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Why We Are Excited About InterSystems IRIS

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A new data platform has launched, and it’s created a lot of buzz around our virtual office. InterSystems IRIS (which stands for intuitive, reliable, interoperable, and scalable) will help our customers more easily develop and rapidly deploy important applications to support data management and interoperability. Plus it allows us to perform transactions and analytics all on one platform. Finally, it provides more flexibility, allowing developers to use familiar tools and deploy on both public and private clouds.

Director of Innovation at J2 Interactive, Steve Heard, takes us through some of the more exciting elements of IRIS and tells us why we should pay attention to this new platform.

The Things That Catch Our Eye about InterSystems IRIS

Sharding – We have always been big fans of ECP (Enterprise Caché Protocol). It has allowed us for years to spread our data across servers and do tricks that other systems couldn’t do or required complicated configuration and additional tooling. Getting rock solid horizontal scaling with no added development considerations is the hallmark of ECP’s success. Sharding builds on this by applying the same simplicity for massive SQL queries. We get reliable scalability without having to change the way we write our code. For our projects such as large Health Information Exchanges where we have been collecting years worth of aggregated data, shard support will allow us to query more efficiently without needing to warehouse first. (And rumor has it the SQL engine got some optimization attention even for non-sharded setups!)

Native Java Language Support – While J2 staff is expert in Object Script, the programing language underlying Caché [We ♥ COS], we’re pleased to see support for a more universal language like Java. This enables developers to write applications directly into IRIS using Java code. It also makes it easier to use third party and open source libraries alongside our applications. We frequently take advantage of the existing Java support on the platform but it has never been this directly integrated. It was easy to do but always one more thing you had to learn and configure. This is now seamless. And it helps us address a common concern for our clients about being able to recruit talent. Java developers don’t quite grow on trees yet, but there sure a lot of them looking for projects.

Secure File Sharing Adaptors – The healthcare market is becoming increasingly more interested in having common consumer technologies integrated with their in-house platform. IRIS provides a solution to ensure confidential files are shared securely using a variety of popular file sharing services, like Dropbox, allowing exchange of documents back and forth. It is amazing how our industry continues to reinvent solutions to this simple (but serious) task. We are hoping that by integrating with the tools that people are already familiar with we will see safe document sharing move from the “to build” column to the “to turn on” column.

Cloud Deployment Manager –To better leverage the cloud, that thing that everyone wants but doesn’t quite know how to put their hands on, InterSystems has introduced a GUI-based tool to manage and deploy instances of InterSystems IRIS onto public and private clouds. Integration with Amazon Web Services, Google, and VMware have been showcased and we’re assuming it is just going to get bigger from there. This feature has our systems nerds very excited. The power of spinning instances up and down at a whim probably will go to their heads but it sure beats asking them every day “Is that server built yet?”

Enhanced REST API Support – This is what we’re most excited about. Support for RESTful APIs has really matured on the InterSystems platform. The missing piece has been API management, documentation and discovery. Which is now included in IRIS! With the introduction of Swagger compatibility, developers can push a button to access support for RESTful APIs, directly import Swagger files, and smoothly toggle between Swagger and InterSystems IRIS environments. Swagger is not only a developer’s best friend for designing and deploying RESTful API’s but lets the documentation team go home early with everything being self documenting. This is another area where we are excited because it means developers that aren’t familiar with the InterSystems platform can immediately be active on a project without having to go through any specific training.

Bonus item: A Mission-Driven Message We Stand Behind Along with the launch of this new product, InterSystems is emphasizing their message and it resonates perfectly with J2’s mission. Build Something Important. Build Something That Matters. At J2, our work is focused on projects that matter and systems that help improve communities and people’s lives. Since 2004, we’ve partnered with InterSystems and we continue to support our customers’ journeys as together we power what matters for health, business and government. As technologists, we enjoy working with the latest tools and ideas but that doesn’t always align with the particular requirements of healthcare IT. With the direction IRIS is taking us, InterSystems is enabling us to have the best of both worlds: modern familiar technology built on a reliable foundation.

Read more about InterSystems IRIS Data Platform.

Read similar blog posts on Data Matters.

About the Author:

Steve Heard headshot

Steve Heard is the Director of Innovation at J2 Interactive. He has been doing clever things with computers ever since he discovered how to shatter the backboard in “Dr. J and Larry Bird Go One on One”. His career includes positions in multimedia, game development, user interface and engineering of content management systems. His career in healthcare is focused on the sharing and exchange of electronic medical records. 


Originally published on J2 Interactive's blog, June 25, 2018.

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