You and i – IBM i 7.4 TR4 7.3 TR 10 Announced
Today, April 13 2021, is announcement day for IBM i again, so it’s time for another overview blog post. Of course, I’ll talk about some of the key enhancements we’re announcing, but I have a couple of other items to share, too. So let’s get started.
IBM i 7.4 “Technology Refresh” 4
Yes, I put that in quotation marks. We’ve been delivering “technology refreshes” (TRs) since just after IBM i 7.1 was delivered back in 2010, so this method of putting new capabilities out for our existing releases is hardly new. Yet I still find some people who are confused about the multiple meanings of “TR”, so this announcement gives me a great opportunity to clarify and educate.
Typically, we have two IBM i announcements each year. When we make those announcements, we include function in many technology areas, and when we speak about the whole collection, we call them “the TR.” It’s an easy shorthand.
It’s also a bit confusing to some people, because we deliver the various functions in several ways, and the “Technology Refresh PTF Group” is only one of those delivery mechanisms. For example, one of the focus areas of this announcement is new Db2 capability, but Db2 ships (almost all) new function using Db2 Groups. We announce them at the same time as the TR PTF Group, but we don’t deliver them in the same group, and often not at the same time.
So, as I describe the announcement content below, just be aware that the details of the delivery of the various pieces can be found where those pieces are described in most detail.
The “home page” for all technical details, for all TRs, is at this link:
The links for the this batch of announcements:
I also include links to specific topics for many of the items below. So let’s get to them.
Db2 for i enhancements – Query Supervisor & Services
Db2 for i is introducing a Query Supervisor feature, which allows clients to establish automated controls for supervising the on-going consumption of system resources by SQL Query Engine (SQE) activity. Users can set thresholds for certain system resources, such as CPU consumption, which then guide the behavior of the Query Supervisor. When a threshold is reached, query execution will call a user-supplied exit program. The intent is that the user program can log the event, or take some other action, including terminating the query. This capability allows users to take full advantage of the automatic, autonomic query optimization provided by Db2 for i, while also allowing for customized handling of resources to fit your own specific business needs.
The Query Supervisor feature will be delivered with the Db2 for i PTF group (SF99704) on May 14, 2021. For more information, see the Db2 for i 2021 PTF Group Schedule support page.
Db2 for i also provides new and enhanced procedures, which are advanced and easy-to-use tooling to the database engineer (DBE). See the details in the IBM i Technology Updates wiki.
- GENERATE_SQL and GENERATE_SQL_OBJECTS: now with an option to direct the output to an IFS stream file
- CLEAR_PLAN_CACHE: enhanced to give the caller the ability to clear specific plans, providing a granular and programmatic tool for plan management
- DUMP_PLAN_CACHE_TOPN: enhanced to include dump categories, allowing the DBE to easily focus on the top consumers of CPU, storage, and other resource categories
These and other enhancements are also delivered with the Db2 for i PTF group (SF99704) on May 14, 2021.
IBM i Services
IBM i Services are the strategic method for gaining access to IBM i objects, system information, and much more. With enhancements and new services with each TR announcement, application developers, database engineers, and system managers can use the power of SQL and the Db2 for i SQL Query Engine (SQE) to explore IBM i objects and data in ways that were not possible with previous technologies.
In this technology refresh, these IBM i Services are added and enhanced, providing useful SQL- based alternatives to IBM i commands and APIs, such as: NVME_INFO, SYSDISKSTAT, OBJECT_STATISTICS, SECURITY_INFO, ACTIVE_JOB_INFO and much more. Many of these enhancements were direct responses to ideas submitted to IBM by IBM i users, through interaction with developers or through Requests for Enhancement (RFEs).
RPG Updates in RDS
Keeping in the theme of “answering RFE requests from the community” the RPG team is delivering key new features requested by RPG developers. Among them:
- %LOWER and %UPPER built-in functions convert contents of a char variable from lowercase to uppercase or vice versa
- %SPLIT built-in function splits a string into an array
- %MAXARR and %MINARR return the index of the maximum or minimum element of an array
These are being made available through PTFs for IBM i 7.4 and 7.3. For more information about details and updates, see the RPG Café site.
Hardware and I/O topics
With IBM i 7.4 TR4, IBM i supports new hardware and I/O offerings for Power Systems:
- 12-core POWER9 processor option for Scale Out 2U servers
- IBM i as a client of Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) for configurations with new 2-port, 32 Gb and 4- port, 16 Gb Fibre Channel adapters
- Enterprise PCIe4 NVMe disk in U.2 form factor with a new lower capacity of 800 GB
- New mainstream SAS SSDs
- New enterprise SAS SSDs
See the Hardware and Firmware support page in the IBM i Technology Updates wiki for more details.
And there’s more!
Additionally, there are enhancements related to Security, IBM Db2 Mirror for i, Clustering, Save/Restore, PowerHA System Mirror and probably more I’m missing.
But before I’m finished today, I want to get to at least one more thing you’ll see in this announcement, and point you to the webcast we’re delivering about this announcement.
IBM i new “icon” rollout
IBM has moved to consistent imaging – marketing words which refer to the look of all of the images, fonts and so on which are used by IBM to market their offerings. As part of that, IBM has refreshed the look of the icons related to Power Systems, and in particular, to IBM i. Our new icon has the full common name by which the operating system has been known since 2008. It’s colorful (though there are black and white versions of it), distinctive, and it “fits” with the rest of the “branding” IBM is using.
There’s a “circle” version of it, too. You’ll start seeing this on my roadmap charts.
While some of the icons rolled out a couple months back, we are taking the opportunity of this announcement to really start promoting the new icon. So in the presentations you’ll see me give from this point on, you’ll start seeing this new icon. Now you know!
COMMON is again sponsoring a webcast in which I can cover the announcement of all of this IBM i function. This time, I am glad to have Scott Forstie join me as a co-presenter. As our Business Architect for Db2 for i, he’s uniquely qualified to explain many of the enhancements.
You can register for, and then view, the presentation at the following link:
Gathering Announcement Blogs
One more thing before I go: now that my announcement-related “You and i” posts have their home here on the IBM i Community, I’ve reposted all of the announcement overviews going back to the IBM i 7.3 Major Release announcement. Further, I’ve gathered the links for these re-posted entries into a single “anchor” entry. That entry’s link is:
Until Next Time
That’s enough for this post, I think. We’re excited to be able to announce, and soon deliver, all of this new function. And we’re excited to move on to the next set of capabilities later this year. As for this blog, I want to write a couple more “anchor blog posts” – especially now that I can use the new graphics to build an up-to-date “roadmap” post.
Be well, and do great things!