August 2013 Newsletter

Dear Mike,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

Where did the summer go? Mine was great, and I hope yours was as well. We have had a busy summer here at iTech Solutions upgrading customers to the latest release of IBM I as well as installing new systems. Getting everyone on this new technology (either hardware or software) has certainly consumed us, yet once you are on new technology what is your responsibility? Let’s talk a little this month on new technology, embracing technology, and how do we succeed as IT professionals, as well as how we bring new technology into our companies. Time certainly seems to move faster as we get older, and technology is always changing. How do we keep up with this new technology? How do we determine which technology is a fad, and which one will catch on? How do we determine which technology we should embrace and learn? What new technology we should be bringing into our organizations?

Well I think there are a lot of people who know what the system can do, but aren’t moving forward. Some of you might not have upgraded your machines and are running on older hardware, or even older operating systems. You will be amazed at how much more efficient your business can function with a new more powerful Power7+ machine. Let us help you get there. Contact Paul or Rick, and see how we can help you save money with a new machine, get more performance, and make your employees more efficient. Of course, you have to keep current with the operating system as well to use the new functions. If you are a regular reader of this newsletter, you know that IBM support for V5R4 goes away in about a month on Sept 30, 2013. About 30 days from now!!!!! If you are still V5R4, you know what I told you last month. Stop praying for a miracle upgrade. God is too busy to help you with an IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS) Upgrade!!! The next best thing is iTech Solutions. Give us a call, don’t go at it alone. Check our references, because they will tell you just how smooth their upgrade was.

Having a business partner isn’t the same as having iTech Solutions, if you aren’t getting the support, the help, the guidance, and the advice you need to succeed then you need to contact iTech Solutions for your IBM Power Systems running IBM I needs. We can help you upgrade your AS/400 or iSeries to a Power Systems running IBM i.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will discuss technology and what you need to do in your job. The second article is on too busy at work. The third article is removing disks from an ASP with 7.1. The fourth article is Controlling DB2 WebQuery log files. The fifth article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information. Please note that for all 7.1 customers that are on the Quarterly iTech Solutions PTF maintenance plan, we will be installing Technology Refresh 6 for you on your next application of PTFs.

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, Cloud based systems, Hosting, iSCSI configurations, and 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.

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.


 

Technology   Technology

This article isn’t on technology itself, but your ability to find it. Those of you who have been reading our newsletters over the past few years know that we at iTech Solutions are always right by your side to help you meet the challenges you have with your IBM i and help you take all the advantage of your IBM i. But as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink it. First off, I am not calling anyone a horse, just using a good analogy. We can and have upgraded some people to a new system, upgraded their operating system, installed new features and functions and when I come back 6 months or a year later everything is the same. This is where the saying comes in about the horse drinking the water, we upgraded the system (hardware and/or software) but you haven’t done anything (drank the water).

Why? Well it’s a natural tendency to resist change. People are more comfortable with what they know than what they don’t know. Yet, as IT professionals we are responsible for bringing change into our organization. If you are scared of change, how are you going to accomplish changing what’s in place? By taking small steps. First off, you need to learn and understand what is new in the market. The easiest way to do this is just to talk with other IT professionals. People who are in the same profession as you, but not necessarily in the same company.  You need to broaden your horizons, by not just talking with the same group of people. Of course, if you know me that means you should be going to your local user group. Many local user groups take the summer off, and start back up in September. This is the perfect time to join them. Let’s put the cards right down on the table, you only fooling yourself if you read this article, agree with me, but then make up an excuse not to go to the next meeting. Invest in yourself, support your local group, get involved and go to a meeting. Not only will it enhance your career, it might make you some more money, provide you job security with your new knowledge, but you will also meet some great people.

The problem with new technology is that it is unknown. You need to experiment. You need to try out what you are learning in a small environment so you can see what the pluses and minuses are. Figure out how to improve on what you learned. Start with a small project, don’t start out by trying to rewrite a major business application, or redo your entire application in a new GUI, or move your core business machine from internal or SAN storage. Start off slow, find some other people who have done this, invite them to lunch, talk to them over a user group meeting, and learn from others. I love going to user group meetings, because even when I am the speaker, I still enjoy talking to everyone and learning what others are doing. It helps me learn. Everyone has so much to share, and from what I have witnessed, they are eager to tell you what they did as well as help you out a little. Plus, learning new topics at a user group meeting will broaden your horizon on what is out there. Remember, to the person with a nail every problem is a hammer!! Also, going to adult education or community college courses can broaden your knowledge about new technology. So, we now know “where” we can start our journey to learn about new technology, now lots cover the “why”.

Why, because you want to keep your job or get a better job. Look, let’s go back 15 years ago and say you were the best System/36 programmer in your area. You never learned anything new. Now, 15 years later you are still the best (AND ONLY) System/36 programmer in the area, but you are making 25% of what you were making then. Why? You didn’t invest in new skills. This is to enhance your career, make your job more interesting, get better assignments at your current job, and in the end be rewarded and valued more because you are contributing more to your company. Now, if a work force reduction takes place, your company needs you, and doesn’t see you as another salary, but as an asset to the company. You are more likely to remain employed.

The who is an easy question. It’s everyone. Everyone must invest in themselves, unless of course you don’t mind losing your job in the next few years because your skills aren’t marketable.   Or, perhaps you just won the lottery, and don’t need to work.

So, we got the easy stuff answered of where, why, and who. Now, the last one is how. Well that is easy, anyway you can. Evening classes, local user groups, COMMON user group conference like the one coming up September 9 to 11th in St. Louis. It is natural for people to say, “I am too busy to go to night school”, “ I work hard all day long and then come home and crash in front of the TV”, or “I have to do some other chores when I get home”. Yes, of course everyone has responsibilities, and those you must take care of, but you can find time to invest in yourself. You will have plenty of time to do nothing when you don’t have a job because your skills aren’t marketable. Yes, I am being obnoxious, but I am trying to get you to invest in yourself.   Break out of your comfort zone, and go to a local user group meeting. There are plenty of local user groups, and if you can’t find one close by, please send me an email and I will help you find the closest user group. Also, if you attend a meeting in September, send me an email as I would like to know how it went. After investing in yourself, you will probably get a raise and you can buy me a beer the next time you see me.


I am just too busy. cloud-computing

We hear this often,” I am just too busy at work”. Or, ”We used to have 8 programmers, and now we have 3 with the same amount of work”. “I don’t have time to keep the systems running and learn something new”.   Ok, some of those are true and legitimate, but that doesn’t mean just because they are that they will ever be fixed. Times have changed, organizations have changed, and people themselves have changed. How do you make some time? You can outsource some tasks. Look, many people bring us in to do an upgrade because they only do one upgrade every3 to 4 years, and I did 4 upgrades alone just last weekend. I think there is a bad connotation with the word outsourcing, but when used like that it makes perfect sense. Why spend 2 months figuring out an upgrade, when we can come right in and lead the entire project and perform the tasks. This is no different than bringing in a contract programmer to get you to complete a project on time.

I have seen automation help on this level. I have a few customers that have many manual processes that I know take a few or more hours a week, that are easily automated. Of course, we can help you automate those processes to make your company more efficient. Plus, one of the services that iTech Solutions offers is remote monitoring and/or remote administration. We have very experienced System Administrators that can be part of your team, and you consume/use what you need. It gives you a very experienced administrator at a fraction of the cost. We can also help you with new technology as we are in so many shops over the years you benefit from our knowledge, experience, and know how. Contact Paul for more information.  Is this article a commercial? No, you need to be aware of the services and offering that are out in the market. iTech Solutions can offer you remote system administration & monitoring, cloud based backups, replication, IBM i in the cloud, replication to the cloud, upgrades, new hardware, and technical support. If it involves IBM i, give us a call and let us handle the process while you go on to bigger and better things to help your company become more competitive.




Removing disk from an ASP.  

Disk

 

Did you know that with IBM i 7.1 you can now remove disks from the ASP while your system continues to run. No need to bring the system into a restricted state and do a Manual IPL into DST, just to remove a disk from the ASP. Yet, another reason to upgrade to IBM i 7.1. I have so many customers lately that have no time for downtime, yet they have tasks that need to be performed which requires the system to be in a restricted state.

We were called in recently to a customer to upgrade all their 35GB drives to 70GB drives.   We were able to do the entire project during their slow time while people still had access to their machine, until we had to swap the load source. In IBM i 6.1 and prior we would have had about 25 to 32 hours of downtime as we moved the disks. In this scenario with 7.1, we were able to remove a set of disks from the ASP, and with concurrent maintenance remove those disks from the system. Then we installed a whole new (pre-built in the iTech Solution’s data center to reduce time at the customer) Raid-5 set of disks, and just added them to the customer’s system ASP. We continued to repeat the process until we only had the load source set of disks left. Again, to pat my tech guys on their back, they were able to use iTech Solutions resources (our datacenter), know-how, and knowledge to reduce customer downtime. Why is it that you don’t have iTech Solutions working for you? Contact Rick to see what we can do for you.

If you are using this function it is quite easy, just use Work with Disks, and then Work with ASP Configuration. Three things to remember when removing disks from an ASP. First, when you remove disks you are taking the data on the selected disks and putting it on another disk in the ASP. You need to watch your I/O performance, especially if you system is I/O constrained to begin with. Second, after you remove the disk, you need to remove the disk from the raid set before removing it, or remove the entire raid set. When it comes time to physically remove the disk, make sure the slot the disk is located in supports concurrent maintenance. If so, go to the concurrent maintenance in SST/DST and perform the removal using the concurrent maintenance function. One last item, if you are disposing of the disks, make sure you initialize the disks prior to selling or disposing of your disk drives




Controlling WebQuery Log files   Intrusion Detection

 

 

I am writing this article, because one of our customers had their Web Query log files grow from nothing to 210GB in just a few days. It was the reason we wrote the article a few months back on using PRTDIRINF (Previous Newsletters) .

Depending on which version of WebQuery you are running you might see “76” or “77” in some of the directories and library names. Use the one for the version you are on. When IBM® DB2® Web Query is running, the edaprint.log file that is located in /qibm/UserData/webquery/IBI/srv76/wfs is logging various pieces of diagnostic information concerning the reporting server. A new edaprint.log file is created each time Web Query is started, and the last five logs are archived as edipri##.log, where ## is a number 0-99. By default, there is no limit to the size the log can grow to, and five previous logs are archived and remain on the system.

A user who wishes to have control over the maximum size of a the edaprint log and the number of logs archived on the system can do so by adding the following keywords in the edaserve.cfg file, which is located in /qibm/UserData/webquery/IBI/srv76/wfs/bin.

The value edaprint_history = n (where n is a number between 1 -99, 5 is default) controls how many of the archived files remain on the system before they are automatically removed. The value edaprint_max_lines = nnnnnn (where nnnnnn is a number from 1 or greater, 0 is the default and means unlimited lines) controls the maximum number of lines that can be written to an edaprint.log file. A setting of at least 1000 is recommended. When the maximum number of lines is reached, the log is archived and a new log is created.

Note that Web Query must be restarted for this change to take effect; the first log file after you restart will actually grow somewhat longer than the max_lines value you have set. That is because the actual counting of the lines does not begin until after some start-up information has already been logged in the edaprint.log. The count starts after you see a line in edaprint.log similar to the following:

08/23/2013 14:06:23 EDAPLOG started (pid=535785.QWEBQRYADM.EDAPLOG)”

We have also found on our customer’s machines, that it is best to end Web Query right before your backups, and then start it back up. Here are the commands if you wish to do the same. You can easily add them in the job scheduler.

To Stop Web Query:

  • SBMJOB CMD(QWEBQRY76/ENDWEBQRY) USER(QWEBQRYADM)

To Start Web Query:

  • SBMJOB CMD(QWEBQRY76/STRWEBQRY) USER(QWEBQRYADM)

If you need addition help with setting up or configuring Web Query, please contact us at iTech Solutions

 


 

Upcoming 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.

 

August 21,1pm EDT free webinar. www.common.org (replay available)

  • Step by step guide to building virtual IBM i partitions hosted by IBM i.

Sept 5, 2PM EDT for Help Systems’s customers.   http://www.helpsystems.com/solutions/webinars/how-to-upgrade-ibm-i-operating-system  Tom Huntington & Pete Massiello will present:

  • How to move your operating system from 5.4 to 7.1 of IBM i

September 9 to 11, St. Louis, MO COMMON Fall event www.common.org

  • What do you need to know when upgrading IBM i.
  • A Programmers Future: Looking back to see the future.
  • Managing IBM i with Navigator for i
  • Tips and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.

Sept 18 – New England Midrange User Group (Rhode Island) www.nemug.com

  • Step by step guide to building virtual IBM i partitions hosted by IBM i

Sept 24 – Vermont AS/400 User Group – www.vtmug.org

  • Stop by the booth and talk with Paul

Nov 12 – Copenhaugen Denmark – COMMON Denmark (GS-Gruppen) http://www.gs-gruppen.org/

  •   Topics to be determined.

Release levels and PTFs 

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.

7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 13037 13058 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 6
Grp Hipers 93 154 200 169
DB Group 25 30 33 24
Java Group 13 24 33 23
Print Group 8 27 48 20
Backup/Recov. 27 40 56 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 13 25 15
HTTP 21 32 36 17
TCP/IP 7 15 22 16
Security 28 42 32
High Availability 5 3
Hardware 6 6

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 V7R7.6 with Service Pack 3 or V7R7.7 with Service Pack 2 and eFix MH01355. 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_418. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_149.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_149. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_149. Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B, C, or D). The firmware level is AL730_114 for 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_114 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_114 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).  The firmware level is AL740-100 for 8231-E1C, 8202-E4C , 8231-E2C, & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM770_52 for 770 (9117-MMC) & 780 (9179-MHC).

For Power7+ processors, the firmware level is AL770-032 for 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, & 8205-E6D (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM770_052 for 750 (8408-E8D) & 760 (9109-RMD). Use AM760_068 for 770 (9117-MMD) & 780 (9179-MHD).

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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