August 2011 Newsletter

Greetings!

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

 

First, we hope that you and your families are safe and dry after this weekend’s hurricane.  We are all glad to see Irene leave the area. Our phones at iTech Solutions never stopped ringing on Friday as customer after customer called with questions.  We were glad that we were able to help so many of you.  As with any event like this, we need to reflect on the things we have learned from Hurricane Irene.  Our procedures, our backups, location of our tapes, electrical requirements, machine location, etc.  I hope you spend the coming week looking back on what you should improve, what steps you can change to make things better, or how you should be testing your disaster recovery procedures.  An event like this or similar will happen again, and you need to make sure you are prepared.  When was the last time you tested your backups by recovering your system? If you answered never, you really need to think about testing your recovery.

 

Each month our newsletter brings to light tips and techniques that help many System Administrators in their job, as well as managers know what is happening in the IBM i world.  We are happy to be able to help so many people in the IBM i community.  The number of iTech Solutions customers is growing each month, and that is due to our commitment to our customers, our services, and the support that we provide.  Find out for yourself what it is like to work with a business partner who cares about you and your success.

 

 

Due to Hurricane Irene, I am going to focus this month’s articles on Backup, Recovery, and Planning. This issue of our newsletter has five articles. In the first, we look at a iTech Solutions Cloud Based Backup Solution. Giving you the ability to easily and efficiently backup your system to our Virtual Tape Vault, getting your data immediately off-site.  How handy would that have been this past weekend? The second article is How to Recover your system.   The third article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating.  The fourth article is how to start journaling all objects in a library. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information.

 

 

If you are still on V5R4, send Pete an email and he can help you upgrade to V6R1 or V7R1, with over 300 V6R1 upgrades done to date you know iTech Solutions has the expertise and know how.

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.

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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.

Cloud connected Backup and Recovery options.
Light
 

How would you like to perform backups and immediately have your data off-site? How would you like your data totally encrypted?

 

iTech Solutions Vault, Powered by EVault®, is a premier online backup and recovery service that provides secure, reliable, efficient protection of your organization’s critical data. The service gives you a professional-grade data protection infrastructure that safeguards your data without additional capital or IT expenses-the same top-tier cloud infrastructure, team of storage experts, and state-of-the-art technology that powers backup and recovery for over 32,000 companies worldwide, as well as the online data protection services used by some of the world’s largest managed service providers.

 

iTech Solutions and EVault offer proven best-practice deployment of industry-leading technology and a team of data protection experts to follow through on our commitment to your backup and recovery requirements. iTech Solutions operates, manages and fully supports the EVault service from our data center, and encrypted backup data is replicated to a secondary vault in a top-tier data center, providing 99.98% availability. You get the reliability of the EVault cloud with iTech Solutions broad service offerings, local expertise, and business know-how. The iTech Solutions Vault, Powered by EVault solution provides a perfect fit for companies with limited IT resources who want a complete backup and recovery managed service, and who prefer a “pay as you go” business model.

 

How It Works

 

The iTech Solutions service centralizes the backup and recovery of data distributed throughout your organization: headquarters, branch offices, and even laptops. Agents automatically back up your data over the Internet to a highly secure data center. You monitor and manage everything within a web browser. Recovery is just as easy: when you need to restore data, simply navigate to the recovery point via an intuitive user interface, then click. EVault Reports provide a detailed look at the status of your backups.

 

Secure, Reliable Data Protection Infrastructure

 

EVault manages more than 35 petabytes of data in nine geographically dispersed, state-of-the art data centers. This ensures that your data is stored at the highest level of classifications for data center reliability and performance Independent audits, completed every year through SAS 70 Type II Certification, guarantees our facilities and processes conform to industry standards FIPS approved AES encryption locks your data before it leaves your computer, and ensures that only you have the key to unlock it.

 

Transfer Data Quickly and Efficiently

 

One of the few storage solutions offering both source-side (Agent) and back-end (Vault) data compression and deduplication, EVault can reduce transmitted data volume by more than 99 percent, dramatically minimizing storage space and bandwidth requirements.

  • Front end data deduplication ensures that only new and changed data blocks are sent to storage, decreasing backup times and reducing storage footprints
  • Back-end data deduplication streamlines storage by eliminating redundant blocks of data within backup jobs, further decreasing storage footprints without compromising performance or scalability
  • Compression technology and bandwidth throttling maximize backup transfer speed and reduce impact on productivity

 

Easy Deployment and Management

  • A simple web interface takes the pain out of data protection.
  • Our technical specialists can help you set up even the most complex backup schedule in short order
  • Customizable views and simple task delegation
  • Hot backups support 24/7 operations by backing up mission-critical applications while they are online

 

Ensure Compliance with Data Protection Policies, Regulations, and Governance

  • Flexible retention scheduling to help you satisfy internal and external requirements
  • Use EVault Reports to get instant, centralized, and accurate information about your entire backup and recovery process

 

If you are interested in the iTech Solutions Vault, powered by EVault,  please send an  email to Pete.

 

 System Recovery.   

IBM i Operating System

 

Last week, iTech Solutions sent out a special newsletter right before Hurricane Irene hit the area on backing up your IBM i.  We discussed what you needed to do to get a full backup.  While it makes your recovery extremely easy if you had the luxury of being able to perform a full backup every night, not everyone is able to do a full backup each and every night.

 

Therefore, the recovery is about putting the pieces back together in the right order and correctly. We do this all the time with customers as we test their recovery.  Before you can recover your machine, you need to know and understand what was backed up  and how.  If you have BRMS then it is extremely easy, as BRMS creates a recovery report that you print out each day.  If you are using BRMS and don’t print the recovery report (or have access to it when you need it), you don’t stand a chance to recover that system.

 

For everyone who doesn’t use BRMS (If you don’t know what BRMS is, you probably don’t use it) you should print your backup procedures and keep them with your tapes.   This could be in the form of what you do for daily, weekly, and monthly backups, or even better the actual CL Programs that are used for your  backups.

 

The next question we always seem to get in a recovery is “So, what exactly should I be backing up each night?”.  The answer to that question is it depends on a few items: the size of your backup window, if you can be in a restricted mode, will everything fit on one tape, object locks, and the size and number of objects.  For those customers who have a large backup window with no one using their system at night, then a full system save is always the best.  Is it overkill? Sure, but it will make your restoration easy.  Since that isn’t always practical then what I recommend is a monthly GO SAVE 21 which is a Full System Save:

  • SAVSYS
  • SAVLIB *NONSYS
  • SAVDLO
  • SAV 

If you don’t have time for that, then do a GO SAVE 22 which backups all the IBM stuff

  • SAVSYS
  • SAVLIB *IBM
  • SAV OBJ((‘/QIBM/ProdData’) (‘/QOpenSys/QIBM/ProdData’))

Either one of these is your basis for recovery.  Then each night all you have to backup is backup security data, configuration data, all the user libraries, and user IFS directories.  In that order.

 

Of course, if you don’t have the time or the window each night to do the above, then there is customization you can perform to just backup the libraries that change.  This will be a more complicated backup, and  a much more complicated restore.

 

One very important note on Restoration.  If you have a fibre connected tape drive, you can’t IPL directly from the tape device.  You need to do a D-Mode Manual IPL from your I_BASE_01 CD to load the initial System Licensed Internal Code, and then create your tape drive as an alternative installation device.  You will also need to create an alternative installation device on some machines that have an external tape drive and don’t have an HMC.  Since we do a restoration a week for different customers, this is easy for us to perform, but you should have these actual steps in your documentation.

 

Look, the backup is the easy part.  The restoration if you don’t know or understand what you are doing is the tough part. Don’t make your first restoration the first time you have to recover your machine.  We have machines in our office that you can test your recovery on, and we have machines that we can bring to you to test your recovery on.  Our services can range from us doing the recovery and preparing a report to you performing the recovery yourself on one of our machines.  In any case, if you haven’t tested recovering your backups, then your backups can’t be depended on !

 

Email John to schedule a recovery.

 

 

 

Upcoming Events. 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Sept 13 Omni User Group in Chicago www.omni.org :

  • What you need to know to do successful upgrades to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Systems Director Navigator Console
  • Skills you need now and in the future (Conference wrap-up).

Wednesday Sept 21 – Rhode Island User Group www.nemug.com 

 

Tips and Tricks for Improving        System performance.

 

Tuesday Sept 27 – Vermont User group www.VTMUG.ORG :

  • Systems Director Navigator Console
  • System Administration Tips & Techniques.

October 3 to 5th, in St.Petersburg, FL at the COMMON Fall Event, Pete Massiello will present:

  • What you need to know to do successful IBM i (OS/400) upgrades to 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.
  • HMC, IBM i, FSP, Firmware: Putting all the pieces together.
  • Everything you need to know to get started with the new Systems Director Navigator Console.

 

IBM i DevCon 2011 in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood Hotel – Nov 2 to 4th.

  • Step-by-step instructions for upgrading your system to 6.1 & 7.1
  • Critical overview of the HMC, IBM i, FSP, and firmware. Putting all the pieces together.
  • Real-world advise to conserve disk space and improve IBM i performance.
  • Build your own IBM i 7.1 test environment with virtual partitions – No additional hardware required.

 

Start Journal Library

 

IBM i Operating System

The Start Journal Library (STRJRNLIB) command introduced in 6.1, and enhanced in 7.1 is a great way to  journal an entire library or list of libraries.

Objects created in, move into, or restored into a journaled library may be automatically journaled to the same journal the library is journaled to. Which objects inherit the journal state of the library and what journaling attributes they start journaling with are determined by the inherit journaling attributes of the library. You can’t have an object journaling to more than one journal.

The Inherit Rules parameter can specify different rules for different objects.  Remember that these rules only affect objects when they are created, moved into, or restored into the library.  The journaling state and journaling attributes of objects within the library do not change if they are renamed.

If the specified library contains a
data area named QDFTJRN, no objects being created, moved, or restored into the library will inherit the journaling
state of the library. Instead, objects
will automatically start journaling
based on the contents of the QDFTJRN data area. When the QDFTJRN data area is deleted, objects being created, moved, and restored into the library will inherit the journaling state of the library based on the inherit rules.

This is a great command when you want to set up journaling.

 

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    11116   11102   11137     8267

Tech. Refresh         2

Grp Hipers            38        98      161      169

DB Group               10       20        31       24

Java Group             6        17        27       23

Print Group             3        21        44       20

Backup/Recov.      10        23        41       33

Blade/IXA/IXS         7        22        15        –

HTTP                      9        21        28      17
TCP/IP                    4        12        19      16

Security                  8        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 & 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 V7R7.3M0 SP1. If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.5 SP3.
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_403. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_108.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_108. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_108. POWER7 the firmware level is AL730_035 for 8202-E4B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_035 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_035 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).
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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