August 2012 Newsletter

Greetings!

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

Well, August has been a very hectic month for us here at iTech Solutions as we have been upgrading many new customers to V7R1, in fact it looks like the entire fall will be busy with upgrades based upon the number of requests we are getting.  It is good to see so many people finally making the move in upgrading their operating system.  Remember, Sept 30, 2013 is when IBM pulls the plug on support V5R4.  Plan on upgrading now.

We are very excited to talk about two new companies of iTech Solutions, iInTheCloud and iDevCloud. iInTheCloud is for commercial accounts who wish to have hosting services, and iDevCloud is for programmers and developers to access the latest IBM offerings if they don’t have access to new hardware and software. I will talk more about these two new hosting options in our first article.

With hurricane Isaac now heading towards New Orleans, we hope and pray that the people there are safe.  There is something you should be thinking about, what would happen if god-forbid that was heading towards me.  Do you know where your tapes are for a recovery?  Does anyone but you know where your tapes are, and can you recover from your tapes?  Have you tested this recovery? Would you go out of business if you lost the data on your IBM i and couldn’t recover it?  If you would like to perform a test to see how ready you are for a disaster, have a backup health check performed, look into cloud based backups, or replication, then send Paul an email for further discussion.

 

This issue of our newsletter has six articles. In the first article, we will discuss our new hosting companies and what it means for you.  The second article is about Compare Journal Images.  The third article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating. The fourth article is about iBelieve.  The fifth article lists some new features of an old favorite, WRKACTJOB. 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 more upgrades than anyone else to 6.1/7.1 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 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.

iDevCloud
and  iInTheCloud  

iDevCloud
 

 

iTech Solutions has been working developing a hosting company for many of our clients during the past few years.  While we have had great success, it required many resources.  At the same time, a good friend and someone we partner with very often, Larry Bolhuis was also doing the same thing.  Larry and I over the years have worked together on many projects for each other, we write the IBM i Technical Certification together, we speak together at many local user groups; so it was just a natural progression of our working together that we came up with iDevCloud and iInTheCloud.

Let me explain what each offering is.  iDevCloud is designed for programmers and developers who want to experiment with the latest technology.  This is a non-commercial hosting environment, located in our co-location center, but priced for the individual developer.  You can purchase your own partition, or you can purchase a developer seat within a shared partition (Don’t worry, no one can access anyone else’s work).  The pricing on this is extremely affordable for the individual.

iInTheCloud, is our commercial offering with full redundancies built in (UPS power, communications, generators) that sits in our co-location center.  We currently have customers who run their business from our machines, as well as customers who are replicating to our machine.  We have the ability to provide tape backups, cloud backups, target replication, basically whatever you want.  We have designed this using IBM i Power 720s, running IBM i as our hosting environment.  It’s the technology that we all count on to run our businesses, and it is the technology that we base our hosting on.  If you are interested, send us an email.

Many of our customers wish to replicate their data for high availability, but don’t have a second site or a second machine.  With iInTheCloud, you have those problems resolved.  Plus, depending on your requirements, you can have iTech Solutions monitor your environment to make your life even easier.

 

IBM i Operating System


Compare Journal Images 
Another of my favorite command when it comes to looking at what has changed in a file, CMPJRNIMG.  The Compare Journal Images (CMPJRNIMG) command gives you the capability to compare and note the differences between:
(1) the before and after images of record-level changes (updates, deletes, rollback-updates, and rollback-deletes) for a specific file member (IMAGES(*BOTH) must be specified for the Start Journal Physical File (STRJRNPF) command),
(2) the after and previous after images of a particular relative record (IMAGES(*AFTER) is specified for the STRJRNPF command).  The output of the command is directed to a printer.
If before and after images are compared, the journaled changes can be compared for only one or all of the records in the specific file or member.  The comparison can also be limited by a specific journal receiver range, or by a range of journal entries in a specific journal receiver range.
I like this command when I need to investigate why and how something has changed.  Of course, you need to be journaling the file to do your investigative work.

Upcoming Events. 

  Events

Some of the events that we will be speaking at, or exhibiting at are listed below. Don’t forget the iTech Solutions web site at http://www.itechsol.com.

September 18 – Vermont User Group www.vtmug.org in Essex Junction, VT. Come visit us in the Expo, plus Pete will be presenting:

  • A programmer’s future: Looking back to see the future
  • What do you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.

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

  • A programmer’s future: Looking back to see into the Future.

September 25 – COMMON Fall Conference in Columbus, OH.  www.common.org

 

  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance  and reduce disk space.
  • Everything to Get Started with the new
    Systems Navigator for IBM i
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, Firmware, and IBM i. Putting the pieces together.
  • What do you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.

iBelieve in The Amphitheatre,
Downtown Conference Centre,
157 William St, New York, NY  Thursday September 27.  See article for additional information.

  • A programmers future: Looking back to see the future.

 

December 11 – FASUG CT www.fasug.org

  • Programmer’s future: Looking back to see into the Future.

iBelieve iBelieve
iBelieve

A free IBM i Community Event Thursday 27th September, New York City.

Following the overwhelming success of the inaugural event in Anaheim, we are delighted to announce a second iBelieve seminar, to be held in New York on Thursday September 27th.

 

The focus for the day will be the bright future of IBM i, with speakers Frank Soltis, Pete Massiello, Alison Butterill, Trevor Perry and Brendan Kay discussing the innovations and skills that are driving the platform forward, and challenging some misconceptions along the way.

In addition to the five presentations, all speakers will take part in an open Q&A session, providing an opportunity for attendees to pose questions to the panel.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided for attendees, and while registration is free of charge, you should act quickly to secure your place today as seats will be strictly limited.

 

Agenda
09:30 – 10:00 Registration
10:00 – 10:15 Welcome & introduction
10:15 – 11:00 Frank Soltis:  Future directions in business computing and the role of IBM i
11:05 – 11:35 Pete Massiello: A Programmers Future – looking back in time to see the future
11:40 – 12:20 Brendan Kay:  Modern, Connected and Open – the future of IBM i applications
Lunch

13:00 – 13:30 Alison Butterill:  Why i?
13:35 – 14:15 Speaker Panel – Open Q&A Session
14:20 – 14:50
Trevor Perry:  Architecting IBM i Modernization
14:50 – 15:00 Closing remarks & thanks
 
Venue Details
Location The Amphitheatre,
Downtown Conference Centre,
157 William St, New York, NY
Click here for directions.
Date & Time September 27th, 10:00am – 3.00pm
 
Register Here

 

Automating WRKACTJOB
Light

It is said that the first command people learn when using IBM i (A.K.A. OS/400 or i5/OS) is Work Active Job, WRKACTJOB.  When I am at client locations, sometimes I think it is also the most over used command. People will enter the command and then just hit F5 to refresh their screen.  Do you realize the CPU overhead associated with hitting Function Key F5 twenty times in 30 seconds?  Lots of CPU is wasted getting your information.

The Work with Active Jobs (WRKACTJOB) command allows you to work with performance and status information for the active jobs in the system.  The sequence of jobs can be changed with the Sequence (SEQ)
parameter or through operations on the display.  The command lets you know which jobs are running in which subsystems on the machine, how much CPU each job is taking, and the overall CPU utilization of the system.

Now, your thinking, OK, I know all that.  But there is more.  There are three other parameters of the command that give you a great deal of information when you are investigating performance issue.  What I want to show you is how you can make the WRKACTJOB command just display jobs that have a certain response time or taking a certain percentage of CPU.  Plus, auto-refresh the screen so you can sit back and watch what is happening on your machine. Let’s start.

The CPU percent limit parameter, CPUPCTLMT,  specifies the minimum processing time percent value that a job must have before it is included on the display.

The Response time limit, RSPLMT, specifies the minimum response time limit that a job must have before it is included on the display.

Now, the next parameter called the Automatic refresh interval, INTERVAL, specifies the interval (in seconds) to wait during the automatic refresh option.  The default time is 300 seconds (5 minutes).  Valid values range from 5 to 999 seconds.  I usually change this to between 5 to 60 seconds when I am investigating performance issues.   While we are entering this parameter on the WRKACTJOB command, we have to let the screen display, and then we hit F19 to automate the refreshes of the screen.

So, if I wanted to see all jobs that were using over 10% of the CPU during the last 20 seconds, I would enter:

WRKACTJOB CPUPCTLMT(10) INTERVAL(20)

Then once the screen is displayed, just hit function key F19, and watch the screen automatically change every 20 seconds.

 

 

 

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            66        127         182         169
DB Group              15         27           33          24
Java Group            9          20           30          23
Print Group            5          24           46         20
Backup/Recov.     16          29           45         33
Blade/IXA/IXS      10          24           15            –
HTTP                   14          26           32          17
TCP/IP                  6          14           21           16

Security               20          34          28

High Availability     2          1

Hardware               2          2

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   V7R7.5 with Service Pack 1. 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-E8A, & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_132.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_126. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_126.
Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B or C). The firmware level is AL730_095 for 8202-E4B & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_095 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_095 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).  The firmware level is AL740-088 for 8202-E4C & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM740_088 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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