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IBM i 7.2 Provides New Capabilities to Help Enterprises Flourish

Illustration by Ryan Etter

For the first time in four years, IBM is releasing a new version of IBM i. Clients will welcome the enhancements to security, precision and ease of management provided by the newest member of the OS family—IBM i 7.2. This release encompasses several client requests, which add to the system’s capabilities. Further, IBM i 7.2 can help clients upgrade to the latest IBM Power Systems* servers.

IBM i 7.1 arrived in 2010 and has remained a vital system, thanks to regular technology refreshes. As nonpervasive capabilities were developed for 7.2, they were rolled out to clients as 7.1 technology refreshes. “We created the strategy for doing technology refreshes and adding capabilities between releases so we can get functions to clients faster,” says Steve Will, IBM i chief architect.

Extended Limits With IBM i 7.2, optical files once limited to 4 GB can now hold as much as 10 TB — vSCSI doubles its size from 16 devices to 32

Technology refreshes, which Will says have been well received by clients, let IBM provide isolated changes without affecting APIs. Unlike major releases, technology refreshes don’t require clients to requalify applications. And without the technology refreshes, clients would have had to wait until this year to take advantage of the improvements.

But eventually, new capabilities necessitate changes throughout the system. When that happens, a new operating system release is necessary. For 7.2, that time is now. “New releases are made when operating system enhancements are so pervasive that they can’t be put out as an isolated refresh,” Will explains.

Clients running POWER7* systems can step up to 7.2 and gain its advantages. However, 7.2 will decidedly come into its own with the availability of POWER8* technology. Just as 7.1 was designed for POWER7, 7.2 has been crafted to work seamlessly with POWER8.

Database Security

No matter what Power Systems server you have, your enterprise can see immediate benefit. For instance, security issues are a critical concern for most enterprises and database security is a top concern. IBM i 7.2 has a DB2* security feature—commonly called row and column axis control—that helps to define roles or enforce roles within a company.

Prior to 7.2, any IBM i system with DB2 allowed security officers to grant database access to the people who needed access to specific data and parts of the data. Not only could the security officer grant authorization, but that person also could view the data. “That’s been a problem for several organizations that are trying to separate the responsibilities for people in their organizations,” Will explains. “People who are security officers should be able to grant a manager authority to see payroll, but that security officer probably shouldn’t have access to that payroll data,” he says.

With 7.2, a new capability will allow the security officer to grant the authorities, but those authorities won’t apply to the security officer, thereby preventing that person from accessing the data. This capability gives enterprises a way of compartmentalizing responsibilities. “People have built up their own mechanisms and processes to ensure that this doesn’t happen,” Will says. “But the new capability in 7.2 will allow the database to enforce that separation of duties. It’s going to be a key feature.”

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at



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