IBM i > TRENDS > iTALK WITH TUOHY

Alison Butterill Discusses the IBM i TR, the 30th Anniversary and More

Alison Butterill


Paul Tuohy: Hi everybody and welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. Delighted to be joined today once more by the IBM i Offering Manager at IBM U.S., Alison Butterill. Hi, Alison.

Alison Butterill: Hi, Paul.

Paul: You're sounding tired, Alison and I can―I think I know why. So so we've just had a new TR, new technology release on IBM i, and. I think you've been snowed under for the last few weeks.

Alison: Yes, we have. As a team, we've been incredibly busy so it's―you're right. We're all a little bit weary but excited about what we are able to deliver this time. So so Technology Refresh 4.0 for 7.3 and Technology Refresh 8 for 7.2 were just announced on [Feb. 13], the 13th so pretty exciting for us.

Paul: Yeah well I mean there's one of the features in there which as you well know has me particularly excited―so always nice when the technology release has got something big in RPG [laughs]. But but before we talk about that, how about maybe you just give us an overview of what's in the TR.

Alison: Sure. So probably we have a couple of, I would say, highlights, but as you know with many of our technology refreshes, it touches many, many aspects of the operating system and all the different components. So so we have lots of content, but let me highlight the few things that I think are the most―the most notable. And It's interesting when I say that, I kind of chuckle to myself. What I think it is the most notable is only because I know how much work has gone into it and how many customers have asked for it, but it' is always interesting to me―, you know, one small line item for some customers may be the biggest highlight of the TR. So and so please, if you're interested in what we're doing, please go and have a look at all of the content. But to me, the biggest highlights are a couple of things. First of all, as you mentioned because you brought it up, the RPG enhancement, and that is a big item for a lot of our RPG developers obviously. I know you have an interview coming up or an iTalk with Barbara Morris, who is our architect for RPG, so I think what I'll do is just say it's a new op code that we have called DATA-INTO: and it actually allows RPG programmers to parse structured data, put it into any format in an RPG variable. So I'll just tease with that and let Barbara describe more about it when you talk with her. How's that?

Paul: Yup. That's absolutely fine.

Alison: Okay.

Paul: That was easy, Alison, wasn't it?

Alison: That was an easy way for me to handle it, that's correct, but let me tell you about a couple of the other things. So one of the other highlights, I would say, is that these Technology Refreshes for both 7.2 and 7.3 are the refreshes that will give you support for our new POWER9 hardware boxes that were also announced on Feb.ruary 13th. So we just announced POWER9 hardware for the S914, the S922, and the S924. We also announced IBM i support for the SH922―-sorry, not SH, the H922 and the H924 boxes as well. And and so you do need to have TR4 or TR8 depending on the release in order to run IBM i on that new hardware. For us, that was―that's a big deal because POWER9 boxes of course provide a lot of additional capabilities as you would expect: better price performance and so on. We seem to do that every time we change pPower servers and we bring out new POWERpower chips. So that's probably another one of the big highlights. In addition, I would say we probably have a big highlight around Access Client Solutions. Now for many of us, we have more than others, so for example it probably won't matter to your listeners in North America that we have a new traditional Chinese CSID support. Probably they aren't going to mind or care about that, but the folks in China that listen to you, Paul, will care.

Paul: Indeed [laughs].

Alison: So we've done quite a few things in here in terms of performance and usability. We've have added in some additional security enhancements, we've. We have added some enhancements to Visual Explain―and you know maybe I'll just take this opportunity to mention that some of these came out part of this Technology Refresh, but Paul as you and I have talked about in the past, some of these have come out over the last few months. Our Access Client Solutions team, the ACS team, I like to think of them as being very agile, and so they do enhancements,; they bring out new things and they make that new code available almost immediately so that you can get the advantages of using the new capabilities as quickly as possible. They have modeled themselves very much like our BRMS team, Back up, Recovery, Management System team. It's a very similar kind of environment. They make new enhancements,; they post them on their web site and you can download them. So why do we have those in a Technology Refresh? For customers that miss some of those enhancements that get posted, we try with every Technology Refresh to scoop together all of those enhancements that were posted or talked about and put them all into the announcement letter so you can read all about them. We talk about it as being part of the TR and we bundle everything together into those group PTX but just be aware―excuse me―just. Just be aware that for ACS and for BRMS, some of those enhancements would have come out during the time since the last TR.

Paul: Yeah, it's actually just funny when you were saying that about ACS that―I'm sort of fortunate to be on the beta program for that so I usually get the release of ACS maybe―and I think it' is now down to about three days before they put it up on the web site― and I don't know what happened today but there were about four things went in there today alone on that. I was getting notifications that something new had been loaded, something new had been loaded, so they are being particularly agile today, Alison, just to let you know. [Laughs]

Alison: Well and you know I like the fact that they do that because it does mean that as soon as they come up with some new cool thing, everybody gets to do it so that's―-

Paul: Yeah.

Alison: I like that idea that everybody can share right away.

Paul: Yeah. I don't know if you remember one of the times I was up in Rochester last year, and I think I was telling you this. There was an issue with something I was trying to do on the emulator. Again CSIDs; it was a CSID issue.

Alison: Okay.

Paul: While I was there, I got to talk to two of the developers who work on that―

Alison: Yes.

Paul: Who had it fixed within 35 minutes and had a new build for me and it was on the web site the following day. So so I truly was impressed with that.

Alison: Yes. Those―-like I said, those guys want to get their enhancements and changes out as quickly as they can, but just so that everybody can see them as fast as possible, we always try to scoop everything into the next Ttechnology Rrefresh. Otherwise, you know we might miss some―-you, even you, on the alpha program, Paul, might miss some of our enhancements that we're posting up there-

Paul: Yes.

Alison: Regularly so-

Paul: Yeah. Is there stuff in there as well on the Integrated Web Services, Alison?

Alison: Yeah, there is actually. We have a number of things― and actually in web services area, the Integrated Web Services server has a couple of new enhancements. So so specifically around the areas of variable characters, so var char, as well as an authenticated user. So so there's a couple of different enhancements there. The var char support, users can actually define var char fields to determine how much data was passed in or how much data is to be returned―

Paul: Cool.

Alison: So that's really a cool thing to have, and then we've also adapted change to allow web services to run under the authenticated user. Today a user must be specified, but today we can authenticate user―or sorry, as of this TR―, you can say authenticated user and the web service will get deployed. So so this is really cool as well.

Paul: Cool.

Alison: There are additional things:. There is some initial enhancements to the web services on the client as well, not just on the server side. So so I would encourage people to go and sort of― you know, have a read through the announcement letter and you'll see all of the content that's in there.

Paul: Yeah, there is― and yeah, actually I will post a link to where people, if you're not aware and. I mean, I think everybody is as to where to go and read on the TRs, but we will put a link there on the abstract for this. Alison, the other things, because I know when we met a week ago, one of the things you were telling me about was that this of course is a very special year for IBM i. So so is it too early to ask you starting about this?

Alison: No, absolutely. It's not a secret.

Paul: Okay.

Alison: This is the 30th anniversary year for IBM i, and that is pretty exciting milestone for everyone I think. My team has been working quite a bit on all of the activities that we'll be doing, but I have also been hearing about activities from various user groups, from various partners that will be running 30th anniversary celebrations. From my perspective, what we're doing from our campaign side is we are looking forward― and you know I used to say to the team I'm going to call it "Toto the next 30." They said no, let's talk about "We're Just Getting Started,"we're just getting started and I love that idea because over the last year, year and a half or so, we have seen more―-excuse me―-more and more IBM i clients taking advantage of really cool technology. We have a number of clients that are using things like Watson, Bluemix. I just talked with a client this morning who'sse automated his entire warehouse with robotics and driven it from IBM i. These are the kinds of things that I think are really coming to the forefront, and IBM i clients are grasping those, grabbing on and actually working with them. As a whole ecosystem we're doing that, we are going that so I love the idea of talking about we're just getting started. We' are going to be looking at clients from all over the world and sort of looking at how we do that―, how do we grab onto technology? Who's, who's doing stuff that's cool?.

Alison: I agree and it's just you know a matter of―-I think we're only limited by our own imagination of what we can do, because what I'm discovering is that people with broad imaginations are able to integrate all kinds of things they hadn't expected to before.

Paul: Yeah and the computing power we have now. I mean I think this is one of the big things to me about POWER9. As you know Alison, I know nothing about hardware. I am―like when you were mentioning off all of the machines there, the S920, 22, all of that―, I have no idea what you're talking about using all of those numbers [laughs]. But but when I was down in Austin last year, I got to see the POWER9 as it was in testing at that stage and even I, with my limited hardware knowledge, I know that this stuff is absolutely terrifying in terms of the processing power that is now available to us.

Alison: Correct.

Paul: Yeah so again, yeah. Limited only by our imaginations. It's―yeah, the next 30 years, maybe just as exciting.

Alison: Exactly.

Paul: Yeah.

Alison: Yup.

Paul: So Alison, I also know that you happen to be about to head over to my side of the pond in the next couple of weeks?.

Alison: That's right actually. I'm going over for two weeks. I'll be in six different cities over two weeks visiting various customers, doing some events in six different cities. But but I think I have to honestly say probably one of the highlights―-and I hate to say this because it sounds like I don't want to talk to my own clients. I love talking to my customers, but I am really excited, very excited,. I'm going to spend the weekend in Venice. I have never been there and so I'm looking forward to some good Italian food, some good Italian wine, and maybe my first trip in a gondola, Paul. [Laughs]

Paul: Yeah well, I hope you've been saving up for that, Alison. They're not cheap, I can tell you this.

Alison: Well that's what I heard, so maybe it will just be you know for half a block,. I don't know [laughs]. Maybe I'll just take a picture of a gondola.

Paul: Just so you know, Alison, there. There is one of the places in Venice where it' is just across the Grand Canal there, where it is just like a crossing, and that is in a gondola― and it's free. So so worse comes to the worst, you can do that one and at least say you were in a gondola.

Alison: There you go.

Paul: It will be with 20 other people, but you have been in one. [Laughs]

Alison: Definitely I'll be―I'll be looking for that, and I understand there's a whole network of water taxis and other things―

Paul: Oh yeah.

Alison: So I am looking forward to seeing Venice for the first time.

Paul: Yeah, I mean I know because we were talking about it. I mean I've been three, four times now at this stage. One of my favorite, favorite places, an absolutely beautiful city, and a great experience. I'm sure you're going to love it.

Alison: Well thank you.

Paul: Okay Alison, I think that's a good note to leave it on, so thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I'm probably going to talk to you again in about another six months when we hit our next Ttechnology―-I've got to stop saying Ttechnology release. It's Ttechnology Rrefresh. Okay.

Alison: Correct.

Paul: Okay so the next one in the fall. Okay so Alison, so thanks a million for taking the time to talk to us, and that's it for this iTalk everybody. Tune in again for the next one. Bye for now.

Alison: Thanks, Paul.

Alison Butterill is the offering manager for IBM i. She owns the responsibility for the IBM i business, including defining and guiding future directions and strategies.



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