoint. Honestly, i have no idea why it took me so long

Conspiracy theorists would argue that it’s a Microsoft attempt to undermine the IBM System i platform. Grammarians would disagree. It is definitely an annoyance, as I can attest to when writing stories. I type System i, Word changes it to System I, I go back and change it to i. I have not yet shut off auto correct, but I think I will whenever I’m writing a System i story on the future. See, this is another problem with the System i. When you used to write AS400, it would never change that to I.

February 12, 2009  2:01 PM

The return of Frank Soltis

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Frank Soltis, considered the grandfather of the AS/400 and all its various prequels and sequels, is back in the IBM System i scene. Soltis has been involved with the platform since it got its start 40 years ago with the System/38 and System/36, working as an engineer at IBM.

Late last year, Soltis retired from IBM as a chief scientist, mainly because the merger of the System i and System p platforms didn’t leave any room for someone to focus solely on the IBM i. Now he’s back, though, in an advisory role with Vision Solutions.

Soltis has joined the technical advisory board of Vision Solutions, which is one of the biggest software vendors on the IBM System i. He’ll be using his experience to help guide the company’s product strategies, and heading out on a three-date European tour talking about the future of the platform, and specifically, to talk about high availability on the System i, which is what Vision Solutions sells.

He’ll be in Milan on Feb. 24, then in Rome on Feb. 26 and Paris on Feb. 27. More information at the Vision Solutions site.

January 30, 2009  8:37 PM

What are the best new technologies in 2009 for IBM System i?

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

Jim Mason has outlined his best bets for the AS/400 programmers in 2009, in his recent tip on Briefly, Mason’s list includes Rational Developer for i, Eclipse Web tools, Enterprise open source architecture, Qwiki Web work spaces for project management, Web reporting, Web databases, virtualization, and WebSphere Community Edition.

Some of these didn’t surprise me — we have discussed the opportunities that open source can provide System i shops a few times in the past year. We’re also expecting an uptick in use and development around PHP on IBM i soon. And despite some recently reported problems with Rational Developer for i, it’s being used, and the more people using it, the more bugs will be discovered and fixed. We also recently shared how you can use virtualization for backups, and we’re interested in hearing how else virtualization is being applied in AS/400 shops.

What tools are you using that aren’t listed? Do you have any quibbles with Jim’s list? Or do you echo your support for his selections? Share your thoughts!

January 30, 2009  6:13 PM

Welcome the new iSeries blog location on IT Knowledge Exchange

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

Hi readers,

We’ve moved our blog to IT Knowledge Exchange to take advantage of some of the features this site has. Some of these features are pretty neat, but I know that “change is hard.” So, let me tell you about a few of the new features. First, instead of a long list of categories, we now have a Tag Cloud. Click any topic in the Tag Cloud and you’ll see only posts on that topic. The Tag Cloud is dynamic, so the more a tag is used, the larger and darker it will appear. This helps you quickly see the most popular topics.

You’ll also notice we’ve integrated more of our related editorial content in the right sidebar. If you’re on a post about a specific topic and wish to know more after reading the post, be sure to browse the links in the right sidebar.

We always appreciate your sharing our content on social networking sites and we’ve increased the number of bookmarking tools from four to forty-three. If you enjoy a post, please be sure to share it with friends and colleagues.

Look near the top of the page and you’ll see a row of tabs. You can click the IT Blogs tab to find dozens of technology blogs, both user-generated and TechTarget editorial blogs. You can even request your own blog and start sharing your expertise with your peers.

There is also a tab labeled IT Answers. This is where you can ask your own IT question and have it seen by thousands of IT Knowledge Exchange members. So be sure to pose your own AS/400 questions, and browse thousands of answers or help out a fellow IT pro by answering a question.

Thank you for stopping by and be sure to bookmark our new blog location and visit the AS/400 section on IT Knowledge Exchange.

January 29, 2009  9:15 AM

Budget issues? Reconsider open source on IBM System i

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Mike Pavlak believes that open source has a bright future on the IBM System i platform. The economy is helping.

“Over the years our customers have commented that they are looking at PHP for a number of reasons,” Pavlak, a consultant for Zend Technologies, wrote. “The most common reason we are hearing in 2009 reflects the fact that open source is no longer an option or a luxury but strategic and cost effective…” Pavlak later added that “no cows are sacred in this new economy.”

As Pavlak notes, all branches of the popular open-source LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/Perl/Python) are supported on the System i. He added that other open-source software customer relationship management (CRM) application SugarCRM allows you to run business applications for free (as a side note, the Young i Professionals has now made SugarCRM available in its sandbox so you can play around with it).

As Pavlak wrote, “IBM has been moving forward with open source for years. Why shouldn’t you?”

Finally, expect some Zend-related news on the System i in the next week or so.

January 29, 2009  8:56 AM

Security guide for IBM System i operating system version 6.1

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

The IBM security guide Redbook for IBM i V6.1 is now available in draft form.

The focus is on the new security features of the System i operating system, previously called i5/OS. Those new features include:

  • Extended password rules
  • Encrypted disk data within a user Auxiliary Storage Pool (ASP)
  • Tape data save and restore encryption under control of the Backup Recovery and Media Services for i5/OS
  • Greater control of SSL encryption rules and expanded IP intrusion detection protection and actions

The 506-page Redbook (yup, 506) has 17 chapters on topics such as cryptographic support, security monitoring, and TCP/IP security.

January 29, 2009  8:46 AM

No roll-back on Rational Developer = headache

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Jon Paris at the System iDevelop blog has a trip report on installing a fix pack for Rational Developer for System i. Needless to say, it didn’t go so well.

Paris was having some issues described in the RDi release notes, and so he decided to install the update because 1) he had only heard of issues with the update in relation to RDi SOA; and 2) he hadn’t had issues with updates in a while.

This time was different. After a few days, the application kept stalling, and Ctrl+Atl+Del became Paris’ best friend. So he decided he would roll back the change. But uh-oh:

Problem. The Installation Manager insisted that the roll back information was unavailable. Strange–we were certain that we had set the option to keep roll back data. We checked the preferences and sure enough the option to save roll back data was selected, and the dialog showed over 800 MB of saved data! So why couldn’t we roll back? Hmmm, time to check the WDSC list at and see if anyone else had experienced these problems. It quickly became obvious that EGL users (RDi SOA) had experienced some difficulties, but nobody was complaining about basic RDi. So we posted a message and asked if anyone else was seeing the same problems. The only reply received (to date) was from the IBM Lab’s Eric Simpson who is on the RDi team (thanks Eric, even if we didn’t like the answer). Eric didn’t have any comment on the bugs per-se but it was the rest of his news that we didn’t want to hear!

For reasons that we hope IBM might choose to explain one of these days, RDi apparently does NOT support roll back. So once you apply a fix pack, the only way you have to get rid of it is to completely reinstall the product and then re-apply the known good fixes. Not a good option and a waste of an hour or so that frankly we just didn’t have. So it’s back to WDSC for the time being until we have time to spare.

Paris warns RDi users to now wait to update until problems are fleshed out and solved in the field. Meanwhile, Paris and iDevelop plan to post any updates as it plans to ask IBM to comment on the situation.

January 21, 2009  8:54 AM

System i hits new low: Revenue down 92%

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

This morning on the radio I heard that IBM had released fourth quarter and 2008 year end results, with the company reporting net income up 12%. But, the System i didn’t fare well in the company’s announced earnings, with a jaw-dropping decrease in revenue of 92% year-on-year. Last quarter, we reported that the System i revenue was down 82%. The explanation is that the company has combined the revenues from Systems i and p in the new converged System p numbers, and no longer attributes any new Power running i sales to the legacy system. On the positive side, revenues from the converged System p server products increased 8%, the only increase for the Systems and Technology hardware segment.

It seems that IBM, a company founded on “machines” has moved on and is now finding success in software, services and financing. In fact, IBM senior vice president and chief financial officer, Mark Loughridge, told a conference call of financial analysts that the company derived 90% of it’s revenue from these segments. But Loughridge shared the company’s optimism going forward, “With the stimulus packages being put in place, the economies will start to improve as we go to the back half of the year. Likewise, for the first quarter our performance will be relatively flat, with growth especially in second half of the year.”

January 15, 2009  9:19 AM

WebSphere Portlet Factory upgraded

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM has announced an update to its WebSphere Portlet Factory, a Windows-based software package meant to help in development of J2EE applications.

The software runs on top of WebSphere Application Server (WAS) and supports the System i operating systems of IBM i and i5/OS.

With version 6.1.2, IBM has delivered several enhancements that it says speeds development and maintenance of portals, which is always a concern. One of those features is the capability to rapidly “re-brand” an entire Web portal with a centralized theme from one location.

The new version is meant to help developers get Web 2.0 applications running faster than in earlier versions.

January 15, 2009  9:13 AM

The System i roundup for 2008

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

The iDevelop blog, part of the IBM Systems Magazine, has a good 2008 roundup of the System i platform. A lot happened with System i — er, IBM i — this year, and not all of it was related to the merger of i and p, although of course that was the biggest news.

The blog starts with its hat tips to those who have left us, including Al Barsa, Tom Jarosh, and Dick Bains, and then tips its hat to the father (grandfather?) of System i, Frank Soltis, who left us in a different way.

It then goes on to explain the merger of System i and p, the inevitable name change that came with it (and the hand wringing around it),  reworked IBM software tools and the rise of PHP on System i.

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