System i admins await upcoming IBM i OS features

XML support for DB2, better solid-state disk management and better spool file support are some of the features in the new System i operating system that pros are anxious to test.

IBM has touted new features from the next version of its IBM i operating system, which is due out next year. The features include enhancements to DB2, replication and blade server integration.

With the new release, IBM has provided XML support for DB2 in IBM i to help companies move businesses online.

"XML is going a long way toward replacing EDI [electronic data interchange] and having that built into the database is nice and hopefully easier to program in," said Bob Buchanan, a Mountain View, Calif.-based System i consultant for Intelligent System Integration. "Depending on how it's implemented, it could be a boon for Web activity."

New IBM i OS features
Other announced features include the following:

  • support for asynchronous replication with disk clustering-based disaster recovery;
  • the ability to automatically move the most frequently accessed data to solid-state disks (SSD) so applications respond more quickly;
  • additions to Rational development software to make System i applications
  • RPG-enabled and connect with front-facing applications such as Web services and XML;
  • integration with BladeCenter and System x via iSCSI to better connect System i with x86 servers; and
  • support for the transformation of saved spool files to PDF files.

Alex Livshis, a system analyst and developer at Medline Industries Inc. in Mundelein, Ill., said that the enhancement that enables saving spool files to PDF files caught his eye. Buchanan agreed, saying that many System i shops have to develop their own code or search for open source and Java programs that can perform this task, and the process is slow and there is a lot of code to write and maintain, he noted.

Livshis said he would like an additional, related, feature, however: the ability for the OS to convert PDF files into spool files so that he can send them to an AS/400 printer. Buchanan added that the SSD feature will help System i pros out a lot.

"One of the things about the IBM i architecture is you don't have to manage what's on disk and where it is," he said. "Making it knowledgeable of SSDs is just going to let the i take advantage of that more than other OSes."

The operating system, known as IBM i and previously known as i5/OS, is one of the last remnants to which System i pros can point that differentiates their platform from others. Big Blue merged System i with System p, which is known as Power Systems, last year. The new platform can run IBM i, AIX, and Linux operating systems.

The System i OS has been heralded as an encompassing operating system, meant to help businesses run mission-critical applications with less maintenance than other operating systems. Hence it has the DB2 database built in so that systems admins don't have to install and configure it.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. Also, check out our blogs: Data Center Facilities Pro, Mainframe Propeller Head and Server Farming.

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