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A Game-Changer for Open-Source Support!

Jesse Gorzinski on one of the most exciting developments in the world of IBM i: a new open source support offering.

Without a doubt, open source has brought a wealth of new capabilities to IBM i. Indeed, it’s a very exciting time to be running your business and driving innovation with the platform! However, real business value often requires more than just technology: it requires dependability, sustainability, performance, and peace of mind. The development teams at IBM know this. We’re dedicated to bringing more than just “a cool new set of toys.” We are bringing the tools, runtimes, and frameworks that can run your business! On that note, I am thrilled to announce one of the most exciting developments in the world of IBM i: a new open source support offering!

A Review of Existing Options
Before we dig further, though, let’s review what’s already available to an IBM i customer. First off, community support is available for virtually any open source package. To acquire support, one can simply open an issue on the appropriate project. This is often through public websites such as BitBucket or GitHub. In some cases, this community support is backed by IBM. For instance, the Node.js itoolkit package, which allows for Node.js integration with IBM i (CL, RPG, etc.) is supported by IBM through community channels. The same is true for the underlying XMLService technology.

Community support alone is great, but it doesn’t always meet the needs of the business. In fact, that’s one reason why open source isn’t (necessarily) free. It’s beneficial when premium support offerings are available. The newest one, which I’ll discuss shortly, adds to those already available. I case you didn’t didn’t know of them, here are some examples:
  • Rogue Wave Software offers PHP support via Zend Server.
  • PowerRuby offers Ruby support via the Developer Edition (DE) of the PowerRuby product or as an add-on to their Community Edition (CE). Contact [email protected] for more details.
  • The IBM Runtimes Team provides Node.js (and frameworks) support via the IBM Support for Runtimes offerings (and a little birdy tells me of some more things coming in early 2019, but you didn’t hear that from me).
All of these options have provided (and will continue to provide) high-quality support for IBM i.

The New Option
As the IBM i ecosystem grows, so does the need for a comprehensive support solution. Thankfully, IBM Technology Support Services (TSS) fulfills this need, adding a new choice to the set. TSS brings over 18 years of experience supporting various open source technologies, including Linux distributions, as well as commercial and community open source. Even if your needs go beyond IBM i, TSS can serve as a single point of contact for support of your IT infrastructure.

It’s also important to understand that this is more than just “break/fix” support. What do I mean by that? We often think of “support” in the scenario where something just broke, and we need it fixed! In reality, though, a large percentage of open source issues originate from either a lack of product knowledge or some environmental/setup/configuration issue. Thankfully, the TSS teams are structured to aid at any stage of the software development lifecycle. Coverage includes help with usage, diagnostics, configuration, installation, compatibility and interoperability.

For more advanced support (sometimes referred to as “Level 3” support), TSS subcontracts with Rogue Wave software. Not only does Rogue Wave bring advanced open source expertise to the table, they have been a trusted IBM i partner for over a decade. Now, the scope of their involvement grows beyond Zend Server.

What is Supported?
TSS supports a broad range of open source software. In fact, they support over 100 community versions of open source software. You can access the North American & European supported product list here. Some things to keep in mind as you peruse this list:
  • This list includes all supported packages for all supported platforms. Therefore, it includes packages that are not available on IBM i.
  • Support for Java is already included as part of your base operating system support.
  • The offering is available globally. Supported product lists for other regions are available directly through your TSS representative.
  • The supported product list will probably grow. It is rumored that about 50 new packages will be added in the near future.
As you can see, support is available for some rather interesting packages. Take Apache Tomcat, for instance. Even though IBM hasn’t shipped it as part of the operating system since V5R4, the servlet container continues to power many Java-based web applications on IBM i. Similarly, WordPress has been the starting point for numerous PHP-based solutions. Would machine learning bring value to your company? You might want to consider Python support!

Closing Thoughts
As the title of this blog suggests, this really is a game-changing development! Now that world-class support is available, you can deploy the technology with confidence. Open source technology is truly enterprise ready!

If you’d like to learn more, or if you’d like to sign up, please contact your existing TSS representative or reach out to Camilla Sharpe at [email protected].

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