iTech Solutions - for all of your IBM i System needs

The iTech Blog

Posted on October 12, 2020
Laurie Leblanc

Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

Let’s face it — 2020 hasn’t been the most stellar year for a lot of companies.  There is still uncertainty about what will happen COVID-19 and the rest of the year. As a result, some companies choose to hold on to their cash and not make capital purchases.  Others have frozen their budgets.

With the end of life for the popular E4D coming on December 31, 2020, many IBM i shops face Extended Support. This support is limited in scope.  You can only get a contract for 12 months, and there are no guarantees. IBM Extended Support is better than IBM’s no option, but it’s not the best solution.

If you’re one of these companies struggling to navigate budget constraints in 2020, we have a suggestion: financing. If you’re not worried today, but you want to hold on to your cash, financing is also a fit for you.  Do you refresh your hardware on a regular three to four-year cadence? Financing will save you money.

(more…)

Posted on October 9, 2020
Laurie Leblanc

Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

Managed Services may mean different things to different people.  To some, Managed Services means “I no longer have to do anything or worry about my IBM i”. For others, it means having someone else to bounce ideas off of and to have a backup for time off.  The truth is, it’s both and everything in between.

If you’re an Admin, when you hear your boss talk about Managed Services, you might get nervous about job security.  The truth is we work with a lot of companies who have an Admin, and we support them.  If you’re a CIO and you are concerned with finding a resource with IBM i knowledge, we can help you too.

We can tell you how good we are, but that isn’t as good as hearing about real customer situations.  Below are three real customer stories that discuss what the customer needs were and how Managed Services helped their businesses.

(more…)

Posted on October 2, 2020
Laurie Leblanc

Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

The shutdown across the country is something from a movie. A virus spreads across the globe, and no one can stop it.  People shut themselves inside and keep away from other people due to the fear. Businesses suffer because there is no one on-site to make sure that critical tasks that require human intervention. Except it’s not a movie, its real life.

To add chaos, we have wildfires, hurricanes, and storms. Many businesses have been destroyed by disasters.  The question is: Did they have a good backup strategy in place and were they diligent about getting their backups offsite?  If not, then recovery is going to be next to impossible.

When we talk about backups, we talk about the importance of having our backups be offsite for just this reason. You never know what is going to happen and when.  It’s better to be prepared than to find yourself in the midst of chaos.

(more…)

Posted on September 17, 2020

Patrick Nip

Almost three decades ago, back in 1997, IBM announced the flagship 9337 Disk Array Subsystem, a rack-mount disk unit that offers 1,084 MB to 33.55 GB of DASD for the AS/400 9406 Models B, D, E, and F as well as AS/400 Advanced System Model.  Back in the early ’80s, I engaged in a benchmark of the 9337 Disk Subsystem on an enterprise AS/400 against the EMC Symmetric system in Rochester, Minnesota.  I also presented RAID technology at a local user group meeting, explaining how to protect the data on the 9337 storage for the AS/400 with RAID 5 technology.

We have come a long way in storage for the Power System. In addition to internal hard disk drives (HDDs), there are Solid State Drives (SSDs), Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe) drives, and the external IBM FlashSystems with all NVMe storage option. Gone are the days when AS/400 internal storage was usually the first choice in achieving the best performance. This blog discusses various IBM storage options for POWER9 and highlights the cost difference of deploying different storage options on a FlashSystem fiber attached to a POWER9.

(more…)

Posted on September 4, 2020
Laurie Leblanc

Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

It’s not often that we hear the stories of a data center being destroyed, but it happens. If your backups remain onsite, or even worse — they stay in the tape library for a week before you remove them, then you are at risk if a disaster strikes.  We actually had a customer who had a fire in their building.  The tape was still in the tape drive.  Pete’s advice was to cut the cable and grab the tape drive and run. This is not a good disaster recovery plan.

Security, recoverability, ease of restoring

When I was a System Administrator in the early 1990s, my colleague and I took our backup tapes home to keep them offsite. I didn’t have a fireproof safe, I just had a box with tapes that I kept safe. On Friday night, the backup would run sometime after the JDE nightly process would finish and the tape would stay in the tape drive until Monday morning at 6 AM when one of us arrived.  That tape stayed in the building all day until after work when it would leave with whoever had the early shift that week. We had a backup, we even took it offsite, but was it really the best solution? No. It was what we knew at the time.

(more…)

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:

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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?

(more…)

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:


(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Posted on

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.

(more…)

Posted on

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Newsletters