iTech Solutions - for all of your IBM i System needs

The iTech Blog

Posted on November 20, 2018

Yvonne Enselman

As I wrap up my Managed Services series for 2018 and prepare for 2019, I want to end by talking about system health. A common misperception about MSP is that all the hardware being used by our customers is hosted. In fact, the vast majority of the systems under our care are the existing hardware in the shops we support.

As we all know, the IBM i runs well and can be trusted to do so with little intervention. Consequently, there are many factors that aren’t analyzed regularly that can have drastic impacts on the functioning of the machine. We provide this information to our customers via two services:

  1. Standalone health checks
  2. System status overviews

Health Checks

iTech Solutions performs a detailed analysis of your system and suggestions for improvement at each level. When part of an MSP support package, we incorporate this remediation into our planning and services. Also, continuing an ongoing theme of these articles, an ancillary benefit of this service is the documentation produced.

Starting with all systems, types, and identification, iTech evaluates every component of your IBM i infrastructure and OS.

PTF status and licensed programs (LPPs) are reviewed and anything missing, out of date, or problematic is identified. This is especially important if there is software on your system that is no longer supported. If you are running these versions, you are at danger for security breaches and failing audit requirements. Configuration issues, ethernet ports and cards, user licenses, cache, memory pools all are documented as well as recommended changes.

From there we move into storage and tape devices.

With the importance of high availability and disaster recovery, making sure these components are strong and healthy as well as properly utilized has never been more important. A major issue that is neglected on many systems is Journal Receivers and Save Files which can easily grow and impact performance. Libraries, FTP capability, IFS stability are all accounted for. System values, the nuance of which can be difficult for even seasoned veterans to comprehend are evaluated; importantly not just one on one but as to how they interact as a whole.

When we are complete, your result is recommendations on how to proceed.

Be it addressing system names, network configurations, storage shortcomings, missing software, updating unsupported versions. All in all, this gives you an organized and documented overview of your system. More importantly, you are now empowered to make decisions regarding remediation.

Of course, as always, iTech is here to support you every step of the way. Contact us if you would like to learn more.

Posted on September 25, 2018

managed_service_blog_header

laurie_itech

Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

Managed Services can be tailored to fit the needs of your business, which means you need to evaluate where a third party provider can provide you with the most benefits. Identifying where you have vulnerabilities or gaps with your system administration is the easiest place to start.

When building your case for managed services, we recommend you focus on three key areas:

  1. Your resources
  2. Their available time
  3. Skills gaps

Existing System Administrator Resources

Do you have only one IBM i System Administrator?  Is this person a dedicated System Administrator?

Replacing an IBM i system administrator can be a challenge. If your current administrator is near retirement, now is a good time to consider managed services.  You should compare the cost of a full-time employee versus the cost of outsourcing tasks to a third party.

(more…)

Posted on

Phil Pearson, Cheif Information Security Officer

Managing a large and complex server like the IBM i, can be daunting. Add to this the fact that you may have Scaling Up/Down/In/Out, need to control High Availability and Monitoring, Patching, Manage Backups and Restores, you have to ensure the OS is kept up to date. Even the fundamentals such as security and configuration can take significant expertise.

To do this, you need the right skills, operational procedures while maintaining a best practice approach while adhering to stringent Internal/external governance.

Imagine if all you had to do is manage your database, or like many of our customers; they only have to manage Database Clients and Queries, Create Indexes and Maintain referential constraints between tables.

A managed service partner takes care of everything else; this will include:

Managed IBM i High availability using Multi-LPAR topologies, which provides an SLA up-time of 99.95%.

With the Multi-LPAR features enabled on your production server, iTech provides asynchronous “standby” replica of every database and system across multiple systems. Since both the database and its replica are in sync, there is no chance of data loss. iTech manages the whole process, and also offers a fully managed failover service, so even if the master production database goes down, an automatic failover mechanism will change the master DNS to a replica to achieve high availability.

This same technology also offers us the chance to move other workloads off the production, such as Queries and backups. This can have a huge benefit on busy production databases.

To do all of the above on IBM servers, you would need significant investment in infrastructure, software and additional off grid premises, to house the standby systems; this would be expensive, and self-managed.

IBM i scalability is difficult, to do this your own would require time, money and training. Handling mandatory downtimes due to upgrades or infrastructure requirements can be tricky, and this is just the beginning of the many scalability responsibilities. That is why one of iTech’s key advantages is its scaling service. You need more capacity to test a new feature, or you want a second system to try out a new application, we have a solution. Moreover, iTech MSP offers two levels of scalability features: vertical and horizontal.

Security Managed Services –

We enable push-button IBM i security with a scaling component depending on your needs. After a small amount of analysis, we will have turned on every inch of monitoring that is possible on the IBM i server. iTech will monitor all of your events and separate the events of the system from the Security events. This level of control allows you to sit back and wait until we have something to tell you.

Risk Management –

In a secure environment, you MUST understand the risk, and you MUST have control over the risk. The very minimum control is security event monitoring. Risk acceptance is key, but to understand the risk, you must first have a process of continuous security analysis. Imagine having around the clock operations focused on just security events. .iTech MSSP has everything you need for Security event Monitoring irrespective of peak business hours or non-peak hours, at iTech we never stop.

Interim CISO –

If you want to get to grips with your risks, or you have legislative requirements to build a bulletproof CyberSecurity model, iTech has introduced a fully inclusive cybersecurity service that requires a variety of skills. These skills include project leadership, risk management, technical expertise, and compliance. An Interim CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) is an efficient solution as they have many responsibilities for ongoing security within the organization.

This is a great alternative to an industry-wide problem without the cost of hiring an in-house security team.

Featuring:

  • A complete Information Security Audit of people, processes and technology.
  • Data Protection – creating processes and procedures for the business
  • An Information Risk Register identifying all assets and processes that could be subject to a security threats
  • Policy Creation of how risks will be evaluated and assessed while considering the business, legal and regulatory requirements of the organization.
  • A Gap Analysis Report highlighting the areas of improvement required.
  • A Security Improvement Process. This process will monitor and consistently manage security improvements within the business.

In short, we will identify and implement a fully working Risk Register. (Enterprise-wide) we will establish a Risk Committee that will be driven to work through the remediation and report to the committee weekly.

MSP_ebook

Posted on February 1, 2017

The use of Managed Services are predicted to continue to increase in 2017. Companies are realizing that focusing on what they do best can provide them with a competitive edge. This is especially true in IT. Whether you want to supplement your staff, become more proactive with your system maintenance or shorten your problem resolution time, Managed Services can help.

Supplementing your existing staff with an IBM i Certified Systems Administrator will allow your team to focus on core business strategies and innovation.

(more…)

Newsletters