IBM Announces IBM i 7.5, 7.4 TR6, IBM i Merlin

IBM has unveiled a major new release of IBM i—7.5—in addition to a new Technology Refresh (IBM i 7.4 TR6) and a new product called “Merlin.”

The highlights of the releases were detailed in a blog post by Steve Will, the chief architect for IBM i, responsible for strategy and planning related to the OS.

Db2 Enhancements

Explaining that “Db2 for i is the core of our platform—always has been, always will be,” Will said that “Db2 for i now supports the SQL standard for BOOLEAN as a data type in 7.5. And, as you’d expect, RPG and JSON both can take advantage of it immediately.”

In addition, 7.5 Db2 provides an increase in the maximum size of a Binary Radix index—to 16TB, as well as ragged flash support. With 7.5, Db2 allows you to tell the Flashcopy to NOT roll back the pending transactions. This provides you with an opportunity to start from the exact same point as when the Flashcopy occurred. This has been a big request from customers, and now that option is available,” Will explained.

Db2 Mirror Enhancements

There are also Db2 Mirror enhancements. “The IBM Db2 Mirror for i product was initially introduced with the IBM i 7.4 release. The clients who’ve adopted it so far are benefitting from the continuous availability it provides their application environments. In 7.5, there are three big features which allow Db2 Mirror to fully realize its potential.” These are Mixed Release Support, Active/Read-Only Mode, and Db2 Mirror Versioning Service.

Security

Enhancements have also been made in 7.5 to made to allow easier security. These fall into two categories, said Will.

A key area is passwords. It is now possible to encrypt passwords with a stronger encryption scheme (SHA2-512), use an API to check whether a potential password will meet all the password rules you have in place without changing the password, and be assured that “bad actors” will not be able to tell if they got the userid wrong, or the password wrong when an authentication fails. In addition, Will said, “throughout the system, we’ve found many objects which were shipped with *PUBLIC being *CHANGE. And, while that didn’t really open holes in the integrity of the system, it was hard to explain that to auditors. So, we’ve changed it to *USE in seemingly countless places. Again, this is highly unlikely to make things behave differently, but it should make audits much simpler.”

Merlin

And, as part of IBM’s efforts to help clients move into the modern, cloud-capable world, IBM announced IBM i Modernization Engine for Lifecycle Integration, or “Merlin” for short, which Will described as a “wizard of wizards.”

The first kinds of tools IBM is introducing with Merlin are tools that help with developing software with the “IBM i Next Gen Apps” approach.

“This means that the first release of Merlin focuses on developing code, so it has an integrated development environment (IDE), using a DevOps approach (so it has wizards to help you set up a DevOps environment, or to integrate your IBM i development into an existing DevOps environment), while making it easy to publish and consume function using services. And it does all of this with a browser interface.” So, instead of installing these tools on a PC for each developer, these tools run in OpenShift containers, and once they are set up, users (typically programmers for this initial set of tools) get at them with a browser, said Will.

Additional Enhancements and Information

Among the other key aspects of IBM I 7.5, said Will, are that the on-chip “Nest Accelerator” (aka “NX”) is being used on the Power10 systems to implement ZLIB compression in several ways. In addition, there is full support for up to 48 cores in a partition of IBM i 7.5—with SMT8 that’s up to 384 threads. And if something larger is required, the Lab Services team can help clients get to 240 processors and 1920 threads in a partition.

For more information on the IBM announcements, read Will’s blog at https://techchannel.com/SMB/05/2022/ibm-i-merlin-announcement and get additional details at www.ibm.com/common/ssi/ShowDoc. wss?docURL=/common/ssi/rep_ca/8/877/ENUSZP22-0088/index.html.

IBM is also providing a series of webcasts that offer an overview of all the announcements, details about IBM i Merlin, and information about security and Db2 for i. The webcasts can be found at https://learn.common.org/products/may-2022-ibm-i-updates#tab-product_tab_overview.

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