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01/31/2012

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Excellent news! The midrange platform has always been special because we didn't have to buy this and that - it's all in there, integrated.

Glad to see the direction with OA but I've watched with amusement the outcry over OA being a for-charge item. You know what else IBM charges for? The SQL development kit. It is ridiculous in the extreme that SQL support is a for-charge item on the IBM i at this late date. In 1993 maybe it made sense. In 2012? No way. Give me break.

If IBM wants to advance the capabilities of developers on the platform they need to make SQL a no-charge item. SQL development kit support will go a lot farther towards helping people with application modernization than OA ever will.

When I bring this up I am always told by IBM that the SQL pre-compiler is not maintained by the RPG compiler team -- it is maintained by the database group. This is given as the reason that the products can't be combined and, I guess, an excuse for why the SQL development kit has to be a for-charge item. To this I say: your internal structures at IBM are not our problem. Want to support IBM i developers in the best way possible? Make the SQL developer kit a no-charge item and bundle it with the RPG compiler.

Great news for RPG'ers :) Will this ever make it into the COBOL compiler as an IBM enhancement/extension?

Kudos to IBM for doing the right thing! Seeing IBM do this gives me hope for good things to come. This actually makes it worth the communities time to put effort into open source efforts that make use of OAR.

Now I am going to go work on my IBMi/RPG wish list the rest of the day :-)

Yahoo!
AaronBartell.com

This is great news and the title couldn't be more self-explanatory!

Adding that RPG OA technology has gained in maturity and applicability, this year will be very interesting for the IBM i community.. and RPG accesses.

Bravo IBM.
Pascal Polverini.

I'm with Terry...feeling left out in the cold as a COBOLer...

Good for IBM starting to embrace Open Technologies.

Maybe one day they might start with virtualized versions of the i5/os...

If that then happens, most people will start to begin experimenting more with it and maybe see the strength it has for a full enterprise business system thats resilient and easy to maintain...

Just think ... a IAMP server for developers to tweak, tinker and improve upon at home...

Terry, Frank -- and anyone else who loves COBOL -- Thanks for the query on Open Access for COBOL. We continue to hear the request, and it's definitely being considered. I can say this (and probably have said it before): With RPG, IBM owns the language, so it's far easier to add something to it. COBOL has a standard, so additions are harder. Not impossible, though. I'll make sure the right people hear your request again.

Marius - I'm glad you like the continuing openness of the platform. iAMP would presumably stand for "IBM i + Apache + MySQL + PHP." If so, all of those exist today, and have existed for years now. We've been working hard to allow openness to work well with integration. There is even a Virtual IBM i Program where people can write & test software on the platform without buying a system. I wrote about it in August of 2011.

http://ibmsystemsmag.blogs.com/you_and_i/2011/08/isv-resources-for-ibm-i.html

Thanks for the comment. Keep watching as we continue along the path that you (and Aaron and others) want.

Dan - interesting comment. I can't say I've heard it before, so I will have a chat with some people around here. Are you saying that, in your experience, the price of the SQL development kit has kept people using the older interfaces and away from SQL?

I'm getting the impression that clients, in general, would prefer a higher price for the operating system (or the compiler, in this case) and its software maintenance, as long as the result was that "for fee" features were incorporated in that price. I can't say this surprises me -- integration as a value proposition is very important to our clients.

It's not a simple question, by the way. Some clients prefer more products, each with its own price -- it makes smaller purchases easier to get through their company financial system. Some dislike the idea of paying for functions they do not use. Others (probably most) prefer one consolidated offering with a higher price, covering everything even if they do not use it right now.

Thanks for the comment.

Buck, Aaron, Pascal: Thanks!

And Pascal is right, I think this will be a big year.

Hi Steve.

"Are you saying that, in your experience, the price of the SQL development kit has kept people using the older interfaces and away from SQL?"

Yes. Definitely.

Most of the RPG development shops we walk into don't have it and balk at the price (it's not cheap). Meanwhile, in pretty much every other language on the planet SQL is the de-facto standard for database access.

Again, in 1993 it probably made sense to recoup some costs with separate packaging and pricing on something that only a small percentage of customers would use. Today, if you aren't using SQL in your applications, you are falling further and further and further behind your competition.

Once we do convince our clients that the SQL Development Kit is a must-have we are able to show them how to modernize their database and data access methodologies. We end up throwing away reams of old record-level-access-based RPG code and replacing it with a few views and indexes and embedded SQL. Application performance soars and it paves the way for true application modernization using EGL, Java, .NET, or some other SQL-oriented languages.

(If you would like to hear some very specific and detailed examples feel free to contact me via my web site at dandarnellonline.com. It is truly amazing what can be done with SQL to bring RPG-based applications into the modern age.)

The lack of RPG OA as a no-charge bundled item has not really held back anyone in my opinion (a few vendors hawking transformation engines as modernization strategies, maybe). What has held back the IBM i software development world (demonstrably so!) is the lack of ubiquitous SQL support on the platform and in our languages.

Yes, you need to price the compiler and tools in a way that allows you to do business but keeping SQL as an À la carte item is not the best way to keep the world of IBM i software development moving forward.

The last time I spoke to a member of senior IBM management (in the IBM i space) about this topic I was told "It will never happen." I asked, "Why?" The answer, "Politics." Apparently this is about more than just products and pricing inside IBM. It sounds to me that the IBM groups involved have some issues with territorial boundaries. It's killing your customers.

--Dan

Dan,

Thanks for bringing this up. I didnt realize this was the case because every machine I've been on has always had the SQL Dev Kit (since 1999), so this is a complete surprise to me. For those wanting to learn more about the SQL Dev Kit you can read about it here: http://ibm.co/ycgGXj

Would you mind commenting back with what the list price is for the SQL Dev Kit? Whenever I ask the IBM.com website for pricing it usually takes a couple weeks to a month to get a response back, and even then I usually don't get anything back.

I am on the IBM i ISV Advisory Council and can submit a requirement on behalf of the community stating we would like the SQL Dev Kit included on any machine where DB2 for i exists.

I've been writing browser apps for over a decade and I can't imagine not having access to embedded SQL for a variety of things in a modern web app - most specifically searches for data.

Thanks for bringing this to attention,
AaronBartell.com

SQL development tools are a separate chargeable item? That's news to me, since we've always had them. They must have been bundled with something else or our BP included them without saying anything.

@Aaron

If memory serves, 5671-ST1 is $800 (P10). Not sure if it is tiered as we rarely sell the bigger iron.

And you are right...it really needs to be on every machine since it includes the interactive SQL interface as well as language support.

Either that or they need to split the language support out and include it in 5761-WDS *BASE and include the interactive support in the OS.

However, as I understand it, since compilers are Rational and the DB group is IBM, they won't play nice together and make this happen. There is a revenue issue and also, I suspect, management issues.

One thing is certain: we're overdue for IBM to stop looking at SQL support as an add-on to the IBM i.

@J Taylor

"SQL development tools are a separate chargeable item?"

Yes.

The problem is with those places (and there are loads of them!) that are still lagging way behind the curve. We go in to help them start bringing their applications to the web, to start interfacing with other platforms, or whatever and invariably find that they don't have the SQL Dev Kit. The price is sufficiently high (especially relative to the cost of the RPG compiler!) that it becomes an impediment to getting off the ground.

Modernization always starts with the database and the number one tool for database modernization is SQL.

Hi Steve,
Your comment on COBOL being standard vs RPG being proprietary does not fly.
There are multiple features in COBOL that are IBM "extensions". This -RPG OA - could very well be one of them. In the meantime, I have created an RPG middleware just to be able to use RPG OA from COBOL.

Another comment: What happens to the guys who paid for it when it was not free? They should get some credit for making it popular too.

Thanks anyway

Roger - I am aware that IBM has made extensions beyond the COBOL standard. And I am not saying we cannot do something for COBOL. It's just a factor that doesn't come into the decision for RPG that does come into it for COBOL. I'm glad to see people (you) innovating around it.

I don't know the answer to "what about people who already paid?" Maybe it says something in the actual announcement letter.

The URL for the announcement letter, which was not available when I wrote the blog, is:

http://w3-01.ibm.com/sales/ssi/rep_ia/6/897/ENUS912-006/ENUS912-006.PDF

Just FYI, the URL you sent did not work (IBM internal only?), here is the one I found that works:
http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?infotype=AN&subtype=CA&htmlfid=897/ENUS912-006&appname=USN

Thanks again,
Roger

>what about people who already paid?

I paid for it and I consider it the cost of doing business - especially since the cost was minimal. I wouldn't expect IBM to give anything in the way of a refund.

On the front of COBOL, I'd be curious to know the numbers of IBM i COBOL shops. Is that a separate compiler team within IBM?

AaronBartell.com

Steve, If you need another idea, IBM may add a middleware, a kind of Web Controller -like 5250 controller- and a Web designer integrated for persistent business applications.
I hate the word "modernize" because Microsoft is a weak system compare to IBM i but you don't have to "modernize" it.
That's only a word, but words are important for decision-makers. They may think: "if you have to modernize IBM i, it means IBM i is not modern."
So, RPG OA is the first step but I think that two pieces are still missing.
The problem we have is to repurpose existing application and develop new ones, and not "modernize".
We already have the best OS of the world. Natively thin client. We don't need VMWare or Citrix or Google Application Engine in order to have thin clients and to share programs or database. Please, Steve, give us the two missing pieces added to RPGOA to be modern. So we might be able to discard in trash this horrible word "modernize".

All -- the PTFs were made available a few days early. Details here: http://tinyurl.com/rpg-oar-ptfs

Thanks to Barbara & the whole team!

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