Infor M3 runs best on IBM i

Yesterday (May 17th 2021) the Swedish user group for Infor M3 (and Movex) arranged a webinar with focus on IBM i for the first time in many years.

The message from the huge ERP vendor has shifted slightly from “Cloud only” to “you are ok if you run our software anywhere actually”. This opens up for a lot of good things for the very strong M3 on IBM i community who until now has hasited to invest in infrastructure as the previous message was very clear from Infor. The problem with that message was that many of their clients didn’t either want to go to any public cloud (Infor runs on AWS) or actually couldn’t for a number of reasons (compliance is just one of them).

Anyway, back to today’s webinar with the IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will doing the first part where the title was IBM i Anywhere, IBM i Everywhere – Strategy, Roadmap & Innovation.

The message was very strong from IBM that they are very committed to IBM i and that the operating system has a long period of growth even during the pandemic. The future is also great due to its very innovative features and functions built into the system (code compiled once in the 1980’s still runs on Power9 and will run on Power10 coming out later this year).

Right now the planned support for future versions is well into the 2030’s. IBM just delivers according to their plans as they’ve always did..

Steve Will also talked about how open IBM i is today compared to earlier versions of the operating system. Open Source has been a huge area of success for the platform, not at least due to all the runtimes, tools and frameworks that AI requires and IBM continues to port to IBM i. They are always listening to their customer base through the many different user groups and other channels to make sure they are investing in technologies that their customers are asking for.

The message was very clear – IBM i can do it!

Next after Steve Will, Mr Eddie Chaffin from ABP Food Group in the UK continued the presentation.

A short presentation first about ABP showed they are a very large organization with approximately £3 billion in revenue. With only about 140 persons in their IT-organizations (Five companies) tells me their choice of platform for M3 is a very cost effective one.

The technical description of their M3 environment shows they are running everything on just two Power8 S814 servers. Talking about cost effective..

Eddie gave the audience a number of tips and tricks for managing M3 with the help of ACS. Access Client Solutions is the best tool available for any kind of IBM i related management in general, but in this session there were some M3 related tips such as changing the heap size for performance purpose when it comes to navigating the IFS (M3 has a huge number of files / documents in IFS) and how to use built in Authority Collection for compliance reasons.

He gave many other tips regarding database performance, how to use SQL Scripts for collecting information that could take a day in the past etc.

The main thing in Eddie’s presentation was their implementation of Row and Column Access Control – RCAC in their M3 environment.

This is a level of data security they need to avoid “Data Tourism” that their database was open for before. M3 has a very good security system in place for end users, but for people connecting via ODBC/JDBC it is not so good. Besides just the commercial risk with unauthorized people reading the data, GDPR Compliance is as well high priority for companies.

RCAC was implemented with the help of Infor and IBM LAB Services (Kent Milligan was the RCAC expert involved from IBM Rochester) and the solution is fully supported by Infor today.

Overall the whole session today was a great success. The user group leader was very happy with the content and glad that IBM (that he work for in 1988 when the AS/400 was launched) welcomes IBM and ABP back in the future.

Full version of the presentation can be downloaded HERE

At the keyboard: Torbjörn Appehl

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20 no 40.. no 60.. well a lot of things that IBM i / IBM Power has and other platforms just dreams about

I was tired of “defending” the platform against people who doesn’t know anything about IBM i but still tells the world loudly and clear it is a old fashioned and dying platform.

Well, sometimes the best defense is a good offense. So i created a presentation where I instead of avoid talking about 5250 green screens from an end user perspective (where it honestly doesn’t belong), to highlighting unique features that other platforms just dreams about from a systems management perspective (massive help functions built in, unique in it’s message id system for problem detection and determination etc. etc.).

In the presentation I will go through as many things that is unique compared to other platforms I can in the time set aside for me. Could be unique in a way that there is nothing compared on other platforms at all (why do we have 520-byte format on storage, what is branching that makes IBM i ultra efficient and extremely fast for business applications?), but It can also be how something is implemented and often beautifully holistic integrated in the whole stack, from hardware and up to the data itself in the database (Tags Active Mode for example or how the database engine works extremely close to the CPU itself through Systems Licensed Internal Code).

And yes, I will also make some mocking about failed projects by other companies trying to build something similar to IBM i.

And yes, Intel and Sun will have their shared part…

Please reach out if you are interested in this session

IBM i – Where business applications runs best

For a long period of time, many saw IBM i and its predecessors as old fashioned systems. The number one reason for this was the old school 5250/Green Screen user interface. Number two on that list was monolithic applications written in old school RPG language . I have some thoughts about this later in the article..

What is very modern though is such things as:

  • In memory technologies (since 1970-s on IBM i)
  • Object based operating system (Unique implementation in IBM i)
  • Reliability, Availability, Security, Scalability, Serviceability – (It’s all there in IBM Power which is the server IBM i runs on)
  • Isolation of programs (no, you don’t need containers for this. Similar functions built into IBM i since the time of AS/400)
  • Operating system that was aimed for multiple users at the same time (IBM i was, Windows and Linux wasn’t)
  • Branching instead of time sharing operating system (Unique to IBM i and why 80% of all customer are using just 1 or 2 CPU/Cores)
  • Highly integrated relational database into the Operating System, not an application on top of it.. (Unique to IBM i)
  • Single level storage… (The data is there for you, when you need it. No need to search for it..)
  • Openness (IBM i is one of the most open system available on the market today)

Coming back to the reasons why IBM i is seen as un-modern. To start with, 5250 (Green Screens) is not always bad. They are sometimes actually very good. Not as primary way to interact with a business application, for sure. But just like with Windows or Linux, you need something more efficient than a GUI when it comes to do things “under the hood”. And compared to windows and linux terminal, 5250 kicks ass.

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Secondly, monolithic applications is not the hottest thing these days. Sure, there are some draw backs with them. But there was also a reason why they were written like that a long time ago. Performance…

The good news though is that you can migrate your monolithic into REST based web services and still stay on the platform. And if you still are stuck with old school RPG, there are convert tools out there to make the code look just like Java or .NET for example..

Sure, there is still the thing called vendor locked in choosing IBM i. But you don’t get away from that which path you choose you follow. The only thing I can promise that this vendor is one you want to be locked in with..

The good thing though, is that IBM i allows you to create smaller chunks of programs just like on any other platforms. Rest based web services works very well today.

IBM Power Resource Center

Are you looking for content to your own presentation or article around IBM Power Systems? One issue is to find good information as source to the text. Here you can at least find some things to start with.

Sources

2021 IBM Power Systems ISV Marketing Toolkit

IBM Power Systems

Power Systems website

ITIC 2020 Gobal Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability report

Navigating your hybrid multi cloud vision with IBM Power Systems

IBM i

IBM i Website

IBM i Strategy and Roadmap (From 2020)

IDC Whitepaper: IDC discusses the benefits of IBM i 7.4

IBM i Technology Updates

IBM i Customer Stories

Forrester – The Total Economic Impact Of IBM i

AIX

AIX Website

AIX strategy and roadmap (From 2019)

AIX running on IBM POWER9 is a winning combination for your business

Modernizing your mission-criticalworkloads with AIX on IBM PowerSystems

AIX IDC: “The Importance of the Operating System When Modernizing on Hybrid multicloud”

Open Source

IBM Over all strategy around Open Source

IBM Open Source Support

Power vs x86

Open Power Foundation

Other sources

Why Power Systmes will overtake x86 server in the in-memory database marketplace

Pictures

https://newsroom.ibm.com/image-gallery-systems?l=100

IBM on Flickr (not updated)

IBM Power Family Tree