Paul Tuohy Recaps 2018
2018 was a big year for IBM, especially when it comes to POWER9.
By Paul Tuohy12/01/2018
Of course one of the other big things that there was in term so of Power this year and especially in terms of POWER9, was where IBM announced their new supercomputer, Summit, which is based on POWER9 processors. So I think that's kind of cool that the hardware that we're on, the chip that we work off, is actually the same chip that has been used in the world's current gracia supercomputer. And of course I can't resist that IBM decided to call it Summit. Of course myself and my two colleagues, Jon Paris and Susan Gantner, are telling everybody that IBM are borrowing that from our conference name, which is why they called it Summit―but hey, why not?
Of course, 2018 technology-wise just on the platform itself was almost kind of business as usual. We had two technology refreshes, [TL]4-5 on 7.3, which contained lots and lots of good stuff, but I suppose when―maybe let me pick one of the highlights for me out of it, but for those of you listening, please bear in mind I am an application development guy and they are the things that grab my attention. So if there is something major here that you thought, maybe leave a comment or there on it, but I do apologize if I've missed anything major here. I suppose for me the big things of course were in RPG. We had the introduction of DATA-INTO. Actually I do believe earlier in the year I did an iTalk with Barbara Morris where she talked about DATA-INTO, and DATA-INTO is I suppose an extension of XML-INTO except DATA-INTO gives us the ability really to have DATA-INTO working for just about anything. I think it was probably the better option as opposed to coming up with a JSON-INTO in terms of, like anything else that comes into the future we will now have a mechanism for doing―for dealing with that other formats as well.
Of course one of the other big things that's been happening over the last year is IBM's continued investment in open source and the push towards anything and everything open source. I've got to admit for myself personally, and I've said this before, I sort of flip flop between two camps with all of the open source stuff. In that one is, I think it is great and that it is something that just makes the system more accessible to people who are coming to the platform. In other words, it gives them something which is the exact same as what they use elsewhere, and there is that whole open source community stuff that's out there as well, which is all great. There's the other part to me, which is more the traditionalist, which is open source at times just terrifies me in terms of the fact that it is open-source and the old fogey in me is just always that little bit reluctant when it comes to the open source stuff. But I think probably the big thing that happened this year in terms of open-source was the way that they've tidied up or made easier the whole methodology for the distribution of anything on open source. So prior to this year, they―anything that was done through one of these―through sort of standard product installation, in other words through a licensed program on the system is how anything open source had to be installed. And what they changed was that now anything that was open source now gets distributed through a standard open-source mechanism. In the case of IBM i, this is using a YUM as the distribution mechanism that they use. So anybody who is sort of used to doing this sort of open source stuff on other platforms or if you're used to doing anything with Node.js or that, you know this is a mechanism you can use, and you can now just as easily use that on IBM i. They've even put a nice simple interface for into ACS as well to help you get started with that if you haven't dealt with it.
Sort of―other major things that came out in the technology refreshes, I think one of the cool things was that an RDi, the trial period of RDi has been extended to 120 days. So it definitely now gives people enough time to be convinced of the obvious, that this is something that you should be using. The other one that I personally just loved was in the last technology refresh where an enhancement to SQL precompiler where those lovely messages that used to tell you oh, that you have an unusable or undefined host variable? Hey well now they tell you why the precomplier thinks it is unusable or undefined, so a little time saver there. Of course one of the other thingsvnot so much tied to the technology refreshes this because it does stand outside of the TRs―is Access Client Solutions, ACS. This is something that IBM―you know, the fact that they aren't tying it to just like dated―you know twice a year technology refreshes―means there are more and more distributions of this. So in other words, once they have anything to offer, they just put a new build of ACS out there for us to download. So ACS is an area that has just constantly been enhanced and of course this is the main area where you also get to see what the new SQL services are that they develop. In other words there will always be a new example of any new service or any enhanced service that they put in there, sitting somewhere in the midst of―usually in SQL scripts.
So let's see. What other things were there during the year? Well of course, one of the things looking back on the year, the other big thing this year of course was the 30th anniversary. I must admit I was sort of―when this 30th anniversary was coming up, I was looking at it with a little bit of trepidation. I did have a concern that it was going to be a pining for the old days of AS/400 and "oh, I remember when," and lots of those stories that I must admit I have partaken in a number of times myself where we reminisce about the good old days. But I was looking at that sort of―I was concerned that that's what this year would be, but I was delighted to see that the tack that IBM took on it was that it really was sort of―I mean yes, it was a 30-year celebration―but what they were celebrating was the innovation that we've had on the platform, and it really was a celebration that was looking forward and not looking back. If you go to the IBM website and you look at their 30-year celebration that they have out there, really what this is is a whole set of customer stories and telling the story of what people are doing with the platform and the innovation, the absolutely incredible things and clever, clever things that companies are using this phenomenal platform for. And really I think the message IBM were putting out, we're sort of going "well this is the first 30; just think what the next 30 is going to be like." I'm going to be around for some of it [laughs], so I'm looking forward to seeing what a lot of the new people coming in on the platform are going to be doing.
And that's another of course that IBM have been concentrating on is this thing of the new people on the platform. So you will see IBM every now and again coming up with these Fresh Faces that they go out there where they talk to people who are new to the platform―and actually there are a couple of them that I've done iTalks with over the last year―so check them out. It's―you know I've had the pleasure of meeting a few of these people and it's―it really is refreshing when you get this new perspective on what the platform is, where somebody comes to it and they don't have the, you know, "well I remember you know back 30 years ago when we started working on this." It's just new to them; it's just―it's another server and they really do concentrate on the stuff that is good, and they also are constantly looking at how do we improve on the things that maybe not quite so good. That's a rea―you know, it is refreshing to talk to those Fresh Faces.
For myself when I look back over the last year, I mean this was an interesting year for me in that―I mean a lot of it for was my work as usual. I mean I do my iTalks. I wrote a few articles. I've done a lot of training with companies around Europe and the world. I've done―worked on a really couple of really interesting modernization projects in the last year as well. I hit sort of―as I do I think on nearly every modernization project―hitting into concerns in areas that I had never come across before, so that was quite interesting. We had a couple of great RPG and Db2 Summits. It just struck me this year that this is our 12th year of doing these conferences, and it's two a year, so we did our 24th conference this year, which is kind of scary. If you'd told me that 12 years ago, I don't think I'd would have imagined we would have been going this long but―and I am looking forward to the ones we're going to do next year as well.
So but there two―for me like work wise there were two really cool things this year. One was that COMMON Europe was held in Warsaw in Poland, which is a place I had never visited before―and it's always great when I get to visit new cities and when a conference manages to bring me there―but one of the other things that I did this year was with Data3, also known as COMMON Sweden. They asked me to go and sort of do a day of lecturing for the user group, which I'm always willing to do, but this one was kind of cool because it was actually on a cruise ship. So we had an overnight―so it was leaving Stockholm or leaving Sweden you know around lunchtime and heading over to Finland, and then the trip back the following morning. So that was a bit―a first for me. I got to lecture on a ship. So instead of iTalk with Tuohy, we had iCruise with Tuohy, so that was a first.
Well I suppose looking forward then to next year I think―I think it's going to be another, you know, good year for IBM i. I don't see any reason as to why it should change. I look back over the last few years where to me, we're sort of in an area of consistency. I think there is a bigger push now from companies to modernize, more so than―I mean there were companies who left the platform, a lot by the way who have come back to the platform when―because as it turns out the grass wasn't that green on the other side of the fence as they thought it was going to be. There are also quite a few companies who have come to the platform, so I really don't see that changing. There is one thing though is that when I look back over the technology releases, this year and the previous year and even though a lot of the―there's been a lot of like nice things in there―it's sort of been striking me that there has been nothing sort of gigantically enormously major. And what that sort of signifies to me―and again I could be totally misreading this―but what it signifies to me is that maybe IBM have been working on something for the last couple of years. So I don't know. I think I'm going to be watching this space because I won't be surprised if there is sort of a fairly major announcement for something in the operating system for next year. So but who knows? Fingers crossed.
Now since it's a thing that I always like to end these things on a personal note, well I think there were―there were two things for me personally this year. One is just actually―I'm just back from it, just two days ago―which was something just ticked off my bucket list, which was to do the Norwegian coastal expedition. I'm not going to use the word cruise because it's not really a cruise, but this is where you get in a ship where you go up the coast of Norway. So I went up and came back down, got to see the fjords, the Northern Lights, you know had my butt dragged across the snow by a team of huskies and things like that. So that was a great experience for me, but the big thing for me this year of course was that I became a granddad for the second time. So I have a lovely new, born in August, second granddaughter Esme, to her sister, Katherine. So and that of course for me was the big event of the year.
So that's it for this iTalk folks and that's it for 2018. Hopefully talk to you all again in 2019. So a seasons greetings, a festive greeting, a happy Christmas, a happy whatever you celebrate and if you celebrate nothing, I just hope you had a great year and that next year will be just as good to you. That's all for now. Bye.
Paul Tuohy has specialized in application development and training on IBM midrange systems for more than 20 years. More →