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Announcing IBM i 7.3 TR3 and IBM i 7.2 TR7

IBM announces the latest Technology Refreshes for our two most current releases: IBM i 7.3 TR3 and IBM i 7.2 TR7.

"You and i" in white against a purple banner, white chat bubble in righthand corner, with two planets colliding below.

Today IBM is announcing the latest Technology Refreshes (TRs) for our two most current releases: IBM i 7.3 TR3 and IBM i 7.2 TR7. As long-time readers will know, the IBM i strategy includes twice a year deliveries of new function, allowing many parts of the IBM i OS and its related products to fulfill customer requirements between major releases.

And really, that’s the theme of this pair of TRs—delivering on client requirements.

The IBM i team has a long history of listening to its client base, and including solutions to client business problems in the technology we deliver. Ever since the creation of the TR architecture, and the underlying strategy of making TRs our primary delivery vehicle whenever possible, most of our development teams are alert to new requests from our customers, whether through the various advisory councils we have, or through Requests For Enhancements (RFEs). So, as usual, these two TRs have new functions from a wide array of IBM i components.

I’ll give you a high level view of them, and then you can go to developerWorks for more details. Perhaps the best way is to go to the TR overview home pages, and follow the links down to specific areas of interest.

Db2 for i enhancements
As usual, Db2 has many new enhancements, which focus on new and advanced SQL capabilities and the ability to use SQL to access IBM i operating system details. Db2 for i also delivers new features for the creation of data-centric JSON solutions, and a new function allows IBM i history logs and security audit details to be consumable by a security information and event management (SIEM) solution.

Some highlights:
  • JSON publishing functions can be used by the database application developer to build JSON objects from Db2 for i relational data. This standards-based technology allows a database application developer to leverage the query engine to efficiently construct JSON.
  • JSON scalar functions allow the SQL programmer to efficiently process JSON objects. These functions join the existing JSON_TABLE function as techniques to programmatically shred JSON.
  • The HISTORY_LOG_INFO table function is extended to include the option of returning IBM history log details in Syslog format.
  • The DISPLAY_JOURNAL table function is extended to include the option of returning a subset of IBM i audit journal entry types in Syslog format.
These and other enhancements are delivered via Db2 PTF Group SF99703.

New USB installation process
IBM i is introducing a new way to perform software installations using virtual media that has been copied to a Removable Mass Storage media (e.g., a USB flash drive) that’s attached to an available USB 3.0 adapter. The ESS website will offer an LIC media image specially formatted for use with USB flash drives. Note that this is in addition to, not in place of, the DVD media image currently available. IBM i is providing a program that’s capable of copying this LIC media image to a USB flash drive in a way that allows for a D mode IPL on managed systems. See the General Operating System Technology Updates wiki for more details.

IBM i Support of the 4767 Cryptographic Co-processor
IBM i is announcing support for the 4767 Cryptographic Co-processor. The 4767, announced earlier this year, is the follow-on adapter to the 4765 Cryptographic Co-processor. It includes considerable performance improvements over the predecessor 4765, while maintaining the level of security that our clients are accustomed to. The 4767 adapter provides access to updated Common Cryptographic Architecture (CCA) APIs, automatic CPU off-loading of SSL/TLS handshakes, as well as the most secure physical adapter available for secure cryptographic master key storage.

The CCA libraries have been updated to CCA 5.3 and have added API enhancements, which are also available for use with the previous 4765 adapter. Highlights of these changes for the 4767 adapter include new PIN processing APIs, financial services support for DK and Visa Data Secure Platform with point-to-point encryption, improved security, access, and logon control, among other features.

Open Source on IBM i
The IBM i Open Source team has been delivering new function even more rapidly than once per TR, but this TR announcement allows us to highlight those new capabilities.

Nginx, a popular open-source web server, is being delivered as Option 11 of the IBM i open source solutions product. For more general information, see Jesse Gorzinski’s blog entitled “A Tale of Two Web Servers.” And of course, there are the public wikis from the developerWorks community.

Eclipse Orion
Eclipse Orion is a cloud-based IDE that features rich integration with git and IBM Bluemix. It’s shipped in option 8 of 5733-OPS and with this Technology Refresh, is updated to version 13, which brings interface and stability improvements. It also supports more languages, including Node.js, Python, HTML, CSS, Bash, CoffeeScript, JSON, Less, Properties and SQL.

Even More!
That’s just a few of the more notable areas in the announcement, but depending on your situation, the highlight might be something in this list of other IBM i 7.3 TR3 features:
  • The IBM i Save System (SAVSYS) operation now includes the LAN console configuration data, eliminating a couple of complex steps that were previously needed to re-install an IBM i partition from a backup onto a new load source.
  • IBM i supports an increase in the size of an external storage disk.
  • IBM i can support up to 127 devices on both virtual and physical Fibre Channel ports.
  • IBM i Integrated Web Services adds advanced features to help administrators and programmers leverage APIs in a safe, secure manner.
  • IBM continues to expand the suite of functions available in the open source licensed program offering with benefits for many application scenarios. This includes new integration with the operating system, familiar IBM i Access tools, and IBM Bluemix.
  • Access Client Solutions continues to be enhanced to meet the needs of the IBM i user community.
  • The RPG ILE Compiler in Rational Development Studio has been updated with new modernization capabilities.
  • Rational Developer for i, V9.6 delivers an updated version of the Eclipse workbench, in addition to features designed to enhance programmer productivity. IBM Cloud Storage Solutions for i, V1.2 includes new encryption techniques, adding to the security of data movement.
  • Db2 Web Query for i has a new release, Version 2.2.1, with many new advanced visualization, usability, and security features.
  • Db2 Web Query DataMigrator now includes simplified functions, regular expression support, and improved scheduling.
Most of the functions announced today will be generally available on October 27, 2017, with the Db2 Web Query GA happening on December 8, 2017.
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