August 2009 Newsletter

Greetings!

 
Do the summers seem to pass faster as you get older? Wow, I can’t believe we are heading into the end of August.  We hope you have enjoyed the summer and have had a chance to relax and enjoy the warmth.  We have done quite a few upgrades to both i5/OS V6R1 and V5R4 this summer, as well as installations of new Power6 machines.  With each and every installation we do, I am constantly amazed at the speed of these new Power6 machines.

This issue of our newsletter has five articles. In the first, we want to make you aware of how easy it is to install and activate Performance Management/400 on your IBM i.  The second article is on different LTO tape technology. The third article is about the iTech Solution Cash for Clunkers AS/400 Trade-in program, which allows you to save money and make the transition to new Power6 hardware so much easier. The fourth article is about iTech Solutions presence on both Facebook and LinkedIn.  The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information for your use.

We receive a lot of calls from customers who haven’t had a chance to upgrade and now have an urgent need because they realize that their support has ended.  As a reminder, support for i5/OS V5R3 ended April 30, 2009. Give us a call, and we will do the upgrade to V5R4 or V6R1 for you.


iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, upgrade i5/OS, perform security audits, implement a High Availability solution, VoIP, Systems Management, PTF management, Blade installations, iSCSI Configurations, 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.

 

How to send PM Agent (PM/400) data to IBM.
Light

 
Ok, what is PM/400 and why do you care?  Performance Management/400 (PM/400) uses Collection Services to gather the nonproprietary performance and capacity data from your server and then sends the data to IBM. PM/400 is automated and self-managing, which allows for easy use. When you send your data to IBM, you eliminate the need to store all the trending data yourself. IBM stores the data for you and provides you with a series of reports and graphs that show your server’s growth and performance. You can access your reports electronically using a traditional browser.
Let’s start by making sure we have the right products on the system.  For V6R1 you need 5761-JC1 (IBM Toolbox kit for Java), and 5761-JV1 (Developer Kit for Java).   For V5R4 you need 5722-SS1 Option 34 (Digital Certificate Manager), 5722-JC1 (IBM Toolbox kit for Java), 5722-JV1 (Developer Kit for Java).   After we have the right products, we want to insure we have the following group PTFs installed.  For V6R1 install the latest groups: SF99355 – Electronic Service Agent, SF99562 – Java, and SF99115 – HTTP Server for i5/OS. For V5R4 install the latest groups: SF99316 – Electronic Service Agent, SF99291 – Java, and SF99114 – HTTP Server of i5/OS.
At this point we are ready to start using the product.  I hope you have already setup your communications with IBM, so that your machine is calling home when a problem happens on your IBM i (AS/400, iSeries, or System i).  If you have internet connectivity, you should be using that.  If not, use PPP and the internal modem. The last way is to use your old QESLINE, but that is dinosaur communications now.  You can enter the command CFGPMAGT and press enter.  On the next screen, pick your communications method, which most likely will be a “1”, unless you are using the QESLINE, in which case it will be a “2”.  In almost all instances, you will answer “0” to the next question of receive performance data.  Press enter, make sure your contact information is correct, and then enter again.
Let’s go to the Service menu by entering “GO SERVICE” from a command line.  Select option “1” for Change Service Agent Attributes, and then set the Enable parameter to *YES, and press enter twice.  You now want to confirm that the Service jobs are running by entering option “10” for Work with jobs from the Service menu. You should then see the following 5 jobs running: QS9HDWMON, QS9PALMON, QS9PRBMON, QS9PRBSND, and QS9SFWMON.  The last thing to check is to make sure that all the service jobs were added to the job scheduler. Issue the WRKJOBSCDE command. You should see QSJERRRPT, QSHEARTBT, QS9AUTOPTF, QS9AUTOTST, and QS9SACOL.  One thing that I have found is sometimes the QS9AUTOPTF and the QS9AUTOTST are scheduled to run at the same time.  If that is the case, just put a 2 for Change next to one of the jobs and change the date and/or time so that they don’t both run at the same time.
You can do a quick test by entering the command WRKSRVAGT TYPE(*SRVINF) and press enter. Take the defaults.  Now do a WRKACTJOB and monitor the QYPSJSVR job for the submission of QYIVRIPS.

Using Different  Tape  Technology.
  magnifying glass

         

Tape technology is always changing.   We get faster tapes drives, drives that can write more to a tape, and tapes that can actually hold more information. Along with these great benefits are the issues of tape compatibility. “Will the tapes that I created 5 years ago be able to be read on our new tape drive?”  Or a better question lately seems to be “Will the tapes that I created last week be able to be read on my new tape drive?”   While designing new or replacement systems, you always need to examine the current tape technology.  Sometimes on an older system, the customer might have 8MM, 3570, 3590, ¼ inch, DAT, or even reel-to-reel.  Many of our customers with smaller machines (150, 170, and 270 class machines) will have ¼ inch technology tapes.  Now, even these ¼ inch tapes can be different formats like SLR-32, SLR60, SLR100, and then even older formats as well.  While the larger tape formats can usually read the smaller formats, what happens when you want to change to a newer technology? In these instances, what is required in order to convert to a new machine?


Then we also have the LTO technology which is becoming the most prevalent tape technology on the IBM i. I think there are three reasons for this.  First, it’s relatively inexpensive for what you get.  Second, it’s very fast transfer rate.  Third, it’s capacity to hold information.  An LTO-4 tape drive can hold 800GB uncompressed, and up to 1.6TB compressed.  That is a huge amount of data.  Compatibility with older LTO formats is also pretty good.  For the LTO tape drives, you can always read and write to the current format and the previous format, but only read the two generations prior format.  For example, if you are purchasing an LTO-4 tape drive, you can read and write LTO-4 and LTO-3 tape cartridges, but only read LTO-2 tape cartridges.  So when we are designing a new system for a customer, we have to taken into consideration their current tape drive device and tape format, along with their future requirements.  For instance, if a customer is currently using an LTO-2 internal tape on an old 9406 Power5 520, and we are designing a new 8203 Power6 one-core with an integrated SAS LTO-4 tape drive, there is no problem for the conversion.  An LTO-4 tape drive can read and write to both LTO-3 and LTO-4 tapes, and read LTO-2.  You would be required to purchase new tapes for your LTO-4 drive as you couldn’t write to the LTO-2 tapes, but the new tapes could be LTO-3 or LTO-4.  If you had an LTO-1 tape drive on the older Power5 520, we would have a problem during the conversion as the new LTO-4 tape drives can’t read those older LTO-1 tapes. 


Many times what we are currently seeing is that the customer has an external LTO-3 tape drive, and they are using LTO-3 tapes in the drive.  They have purchased a large number of  LTO-3 tapes for their backups, and the tapes aren’t cheap (and the LTO-4 tapes are even more expensive).  If we are replacing this with a new LTO-4 drive, we don’t want the customer to have to spend more money just to purchase new LTO-4 tapes for the new tape drive when they have plenty of LTO-3 tapes.  Instead we can save the customer money by allowing them to use their LTO-3 tapes in the new LTO-4 tape drives.  However when they do need to purchase new tapes, it would be wise to get the LTO-4 tape media.  One of the problems which develops when you have LTO-3 tapes in an LTO-4 tape drive is when a customer tries to initialize a tape, or they have a CL program that initializes a tape, the default on the INZTAP command is to initialize the tape as the format of the device. The command will fail when an LTO-3 tape is loaded into an LTO-4 tape drive in that case.  To fix that, we change the default for the Density parameter on the INZTAP command from *DEVTYPE to *CTGTYPE.  *CTGTYPE means cartridge type, and as long as the cartridge type is compatible with the tape (i.e. LTO-3 tape in an LTO-4 drive), the tape will format correctly.

CHGCMDDFT CMD(INZTAP) NEWDFT(‘DENSITY(*CTGTYPE)’)


Now the customer is able to purchase the newer tape drive, but continue to use their previous generation tapes, without having the added expense of purchasing all new tapes.  Best of all with this change, when the customer decides to purchase some new LTO-4 tapes, the tape drive will automatically format it correctly as an LTO-4 tape since the drive will know it’s an LTO-4 cartridge.
Now what happens if you are using ¼ inch tapes on your old machine, but wish to go with LTO-4 technology on your new machine?  No problem, as iTech Solutions has the required hardware and skills to do the conversion for you.  We backup the old machine on the ¼ tape technology, and iTech Solutions will do a tape duplication for you to your new format.  Then we can rebuild your current machine using the LT0-4. 


Remember, the newer tape technologies are faster, more reliable, and denser.  Even if you don’t need a new machine, let iTech Solutions come in and analyze your backup and tape technology to improve your backup and piece of mind.  I wouldn’t want to rely on old tape technology to recover my system.  I will leave you with this old joke.  The new IT Manager comes into the computer room and asks the administrator “What tape technology are we using here?”  The administrator responds “8 millimeter”.  The IT manager with a tilt of the head asks “What’s that?”  The administrator says “Write once, Read MAYBE”.  I hope your tape technology is more reliable than that!  If not call iTech Solutions at 203-744-8954.

 

iTech Solutions Cash for Clunkers AS/400 Trade-in Program.

Old AS400s

As part of our patriotic duties, iTech Solutions has decided to have its own IBM AS/400 Cash for Clunkers trade-in program.  There are a few AS/400 clunkers that are still out there, and we want to help get you into a new machine.  We are talking about model 150, 170, 270, 6xx, 7xx, and 8xx models.  These machines are not giving your machine a competitive advantage and allowing you to embrace new technologies, nor are they allowing your present applications to perform up to their expectations. While these old clunkers may be overloaded and running at close to 100% in your environment, we will show you how with a new machine you will get many more miles per gallon with a new Power6 8203.  If you have one of those older models let us show you how we can reduce your power consumption, reduce your hardware maintenance, reduce your software maintenance, reduce your backup window, and provide you with more performance than you can imagine.
What the iTech Solutions Cash for Clunkers AS/400 Trade-in program offers is that we will design your new machine based upon your requirements, configure your new machine, order and install the machine, set it up, and perform the migration from your existing machine to the new machine at the same operating system level.  We will do this for 25% off our normal service charge.  In addition, you will get one year free of our Bronze PTF maintenance package.  One of our IBM i technicians will update your machine semi-annually to the latest Cumulative PTFs, Group Hipers, Database group, ECS Group, HTTP Group, Backup/Recovery Group, Security Group, and Print Group PTFs.  You also have the ability to upgrade to our Silver or Gold quarterly maintenance package if you desire. We make the conversions and migration almost invisible to our customers, plus you get the support and knowledge of iTech Solutions, so there are no worries.  We handle everything, so all you need to worry about is your business.  Let us worry and handle the installation, migration, and management of your IBM i.
Let iTech Solutions come in and do a free analysis of your current environment and then provide you with the details of your new machine.  We can discuss the benefits of the new machine, the Return on Investment, reduction of on-going expenses, transfer of existing software to reduce upgrade costs, and steps in the installation/migration project plan.  In addition, we offer very attractive lease options that can help with your companies monthly cash flow.  Contact either Pete or Glenn at iTech Solutions.

Facebook and LinkedIn
 

Facebook
Social Networking seems to be the rage nowadays, with posts, blogs, and information being written daily.  We want to be able get information to our customers as quickly as possible, but also give our customers the ability to ask questions of us, or post to a forum to get a reply back as quickly as possible. We have created two groups for those of you on either Facebook and/or LinkedIn.  We haven’t done the Twitter route, as I don’t think there is much you can write technically in 140 characters.   For those of you on Facebook, please add the iTech Solutions Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=126431824120, and on LinkedIn, the iTech Solutions Group is http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2206093.  If you are on both, please join them both.
We hope these new additions are helpful to you and provide an additional source of IBM i information besides our monthly newsletters.  Please feel free to ask questions or post an answer to a question on either one.  It’s a great way to contact our technical folks with questions as well.
 LinkedIn

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.  You might notice that this week, IBM just created a new Security PTF Group, so I have added this to our list, as we are installing this for our customers on iTech Solutions Quarterly Maintenance program.
Releases

                     6.1    V5R4    V5R3    V5R2
Cumul. Pack   9111   9104    8267   6080

Grp Hipers        42     107     169      189

DB Group          10       22      24        25

Java Group       10       21      23        27

Print Group       10       32       20         7

Backup/Recov.   9       26       33        31

Security Group   10       9         7         –

Blade/IXA/IXS    11      11        –          –
Http                   9       20      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 V7R3.4.0 with Service Pack 2 and PTF MH01181 installed. This PTF is Required for V7.3.4.
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 EL340_075.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM340_075. If you have a Power6 595 (9119-FMA) then you should be on EH340_075.
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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