V4R5 -- Should you go or should you stay?
By Roger Pence
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This is an excerpt from "A year 2000 mid-year heads up for AS/400 shops," which originally appeared in the July 17, 2000, issue of Roger Pence's AS/400 Letter on Windows, Workgroups and the Web. It is provided courtesy ofThe 400 Group.
Most of the improvements in V4R5 are predictable, incremental enhancements. Very few changes were made to core OS/400 facilities. Generally, I'd recommend if yours is a typical bread-and-butter AS/400 shop, you bypass the V4R5 upgrade. Here are five specific reasons to consider a V4R5 upgrade:
1. Enhanced Integrated NetFinity Server. The new PC server card now supports up to 4GB of memory, and storage per drive has been increased from 8GB to a whopping 64GB. If your shop uses NT on the PC server card, its V4R5 enhancements may be enough to upgrade to V4R5.
Gotcha: The new Integrated NetFinity hardware no longer supports sharing a LAN card between the AS/400 and Windows servers. If your shop is doing this today, budget now for a second LAN (and the time for reconfiguration). Even if you don't upgrade to V4R5, you'll ultimately upgrade and you'll need that additional LAN card.
2. WebSphere Application Studio/Java. There were many tweaks to both WebSphere Application Studio and Java. Java performance was enhanced (again), and the AS/400 Toolbox for Java was substantially enhanced. From here on out, if your shop is invested in Java and/or WebSphere Application Server, you must plan on installing every OS/400 upgrade that comes down the pike.
3. LPAR and PASE. Both LPAR and PASE got a handful of enhancements in V4R5. Like Java, if you're using LPAR and/or PASE, you also need to commit now to installing every OS/400 upgrade that comes along.
4. Better network printing. If your shop is knocking its head against the wall with TCP/IP networking printing problems, you should investigate V4R5's new SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) Print Driver Support. IBM claims that this new driver allows more printers to be accessed from an AS/400 with the same capabilities seen with direct-attached printers.
5. Single-step upgrade from CISC to RISC. V4R5 is the last OS/400 release to offer a single-step CISC-RISC upgrade. After V4R5, you're in for lots of grungy, manual work to get from CISC to RISC.
CA/400-OpsNav enhancements don't provide enough features to alone merit a V4R5 upgrade. While OpsNav picked up a few enhancements (DASD management, working with AS/400 database and Integrated NetFinity Server administration), none are reasons to run to V4R5. As for CA/400, the most notable enhancement the announcement letter discusses (also the first one the announcement letter discusses) is the ability to specify dynamic workstation IDs (e.g., you can now cause device IDs to be the first 8 characters of the user ID, plus a letter or number). However, don't be snookered. This function is available in V4R4's CA/400 Express client using Service Pack SF60796.