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Posted on August 5, 2020

Richie Palma, Tech Solutions Consultant

I remember when I first got was introduced to IBM’s FlashCopy backup technology roughly 8 years ago.  An IBM i engineer who started to embrace external storage for small to mid-sized IBM i shops said to me one day, “If we went with SAN storage, we could flash out a full backup of their whole LPAR in less than 15 seconds”.  To which I responded, “Say what?! That doesn’t sound possible! It sounds like some Houdini magic or something”.

Being the guy that needs to know how everything works, I was launched into a quest to understand FlashCopy. Almost like a child running onto a new playground for the first time.

What is FlashCopy?

FlashCopy is typically used for Point in Time disk backups or creating a clone of a system or IASP for development, testing, reporting, or data mining purposes. We use FlashCopy mostly to make a copy of the disks for Point in Time backups to tape or VTL but Flashcopy is a tool you can get very creative with and drive some big-time value.

Think about these scenarios:

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Posted on July 30, 2020

Steve Pitcher, iTech Solutions

I had an interesting but not surprising conversation with a customer last week to talk about IBM i security. They said:

“IBM i is just bulletproof. We don’t have to worry about security. That’s the value of IBM i.”

It’s something heard all too often. And that’s my cue to tell someone just how ugly their baby is. I’m not going to sugar coat it because the stakes are far too high.

Once again, IBM i is highly securable.

Perhaps more than any other operating system ever created. It is not secure out of the box. In fact, it’s actually shipped wide open. The system value QCRTAUT has a good hand in making it that way. If QCRTAUT is the default value of *CHANGE (and it usually always is), then any object created on the system has *PUBLIC *CHANGE authority. In layman’s terms, it means that all objects are wide open to any authenticated user. This is the shipped value. And it’s only one of many things you need to keep under control.

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Posted on April 29, 2020
Laurie Leblanc

Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

With many companies considering a move to the cloud, it’s important to note that not all clouds are created equally.  There are many providers for cloud hosting. Some are application providers who host the application and your data in their cloud, and others host your infrastructure.  Some are experts in the hardware and OS and others are application experts.  You should consider what is most important to your company before you select a cloud provider.

It’s important to start with the end goal in mind.  What do you want to accomplish long term?  Is it the complete outsourcing of IT or are you just looking to replace your hardware and you are not looking to purchase it?  Are you looking to implement DR or HA and you don’t have a second location?  Do you want to rely more on the application vendor?  Are you looking for someone to manage your environment?  Or is the goal to save money?

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Posted on April 22, 2020

Has your SWMA lapsed?  If yes, we can help you get it reinstated and save you money.

Here’s a short video from Laurie LeBlanc explaining what this means:


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Posted on April 16, 2020

Tuesday, April 14th was a big day for the IBM i community. It was announcement day for Technology Refreshes for IBM i 7.4 TR2 and IBM i 7.3 TR8.

In honor of announcement day, Lifetime IBM Power Systems Champion and President of iTech Solutions, Pete Massiello, wrote The Business Value of Keeping your Hardware and Software Current, which has been featured in the IBM 2020 iSight blog series.

There are many resources that go into detail of the refresh itself, including Steve Will’s announcement blog, and events like iTech’s Sips & Tricks Coffee Series where Pete Massiello and Steve Pitcher will be discussing their favorite things about the refreshes.

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Posted on April 15, 2020

Pete Massiello, iTech Solutions

Working from home was a wish for many over the years, and some companies would allow it, and others wouldn’t.  Many people, upwards of 75% state they would like to work from home, but is it all that it is cracked up to be?

With the outbreak of COVID-19, we are all learning rather quickly what it is like to work from home.  There are certainly benefits to working from home, but there are also some disadvantages. I would say it’s not for everyone, but in times like today, we all have to do our best.  So, if you have never worked from home and the virus has forced you home, this is your chance to try it out. To make an analogy, this is like going to the mall to purchase some sneakers, and you walk around the inside of the mall to see how you like them. If they feel good, maybe you will purchase them. Let’s find out how to survive.

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Posted on March 23, 2020

Paul Rogers, iTech Solutions

Effective with IBM’s announcement in 2018 for the withdrawal from marketing of their ProtecTIER hardware and software products and their intention to announce the “End of Support” for ProtecTIER products to be effective in November 2020, those IBM customers that are utilizing the IBM ProtecTIER products will need to have a plan for moving off the ProtecTIER appliance before the end of this year.

The following ProtecTIER hardware and software products were affected by that announcement:

 

  • ProtecTIER TS7650G: 3958-DD4, 3958-DD5, and 3958-DD6
  • ProtecTIER TS7620: 3959-SM2 and 3959-EXP
  • ProtecTIER software versions 3.3.x and 3.4.x

iTech Solutions has a lot of experience with the Virtual Tape Library (VTL) environment and we would recommend that current customers of the IBM ProtecTIER products consider the Cybernetics suite of VTL products as a replacement for their environments.

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Steve Pitcher, iTech Solutions

This article was originally written for and published on MC Press Online. The original article can be found here.

With supply chain uncertainty, it makes sense to not delay your 2020 purchase of POWER9 and storage.

The new COVID-19 virus is making its way around the globe. In response, governments are issuing travel embargoes, companies are ordering staff to work from home if possible, and people are stocking up on groceries, fuel, and water.

IBM has recently requested its workers in China, Japan, South Korea, and Italy work from home and has designed contingency plans for employees elsewhere (the details of those plans were unavailable at the time of writing this article). Participation at conferences, meetings, and trade shows will be evaluated on an individual basis. Company travel is restricted to some locations, and just recently IBM cancelled its in-person participation at the RSA cyber security conference in San Francisco from February 24–28, along with other tech giants like AT&T and Verizon. There are no stated plans for IBM to scale down participation for other conferences. My guess is they’re in a wait-and-see mode like most companies: reduce risk as events unfold.

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Pete Massiello, President, iTech Solutions

This article was originally written and posted within  2020 February COMMON Connect. The original article can be found here.

Open Source?

Yeah, I put a question mark at the end.  Most times when people think of Open Source, they are thinking Python, PHP, Java, Swift, Ruby, C# and JavaScript to name a few.  Most people don’t associate Open Source with systems management or operating systems.  In fact, most people don’t even think that open source is ready for enterprise corporate programming.  When open source started taking off, about 30 years ago, I could see the potential, but I was concerned if people would be willing to move it into production.  Would it remain in the labs, colleges, and with the programming underworld, or would it ever be able to see the light of day?  Many years have passed, and I think we are finally seeing over the past 10 years more and more companies embracing open source.  As they should.

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Posted on February 26, 2020
Laurie Leblanc

Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive regarding the IBM i OS is, should I upgrade to 7.3 or 7.4? The answer is: it depends.  When it comes to deciding whether you should go to 7.3 or 7.4 you have to take dependencies, features and life expectancy into consideration.

Identify which versions of IBM i your hardware can support

Before you decide, you need to verify which IBM i versions your hardware can support. There are dependencies between the hardware you are running and what OS level it can support.  If you are limited by your hardware, then you don’t have much choice in the matter.  We suggest you upgrade to the highest OS level that is compatible with your Power System.

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Steve Pitcher, iTech Solutions

System Down with No Coverage

It was 9 PM on a Sunday night about a year ago when I received a call on my cell phone from a local IBM i customer. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call him…Gary. I reached out to Gary a couple of times before to introduce myself but never had any return communication until then. Turns out, Gary had a down system. His staff did an IPL and the system just wouldn’t come back online. He did what we all would do and called IBM support. Unfortunately, they told him that he had no software maintenance contract. He then called his then-partner. No answer.

I immediately sent a GoToMeeting to the customer and texted iTech Solutions’ President Pete Massiello to have him on alert that I may need some backup. Pete, being Pete, was on the GoToMeeting faster than the customer.

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Posted on February 25, 2020

Richie Palma, Tech Solutions Consultant

IBM i Storage by the Numbers: Internal vs External SSD

I wrote an article on LinkedIn called “Shocking… IBM i Cost of Storage beyond the CEC: EXP-24S or V3700 SAN?” back in 2016 that sparked many conversations on what place external storage has in the IBM i hardware stack.  As a result of the popularity of my previous article, big innovation in the storage market, changes in storage costs, and a much more open IBM i infrastructure stack, it seemed like a really good time to go through the exercise again.

I don’t think it’s my place to sell you on whether internal or external storage is better.  Honestly, I believe there is a strong case to be made for both, depending on the customer situation.  With that being said I think it’s important I share my experience and knowledge, so you have what you need to make an informed decision for the businesses you serve.

For IBM i clients, typically there are a few reasons why they start to ponder a move to external storage:

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Posted on November 20, 2019

Heather Dinho, iTech Solutions

There’s no doubt that podcasts have become the new media Goliath. Podcasting is seeing rapid growth year over year. According to Podcast Insights1, 51% of the US Population (approximately 144 million people) have listened to a podcast, with this number being up from 44% in 2018. Hundreds of new podcasts are being developed daily with no end to this growth trend in sight.

Podcasting is a go-to source for entertainment, education, and news; mostly produced on for the traditional B2C consumer. However, there’s a growing trend of educational entertainment that is matching the listener’s passions and professions while creating a unique B2B listener experience. Listeners can now get fresh content spoken directly from industry colleagues and thought leaders on topics that are relevant to their day to day pains and gains. These B2B podcasts impart relatable experience while you, the listener, get to learn about your industry trends, new product releases, and tips and tricks, all while feeling some camaraderie in the dialog of these people you already know or know of.

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Laurie LeBlanc, iTech

Laurie LeBlanc

Many executives talk about moving their business applications off the IBM i.  They think the platform is dead, courtesy of the people who have been saying this for the past 20 years.  While we know, the platform is open and offers businesses rock-solid availability, reliability, and securability.

They could also be thinking they will save money on hardware.  While that may be true, there will be more servers, requiring more space, more electricity, more cooling, and more human resources to support them.  In reality, they save nothing and perhaps spend more.  And they increase their risk of downtime and security vulnerability.

So, now that you have to deal with the board room decision, what should you do?

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Posted on

Most IBM i customers have an ERP package on their IBM Power server that runs their business.  Typically, a small or mid-sized company can comfortably operate with one Power9 core activation, that provides a CPW of 13,125.  The IBM Power9 model S914 has two processor options, a 4-core, and a 6-core.  Which one do you get if you only need 1 core activation?  The 4-core server is physically the same as the 6-core server, except for the processor and the other differences shown in the table below.

Feature 4-core 6-core
Maximum Cores 4 6
Maximum Memory 64GB 1TB
Maximum Internal Disk Drives 10 (283GB HDD or 387GB SSD) 672, many HDD & SSD sizes
BUS Expansion None 1 drawer – 6 adapter slots
Software Tier Group P05 P10

Let’s discuss each of these differences in more detail:

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