April 2012 Newsletter

Greetings!

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

 

In this issue of the newsletter, I want to focus on IPLs, as I have been talking with quite a few customers lately about IPLs, how often, when, how, and I thought this would be a good theme for this month.  One question that I get asked often is how often should I IPL.  My answer to this, is no less than quarterly.  What? Yes, just one IPL every few months is all that you need.  If you are a heavy user of temporary storage, you might need to monitor this, and perhaps do it more often, but the reason why you don’t want to IPL too much is performance.  To be more precise, database performance. Why would this be.  The SQL Plan Cache is cleared during each IPL. The Plan Cache is a repository that contains the access plans for queries that were optimized by SQE.  The Plan Cache is interrogated each time a query is executed in order to determine if a valid access plan exists that satisfies the requirements of the query. If a valid access plan is found, it is
used to implement the query. Otherwise a new access plan is created and stored in the Plan Cache for future use.  Note, with the latest Database Group PTF, the size of the Plan cache can now be larger holding more information to make the database performance better.  See, it pays to be on the latest release, at the latest PTF level.

 

This issue of our newsletter has five articles. In the first, we will discuss IPLs, how often, when, and how.  The second article is about one of my favorite commands used during IPLs.  The third article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating.  The fourth article is about recent IBM hardware announcements. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information. Please note that we have added a new PTF group to our recommended list, which is the High Availability Group.  If you are an iTech Solutions PTF Maintenance customer, you will receive this on your next application of PTFs.

If you are still on V5R4, send Pete an email and he can help you upgrade to 6.1 or 7.1. With over 380 6.1/7.1 upgrades done to date you know iTech Solutions has the expertise and know how.

iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, perform security audits; implement a High Availability solution; perform 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 IBM i.

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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.

IPLs 
Light
 

 

Initial Program Load (IPL).

Let’s start with what it is. Some people also refer to this as a “Reboot” of your system. It reinitializes your system, reloading the operating system. You may need to reinitialize your system after some types of hardware or software upgrades. You do this with an IPL.  An IPL resets system storage (cleans out what was there and replaces it with new data). In other words, IPL means start your system

When you perform an initial program load (IPL), the process resets your system’s storage. It causes the system to recognize changes in the system environment, such as changes in the following:

  • Hardware
  • Operating mode, IPL type, and IPL speed
  • IPL options (system date and time, clearing queues, and more)
  • Major system options (automatic configuration, device naming, and special environments

We can usually do this a few ways.  When the system is up and running, we could issue the command PWRDWNSYS RESTART(*YES).  If the system/partition was off we could press the white button on a non-LPARed machine, or activate a partition from an HMC.

There are four modes for an IPL, but we are only going to discuss two of them, Normal and Manual.

Normal
After the power-on, operating the system in Normal (unattended) mode requires no operator intervention during the IPL.When you power on the system in normal mode, it performs the IPL and presents the Sign On screen on all available display stations. The operator cannot change the system during the IPL.

You would use a normal mode IPL to do this:

  • Perform an IPL and run the system for most routine work
  • Load PTFs
Manual
After power-on, operating the system in Manual (attended) mode means that an operator uses the control panel to direct the system for special needs.During manual mode IPL, DST and the operating system present menus and prompts that allow you to make changes to the system. Use manual mode to IPL and run the system to perform the following actions:

  • Change IPL options (including system values)
  • Install the operating system
  • Manually load program temporary fixes (PTFs)
  • Make some types of system hardware upgrades
  • Use DST
  • For some Disk maintenance & management.

 

 

The next item is the type or “side” to IPL from.  We will discuss A, B, and D. You will probably almost always use the “B” side.

The A side loads a copy of the Licensed Internal Code (LIC) with just the permanently applied PTFs, there are no temporary applied PTFs loaded. You would IPL from the A side in the following circumstances:
  • When IPL type B fails
  • When the procedures direct you to use IPL type A
The B side loads a copy of the Licensed Internal Code that has both the Temporary and Permanently applied PTFs.  This is normally your most current or newest code. You would use the B side most of the time, especially for routine work. You would run from this side when you permanently apply certain PTFs.
The “C” side is reserved for hardware service representative use under the direction of Rochester development support.
IPL from the “D” side when directed for special work, such as installing and reloading programs.This loads the system programs from an alternate IPL load source, such as a tape drive or CD-ROM. You would also use this if your load source disk had failed, or installing a new system.  You can both “scratch” install a system (initialize it) at this point, or just replace the license internal code. 

You can use the type and mode together for various combinations, and various reasons.  I hope this explains what happens during an IPL, and the options that you have.

 

Change IPL Attributes.      

IBM i Operating System

The Change IPL Attributes Command, CHGIPLA, is used to change attributes or functions on the next IPL.  I like to use this when I don’t want the system to startup after an IPL, I use the last parameter Start to Restricted State, and I change it’s default of *NO to *YES.  This prevents any of the subsystems from starting, and I come back to a restricted state after an IPL.  I find this very handy to run this command after I have loaded all my PTFs, and now I want to IPL to apply them all.  Then when the IPL is complete, I can check to make sure everything applied, and then perform my save.  I think you will also find some great uses of this command when you want to IPL but not have the system restart after the IPL.

Here are all the parameters.

 

Restart type (RESTART)

Specifies the point from which the initial program load (IPL) restarts when RESTART(*YES) or RESTART((*YES *IPLA)) are specified on the Power Down System (PWRDWNSYS) command. Specifying *SYS rather than *FULL can reduce the time required to restart the system. The initial (shipped) value for this parameter is *SYS.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*SYS
The operating system is restarted. The hardware is restarted only if a PTF that requires a hardware restart is to be applied.
*FULL
All portions of the system, including the hardware, are restarted.
Keylock position (KEYLCKPOS)Specifies the keylock position. A change to this attribute takes effect immediately. The following restrictions apply when the keylock position is being changed:

  • The keylock position cannot be set to MANUAL for security reasons.
  • If the keylock position is currently SECURE, the keylock position cannot be changed.
  • If the system has a keylock and the key is not inserted, the keylock position cannot be changed.
*SAME
The value does not change.
*NORMAL
The keylock position is changed to NORMAL.
*AUTO
The keylock position is changed to AUTO.
*SECURE
The keylock position is changed to SECURE.
Hardware diagnostics (HDWDIAG)Specifies whether certain hardware diagnostics should be performed during the IPL. The list of diagnostics is pre-determined by the system and cannot be modified by the user.

On a partitioned system, this IPL attribute can only be changed from the primary partition or the hardware management console.

The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *MIN.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*MIN
The minimum set of hardware diagnostics is run.
*ALL
All hardware diagnostics are run.
Compress job tables (CPRJOBTBL)Specifies when the job tables should be compressed to remove excess unused entries. The Display Job Tables (DSPJOBTBL) command can be used to determine the number of unused entries in the job tables. Excessive unused entries can indicate that job tables need to be compressed. However, compression can take a significant amount of time during IPL. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NONE.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*NONE
The job tables are not compressed during any IPL.
*NORMAL
The job tables are compressed during normal IPLs only.
*ABNORMAL
The job tables are compressed during abnormal IPLs only.
*ALL
The job tables are compressed during all IPLs.
Check job tables (CHKJOBTBL)Specifies when particular damage checks on the job tables should be performed. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *ABNORMAL.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*ABNORMAL
The job table checks are performed during an abnormal IPL only.
*ALL
The job table checks are performed during all IPLs.
*SYNC
The job table checks are performed synchronously during all IPLs.
Rebuild product directory (RBDPRDDIR)Specifies when the product directory information should be fully rebuilt. A full rebuild is required during the IPL following the install of the operating system. This attribute is overridden during that IPL. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NONE.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*NONE
The product directory information is not fully rebuilt.
*NORMAL
The product directory information is fully rebuilt during a normal IPL only.
*ABNORMAL
The product directory information is fully rebuilt during an abnormal IPL only.
*ALL
The product directory information is fully rebuilt during all IPLs.
Mail Server Framework recovery (MSFRCY)Specifies whether Mail Server Framework recovery is done during abnormal IPLs. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NONE.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*NONE
Mail Server Framework recovery is not done during IPL. Recovery is done when Mail Server Framework starts.
*ABNORMAL
Mail Server Framework recovery is done during an abnormal IPL.
Display status (DSPSTS)Specifies whether the status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed at the console during IPL. Status is not displayed during install IPLs or when the console is not powered on. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *ALL.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*SYS
The status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed during attended IPLs and abnormal IPLs.
*NONE
The status of OS/400 IPL steps is not displayed during IPL.
*ATTEND
The status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed during attended IPLs.
*ABNORMAL
The status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed during abnormal IPLs.
*ALL
The status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed during all IPLs, excepted as noted above.
Start TCP/IP (STRTCP)Specifies whether the Start TCP/IP (STRTCP) command is automatically submitted at the completion of IPL and when the controlling subsystem is restarted to bring the system out of the restricted state. The STRTCP command is not submitted during install IPLs or when the system is starting to the restricted state. See the STRTCP command help for more information. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *YES.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*YES
STRTCP command is automatically submitted.
*NO
STRTCP command is not automatically submitted.
Clear job queues (CLRJOBQ)Specifies whether or not to clear the jobs from all job queues. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NO. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*YES
The job queues are cleared during the IPL. This attribute is then reset to *NO.
*NO
The job queues are not cleared.
Clear output queues (CLROUTQ)Specifies whether or not to clear all output queues, thus removing all spooled output from the system. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NO. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*YES
The output queues are cleared during the IPL. This attribute is then reset to *NO.
*NO
The output queues are not cleared.
Clear incomplete joblogs (CLRINCJOB)Specifies whether or not to delete the joblogs for jobs that were active at the time of the last system power down. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NO. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*YES
The joblogs are deleted during the IPL. This attribute is then reset to *NO.
*NO
The joblogs are not deleted.
Start print writers (STRPRTWTR)Specifies whether or not print writers should be started at IPL time. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *YES. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*YES
Print writers are started at IPL time.
*NO
Print writers are not started at IPL time. This attribute is then reset to *YES.
Start to restricted state (STRRSTD)Specifies whether or not the system should be started to the restricted state, which means that only the system console will be active. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NO. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*SAME
The value does not change.
*YES
The system is started to the restricted state. This attribute is then reset to *NO.
*NO
The system is not started to the restricted state.

 

 

 

Upcoming Events. 

  Events 

 

 

 

June 10 to 12, COMMON Europe www.comeur.org in Vienna Austria.

  • What do you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance  and reduce disk space.
  • A Programmers future: Looking back to see into the Future.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.

July 20th OCEAN User group www.ocean400.org of Southern California.

  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance  and reduce disk space
  • Everything to Get Started with the New
    Systems Navigator Console for IBM i
  • What do you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.

September 18 – Vermont User Group www.vtmug.org

  • Sessions being planned

September 19 –  The New England Midrange Users Group www.nemug.com of Rhode Island.

  • A Programmers future: Looking back to see into the Future.

 

 

New IBM Hardware recently announced.
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IBM last month announced some new hardware for Power Systems (The machine that used to be called an AS/400 or an iSeries). There are some really nice enhancements that I would like to summarize, most of them deal with improving performance, virtualization, and physical footprint.  If you need help with hardware, contact either Glenn or Paul for help.

IBM has withdrawn the SDMC, and will continue to enhance and support the HMC.  This is a great statement of direction, as the HMC is a great management interface for any Power Systems.

The EXP30 Ultra SSD I/O Drawer provides an ultra-dense and ultra-high-performance option for solid state drives (SSDs). Up to thirty 387 GB Enterprise Multi-Level Cell (eMLC) solid state drives can be installed inside the EXP30, only occupying 1U of 19-inch rack space. In addition, there is an imbedded pair of SAS disk controllers built directly into the disk draw. This attaches directly to the GX++ slots of your Power7 machine.  Note, that you can’t use this if you have a P05 class machine.

A new low profile PCIe Gen2 SAS adapter (#ESA2) for the 2U PCIe Riser card of the Power 720/740. It supports SSDs providing RAID 0, 5, 6 and 10 capabilities using a single PCIe slot. There is also a full high version (#ESA1) is available for taller Power Systems PCIe Gen2 slots. Though its overall SSD performance capacity is lower than that of the #5913 PCIe2 1.8GB Cache RAID SAS Adapter it only uses one PCIe slot, and and a lower cost than it’s older brother the 5913. Be careful, as these controllers have ZERO write cache.

SSD capacity and performance are doubled for SFF SAS bays with a 387 GB eMLC solid state drive (#ES0A/ES0B/ES0C/ES0D). These SSDs have twice the capacity of the existing 177GB SSDs (#1775/1787/1793/1794) but are also more money.

The new PCIe2 4-port 1Gb Ethernet Adapter offers four copper/UTP Ethernet ports at a significantly lower price than the existing 4-port UTP adapters (#5271/5717).

A new 4-port 1Gb LAN adapter, which will replace the 2-port 1Gb LAN adapter, currently in the “C” models of Power 720/740 machines.

IBM plans that POWER6 servers running the IBM i release following 7.1 will not support the older, slower HSL/RIO attached I/O drawers. This planning statement does not impact POWER7 clients or IBM i 7.1 clients. POWER7 servers do not support HSL/RIO I/O drawers and there is no change to IBM i 7.1 HSL/RIO support. IBM i clients who have an HSL/RIO-attached I/O drawer or tower such as the #5094/5294, #0595/5095, #0588/5088, #5790, or #5791/5794 should plan on moving to newer 12X-attached I/O drawers on their POWER6 server before moving to the release following IBM i 7.1. There is also an option to have these towers owned by a 6.1 or 7.1 host, and then virtualize them to the next release of the operating system with IBM i hosting IBM i.

We can help you make the most of your investment, because we know and understand the hardware, the direction, and what will become obsolete.  Understanding this, insures that when you use iTech Solutions for your IBM Power System purchases, you will be able to leverage your investment into the future.

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

                     7.1     6.1    V5R4    V5R3
Cumul. Pack     12115    12122   12094    8267

Tech. Refresh         4

Grp Hipers            60       120     177      169

DB Group              14         26       33       24

Java Group            8         19        29       23

Print Group            5         24        46       20

Backup/Recov.     14         27        44      33

Blade/IXA/IXS        9         23        15        –

HTTP                   13        25         31      17
TCP/IP                  6        14         21      16

Security               17        30        25

High Availability     1         1

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 & V5R2 off the list, because if you are on V5R1 or V5R2, you don’t need to be worrying about PTFs, you really need to be upgrading your operating system.  The same can be said for V5R3, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have an HMC, you should be running  V7R7.4 with SP2 or V7R7.5 with efix MH01312. If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.5 SP4.
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_417. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_118.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_118. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_120.
Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B or C). The firmware level is AL730_078 for 8202-E4B & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_078 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_078 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).  The firmware level is AL740-077 for 8202-E4C & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM740_077 for 770 (9117-MMC) & 780 (9179-MHC).
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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