The Power of IBM i Modernization: Upgrading to IBM i 7.4 and Beyond

Aug 03, 2023 Aiswarya Madhu

Staying up to date is crucial for businesses to remain competitive and agile. For many organizations, IBM i has been the backbone of their operations, providing robust and reliable applications that have stood the test of time.

However, in this era of constant technological advancements, IBM i Modernization has become more than just a strategic consideration; it is now a necessity to improve the capabilities of your systems.

For businesses relying on IBM i technology, upgrading to the latest versions, such as IBM i 7.4 and beyond, presents a wealth of opportunities to thrive in the dynamic data center environment.

The IBM i Technology Landscape- A Closer Look

IBM i has the legacy as a reliable and robust operating system powering critical applications in data centers. Over the years, IBM has continued to innovate the platform, introducing newer versions like IBM i 7.4.

The IBM i landscape remains relevant and influential in the modern IT world for several compelling reasons.

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  • IBM i has a long-standing reputation for reliability and stability. IBM's commitment to innovation ensures that the platform continues to evolve and meet the changing needs of businesses. Regular updates and new versions, such as IBM i 7.4, introduce cutting-edge features, improved security measures, and enhanced integration with emerging technologies like cloud computing and open-source solutions.
  • The seamless integration capabilities of IBM i make it an ideal choice for companies with complex and heterogeneous IT environments. It can coexist and integrate with various operating systems, databases, and applications, allowing businesses to streamline their IT infrastructure and improve overall efficiency.
  • Moreover, the longevity of IBM i in the market has resulted in a vast ecosystem of skilled professionals and dedicated support services. This ecosystem ensures that businesses have access to a pool of expertise to maintain, upgrade, and optimize their IBM i systems effectively.

Planning to Modernize IBM i: Things You Must Know

Why Upgrading to IBM i 7.4 is Crucial?

IBM i 7.4 brings a plethora of features that make upgrading crucial for businesses looking to stay competitive and secure. Here are some of the new updated features:

Advanced Security Features

With the introduction of new built-in *HASH functions like HASH_MD5, HASH_SHA1, HASH_SHA256, and HASH_SHA512, the system enhances the security of SQL queries through advanced hashing methods.

Moreover, the adoption of *Transport Layer Security version 1.3 (TLSv1.3) as the default for System TLS provides a robust line of defense against ransomware and hacking attacks. By making this upgrade, businesses can rest assured that their valuable information is protected with the latest and strongest security standards available.

Read more about IBM i security best practices here

Better Integration with Cloud Technologies

As businesses increasingly embrace cloud computing for its scalability and flexibility, IBM i 7.4 offers improved integration with cloud technologies. The *Db2 Mirror for i feature allows real-time replication for high availability, reducing the risk of downtime and data loss. This active-active mirroring ensures that businesses can seamlessly continue their operations even in the face of unforeseen disruptions.

Seamless Support for Open-Source Technologies

IBM i 7.4 empowers businesses to leverage modern applications seamlessly with enhanced support for open-source technologies. By providing compatibility with the latest versions of Java, businesses can take advantage of improved performance and security while running their applications on the IBM i platform.

Performance Optimizations

With the reorganized *physical file member enhancements, managing data becomes more efficient, leading to better performance and allowing multiple users to work with the data simultaneously.

This means tasks can be completed faster, and there's more information available for analysis and reporting. Furthermore, the *SQL Precompiler enhancements for RPG and COBOL provide greater flexibility in handling data by introducing support for variable and auto-dimension arrays.

In other words, developers can work with data in a more dynamic way, making it easier to process incoming information effectively.

Reduced Downtime and Data Protection

With the improved *SQL Query Engine (SQE), there is better control and enforcement of temporary job storage limits, leading to more efficient query processing and minimized disruptions. This means faster data retrieval and fewer interruptions, resulting in smoother operations and increased productivity for your organization. Additionally, the enhanced data protection ensures that your valuable information is safeguarded, providing peace of mind and reinforcing the security of your critical business data.

Recommended Reading: Top 7 Findings from 2023 IBMi Marketplace Survey: How AS400/IBMi Modernization Services can Help?

Tips to Prepare for the IBM i Upgrade Process

  • Notifying Downtime and Backing Up the Current System State: Proper planning and communication are essential before initiating an upgrade. Notifying stakeholders, including employees, customers, and vendors, about the planned downtime is crucial to avoid surprises and ensure smooth coordination during the upgrade process.

    Informing them well in advance allows them to plan their activities accordingly and minimizes the impact on business operations. Additionally, taking a comprehensive backup of critical data and the current system state is of paramount importance. This safeguarding measure ensures that in case of any unforeseen issues during the upgrade, the organization can revert to the pre-upgrade state and avoid potential data loss or system instability.

  • Utilizing IBM's PRUV Tool for System Readiness Assessment: IBM's Pre-upgrade Verification (PRUV) tool is a valuable resource for assessing the system's readiness for the upgrade. It conducts a thorough analysis of the existing environment, identifying potential issues and possible roadblocks that may arise during the upgrade process.

    By utilizing the PRUV tool, businesses can gain valuable insights into system health, compatibility concerns, and any necessary prerequisites. Armed with this information, they can proactively address potential challenges and resolve issues before starting the upgrade. This ensures a smoother transition and minimizes the risk of downtime or post-upgrade complications.

Read more on IBM i Modernization: Facelifting IBM i Applications Using Modernization Tools

Tips to Execute the IBM i Upgrade Process

  • Tips for a Smooth Upgrade Experience

    Upgrading to IBM i 7.4 is an important process that requires proper planning. Here's a simple guide to get you through it without any technical jargon:

    Check Your License Keys:

    Make sure you have the necessary license keys for your IBM i software. You can find them on IBM's Entitled Systems Support site.

    Set Up Your *Image Catalog:

    To avoid the hassle of using DVDs, set up an image catalog. This helps with the upgrade process and saves time.

    Apply Permanent Updates:

    If you have any updates that are not permanent, apply for them. You can't proceed with temporary updates during the upgrade.

    Document Changes:

    Note down any changes you've made to the operating system, like system values, print files, etc. Create a customized CLP (a simple script) to run after the upgrade.

    Create Your Upgrade List:

    List out all the components you want to upgrade and specify their order.

    Kickstart the Upgrade:

    Power down the system and direct it to the image catalog. During the upgrade process, the system will install everything automatically — no need for manual media loading.

  • Common Errors and How to Avoid Them

    Ensure that the installed Program Temporary Fixes (PTFs) and Group Levels are compatible with the new version. Conflicting PTFs or Group Levels can cause upgrade errors.

    Insufficient disk space during the upgrade can cause errors and halt the process. Ensure that you have enough free space on the system for the upgrade to be completed successfully.

    It is critical to perform a full system backup before upgrading IBM i. In case of any errors during the upgrade, you can restore the system to its previous state.

    Verify that all licensed programs and options you are using are compatible with the new version of IBM i. Upgrading without proper license support can lead to issues.

    Check and review the authority settings on the system, especially for critical objects and directories. Incorrect authority settings can cause issues during the upgrade process.

    Ensure that journaling and commitment control settings are correctly configured for your applications. Upgrading without considering these settings can lead to data integrity problems.

    Make sure that your system firmware is up-to-date and compatible with the new version of IBM i. Old firmware versions can cause compatibility issues.

    Confirm that your hardware is compatible with the new version of IBM i. Using outdated or unsupported hardware may cause errors during the upgrade.

Essential Post-Upgrade Tips for a Smooth Experience

  • Ensure Proper Tidying Up of Temporary Files and PTFs: After completing the upgrade, it is essential to conduct a cleanup of temporary files and unnecessary data remnants. Removing temporary files optimizes system performance and frees up storage space, contributing to a more efficient and responsive system. Additionally, verifying that all Program Temporary Fixes (PTFs) are correctly applied ensures the stability of the system. Proper application of PTFs helps address any known issues or security vulnerabilities, maintaining a reliable and secure IBM i environment post-upgrade.
  • Finalize the Upgrade with a Thorough Backup: Concluding the upgrade process with a comprehensive post-upgrade backup is crucial for safeguarding data integrity and providing a fallback option in case of unexpected issues. This final backup serves as an insurance policy, allowing the organization to revert to the upgraded state and recover critical data if necessary. A well-documented and validated backup process ensures that data remains protected, and that the organization is well-prepared to handle any potential challenges that may arise after the upgrade.

Relevant Reading: Make Your IBM iSeries Current and Future-ready

Modernize to IBM i 7.4 and Beyond with Nalashaa

Modernizing your IBM i platform to the latest version, IBM i 7.4 and beyond, holds the key to unlocking its true potential and reaping the benefits of enhanced performance, security, and efficiency.

At Nalashaa, we are dedicated to helping you navigate this transformational journey seamlessly. Our comprehensive range of services, from RPG Programming Support to IBM i Security and Cloud Migration, is designed to cater to your unique needs and objectives. Get in touch with us today to take the first step towards unleashing the power of IBM i modernization and ensuring your business thrives in the dynamic technological landscape. Let's make your IBM i system work smarter and better


  • A hash function is an algorithm that transforms input data into a fixed-size string of characters, known as a hash value. It is used for data security, indexing, and data integrity verification in various applications on the IBM i platform.
  • Transport Layer Security version 1.3 (TLS 1.3) is a secure and encrypted protocol used to protect data communication over networks like the Internet. It ensures privacy and authenticity, providing stronger security than older versions like SSL.
  • IBM Db2 Mirror for i is a technology that ensures your most important applications are always available, without any downtime. It achieves this by providing a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) of zero, meaning that in the event of a failure, your system can recover instantly without any data loss.
  • Physical file member enhancements in IBM i refer to improvements made to how data is organized and accessed within physical files. These enhancements result in better performance, concurrency, and more information availability, leading to optimized data management processes.
  • SQL Precompiler enhancements for RPG and COBOL refer to updates that allow RPG and COBOL programs to work more seamlessly with SQL (Structured Query Language) databases.
  • The SQL Query Engine (SQE) is like the brain of IBM i's database system. It handles and optimizes the way we ask for data using SQL queries, making sure it's done quickly and efficiently. Upgrades to SQE mean faster and better data retrieval, making our IBM i systems work smarter and faster.
  • An image catalog is a collection of software installation images that are used during the upgrade process. These images contain the necessary files and programs required for the upgrade to the desired version of IBM i.
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Aiswarya Madhu

In the ever-changing tech landscape, my mission is to craft content that simplifies complex concepts and brings the wonders of modern technology closer to my audience. With a rich experience spanning over 2 years, I have honed my skills in crafting captivating and informative content for B2B domain that deeply resonates with the tech-savvy audience. When not working, you'll often find me with a steaming cup of tea and an inspiring book, fueling my curiosity and passion for knowledge.