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Archive for March, 2014

Bob Cancilla on IBM i › zOS Mainframe vs IBM i

March 24th, 2014 Comments off
I recently had the occasion to do some consulting work on an account with an IBM zSeries running zOS and CICS.  I thought I would be digging deep into the old gray matter to remember what was going on with COBOL and 3270 CICS applications.

Yes, CICS still supports Command Level CICS programming and the 3270 data stream, but... CICS now supports the Java language with the JVM integrated into CICS!  It also supports SOA and Web Services directly within CICS, as well as direct integration with WebSphere.   There is also a full mobile computing set of interfaces.  Additionally there is a new and robust suite of tools to facilitate all of these technologies for CICS development, testing, and management.

The folks in IBM's Hursley UK lab have been busy and are well funded in enhancing CICS way beyond anything that we have seen on IBM i in terms of integration with 5250 Interactive jobs.

It appears that IBM has done for the 10,000 mainframe customers much more in terms of enhancing their environment than anyone has done for IBM i.  Much of what I see on zOS is what folks have been asking for on IBM i for years with no response for IBM.

Please keep in mind that 10,000 customers generate over $1 Billion in revenue.  I don't know the exact numbers, but the revenue per user is huge.  Note also that user pay monthly license fees on all of their software products (i.e. CICS, DB2, WebSphere, RACF security, etc.).  It is a gold mine by comparison to IBM i where Interactive job processing, database, and security are all bundled into the OS.

Anyway...  It clearly indicates that IBM invests where the revenue comes from, namely zOS!  Not so much on IBM i...


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Bob Cancilla on IBM i › What is IBM i Good for?

March 20th, 2014 Comments off
I have just been involved in a series of frustrating discussions on Linkedin with some RPG advocates including a software vendor who depends on RPG for his business.  We were arguing the merits of Java and C++ over RPG for development.

In the course of the discussion it becomes necessary to compare IBM i to Linux and AIX that also run on Power Systems machines with Linux being recommended by IBM as the web or Internet platforms of choice.  So what is the IBM i really good at?

It is first and foremost able to process multiple batch and interactive (5250) workloads better than most other systems including being competitive with IBM's zOS with CICS today.  You can run thousands of interactive 5250 based jobs and many batch jobs on the machine and it handles them extremely well.

While you can certainly run Java and WebsSphere on IBM i you have a great deal of overhead that manages memory and the jobs that are running on the system.  The very features that make IBM i a great operating system for batch and interactive jobs penalize server centric jobs like those running under WebSphere or Tomcat.

Linux is a low function OS that is ideal to run application servers like WebSphere or Tomcat.  The application servers are mini-OS's themselves and they manage multiple requests from potentially thousands of users accessing the system via the web.  They can handle SOAP based SOA as well as static page display and complex business applications.  Note that IBM's Watson runs under Linux and is written in Java and C++.

Some folks argue that C++ and RPG are the same performance wise because they both generate w-code which is translated to executable code.  Well a C++ programmer would take exception to that statement and would point out the ability of C++ to manage and manipulate memory and utilize pointers and many other features that RPG cannot use.  Hmm. the RPG compiler is written in what language?  C++?  IBM's implementation of C++ is perhaps one of the most efficient programming languages ever created.  It is difficult to learn and use, but it is where IBM puts its focus for performance. C++ is the heart and soul of IBM's super computing initiatives.

So bottom line if your doing web based applications, use Linux and run only your application server and its applications.  Let the whole LPAR handle your Web Applications.  You can use SQL on your IBM i if you'd like and let IBM i be a database server for your Web LPAR, but use Java or PHP for your web apps and run them in a Linux LPAR.  Linux on Power is stable as a rock and every bit as solid as IBM i.

IBM i is kept on for compatibility with older systems.  Use the right tool for the right job and Linux with a web or application server is most definitely the right job for web based applications.  


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Bob Cancilla on IBM i › RPG For Web Development?`

March 14th, 2014 Comments off
I just had the frustrating experience of trying to argue with some RPG bigots on a Linkedin discussion group where one person was the owner of an RPG based software company that now offers "cloud" computing on a model 520 in his garage.  There was another who works for a major company but develops RPG/CGI applications.

Folks I am not against the IBM i.  It is a great operating system and runs on IBM Power Systems which are great machines.  RPG was a good language that enabled companies to leverage unskilled people, turn them into productive programmers with minimal training (literally 1 to 2 weeks by an IBM SE) and support your company for years.  It was very effective.

BUT... RPG exists only on IBM i whose population and install base continues to diminish.  By IBM's own published statistics there are less than 125,000 IBM i based machines in use world wide.  Compare that to over 920 million web sites world wide according to Netcraft.

Consider the fact that the vast majority of sites are using C, Java, PHP, C++, and Javascript.  If your IT people are telling you that RPG Is great, will last forever, and support all of your future applications think again!

Look the following statistics on programming language usage today.  Please note that RPG and COBOL only show up on Tiobe.  COBOL represents about 2% of the language interest measured by Tiobe while RPG is .2  (that is 2/10ths of a percent!).

Look at the following statistics:

C, C++, Java, Python backend - JavaScript front end

Langpop - language usage http://langpop.com
C, Java, PHP, Javascript, C++, Python

C, Java, Objective-C, C++, C#, PHP, Visual Basic, Python, JavaScript




Java, PHP, Python, C#, C++, C, Javascript…




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DB2 for i › DB2 for i Technical Forums

March 7th, 2014 Comments off
Hola! My teammate and amigo Hernando Bedoya (he is actually familia) and I are just wrapping up two very successful DB2 for i Technical Forums in Bogota, Colombia (week of Feb 24) and Bilbao, Spain (week of Mar 3). Hernando was an excellent guide and translator. (you see, my Spanish is virtually nonexistent, and based in part on watching Speedy Gonzales cartoons on the TV as a child).

First and foremost I want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to our event partners...

In Bogota, Mr. Octavio Bustos of Redsis arranged and hosted the Forum for his clients in Colombia.

In Bilbao, Mr. Igor Izaguirre of Trentinort arranged and hosted the Forum for his clients in Spain.

The opportunity, and our success is due in large measure to these good folks.  Muchas gracias!

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The history of the DB2 for i Technical Forum begins 8 years ago on a long and scenic drive from the small village of Agordo in the Italian Alps to the port city of Venice.

You see, the famous and world wide ITSO AS/400 Technical Forums originally conceived by the one and only Ian Jarman were no more, and the IBM conduits to share accurate and current technical guidance about all things OS/400 were shriveling up.

During the drive out of the mountains, my long time IBM colleague and dear friend Simona Pacchiarini was wondering aloud how we continue to spread the word about database. In a moment of inspiration (or maybe lunacy) we hit upon the idea of creating our own "Technical Forum" - expressly for the purpose of sharing and discussing database topics. Given that some of the philosophical and architectural concepts of "forum" can be traced back to Italy, we felt compelled to initiate this idea in Milan, and we have continue the tradition on an annual basis ever since.
(and what is the real reason my DB2 for i Technical Forums are in Italy every year? Simona is a bulldog when it comes to getting good things done!)

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I have used the Forums in Italy as a proving ground when developing techniques that serve to illuminate the DB2 for i features, functions and unique advantages. During last year's event I tested a new theme entitled "Design It, Build It, Tune It". Of course, this topic is in addition to the standard update on what's new in DB2. Given the success of the presentations and lab exercises, we are continuing the theme in 2014.

The simple notion behind the sessions on design / build / tune involves the importance of sharing knowledge, teaching skills and discussing best practices for data centric applications, in a holistic way.

"Design It" focuses on the science and art of data modeling - something that is universal, but sorely lacking in IBM i shops. We present an overview of conceptual models, logical models and physical models which serve as the blueprint for communicating the database architecture and design.

"Build It" focuses on implementing a physical model, thinking in sets (instead of records), and the elements of set-at-a-time processing. The SQL components of DDL, DML and PSM are used to demonstrate the concepts and used to construct the data centric application (i.e. tables, views, indexes, queries, procedures).

"Tune It" focuses on techniques for increasing efficiency, performance and scalability. We present an overview and discuss the IBM i integrated toolset for monitoring, analyzing and tuning SQL requests.

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I believe the biggest value of the DB2 Forum comes from the final presentation whereby all of the features and functions are woven into a realistic business problem/solution scenario. The practical demonstration, the putting into action all of the concepts and best practices, really shows the audience a clear path forward in terms of data centric development technique.

In the spirit of a forum, our 3 day event always includes lively dialogs, discussions and debates on all things database.

If you are interested in bringing the DB2 for i Technical Forum to your clients or organization, please reach out. Or if you are in need of specialized / focused assistance with your data centric project, we are here to help.

Adios



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Bob Cancilla on IBM i › 25% Cut in Systems & Technology Group Labor Force

March 6th, 2014 Comments off
Well folks, there are news articles out there indicating that IBM's System & Technology Group (responsible for zSeries mainframes and Power Systems which run IBM i) are cutting the labor force by 25% of the employees world wide.

These cuts come on the heels of IBM selling off its x86 server business and transferring 7500 jobs to Lenovo.  All IBM STG has left are the zSeries and Power Systems.  Cuts have been across the board in the manufacturing facilities, sales, and in the labs that develop and maintain IBM i and zOS.

There have been hits in New York, Texas, and India as well as many other places around the globe.

Its time to move away from RPG and get ready to move to Linux or Windows!

Read these links:


Those are but a few!  The big question is will Ginny Rometty sell off all of IBM's hardware units before she gets fired and will the new CEO continue down this path?  IBM is on a downward spiral in terms of revenue which Ginny is trying to fix by cutting costs and pushing up the return per share. 

Wallstreet won't rest unless IBM can show revenue growth.  Services, Software, and Cloud Computing are growing, but many of the old legacy products like IBM Computers (Mainframes and Power Systems) are not growing and in fact have taken a huge 26% hit year to year in terms of revenue.  

There is a mass move away from owned hardware to cloud systems.  Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) are moving in mass to Cloud based solutions.  Even gigantic organizations are looking at the cost benefits of Cloud over their own computers.

If Power Systems are sold or discontinued, then IBM i will be dropped and that is the end of life for the RPG language. 

Read my book:  "Managing Computer Systems in the 21st Century" and find out what you should be doing.  Call me if you need help!


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