January 2013 Newsletter

Greetings!

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

 

First, everyone at iTech Solutions would like to wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

This coming February 5th, IBM will be making some major announcements for the Power Systems community, and you should plan on attending. You can register via this link. I always hear from customers asking me about IBM’s commitment to the IBM i operating system, and I keep telling them that it is strong.  Well, in last months newsletter, I wrote about IBM i support going out until 2026 on a chart that I had been presented while in Rochester, MN in November. I tweeted (By the way, my twitter id is Petem59) about this support, and it seemed to cause quite a stir in the community with everyone wanting to get their hands on the chart.   Here is the chart.

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.

Each month our newsletter brings you IBM i tips and techniques that help many System Administrators in their job, as well as help IT managers know what is happening in the IBM i world.  In November, we introduced the iTech Solutions Blog.

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 six articles. In the first article, Bringing new functionality and features to IBM Navigator for i. The second article is about the new iTech Solutions monthly blog.  The third article discusses issues that some customers are having with Telnet. The fourth article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating. The fifth article is on disk protection: Raid5 vs Raid6.  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 Navigator for i.      

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The product got a name change and a full makeover.  While the old names of System Director Navigator for i, and System Director Navigator Console, were a mouth full; they just didn’t change the name, the new design and performance are amazing.

If you are on 6.1 or 7.1, you can get these new functions with the HTTP DG1 Group PTFs.  I don’t know if that is the most intuitive place to locate them, but that is where they are.  The HTTP group PTFs deliver all the new functionality. Here is what you need:

  • IBM i 7.1 SF99368  Level 16
  • IBM i 6.1 SF99115  Level 28

You can use the WRKPTFGRP command to determine your current levels.

I was a member of the beta team for this, and I think the product is so much better with these PTFs.  You will find a much nicer, easier to navigate, and better performing product than what you had previously used.  After loading and applying the PTFs, you get into Navigator for i with either your machine name or IP address and the 2001 port.

http://machine-name or IP Address:2001

Once in, you will know you have the PTFs loaded if your signon screen looks like this:

In previous newsletters I have discussed Internet Intrusion Detection, Index Advisor, and locking down FTP.  All these functions are inside of IBM Navigator for i.  I highly recommend getting this update.  If you aren’t on the iTech Solutions quarterly PTF maintenance program, where we come in and update all your PTFs, please send us an email.

iTech Solutions Monthly Blog
We created an iTech Solutions Blog in November, as another avenue for additional IBM i (AS/400 & iSeries) information.  The Blogs will be different style and content than what the technical newsletter will contain.  We hope you enjoy the blog, and welcome you to create an RSS feed.  Here is the latest article.

Cloud-Based Backups: Ideal Replacement for Tapes?

It’s amazing – and a little scary – how often we see it happen:

A CIO of a small or midsized company puts a well-designed backup strategy in place. He or she assigns one of the IT staff to spearhead backups from now on. And then the CIO assumes the backups are happening on schedule, and basically forgets about the ….Continue reading ->

IBM i Operating System


Having issues with Telnet not starting after an IPL or your backups?  

Recently we have had a few new clients call us experiencing problems with Telnet services restarting, as well of a few of our customers.  This was mostly after an IPL. There are some synchronization problems between ending Telnet and the ending the interactive subsystems that were causing the Telnet service to not restart after an IPL, or even when bringing down the system for a backup.  This happens mostly when you do an ENDSBS *ALL.  If you run the command ENDTCPSVR *TELNET, then there wasn’t a problem. When we wrote about this initially last March, there was just a few PTFs to fix this.  Now, there are additional PTFs as well.  Of course, if you are on the latest cumulative packs, Hiper Group, and TCP/IP Group, you are probably close to having them all on, but I bet you still don’t have them all. Check out this link to see which PTFs you need.  Of course, if you have the iTech Solutions Quarterly PTF maintenance service, you won’t have to worry.

If you don’t have the PTF on yet, and you experience the problem.  Just manually bring down the telnet server with ENDTCPSVR *TELNET, wait a minute, and then restart the service with STRTCPSVR *TELNET sometimes fixes the problem.  Note when you bring the Telnet server down, it will knock off all users, but if you are experiencing the problem of no users being able to connect, this won’t be an issue ending the telnet server.

The fixing PTFs are:

  • MF54626 for V5R4M0
  • MF54627 for V5R4M5
  • MF54608 for 6.1.0
  • MF54612 for 6.1.1
  • MF54614 for 7.1

If you haven’t been keeping up to date on PTFs, perhaps it is time to bring in iTech Solutions for our quarterly or semi-annual PTF maintenance program. Contact Pete.

Upcoming Events. 

  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 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. Sessions TBA

 Disk Protection: Raid 5 or Raid 6 
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Many clients are always asking about disk protection.  So, I thought this would be a good article.  An understanding of RAID5 is required before we can discuss RAID6.  In a RAID5 protection scheme, data is striped across all the drives in the array. If an individual drive fails, the disk controller is able to use the stripes on the other disks to rebuild what the data should be on the failed disk.  Sometimes you might hear this referred to as parity sets.  A parity set is  the set of disks in the Raid set.  With SAS controllers you can have from 3 to 18 drives in a RAID5 parity set.  So, if one drives fails the system is able to rebuild the data on the failed drive with the parity stripes from the remaining drives.  The one problem with RAID5 is that if more than one drive fails, you can’t rebuild the data on the failed drives and you have to reload the system.

 

With RAID6 you can think of this as double parity sets.  Where you basically have a second parity set (or second stripe) on all the drives.  This second set is again built based upon the data on the other drives, so you have to calculate both sets of parity, write these on all the disks in the set.  Wow, you can just see the amount of I/O increase when we think of writes.  You do not want to do RAID6 if you have a limited number of disk drives. With SAS controllers you can have from 4 to 18 drives in a RAID6 parity set. There is no read penalty with RAID5 over RAID6.

 

 

So, we can see that RAID6 provides far more protection than RAID5, but there is a performance penalty as the controller must create double the parity sets for each disk, and write both sets across all the disks. In addition, for RAID5 we estimate that approximately 1 disk per raid set will be used for parity.  So, if we have a raid set of 6 disks, 16% (1/6) of the disk space would be lost to the stripe. In a RAID6 parity set, we estimate that approximately 2 disks per raid set would be used for parity.  So, in our previous example of 6 disks in a parity set, using RAID6 we would lose 33% (2/6) for parity.

 

We can see that RAID5 performs better than RAID6 during writes, RAID5 gives you more available usable space than RAID6, but you are exposed if you lose a second disk.

 

The other protection of course is Mirroring.  In this protection scheme, each disk has a second disk (paired to another disk).  Hence the term a mirroring.  In this case you lose 50% of the available disk space, because there is a duplicate disk for each disk.  Reading data is very fast, because the operating system will select the data on the drive that is easiest to get based upon where the disk heads are currently located.  You do have great protection, writes take a little longer than no protection because you have to do two writes, but you are very protected.  This comes usually at a higher cost, because you have to purchase two drives for everyone you require.

 

The issue with RAID5 is that even if you lose one drive, the system is now exposed until the IBM CE comes in and replaces the drive and the raid set is rebuilt.  That exposure is very dangerous, because during that time if we lost a second drive we would  lose our system.  A new feature that lessens your exposure time is called hot spare.  Let’s go back to our scenario of losing one drive.  We are exposed from the time we lose the drive until the new drive is put back in and rebuilt.  In most scenarios, the longest time during this is the CE arriving with a new disk. Wouldn’t it be great if there was another drive just out there waiting and when the system detected a failed drive, it immediately started to rebuild the failed drive on this spare drive.  That is hot spare.  This is my preference and recommendation.  In fact, all our systems here at iTech Solutions and at iInTheCloud run Raid5 with hot spare.

 

With RAID5 and hot spare, you can reduce your exposure time, and not take the performance hit.  When a drive fails, the system will automatically see the hot spare and start the rebuild process of the failed drive onto the spare.  Your time exposed is reduced.  Now, the IBM CE comes in and replaces the failed drive (which isn’t in use at this point as the data has been moved to the hot spare) and that becomes the new hot spare.  The best of both worlds.  In addition, the hot spare is allocated at the controller level, and not for the parity set.  So, if you have two parity sets off of one disk controller, the disk controller only requires one hot spare.

 

If your system doesn’t have a hot spare, contact Paul and he can provide you with a quote on how inexpensive it would be to add hot spare to your existing system.

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     12279    12305      12094       8267

Tech. Refresh         5

Grp Hipers            76        138        189        169
DB Group              21         28          33         24
Java Group           11         22          31         23
Print Group            7         26           47         20

Backup/Recov.      21        34            51        33

Blade/IXA/IXS       12         24           15           –
HTTP                    16         28           34        17

TCP/IP                  7          15           22         16Security               26          39          31

High Availability     3           2

Hardware              3           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 1. 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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