August 2014 Newsletter

Dear iTech Fan,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

As we approach the end of August, it’s been another hectic month here at iTech Solutions.  Lots of Power8 installations and IBM i 7.2 upgrades. Our initial findings are that these Power8 machines are extremely powerful.  The new internal disk controller is proving to be like greased lightning for customers using the disks in the CEC (which is the main unit of the machine, where you can place upto 10 or 18 disks depending on 4 or more cores respectively). Of course right now, IBM has only announced the lower end Power8 (let me tell you there is nothing low end about these machines). IBM has stated that the enterprise class machines will be announced in 2015, but has recently stated they will be announcing their availability earlier than 2015.  (Sorry, I can’t disclose the actual date, but if you need to know we can get an NDA for you). So where can you get additional information on the Power8 machines and IBM i 7.2?  What a great lead in, you will notice that we have a 10 city IBM Power8 & IBM i 7.2 Roadshow coming to a city near you over the next few months.  Please register for a local event and hear about the new features and functions delivered in IBM i 7.2, and also hear about the capabilities of the new Power8 machines.  In addition, we will have some information on Cloud Computing, Managed Services, and High Availability offerings in the cloud. I look forward to seeing you when we come to your area.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will discuss installing Java 7.0 on your IBM i 7.1 machine. The second article is on the iTech Solutions Power8 and IBM i 7.2 Roadshow coming to your area. The third article is about the yellow or amber light on your Power Systems machine.  The fourth article is on our experience with IBM i 7.2 upgrades  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 or Semi-annual iTech Solutions PTF maintenance plan, we will be installing Technology Refresh 8 for you on your next application of PTFs.

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, or even your existing Power5, Power6, or Power7 machines to Power8.

 

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iTech Solutions vast experience 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, replication, 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.


 

Java 7.0 on IBM 7.1.   

Java

When IBM i 7.1 came out 4 years ago, Java 7.0 (aka Java 1.7) wasn’t available with the initial version of IBM i 7.1. Java 7.0 came out about a year later.  I have had customers ask me about the new version of Java, as they don’t see it on the GO LICPGM menu, option 11 – Install Licensed Programs screen.  It would initially seem that 7.0 isn’t supported on IBM i 7.1, but it is. That is correct, you can load both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Java 7 SE at IBM i 7.1.
You can download either option at the www.ibm.com/eserver/ess website.  You would install 5761-JV1 option 14 (Java SE 7 32 bit) and option 15 (Java SE 7 64 bit) from the images. After installing these options, you will want to get the latest Java group PTF SF99572.  After installing the latest group PTF, you will have the Java 7.0 & 7.1 SDK. I have been told that 7.1 is considerably faster than 7.0. IBM i 7.2 has options 14 & 15 available for installation on your initial upgrade.  When you want to upgrade to IBM i 7.2, we can help you.  If you just need these two versions of Java, it’s a much easier process that we can help you with as well.
Just a quick note, that after installing the latest Java Group PTF, your versions of Java would be updated to:
  • JDK 5.0 SR16 FP6
  • JDK 6.0 SR16
  • JDK 6 2.6 SR8
  • JDK 7.0 SR7
  • JDK 7.1 SR1

If you need help installing this, or with managing your PTFs, please contact iTech Solutions.


iTech Solutions Power8 & IBM i 7.2 roadshow.  TR7

Join us for the iTech Solutions Power8 and IBM i 7.2 Roadshows where you can learn all about IBM’s recent announcements of the Power8 servers and the enhancements delivered in IBM i 7.2. These announcements emphasize IBM’s commitment to the Power systems platform and the IBM i operating system.

iTech Solutions will present multiple sessions at each of these roadshow locations. The first session covers the Power8 servers and how they can significantly improve your organizations processing capabilities. The second session covers the announcement of enhancements that are available in IBM i 7.2. The third session will be on Cloud Computing for IBM i, Managed Services, and High Availability as a Service.

Session Highlights

  • Power8 processors and I/O enhancements
  • New features, speeds, and functions
  • IBM i 7.2 enhancements to Security, Application Development, and Performance
  • IBM’s commitment to Power Systems and IBM i Roadmap

iTech Solutions Roadshow schedule:

Tuesday September 16, 2014 Crown Plaza Hartford-Cromwell, Cromwell, CT

Monday September 22, 2014 IBM Facility 590 Madison Ave New York City

Tuesday September 23, 2014 Marriott Hotel, Providence, RI

Wednesday September 24, 2014 Fireside Inn & Suites, Portland ME

Tuesday September 30, 2014 Fireside Inn & Suites ,W. Lebanon, NH

Wednesday October 01, 2014 Marriott Hotel, Springfield, MA

Thursday October 02, 2014 Double Tree Hotel, Tarrytown, NY

Thursday October 02, 2014 Norwalk Inn, Norwalk, CT

Monday October 20, 2014 Forefront Conf. Center, Waltham, MA

Monday October 20, 2014 The Yard Seafood & Steakhouse, Manchester, NH

Check our web site http://www.itechsol.com/events for up to date information on these venues and to register for the presentations closest to you.

You won’t want to miss these informative sessions presented by iTech Solutions’ Pete Massiello.

 


The Yellow light.   .Warning_Light

There are two lights next to the bezzel on your Power System server.  Hey, even going back to your old AS/400 or iSeries these same two lights have been next to the bezzel. In 99.99% of environments the green light will be on solid and this informs you that you have power to the machine and that it is up.  When the green light is flashing, there is power to the machine, but you have to press the white button to start the machine. I think everyone is good with this.  Now, the yellow or amber light.  I bring this up because last week I went to an account whose machine wouldn’t come up.  The yellow light had been on for a few months.  They were getting an SRC on the machine that told me something was wrong with the fan assembly.  I knew that their machine would function with one of the three fans out of commission, but not if two were down.  Sure enough, when I opened the machine there were two fans down.  I asked them how long the yellow light had been on, and everyone looked at one another and said a few months.  I went into the service action log, and found out it had been on since March when the first fan had the problem.  So, we replaced the two fans, and the yellow light was still on.  I looked and sure enough, they had one disk failed. A failed disk since June (over 2 months).
I got up on the soapbox and discussed why as soon as they see the yellow light they need to address the issue.  Why is the light on? Never just shut the light off without finding out what is broken or needs attention.  The yellow light is a warning light. It tells you that something is wrong.  You need to address the issue or at least investigate the problem.  Once the problem is fixed, then you can go into Service Tools and acknowledge the problems in the Service Action log. I tell you this because the yellow light is a warning.  If this customer had lost another disks while the first one was failed, they would have been reloading their system.  When the warning light is on, check on why it is on.

Does your system need a health check? If the light is on, what other problems might you have?  Bring iTech Solutions in and have them give you a Health check to find any problems that might be on your machine, wrong setup, bad system values, back leveled PTFs, or security exposures that might be lurking on your machine.  Please contact iTech Solutions sales team.


My experience with upgrading to IBM i 7.2  Intrusion Detection


I have been doing upgrades to IBM i 7.2 now for over 8 months, as I was part of the beta team.  I tried many different upgrades during the beta process and everything went very smoothly.  We tried upgrading virtual partitions, physical partitions, using image catalogues, using media, using various different methods.  Everything worked great. So, I was pretty comfortable with the process.

Of course, every user’s environment is slightly different with something always unique.  In all the upgrades that I have done to 7.2 everyone went very well.  Some had some minor speed bumps that were fixed with the latest PTFs, others had some small problems.  We currently have 29 upgrades working through various stages, and some are going to 6.1, some to 7.1, and some to 7.2.  You have to look at your hardware and software and determine which the highest level you can get to is.  I recently did a V5R4 to 6.1 upgrade, and someone said why you didn’t go directly to 7.1 or 7.2.  I looked at them and smiled and said “you don’t do these often do you?” First, you can’t upgrade directly from V5R4 to 7.2, you can only upgrade to 6.1 or 7.1 from V5R4. So, that was one reason.  The other, they were on some OLD hardware that the highest supported level we could upgrade to was 6.1.  So, as I always say the right release to upgrade to is the highest release you can.

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If possible, we are directing customers to upgrade to 7.2.  But let’s first remember that IBM i 7.2 doesn’t support Power5 hardware (like a 520).  So, if you are running old Power5 hardware you might want to come to one of our IBM Power8 & IBM i 7.2 roadshow events in your neighborhood.

 

The success of any upgrade is in the planning.  From a hardware perspective, IBM i 7.2 won’t support RIO/HSL loops or even draws on Power6 machines like those 0595 towers you might have.  There is no Twinax support on 7.2, nor any IOP support.  Then there is software that you have to make sure you are at the right level or higher.  If you are running WebSphere V7, you must upgrade to at least V8.0 with fix pack 8 (which is 8.0.0.8) or WebSphere V8.5 fix pack 2 (which is 8.5.5.2). Don’t forget, Java version 1.4.2 (option 13) and Java 5.0 (option 8 & 9) are no longer part of IBM i 7.2.  As you can see, it’s the checking and preparation that is so important in any upgrade.  Also, your load source must be 70GB or larger, and you have to increase the licensed internal code space on the load source before upgrading. We have a list of items we check before any upgrade.

Two customers that we upgraded from 6.1 to 7.2 said that their queries were screaming.  That is always a good call. Although, another customer had some database issues until we installed the latest Database Group, number 2. We had one customer with many open query files, and they were extremely pleased on the performance of 7.2. On the day after the upgrade, he said he was getting complaints that the jobs were running too fast.  My first thought was that something was wrong.  This customer, who has been around on the platform for over 20 years had a lot of open query files, and they were much faster on 7.2.

One issue that we see on many upgrades is all of a sudden something stops working.  The customer has a funtion running on an older release of the operating system, unfortunately they didn’t code or perform something to the standard. On the newer release, IBM has clamped down on what is allowed, and now all of a sudden a function is no longer working. IBM says it really never should of been allowed to run, but it just got away with it. These are good reasons to test the new version of the operating system before you go live with it in production.  Don’t have a spare machien, no worries we can bring one in for you to do the testing on.

If you need some help with this, or any other system management functions, please contact iTech Solutions on how we can help with any and all of your IBM i System Administration needs.


 

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.

 

September 5, 2014 OMNI Chicago IL http://www.omniuser.org

  • Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2
  • Step by Step guide to building Virtual partitions hosted by IBM i
  • Managing IBM i with Navigator for IBM i
  • Opening Session

September 17, 2014 New England Midrange Users Group:  www.nemug.com

  • Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2

Oct 6 -9, 2014 IBM Power Technical University @Enterprise 2014 at the Venetian, Las Vegas

  • Upgrading Roundtable
  • What you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 7.2
  • Tip and Tricks to Improve System Performance & Save Disk Space
  • Step by step guide to IBM i Hosting IBM i.

October 14, 2014 Fairfield CT Application Systems Users Group Norwalk, CT:  http://www.fasug.org

  • Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2

October 15, 2014 Long Island Systems Users Group Woodbury, Long Island:  http://www.lisug.org

  • Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2

October 16, 2014 Northern NJ System Users Group, Parsippany, NJ http://www.nestu.com

  • Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2

October 26 – 29, 2014 COMMON Fall Event – Indianapolis, Indiana  http://www.common.org

Come visit Rick & Paul at our booth, and hear Pete speak on:

  • Tip and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space
  • Building Virtual i Partitions Hosted by IBM i
  • What you need to know for a successful IBM i upgrade.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and firmware.

See the Article above for local iTech Solutions Power8 & IBM i 7.2 Roadshow coming to local venues in the northeast.

 


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.

7.2 7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 14101 14143 14197 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 8
Grp Hipers 12 118 181 203 169
DB Group 2 30 32 33 24
Java Group 2 17 28 34 23
Print Group 1 10 29 49 20
Backup/Recov. 3 37 50 57 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 15 28 15
HTTP 3 29 40 36 17
TCP/IP 8 16 22 16
Security 8 34 46 32
High Availability 1 7 4
Hardware 1 11 11

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 V7R1, the ID is 13287. We can determine that it was created on the 287th day of 2013, which is October 14, 2013. 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 & V5R4, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have a Hardware Management Console (HMC,) you should be running:

Model Release Service Pack
HMC  V8R8.1 eFix MH01421 then MH01436, then MF01441

* Can’t use with Power5 hardware

HMC CR4 V7R7.9 eFix MH01406 then MH01435
HMC V7R7.8 SP1 eFix MH01397, then eFix MH01447
or V7R7.7 SP4 eFix MH01415
HMC C03 V7R3.5 SP4

If we have a model listed above in the HMC column that is the highest level of firmware that model of the HMC can be upgraded to.

  • Note that release 8.8.1 does not support any Power5 servers.
  • Version 7.7.9 is not supported and cannot be installed on HMC models C03, C04 or CR2.
  • If an HMC is used to manage any POWER7 processor based server, the HMC must be a model CR3 or later model rack-mount HMC or C05 or later desk side HMC.
  • HMC V8R8.1 is supported on rack-mount models CR5, CR6, CR7 and CR8; and on desktop model C08. These listed models meet or exceed the V8R8.1 minimum memory requirement of 2GB however 4GB is recommended.

 

If you have an Flexible Service Processor (FSP) your firmware should be:

Machine Processor Model Version Notes
Power5 or 5+ 520, 515, 525, 550, 570 SF240_418 last
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_149 last
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_149 last
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_149 last
9119-FHA EH350_149 last
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_142
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_059
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_152
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-090
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_090
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AM770_090
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_059
Power8 8247-21L, 8247-22L, 8284-22A, 8286-41A, 8286-42A SV810

 

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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