April 23, 2020 | IBM i

IBM Announces New Technology Refreshes for IBM i 7.3 and 7.4


IBM announced two new Technology Refreshes (TRs) for IBM i 7.3 and IBM i 7.4 on April 14, 2020, according to Big Blue’s usual springtime release schedule. The new TR numbers are IBM i 7.3 TR8 and IBM i 7.4 TR2. Scheduled availability for both TRs is May 15, 2020.


Here’s an overview of what’s available in each TR. We’ve broken down the announcement by enhancements that are available in both i 7.4 and i 7.3; enhancements that are only available in i 7.4; and the enhancements that are only available in i 7.3. There are lots of new goodies here involving the operating system, licensed products, open source offerings, and IBM hardware and firmware.


For more information on the new IBM i TRs, check our list of IBM May 2020 links at the bottom of this post.

Enhancements available in both i 7.4 and i 7.3

Here are the items that are included in both the i 7.3 and i 7.4 TR announcements.

Operating system enhancements

  • Integrated Web Service (IWS) – Improved status and error reporting. Better controls for passing variables across connections.
  • IBM Navigator for i—Improved performance charting capabilities. Now supports Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol version 1.3 (TLSv1.3) encryption.
  • New Db2 for i SQL functions, including INTERPRET (transfer IBM i internal data types to other formats), JSON_TABLE (Supports direct consumption for JSON arrays), and DB_TRANSACTION_INFO (viewing active database transactions).
  • IBM i Services provides six new SQL-based alternatives to using IBM i commands and APIs for accessing IFS object privileges, System status, Db2 library info, Deleting old spooled files, and more. The functions were previously only available through commands and APIs; they can now be accessed through SQL.


IBM i Licensed Program Products (LPP) portfolio enhancements

  • IBM PowerHA SystemMirror for i (5770-HAS) includes enhancements for security, Recovery Point Objective (RPO) information, using SQL services to retrieve PowerHA information, and configuration, management, and screen design improvements (including automated version management).
  • IBM Backup, Recovery and Media Services for i (5770-BR1) includes several enhancements for checking storage availability on restores, logging, tracing, additional access authority, reclaiming tape volumes, and turnkey virtual support.
  • IBM Administration Runtime Expert for i has been enhanced to provide better management of PTF apply requirements and PTF reporting.
  • IBM HTTP Server (Powered by Apache) has been enhanced to provide new support for TLSv1.2 and TLSv1.3 cipher suites and directives.
  • IBM i Access Client Solutions (5733-XJ1) features additional 5250 emulator enhancements, more SQL support, and Open Source Package Management enhancements.
  • IBM Rational Development Studio for i (RDi (5733-RDW)has added new RPG features.

Open Source Updates

  • IBM rebuilt a number of RPM packages to use the newest OpenSSL libraries (version 1.1.0 or later), including Node.js and Python.
  • Common Certificate Authority (CA) certificates are now shipped in the ca-certificates package and the ca-certificates-mozilla package. These certificates are included in the initial installation of the open source ecosystem (bootstrap).
  • The JSON jq command is being delivered in RPM form with the TRs, allowing command line processing of JSON data.
  • For Python development and deployment, IBM is including an SQL Alchemy Adapter for IBM i with these refreshes.
  • The Python pyodbc package is available in RPM form. This package allows the IBM i Access ODBC drivers to communicate with Db2 for i from Python programs.

Hardware and firmware

  • IBM i now supports sharing the TS2900 (3572), TS3100/3200 (3573), and TS4300 (3555) tape library devices between multiple IBM i partitions without requiring multiple adapters, a SAN switch, or a VIOS partition, using SAS-attached tape library devices and Fibre-Channel attached tape library devices.
  • PowerVM V.3.1.1 Service Pack 20 includes hybrid network virtualization capability for network configuration of VMs, and for Live Partition Mobility (LPM).

i 7.4-only enhancements

The following enhancements only become available after applying TR2 to IBM i 7.4. They are not listed as being available in i 7.3 TR8.

Operating system enhancements

  • Enhancements to IBM i clustering–Adding more automation to the product.
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol enhancements to help users leverage Power9 capabilities for low-level cryptography instructions.


IBM i Licensed Program Products (LPP) portfolio enhancements

  • IBM Db2 Mirror (5770-DBM) adds support for internal storage devices and for Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) communications. Power9 systems already had the ability to access NVMe storage for Linux and AIX partitions. With TR2, IBM is adding NVMe capability to Db2 Mirror.
  • Db2 for IBM i added a new SQL COMPARE_FILE utility—The new utility compares two files and returns any differences in object attributes or data.

i 7.3-only enhancements included in TR8

Operating System enhancements

  • TLS 1.3 support added to i 7.3—IBM is adding TLS 1.3 support to i 7.3, but they are not adding it at the current IBM i 7.4 TR2 level. IBM is adding the TLS 1.3 support that is available at the IBM i 7.4 TR1 level.
  • More TLSv1.2 capabilities added to i 7.3—IBM is upgrading its 7.3 TLSv1.2 capabilities with the TLSv1.2 capabilities from IBM i 7.4 TR1.
  • Added a new Retrieve TLS Attributes (QsoRtvTLS) API—Used to retrieve TLS system-wide attributes

in programming.

  • A new Digital Certificate Manager (DCM) GUI has been added for simplified and improved certificate management

Related IBM i April 2020 TR announcement links

The Latest with IBM i 7.3 and 7.4 – Steve Sibley and Steve Will, Common – Handouts and video presentation from IBM’s April 14th announcement. COMMON user group registration required for video presentation.


IBM i 7.3 Technology Refresh 8 offers significant enhancements to many areas of the integrated operating system, IBM—IBM’s i 7.3 TR8 announcement letter


IBM i 7.4 Technology Refresh (TR) 2 offers significant enhancements to many areas of the integrated operating system, IBM—IBM’s i 7.4 TR2 announcement letter


IBM i Technology Updates, IBMIBM’s Technology Refresh Web site with links to all TRs