February 2013 Newsletter

Greetings!

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

 

Well February was an exciting month with IBM delivering new Power7+ servers, and IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 6. Our first article will go into some of the details of TR6.

The new Power7+ machines are delivering about 20% more processing power than the prior Power7 machines, so if you are thinking about a new machine, this is the time.

Time is running out if you are still on V5R4, with less than 7 months to IBM pulls the plug on support.  In fact, I heard that if you are still on V5R4 after Sept 30, 2013, your Software maintenance will be going up 75%.  Ouch!  IBM is certainly investing and supporting future releases of IBM i, but if you are still stuck on V5R4, it is time to upgrade!  Support ends on Sept 30, 2013. If you are still on V5R4, send Pete an email and he can help you upgrade to 6.1 or 7.1. With more upgrades than anyone else to 6.1/7.1 done to date you know iTech Solutions has the expertise and know how. Get the best team working for you.

The number of iTech Solutions customers is growing each month, and that is due to our commitment to our customers, our services, and the support that we provide.  Find out for yourself what it is like to work with a business partner who cares about you and your success.

This issue of our newsletter has seven articles. In the first article, review the enhancements in Technology Refresh 6 (TR6). The second article is about our iTech Solutions monthly blog article incase you aren’t subscribed.  The third article lists two libraries you don’t need to be backing up each night that most customers do. The fourth article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating. The fifth article is on the System Startup job. The sixth article is on reducing capital expenses.  The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information. Please note that we have added a new PTF group to our recommended list, which is the High Availability Group.  If you are an iTech Solutions PTF Maintenance customer, you will receive this 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.

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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.

IBM i Technology Refresh 6.       
 

On February 5th, when IBM debuted the refresh of the low end of the Power7 hardware with all new machines with Power7+ chips in them, they came out with Technology Refresh 6 (Called TR6) for 7.1 as well.  TR6 is required for any of the new Power7+ machines that were announced on February 5th, but TR6 also has some nice goodies for everyone.

I guess it is worth saying, that if you aren’t on 7.1 of the operating system, you are missing the boat. At a high level, the summary of announcements are:

  • Enhancing the value proposition of DB2 for i by extending SQL capabilities, improving performance and enhancing data center manageability
  • Support for latest POWER7+ Express Servers
  • Use of USB Flash Drives now supported by IBM i
  •  New Mobile Solutions
    • Zend Server for i Version 6 provides mobile application development and runtime
    • IBM Mobile Database solution uses DB2 for i as data source
    • Statement of Direction for IBM Lotus Notes Traveler and IBM Connections availability
  • IBM i Secure Sockets Layer (System SSL) supports TLSv1.1 and TLSv1.2 and Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP)
  • PowerHA SystemMirror for i adds support for additional storage devices, including IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and IBM Storwize V7000, V3700 and V3500
  • IBM Systems Director error detection and reporting
  • Performance improvement to LIC apply, for both Temp & Perm LIC apply PTFs.

For the USB support, it is only on Power7 & Power7+ machines. It emulates an optical class device, and can be used to move data between machines. It’s isn’t recommended as a backup device, and it limited to 32GB of storage.   Note that you can IPL from this USB device, and you can virtualize the device back to a 6.1 partition.

 

IBM i Operating System

Additional details on the DB2 for IBM i enhancements with TR6:

  • Functional enhancements:
    • New and enhanced SQL language capabilities
    • New database centric application interfaces
  • Performance enhancements:
    • Improved Navigator performance for Database tasks
    • Enhanced Index Strategy techniques and insight
    • New JDBC method to achieve blocked fetch of data
  • Database Management enhancements:
    • Database Reorganization more efficient driven by smaller service windows
    • New techniques for managing SQL objects across machines
  • Availability and Recovery enhancements:
    • Tracking important system limits
      • studying trends drives to fewer outages
  • Security enhancements:
    • New capabilities to extract non-Database detail
    • Wider use Client Special registers for DB2 for i commands and applications.

Some additional hardware enhancements.

  • More removable media choices
    • LTO-6 for 720/740 CEC and in 7226 1U drawer
    • Bigger RDX cartridge – 1.5TB
  • Two new PCIe Gen2 Adapters
    • 2-port 16Gb Fibre Channel
      • Requires VIOS
    • 4-port 10Gb CNA/FCoE + 1GbE
      • Requires VIOS
      • IBM i supports NIC, not FCoE
  • NPIV (N_Port ID Virtualization) attach of SVC, V7000 Storwize, V3700
    • Expands existing VSCSI support
    • Native support not offered
  • Ethernet Link Aggregation Enhancements
    •  Automatic retry to re-link dropped links

If you are on 7.1 and need to get these new features, you can contact iTech Solutions, or if you are on our quarterly PTF maintenance program you will get them during your next maintenance cycle.  If you aren’t on 7.1, contact iTech Solutions to get upgraded to 7.1.

iTech Solutions Monthly Blog

Expand your IT Talent without adding IT headcount.

When you stop and think about it, adding more IT talent to your staff is easy.

 

You post ads on all the major IT job websites. You get the word out in your social networks that you’re hiring in IT.

 

You collect, review, and categorize the hundreds of resumes that come in. You hold several rounds of interviews and hire the most qualified people. And then you set them up in your payroll system, give them network credentials, and let them loose on your IT infrastructure.

It’s that simple – as long as you have unlimited financial resources.

But we’re assuming you don’t. So we’re suggesting an alternative approach.The Value of a Good IT Partner… -> Continue Reading.

Additional Staff

Two libraries you might not need to backup each night.  

We were recently working with a customer on how to reduce their nightly backup time.  What we found out was that they were backing up two libraries every night that they really didn’t need.  They certainly didn’t need these libraries for a system recovery. It was their performance data libraries.  IBM i (OS/400 or i5/OS) will collect performance data each day.  You can check out the library that the system will store their performance data in with the command CFGPFRCOL and hit F4.  Most of the time, the libraries that you will want to exclude are QPFRDATA & QMPGDATA.

In all cases, you should examine the libraries that you are backing up, and the ones you might be skipping.  A proper backup strategy is one that meets your requirements, and while this is unique to every customer, the most important phase is testing out your recovery.

If you wish to test out a recovery by using your backup to determine if in a disaster you can recover, please contact Paul to schedule a test.

Light

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.

April 22 iBelieve Massachusetts  – After the huge success of iBelieve in California and New York, this free community event is coming to New England. Join Dr. Frank Soltis, Pete Massiello, Alison Butterill, Trevor Perry and Brendan Kay to recognize and explore the power of IBM i.These speakers will be discussing the innovations and skills that are driving the platform forward, and challenging some misconceptions along the way.

Massiello iBelieve

April 23 to 24, Northeast IBM User Group Conference www.neugc.org, Framingham, MA. Stop by the iTech Solutions booth in the expo, and also hear Pete Massiello speak on:

  • What do you need to know when upgrading IBM i.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.
  • IBM Navigator for i.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.
  • A Programmers future: Looking back to see into the Future.

April 7 to 10, COMMON User Group, www.common.org Austin, TX.

  • What do you need to know when upgrading IBM i.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.
  • IBM Navigator for i
  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance and reduce disk space.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.
  • A Programmers future: Looking back to see into the Future.

Visit the iTech Solutions booth at the Long Island System’s User Group www.lisug.org on Wednesday May 15th.

 

June 4, MITECH Users group of Michigan www.gomitech.com. Sessions TBA.

 

June 19 to 21, COMMON Europe www.comeur.org in France.

  • What do you need to know when upgrading IBM i.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.
  • Tips and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.

 System Startup job  

 

I always get a few questions a month on this from clients, so I thought it would make a good article.  First, the Startup program is defined as a System Value, QSTRUPPGM.  This system value can be either the name of a program or *NONE.  The default value is QSTRUP in library QSYS.  IBM ships this program, which will start up the subsystems: QSPL, QSERVER, & QUSRWRK.  It releases the QS36MRT & QS36EVOKE job queues, and starts all print writers.  If the controlling subsystem is QCTL, then it will also start the following subsystems: QINTER, QBATCH, and QCMN.

 

This job is actually called when you start the controlling subsystem.  Therefore, if you bring the system to a restricted state, and then restart the controlling subsystem, it will again call this job to start the system. You will see there is a autostart job in your controlling subsystem, called QSTRUPJD which just calls the program in the QSTRUPPGM system value.

 

IBM i Operating System

 

If you want to add your own customization, the best way to do this, is to retrieve the CL source from the IBM supplied program, QSTRUP in QSYS into a source file using the RTVCLSRC command.  Then you can make your modifications to the source file, and compile it.  It’s a very good practice to place the new program in a library other than QSYS (as it will get over written with each os upgrade, and your changes won’t be executed).  I recommend that people put your customized program in QGPL.  Then just change the QSTRUPPGM system value to reflect the location of your modified startup program.

 

The last item that always seems to trip people up, is that when the program runs, it doesn’t always have all the authority that it requires.  The reason for this, is that when this program runs from the controlling subsystem, it runs with a user profile of QPGMR.  If you want the program to run under QSECOFR user profile to have additional authority, this can be done with adopted authority if required.

 

In summary, this is an important program as it will start the various subsystems and jobs on your system that you need for your system to work correctly for your users.  It is very important to pay attention to the order that you start subsystems and jobs in the startup program, and that you also have the correct logging established for error checking.  I had written about error logging in the startup program a while back in a previous newsletter.

 

If you need help in making modifications, or more understanding in what is happening, then just let us know and we would be happy to help you out.

Capital Expenses vs. Operating Expenses.

Do you need a new Power Systems server, or perhaps a system upgrade to get more performance, additional disk space, or more memory but don’t have the capital budget?  iTech Solutions working with IBM Global Financing  supplies custom configured servers, storage, and maintenance at cost competitive monthly rates to meet your project timelines and budget.  iTech Solutions lease program enables you to source the right server you need to meet your requirements and recognize the purchase as operational expense (OPEX) rather than capital expenditure (CAPEX).IBM i Operating System

 

Contact Glenn for more information on how we can stretch your budget, plus in most cases with our leasing program for new Power System servers, you can usually reduce your monthly payments.

Release levels and PTFs

iSeries Family

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.

Releases

                     7.1      6.1      V5R4     V5R3
Cumul. Pack     13037    12305      12094       8267

Tech. Refresh         6

Grp Hipers            79        141        192        169
DB Group              21         28          33         24
Java Group           12         23           32          23
Print Group            7         26           47         20

Backup/Recov.      22        35            51        33

Blade/IXA/IXS       13         24           15           –

HTTP                    18         29           34        17

TCP/IP                   7         15           22         16Security                26         40          32

High Availability     3           2

Hardware               4           4

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 2 or V7R7.7. 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_143.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_143. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_143.
Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B or C). The firmware level is AL730_099 for 8202-E4B & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_099 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_099 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).  The firmware level is AL740-100 for 8202-E4C & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM740_100 for 770 (9117-MMC) & 780 (9179-MHC).
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.

We have the skills to help you get the most out of your IBM i.  For more information on any of the articles please contact us at info@itechsol.com . We would also like to know what you think of this newsletter and any items you would like us to discuss in future issues.

Our staff of Certified i5/OS professionals can help you get more out of your machines.  Remember,
i want everything to work.
       i want control.
               i want an i
                   i need iTech Solutions.
Sincerely,

Pete Massiello
iTech Solutions

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