February 2017 Newsletter

Greetings iTech Fan,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

I hope you got a chance to read our Valentines Day edition of the iTech Solutions Newsletter, where we talked about the new Technology Refreshes for IBM i 7.2 and 7.3.  Notice there isn’t anything new for 7.1.  Read the 3rd article in the newsletter on the 7.1 life cycle, and where we think it is. IBM needs to make a stand on IBM i 7.1, either drop support or add security enhancements it has put into 7.2.  If you are on either IBM i 6.1 or 7.1, you should be looking at upgrading to either IBM i 7.2 or 7.3.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article Chris Flick tells you how to Configure QNTC.  The second article is about converting file transfers from i Access for Windows to the new Java based Access Client Solutions. The third article by Charlie Kaplan asks where is IBM i 7.1 on the Life Cycle?  The fourth is on the new small Power8 the S812. 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 the latest PTFs as you are most likely now on Technology Refresh 11. For the 7.2 customers, we will be installing 7.2 Technology Refresh 6, and 7.3 will be Technology Refresh 2.

Some notes on the new HMC release that just came out:

  • HMC V8 R8.6.0 will be the last release to support POWER6.
  • HMC V8 R8.6.0 will be the last release to allow ‘classic’ UI login.
  • HMC V8 R8.6.0 will be the last release that supports the model CR5, CR6 and C08.
  • The HMC must be at version V8 R8.4.0 or later to be upgraded to HMC V8 R8.6.0. This requirement is enforced during installation.

In March 2016 we released our first IBM i State of the Union and the positive comments and the number of downloads has been phenomenal.  We updated it this summer to include everything from the first half of 2016, you can get a copy on our website.  We are currently writing the 2017 IBM i State of the Union.

Having a business partner isn’t the same as having iTech Solutions. If you are not getting the support, the help, the guidance, and the advice you need to succeed, then you owe it to yourself to contact iTech Solutions for all 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.

 

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, 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.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Configuring QNTC.

Background: The QNTC file system provides access to data and objects that are stored on an Integrated xSeries Server (IXS) running Windows NT 4.0 or later, or Linux operating system. The QNTC file system also provides access to data and objects that are stored on remote servers running Windows NT 4.0 or later, Linux Samba 3.0 or later, or supported versions of IBM® i NetServer.  The IBM i OS QNTC file system allows the IBM i to act as a client in an smb/cifs network and access Windows, Samba and IBM i OS file share servers.

Configure: Once properly configured, IBM i applications can read, write, delete, and update stream files in the QNTC file system just like any other IFS files.   See, Getting Started with IBM i NetServer: https://www-304.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=nas8N1019708

 

  1. Open a connection to iSeries Navigator on your System i platform.
  2. Expand Network.
  3. Expand Servers.
  4. Click on TCP/IP.
  5. Right-click iSeries NetServer and click on Configuration.

 

The QNTC file system resides under the Root (/) IBM i OS file system. WRKLNK ‘/QNTC/*’ will display the external network servers that are hosting network file shares. This list is populated/configured in two ways. The first is dynamically via a browse of the network domain name specified in the IBM i OS NetServer properties. The second is by manually doing a MKDIR ‘/QNTC/server’ where server is replaced by the external server Host Name or IP address. All directories under the QNTC file system only survive until the next IPL and must be recreated following the IPL. Directories that were dynamically created via the browse of the network domain should populate again, but directories created via MKDIR will have to be created via MKDIR again.  You can include MKDIR as part of your Startup program/process to automate the directories created via MKDIR.

Use: The job that is going to access an external file share via the IFS path ‘/QNTC/server/share/path/file.txt’ must be able to authenticate to the external server. The IBM i OS QNTC file system does not have any credential prompting capability, therefore the credentials of the job on the IBM i OS must exactly match credentials that are able to authenticate on the external network server. A significant note to be aware of here is that if the IBM i OS QPWDLVL (Password Level) is set to a value of 0 or 1. If your level is 0 meaning that IBM i OS Passwords can only be 10 characters long, all alphabetic characters are not case sensitive, may include numbers and the four special characters of # $ _ or @. When these passwords are passed to the external server all alphabetic characters are passed in lowercase.

The QNTC file system is part of the base IBM i operating system. It is not necessary to have the Integrated Server Support, option 29 of the operating system, installed to access /QNTC.

 


 

Converting File Transfers for Access Client Solutions.

We have a user with a new computer running Windows 10 with the latest version of Clientlightbulb.jpg Access. While attempting to execute a file transfer within a CL program she receives the following error: ‘RXFERPCB’ is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

 

It worked fine for her before she got her new machine the other day.

Here is the line of CL code:

         STRPCCMD   PCCMD(‘RXFERPCB +                            

                     “\\\\Shared\\herdirectory\\TMSFRTBILLS\\TMSFRT.dtf” “********”  “********”‘) 

Here is what the issue is and what needs to be done for the new clients using Access Client Solutions (ACS) the new Java based version of i Access for Windows.  The RXFERPCB executable (Access for Windows), is no longer used with ACS.  So, the error is with the PCCMD the STRPCCMD command is trying to use and not the STRPCCMD command itself.  According to IBM, to get this to work for Windows 10 Clients using ACS, you will need to install ACS on the server that has the transfer requests, and migrate the IBM I Access for Windows transfer requests:

Data Transfer in IBM i Access Client Solutions provides a wizard for converting saved Data Transfer request files that were generated by IBM i Access for Windows.

The following file types can be converted from IBM i Access for Windows:

.dtf – data transfer from IBM i

.dtt – data transfer to IBM i

The files will be converted to:

.dtfx – data transfer from IBM i

.dttx – data transfer to IBM i

The Data Transfer migration wizard does not migrate .fdf files. The new file type required by IBM i Access Client Solutions is of the type .fdfx and can be generated during a download or by using the Create File Wizard.

The Data Transfer migration wizard is available from the Data Transfer main menu by selecting Actions and then Data Transfer Migration

Once this is done/completed, you will have both the old and new data transfers on the server.  Then you will need to create new CL’s to execute these file transfers using ACS.

If you need help or have questions on this, iTech Solutions can help you to do the remediation, to determine why it failed and help you correct it.Contact us to let us help you.

 


Where is IBM i 7.1 on the lifecycle?

Seismologists pore over tables of data about fault line earthquake activity and occasionally pronounce that “We are overdue for a big one.”  The IBM i Release Life Cycle table below contains valuable data that may reveal that the IBM i is also “overdue” for a big announcement.  If trends had continued, I would have expected an IBM i announcement in September, 2016.  That announcement would have said that IBM i 7.1 would be withdrawn from marketing by the end of 2016 and that End of Support would occur in September 2018.  But here we are in February 2017 and there is yet no announcement.

 

Version Release  

Announced

General

Availability

End Of Marketing Announced End of Marketing Effective End of Support
V5R4 01/31/2006 02/14/2006 01/27/2009 05/27/2011 09/30/2013
6.1 01/29/2008 03/21/2008 09/09/2014 12/09/2014 09/30/2015
7.1 04/13/2010 04/23/2010 ??? ??? ???
7.2 04/28/2014 05/02/2014      
7.3 04/12/2016 04/15/2016      

There was a hint at a 7.1 announcement that was on November 11, 2016 when IBM revealed the then latest Technical Refreshes, TR5 for 7.2 and TR1 for 7.3.  The hint was that 7.1 was not included and we were told that IBM now considers 7.1 to be “stable technology”.  In case you don’t know, “stable technology” means that the patient is alive and doing well, but the end is in sight.  The big questions are: 1) When will IBM stop marketing 7.1?  And more importantly; 2) when will support for 7.1 be withdrawn?  My best guestimates are 1) soon, very soon and 2) about 18 months later.

IBM says that 7.1 is “stable technology” and from that we can infer that End of Support is somewhere around 18 months away.  That means that 7.1 customers have at least 18 months to upgrade to 7.2 or 7.3.  18 months may sound like a long time, but is it?  Most IBM i customers have a limited number of possible times for an OS upgrade.  Before you can upgrade a full system save is needed, just in case the upgrade goes bad and you need to fall back.  Many customers won’t do an OS upgrade without first making two full backups just to be safe in case they need to fall back and to make sure that they will be able to recover if they also get a tape failure.  Backups completed, the 8 to 12 hour OS upgrade can begin.  And when completed another full system backup should be taken.  You can cram all that into a weekend, but many customers like an extra day available just in case something unexpected happens.  Therefore 3 day holiday weekends are OS upgrade prime time.  Since there a limited number of 3 day holiday weekends in a year, it is never too early to start planning your upgrade from 7.1.  At iTech Solutions we have the experience, knowledge, and know-how to reduce this upgrade time.

IBM i 7.2 or 7.3?  There is no right answer here.  It is recommended that when you do an IBM i OS upgrade that you go no more than 2 levels ahead and to go to the latest release that you applications and hardware will support.  The right answer for you will be determined by your Business Partner for the hardware and by your software providers for the applications that you run.  If you are running in house written applications, then you should have no problem going to the most current release.

One last question needs to be explored … Why do I need to upgrade at all?  I’ve been running IBM i 7.1 and it runs great and does everything that I want.  In other words, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?  IBM i 7.1 was one of the best OS releases ever, no doubt about that.  But if you don’t keep moving forward, then you are going backwards.  Your application provider may come out with a new release with lots of new functions to benefit your organization, but it requires 7.2 or a later release.  Now you have to not only do an application upgrade but also an OS upgrade.  By upgrading the OS now, you can be prepared to upgrade your applications on demand.

When IBM drops support for an OS, it doesn’t really drop support.  Support is still available for a limited amount of time, but at a premium.  You still have to pay for regular Software Maintenance (SWMA) but then you have to add on an additional fee, roughly 75% of the SWMA charge, for Extended Support.  With Extended Support, IBM will still answer your support questions and even generate fixes for new problems, but you will not see any new function being added into releases on Extended Support.  Extended Support is great when there is a good reason to stay on the old release and you have an audit requirement to be on supported release.  But after that, you really should be on a current release (and avoid the 75% Extended Support fee penalty).

When you are on the current release you are prepared for anything new.  Whether it is new software or new hardware.  Let’s say that your backups are slow and that can easily be fixed by replacing your tape drive with a new faster tape drive.  But you know what, support for the new tape drive or disk or whatever is only available with the latest release.  The problems encountered when staying on an old release.

One of the worst gotcha’s is when you call IBM Support about problem you are experiencing.  After a discussion to understand your issue, the gotcha comes in when they ask what release you are on.  When you tell them that you are on an old release and then they say, “Well that was fixed already on the current release; you need to upgrade to get the fix”.  How are you possibly going to do an upgrade when you are already burdened with trying to fix the problem you are experiencing?  Now you have to live with the problem, until you can schedule an OS upgrade.

So stay on a currently supported release, it is less expensive and keeps you prepared for whatever may come your way.  And … it will let you sleep at night which is the main reason you are on IBM i in the first place.  To learn more on how iTech Solutions can help you with your OS upgrade, please call us at 203-744-7854 and press 3, or email us.

 


IBM announces a new smaller Power8 the S812.

Good things come in small packages

IBM announced a new less powerful S812, on a P05 Software tier.  Yeah, that sounds funny, but really the smallest Power System today, is still more power than most IBM i customers on the low end actually need.  This new box will satisfy that need, with a one processor machine, at a lower cost.  The S812 is a 1-core, 3GHz POWER8 processor chip, which only goes up to 64GB of memory, has 6 PCIe slots, and supports up to 8 disks, in a 2U form factor.  It will only support 15K RPM 283GB disks, 10K 571GB disks, or the super-fast 387GB SSDs.  That is a pretty good offering of disks and will cover everyone.  It is too bad that the 139GB disks aren’t available any longer, as that would have been the perfect match for this low end machine.  This machine will have no virtualization capabilities and be only able to be a single IBM i partition.  You can connect an HMC to manage the machine, but there is no virtualization. The machine will only run IBM i 7.2 TR6 (or later) and IBM i 7.3 TR2 (or later). It has a limit of 25 user licenses.  By the way, it has the same internal pair of disk controllers as the S814 for IBM i, with 7.2GB of write cache.  So, while IBM is marketing this as less I/O, that disk controllers performance is still more than enough for anyone coming from an older small machine (like a 170, 270, or a small POWER5). The S812 uses the 900W power supplies, which are either 110v or 220v.  The machine only comes in a rack mounted model.  The S812 machine was  announced February 14, available on March 24, and will be in eConfig by the end of the month. In addition to the new S812 machine, IBM has announced some new Tape/DVD adapters (EJ1P & EJ1N), and a new RDX USB External docking station.

If you require additional information, or think this machine is a good fit for you, give us a call at 203-744-7854 and press 3 for sales, or send us an email at sales@itechsol.com .

 


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.

 

Archived available anytime – Steve Will and Pete Massiello host a session on what’s new for IBM i 7.3.    

 

March 15 – 16 – Wisconsin Midrange Computer professional Association – Lake Lawn Resort, Delavan, WI  www.wmcpa.org

  • Stop by our booth and see us

April 10 – 12, 2017 – Northeast User Groups Conference http://www.neugc.org

  • Stop by our booth and see us
  • HMC, IBM i, FSP, and Firmware
  • Cool Things in Navigator for IBM i to be a Rock Star Administrator
  • What you need to know when Upgrading IBM i to 7.3
  • Tips and Tricks to improve System performance and Save Disk Space

May  7 – 10, 2017 – COMMON Annual Conference & Expo – Orlando, FL http://www.common.org

  • Stop by our booth and see us
  • HMC, IBM i, FSP, and Firmware
  • Cool Things in Navigator for IBM i to be a Rock Star Administrator
  • What you need to know when Upgrading IBM i to 7.3
  • Tips and Tricks to improve System performance and Save Disk Space

May  16, 2017 – Long Island Systems User Group – Westbury, NY http://www.lisug.org

  • Stop by our booth and see us

 



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.

7.3 7.2 7.1 6.1 V5R4
Cumul Pack 16299 16306 16120 15063 12094
Tech. Refresh  1 5 11
Grp Hipers 24 84 188 210 204
DB Group 3 15 41 33 33
Java Group 3 11 26 37 34
Print Group 3 12 31 49
Backup/Recov. 8 30 64 61 57
Blade/IXA/IXS 1 16 30 15
HTTP 6 19 45 46 36
TCP/IP 3 10 17 22
Security 11 42 66 60  33
High Availability 3 6 13  5
Hardware 6 22 33  17
Open Source 3 3 3

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 16120. We can determine that it was created on the 120th day of 2016, which is April 29th, 2016. Look at your machine and this will give you a quick indication of just how far out of date in PTFs you may be.

HMCs

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

Model Release Service Pack
HMC V8R8.6
  1.  MH01655
  2.  MH01674
HMC V8R8.5
  1. SP2 MH01657 (must be installed from classic GUI or command line)
HMC V8R8.4
  1. MH01560 (must be installed from command line using UPDHMC)
  2. SP2 MH01620 (must be installed from command line using UPDHMC)
  3. MH01680 (must be installed from classic GUI or from command line)
HMC V8R8.3
  1. SP3 MH01619
  2. MH01679
HMC  V8R8.2
  1. SP3 MH01583
  2. MH01688
HMC (CR4 last release) V7R7.9
  1. SP3 MH01546
  2. MH01587
  3. MH01687
HMC V7R7.8
  1. SP1 MH01397
  2. SP2 MH01432
  3. MH01570
or V7R7.7
  1. SP3 MH01379
  2. SP4 MH01415
  3. MH01516
HMC C03 V7R3.5
  1. SP4 MH01277

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.x 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 want to manage a POWER8 machine, you need to be on at least HMC 8.8.1

Some notes on the new HMC release V8R8.6 that just came out:

  • Will be the last release to support POWER6.
  • Will be the last release to allow ‘classic’ UI login.
  • Will be the last release that supports the model CR5, CR6 and C08.
  • The HMC must be at version V8 R8.4.0 or later to be upgraded to HMC V8 R8.6.0. This requirement is enforced during installation.

 

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_382 last
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_176_038 last
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_176_038 last
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_176_038 last
9119-FHA EH350_176_038 last
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_152_035
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_080_040
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_161_042
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-112_032
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_112_032
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AM770_112_032
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_080_040
Power8 8408-E8E, 8284-22A, 8286-41A, or 8286-42A
  • SV860_063_056 (OS Managed PTF MH01672)
  • SV860_070_056 (HMC Managed; requires HMC 8.8.6+)
  • SV840_147_056 (HMC Managed; HMC 8.8.5 and below)
9119-MHE or 9119-MME SC860_070_056

 

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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