April 2010 Newsletter

Greetings!

Well it is finally here, IBM i 7.1 (or i5/OS 7.1 or OS/400 7.1).  No matter how you refer to this new release of the operating system it is here.  I have been part of the beta team for the last 3 months, and I can tell you that this release has been rock solid for all the features and functions that we played with during our testing.  We first discussed 7.1 in our October 2009 iTech Solutions Newsletter.  So, I want to just discuss some of the new features and functions in more detail than I was allowed to disclose previously. Are you keeping up with the new features and functions that are available to you?  Are you still on V5R2, V5R3, or V5R4?  It’s time to move forward !!

IBM has stated that there will be a new release of IBM i every two years, and they are currently stating that the next version of IBM i will be 2012. I know from some of my meeting in Rochester on the requirements that they are currently looking at what is going into that next release (While I can’t disclose what is going in, I can say that IBM has been listening to all the requests that we have discussed and they are working on many of our requirements. That is exciting.) In addition, the stated life cycle for the new 7.1 version of IBM i is going to be supported through 2016. The current 6.1 version of IBM i is supported through 2014, so it would stand to reason that the next version of IBM i that is released in 2012 would then be supported until 2018.

Here is the interesting point, I am talking right now about 8 years from now, and I am sure there will be additional releases after the one in 2012. Yet, there are still people who are on V5R3 and V5R4. Those customers need to upgrade to 6.1 and 7.1. If you need help in upgrading your operating system, or you wish to use the iTech Solutions “no-worry upgrade”, then call us. Don’t stay on an old release, when the new releases have all this functionality.

iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, upgrade i5/OS, perform security audits, implement a High Availability solution, Health Checks, Systems Management, Remote Administration,  PTF management, Blade installations, iSCSI Configurations, Backup/Recovery, upgrade an existing machine, or upgrade to a new machine. If you are thinking of LPAR or HMC, then think iTech Solutions.  We have the skills to help you get the most out of your System i.

For more information on any of the articles below please visit us at on the web at iTech Solutions or  email iTech Solutions. We would love for you to let us know any articles that you wish for the future, or if you enjoy any of the articles in the current newsletters.

IBM i 7.1 IBM i Operating System
Let’s highlight some of the new features and functions that are coming out with 7.1. Then in subsequent months, I will go into detail about particulars.

DB2 for i XML Support

  • Native XML support eases exchanging information between customers, suppliers, and partners
  • Rich XML Support now available with DB2 for i
    • XML data type stores XML documents supporting database operations
    • Decompose (shred) XML documents into relational columns
    • Generate XML documents from existing relational data
  • OmniFind Text Search Server provides support for searching XML documents
    • Search elements of an XML document (e.g., customer name = Smith)
    • SQL statements use OmniFind to search the XML documents
  • Column Level Encryption
  • No application changes required
  • Clients and ISVs can easily encrypt sensitive data
  • Encrypt a specific column in a database table
  • Encryption algorithms from solution providers including Patrick Townsend, Linoma Software, and Protegrity
  • Performance
  • Adaptive Query Processing can modify query plan while the query is running to significantly improve performance
  • Advanced SQE query optimizer now supports native logical files
  • On-Demand Performance Center
  • Rich Tools for DB2 for i
  • Visual Explain
  • Available with IBM i for no additional charge

PowerHA SystemMirror for i – Provides High availability and Disaster Recovery.

  • Asynchronous Geographic Mirroring for multi-site DR solution
    • IBM i based mirroring for geographically dispersed systems
    • Asynchronously mirrors disk writes to target system
    • Support for automatic failover
    • Supports IASPs on integrated disk, SAN, and virtual disk
  • LUN level switching for local HA solution
  • Switch IASP on DS8000 or DS6000 between local systems
  • Support for automatic failover
  • Supports native and VIOS with NPIV attached SANs


Using Virtualization, and having IBM i host additional IBM i partitions, you will be able to easily setup multiple partitions at different releases to allow testing of the new release with your applications.  The beauty of this is all you need is an HMC, and no additional hardware.   We currently have set this up for some of our customers who wanted a separate development partition, without wanting to purchase any additional hardware.
  • Deploy new IBM i 7.1 partitions
  • IBM i 6.1 can host I/O for i 7.1 partition
  • Minimize change while deploying new release
  • Maintain current IBM i 6.1 partitions
  • IBM i 7.1 can host I/O for i 6.1 partition
  • Continue to run applications with IBM i 6.1 while leveraging new capabilities of IBM i 7.1


IBM i workload optimization for Solid State Drives (SSD).  We have installed SSDs in a few accounts, and they all have seen a tremendous performance improvement.  This is certainly worth having a performance analysis of your system to determine if SSDs will be helpful in your environment.
  • Total integration with IBM i of database, storage management and performance management enable automated SSD optimization.
  • IBM i automatically moves most active data to SSDs
  • Clients and ISVs can easily optimize applications for SSD
    • DB2 for i supports specifying SSD as target for specific, high use files
  • SSD Analyzer Tool
    • Designed to help determine if SSDs can help improve application performance hot data
    • Runs on IBM i 5.4, 6.1 or 7.1
    • Plus additional enhancements and utilities


Rational Open Access: RPG Edition – Some have said this is the coolest addition to the new release.  The ability to split out from conventional RPG programs the 5250 data stream so that you can program new device types using the same RPG backend logic.  If you are a programmer, this is an excellent feature to play with and extend the life of your existing applications.
  • Extends RPG application reach to pervasive devices
  • Provides ability for RPG programs to work with a variety of clients including  phones, XML, Web Services
  • Developers write handlers for non-5250 interfaces
  • Tool providers plan to offer handler solutions for common devices and interfaces
  • Lansa, looksoftware, Profound Logic and IBM Lab Services
  • Rational Developer for Power with RPG development feature is required to write the code to invoke handlers. Supported Environments:IBM i 7.1 and 6.1


Management Enhancements.  New functions and features to make managing your environment easier.
  • Systems Director Navigator for i
  • Ability to manage a target IBM i 5.4, 6.1 or 7.1 system
  • Navigator management server runs in one place
  • One browser used to manage multiple environments
  • Extends Navigator management IBM i 5.4
  • Support for Tape and Journal management and BRMS
  • Performance Management Enhancements
    • More metrics into Collection Services: DS8000, 12X  Bus, Save/Restore, and Tape
    • Performance Data Investigator is enhanced to include Disk response time and Java memory perspectives


Plus some additional miscellaneous features and functions:


  • Support for latest Websphere offerings
  • iSCSI software target
  • Upgrade to new release of IBM i via network
  • Webserver enhancements
  • New Zend offerings and shipment with IBM i
  • Lotus offering updates
  • IBM Transform Services for Adobe PDF support
  • Encrypted ASP Enhancements
  • BRMS enhancements
  • Support for additional Tape Libraries with NPIV

There is so much more in this release, but what good is reading about these features if you can’t ever use them? If you are still back on V5R3 or V5R4, contact iTech Solutionsand let them upgrade your system for you. You will be glad that you did.

 If you require any help or would like to learn more about how iTech Solutions can help you manage your environment and get more from your existing system, please contact

Release levels and PTFs
 

iSeries Family

People are always asking me how often they should be performing PTF maintenance, and when is the right time to upgrade their operating system.  I updated this article from last month with the current levels of PTFs. Let’s look at PTFs.  First, PTFs are Program Temporary Fixes that are created by IBM to fix a problem that has occurred or to possibly prevent a problem from occurring.  In addition, some times PTFs add new functionality, security, or improve performance.  Therefore, I am always dumbfounded as to why customers do not perform PTF maintenance on their machine at least quarterly.  If IBM has come out with a fix for your disk drives, why do you want to wait for your disk drive to fail with that problem, only to be told that there is a fix for that problem, and if you had applied the PTF beforehand, you would have averted the problem.  Therefore, I think a quarterly PTF maintenance strategy is a smart move.  Many of our customers are on our quarterly PTF maintenance program, and that provides them with the peace of mind of knowing their system is up to date on PTFs.  Below is a table of the major group PTFs for the last few releases.  This is what  we are installing for our customers on iTech Solutions Quarterly Maintenance program.

Releases

                     6.1    V5R4    V5R3    V5R2
Cumul. Pack  10047  9321    8267   6080

Grp Hipers       59    124    169     189

DB Group         13      25     24       25

Java Group       12      23     23       27

Print Group      17      39     20        7

Backup/Recov.  13      31     33       31

Security Group   16     14       7        –

 
Blade/IXA/IXS    14      14        –          –
 
Http                  13       22      17         –                



The easiest way to check your levels is to issue the command WRKPTFGRP.  They should all have a status of installed, and you should be up to the latest for all the above, based upon your release.  Now there are more groups than the ones listed above, but these are the general ones that most people require.  We can help you know which group PTFs you should be installing on your machine based upon your licensed programs. Here is a nice tidbit.  The Cumulative PTF package number is broken down as YDDD, where Y is the year and DDD is the day it was released.  Therefore, if we look at the cumulative package for V5R4, the ID is 9104. We can determine that it was created on the 104th day of 2009, which is April 14, 2009.  Look at your machine and this will give you a quick indication of just how far out of date in PTFs you may be.  I left V5R1 off the list, because if you are on V5R1, you don’t need to be worrying about PTFs, you really need to be upgrading your operating system.  The same can be said for V5R2 and V5R3, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have an HMC, you should be running V7R7.1  If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.
For your Flexible Service Processor (FSP) that is inside your Power 5 or Power5+ (520, 515, 525, 550, 570), the code level of the FSP should be 01_SF240_382. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_038.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_038. If you have a Power6 595 (9119-FMA) then you should be on EH350_038. POWER7 the firmware level is AL710_043.
If you need help with upgrading your HMC or FSP just give us a call.  We will be happy to perform the function for you or assist you in doing it. Contact Pete Massiello.

 

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