IBM updated its iSeries operating system with a number of features including tighter integration with Red Hat's OpenShift and a set of development tools to modernize applications for the cloud.
The IBM i Modernization Engine for Lifecycle Management development toolset has an integrated development environment (IDE). The offering will be used initially to develop software with wizards that allow users to more easily integrate a new DevOps environment with their existing DevOps environment.
This approach makes it easier for developers to publish and consume new features and functions using cloud services, along with the product's new browser interface, according to the company.
This approach allows users to run the tools in OpenShift containers instead of installing them on each developer's desktop.
"In the DevOps world, leveraging containers, microservices and Kubernetes to speed development is increasingly critical," said Steve Sibley, vice president of IBM's Power group. "It's what is driving most users' modernization projects."
Many IBM users, Sibley added, are also looking for ways to extend their core business processes, which involve most of the mission-critical data on IBM Power servers, to the cloud.
"By working with Red Hat on this offering, we can extend their core data in an integrated, extensible way," Sibley said. "Given how integrated the iSeries hardware and software is, this can further speed delivery to market."
One analyst believes the new offering is aimed squarely at IBM's iSeries user base, as well as that system's predecessor, the AS/400. These users are accustomed to systems with tightly integrated hardware and system application software.
"It's an old platform that needs something modern, but these users still will do almost anything to hold onto it," said Judith Hurwitz, an independent analyst based in Newton, Mass.
The new offerings are intended to not only satisfy the needs of an older existing user base, but it is important to IBM for revenue reasons and to better compete in the voraciously competitive cloud market.
"If you have a large number of customers that have been with you for 20 and 30 years leave, you can't turn around and sell them other related products," Hurwitz said. "There are also many business partners to consider who've written for [the iSeries and other IBM platforms] for a long time. You need to hold onto them, too."
Another analyst said that while the offering is not a major release in and of itself, it is strategically important to IBM's overall cloud DevOps strategy because all their major platforms can now share cloud applications end to end.
"The iSeries now becomes part of the IBM Cloud," said Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects, Inc. "Developers can now work across any computing platform IBM has, and with OpenShift on iSeries and Power, developers can work with AWS, Google and Azure as well."
IBM also promises a more flexible subscription plan featuring new options for both iSeries software and hardware. The new plan, to be introduced in the second half of this year, was described by Sibley as an integrated subscription model covering both hardware and software where users will pay a monthly fee for both.
"The plan will target new users or existing users with entry-level systems," Sibley said. "It's a more flexible option than purchasing a perpetual license and offers a more consistent payment process for customers," he said.
The company also rolled out a refurbished version of Db2 with a basket of improvements targeting both corporate users and developers, most notably security improvements.
Version 7.5 of the offering now lets developers encrypt passwords using a stronger encryption scheme, called the SHA2-512, where developers can now use APIs to check whether a potential password meets all of a company's existing password rules. This assures users that hackers will not be able to tell if they got a particular user ID or password wrong when authentication fails.
The company also added what Sibley called "mixed release support" to make it easier for IT admins to carry out rolling upgrades in cases where users run applications on one system while another system is being upgraded.
When the upgraded system is brought back up, it automatically rejoins the mirrored system and can move all of the upgrades over to the other system.
As Editor At Large with TechTarget's News Group, Ed Scannell is responsible for writing and reporting breaking news, news analysis and features focused on technology issues and trends affecting corporate IT professionals.