Last month, I talked about how you can make sure your system has the ability to report problems back to IBM in the event of a failure. That functionality can be invaluable for keeping your system running, but what happens if something goes wrong while the OS is still trying to start? What if something fails so far down the hardware stack that the system simply can’t be aware of it before the whole show grinds to a halt? That’s where an HMC has your back, and it can call home to IBM as well.
Not everyone has an HMC to manage their Power Systems server, but if you do then most likely the technician who installed it configured the call-home function for you when they set it up. However, as I discussed in the previous article there’s no accounting for network infrastructure and security changes that occur after the fact. Just as on the system itself, it’s a good idea to test the Service Agent connection periodically.
How do you test it? Easy! Log on to your HMC and click on the Serviceability icon on the left side, then choose Service Management from the menu. The next screen is just a list of tasks that relate to services on the HMC; we want to launch the Manage Outbound Connectivity task. When that opens, click the Configure button and another box will pop up. On this screen, the box that reads “Enable the local console as a call home server” should be checked (if it’s not, your HMC may not be set up for call home). Assuming it is, look near the bottom of the box and you’ll find a Test Connection button – click that and then start the test. The connection test can take several minutes to run, during which you’ll get nothing more than a spinning icon as feedback. When it completes, the results should indicate a successful connection to IBM’s gateway servers.
So, what do you do if it fails? The first thing to do is to check to see if the HMC actually has connectivity to the Internet. There is a Test Network Connectivity task located on the HMC Settings page which you can use to do a simple ping test. Make sure that the HMC can connect to both IP addresses and hostnames outside of your local network. If not, you’ll need to examine the HMC’s network configuration to make sure it has proper IP addressing, gateway, and DNS server settings. Next, check with your network admin to ensure that the HMC is allowed to make outbound connections through your company firewall. If you need a list of IP addresses used by the HMC to connect with IBM, there is a whitepaper available from IBM which documents them.
If your HMC doesn’t seem to be set up for call home at all, then you can use a setup wizard to configure ESA. This task can be launched from the same Service Management screen that we used above to run the connectivity test – just look for the Electronic Service Agent Setup Wizard link. The wizard will walk you through an 8-step process of gathering contact and location information and setting up both inbound and outbound connectivity (only outbound connectivity is needed for problem reporting to work). The HMC can also be set up to send email notifications whenever a serviceable event occurs, which is a great feature if you happen to be one of those people who likes to know there is a problem before IBM does.
As always, if you need assistance with any of the tasks we’ve discussed today or if you have other questions about Service Agent on either the HMC or IBM i, the iTech Solutions tech team is always willing to help!