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6 reasons why IBM i is not old fashioned

06/08/2020
Author Avatar
Mario Aquino
Business Consultant

Do you know the QOpenSys partition of your IBM server? Well if you don't, you need to read on! It introduces many modern technologies to the IBM platform and your young developers will love it.

In this article I'll give you some tips to set up your server and modernize your way of working. IBM i Access Client Solutions is a good place to start, so you can just scroll down for those tips. But allow me a short introduction first.

When computer scientists hear IBM i or « AS/400 » (referring to the older, popular IBM-server), they think immediately about “green applications”. Once very popular and if you look around you will notice that many companies still use these applications. For developers with experience these applications work very fast and efficiently. They know all the shortcuts, commands and even all the gotcha’s of their applications. However, for new employees, developers that just graduated from school these screens are less attractive to work in. The screen size is limited (scrolling is not possible) and there are almost no options to style the application. In their modern educations, they learned how to configure Microsoft- or Linux-servers. All this powershell- / BASH-knowledge is lost when they need to learn working with “green screens”, not very attractive, and since their profiles are so desirable they will probably take another job.

Is IBM i old fashioned?

Not at all, the last years IBM is improving and introducing compatibility with many modern technologies. The introduction of QOpenSYS partition on IBM Power Systems servers provides us many opportunities to modernize our way of working. Once your server is setup properly, a young system engineer will be able to do configurations with the known/trusted bash-commands. They will be able to automate their work with Bash-/Python-scripts. There are many advantages for software developers as well; new applications do not have to be necessary in RPG, COBOL or Java. In addition, modern developing concepts like automatic deployment, source control and working with containers are all possible on the IBM i.

How do I modernize our way of working?

6 tips = 6 features 

IBM i Access Client Solutions is a good start, this is software where you have many functionalities from the IBM terminal in a GUI (Graphical User Interface). The most important ones are:

  • Run SQL scripts to query your databases.
  • Schemas to create, modify and delete tables, views, triggers, indexes, journals, …
  • SQL Performance Center to monitor the query’s ran on your databases and monitor performance.
  • SSH Terminal to configure your server-tasks, documents, packages, … from a shell. Developers coming from Linux will love this, once configured right. Later more about this.
  • Integrated File System to manage your files on the server.
  • 5250 Emulator the IBM console just in case Access Client Solutions does not provide everything you need.


SSH Terminal
more about this functionality, because there is some configuration needed in order to make it useful.  You will need to enable the SSH-listener from the 5250 emulator, in order to enable this functionality. When you are not in the same network as your server, you will also need to enable port 22 for incoming and outgoing traffic on your firewall.

Once the SSH is setup, you will notice that the terminal is very basic. No command history, no path completion… Time to install some open source packages to improve this. I am only going to talk about the “modern” way of installing packages because it is easy. In order to install packages you will need a package manager, the package manager is YUM (Yellowdog Updater Modified). This is an Open Source package manager, which you might now from one of the Red Hat-based Linux distributions. (RHEL, CentOS, …)

  • Requirements:
    • ACS 1.1.8 or later
    • SSH should be enabled (you can enable it with the 5250 emulator)

We will use ACS to install the package manager, open tools => Open Source Package Management => setup your connection => let ACS do the magic! Some screenshots to help:

ibmi1

 

ibmi2


Once YUM is installed, you can install your next packages using YUM from the SSH command line. I prefer to keep using the Open Source package manager.

Once your SSH and package manager is setup, you can start discovering all the different Open Source Packages. There are over 350 packages available! I will cover some of them in my blogpost next week. 

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