Today, 3rd May 2022, sees the eagerly awaited announcement of the next version of the IBM i operating system, V7R5.
An announcement date (or GA date) is always a highly anticipated event, and I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to experience many such announcements stretching back to the original AS/400 announcement in 1988.
What this announcement goes to show is that the platform is just as relevant in today’s world of cloud and open source as it was back in 1988.
IBM i V7R5 Announcement
IBM continues to develop the IBM i platform and retains an ever more loyal and committed install base from businesses across a wide range of sectors and industries; stretching from banking and finance to healthcare, distribution, retail, and manufacturing.
Customers using IBM i continue to find innovative ways of exploiting the platform’s key attributes of scalability, reliability, flexibility, and ease of use – this day and age it’s not just green on black dumb terminals.
At CSI, we see many customers running state of the art, modern applications which more often than not are at the heart of their enterprise. IBM i is effectively running their business!
Upcoming IBM Events
Now I don’t plan to go into great detail regarding the functionality included in this new release in this blog, but don’t worry there are numerous IBM and affiliate events coming up that will cover the new functionality in-depth, and how to get the most out of the platform.
Our distribution partner, TechData, is running a Power Announcement Event in conjunction with IBM at the fantastic IBM York Road location on 12th May (click for details).
On the 7th and 8th of June, we will see the return of the ever-popular International i-POWER 2022 conference from iUG in Northampton (click for details), where CSI will have a booth in the Expo Hall with various technical representatives on hand to discuss all things IBM i!
The International i-POWER conference includes many high-profile speakers from IBM, the partner community and the customer base; so a lot of content will be focused on IBM i V7R5 and the new functionality it brings.
And then following hot on the heels of the i-UG event is the huge Common Europe Congress in Alicante taking place from 13th to 16th June (click for details).
This flagship event promises to deliver 3 days of high-quality content from industry experts, including many sessions delivered by IBM product managers, architects, and recognised experts.
Again, CSI will be in attendance, with my colleague Mike Leigh delivering a session on implementing geographic high availability solutions for AIX and IBM i spanning Private Cloud and Power Virtual Server locations.
The session will cover real-life experiences of implementing PowerHA and logical replication solutions into IBM’s PowerVS public cloud offering.
What is new in IBM i V7R5?
So what are the headlines with regards to V7R5? Let’s start by looking at the roadmap.
IBM i V7R5 will see support up to 2030. But it doesn’t end there. IBM is already hard at work on the next version of IBM i (the one after V7R5!), which will see the platform supported well into the mid-2030’s.
One significant thing to mention……. V7R5 will not run on Power 8 hardware.
We naturally think of Power 8 as being a recent hardware generation and often overlook it is now 8 years old, having been announced throughout 2014.
Similarly with IBM Power 9 hitting the streets in 2018, and Power10 now available (with Scale-out servers hopefully available in July), those clients running Power 8 hardware should be looking at replacing their ageing tin.
How do I buy IBM i V7R5?
The next major change to discuss is all about how do we buy IBM i?
Historically, it’s always been about purchasing a perpetual license and associated software maintenance to provide support and new releases. But the IT world has moved on from that model, and increasingly customers are looking for more flexible purchasing options that maximise Opex spending.
Hence, we now have a subscription model for obtaining IBM i.
In fact, customers now have 3 routes for procuring their IBM i license and capacity:
|Perpetual license*||Subscription Term*||As-a-Service|
|Traditional way to acquire licenses||Aligned with industry direction||PowerVS|
|Non-expiring license||Opex model||Hourly pricing, monthly billing|
|Annual renewals for software maintenance||1 to 5 year committed terms||Access to other cloud services|
|Higher initial investment (CAPEX)||Lower entry price||Same architecture as on-prem|
|License stays with the serial number||Includes support||Includes support|
|*Can be mixed on the same server (no transfers from perpetual to subscription)|
Building on this new subscription offering, IBM plans to offer a bundle of hardware and IBM i software, primarily aimed at the entry-level:
- 4-core P05 hardware server
- 1 processor entitlement
- 25 IBM i user entitlements
- 3-year term
In addition to the subscription offering, IBM are also simplifying the licensing structure of IBM i and associated products. Historically, when clients purchased an IBM i solution they would purchase:
- An IBM i processor entitlement for every core they wished to run it on.
- An amount of user entitlements (P05 and P10 scale out boxes only)
- A number of chargeable Licensed Program Products (LPP’s).
With this new V7R5 announcement, IBM is bundling into the OS charge many of the commonly used LPP’s, as per the table below:
|Products / Options now entitled with IBM i||Products / Options remaining separately charged|
|Media & Storage Extensions||BRMS|
|DB2 Symmetric Multiprocessing||PowerHA|
|DB2 Multisystem||Cloud Storage Solutions|
|All PSF options||Rational Development Studio (WDS)|
|HA Switchable Resources||DB2 Web Query|
|HA Journal Performance||Rational Developer for i (RDi)|
|AFP Font Collection||DB2 Mirror|
|AFP DBCS Fonts|
|Advanced DBCS Support|
|Rational Application Management|
|Advanced Job Scheduler|
|DB2 SQL Developer Kit|
|IBM I Access Family|
What new functionality is available within the IBM i V7R5 release?
As with previous releases (and also through Technology Refreshes for V7R3 and V7R4), IBM continues to invest heavily in the DB2 database that is at the heart of the IBM i operating system, and V7R5 is no different.
The DB2 database integrated into IBM i implements full SQL industry standards, far out-pacing most competitive platforms.
And we see added functions (such as Boolean support) as well as scalability improvements, for example much larger table indexes.
No surprise also that V7R5 sees many new SQL services for extracting information from your IBM i environment.
In this world of constant and evolving security threats, it’s no surprise to see added security built into the operating system. IBM i has always had an industry-leading reputation with regard to security and this new release builds upon that strength.
The most significant is a new password level (QPWDLVL) of 4, which provides PBKDF2/SHA2-512 password hashing.
Another noticeable change is that the shipped default *PUBLIC authority on system objects will be *USE (as opposed to *ALL or *CHANGE)… make sure you read the Memo to Users to understand what is changing as there is a lot related to security!
Gone are the days of the platform being described as proprietary and restricted. In fact, with the recent adoption of open source technology, it could be argued the platform is now one of the most open on the market.
V7R5 continues this approach as sees numerous additions to the open source capability, most notably the addition of common open source application servers such as Wildfly, Tomcat, and Eclipse Jetty.
Application Development and System Management
Our old friends RPG and CL continue to receive investment and enhancement allowing them to remain relevant in towards world of agile development.
PowerHA and BRMS continue to receive new functionality, and the recently refreshed (December 2021) IBM Navigator includes new functions and metrics, along with end-to-end TLS connectivity.
With V7R4, IBM introduced the concept of continuous active-active availability via the DB2 Mirror product.
With the introduction of V7R5, it is possible to nodes at different releases thus enabling the ability to do rolling upgrades. Another interesting development is the ability to have a read-only node used for queries and backups.
CSI is one of only a small number of partners in Europe certified for implementing DB2 Mirror, so if continuous availability is on your radar then get in touch to discuss with our technical team.
What about IBM i V7R3?
IBM hasn’t announced the end of support for IBM i V7R3, however, typically IBM works on the basis of two active operating systems at a time.
Hence, it is reasonable to assume that those two releases will be V7R5 and V7R4 and that is where future investment and development time (via TR refreshes) will be.
So if you are running V7R3, now is the time to start thinking about making the move to a newer release. You will be able to upgrade directly to V7R5 from V7R3 in line with IBM’s usual “N-2 Support” stance.
Finally, how can CSI help?
If you want a deeper understanding of the latest IBM announcements, then contact CSI and we can put you in touch with one of our subject matter experts.
Additionally, if you are wanting the ability to spin up an LPAR to try out the new features of V7R5, or to test your application for compatibility, we can offer resources from our state-of-the-art PowerCloud environment.
Alternatively, CSI has extensive experience of the IBM Cloud PowerVS offering – again, contact CSI to discuss testing V7R5 in PowerVS.
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