January 2015 Newsletter

Dear iTech User,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

Happy New Year from all of us at iTech Solutions. We wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and joyous 2015.  In 2014, we saw an increase in our customer base adding many new customers, increasing the number of iTech Solutions employees, moving to a much larger headquarters to facilitate our growth plan, and becoming an IBM Premier Business Partner.  We upgraded the operating systems of almost 100 customers, installed many new POWER7 and POWER8 machines, and were part of our customer’s teams in helping them manage and administer their environments.  We hope to continue to be part of your team in 2015, helping you achieve your goals.  We can help you with whatever your IBM i needs are.  Thanks for inviting us to help you.

As I look into 2015, I think it is going to be another good year for IBM i and their customer base.  We are upgrading many customers to 7.1 & 7.2, allowing customers to take advantage of all the new features and functions that IBM has been putting into the operating system.  Having been in Rochester numerous times last year, and discussing with IBM their work on additional releases they have in their plan, it shows their commitment to the IBM i platform and their customers.  All good news for for IBM i customers.  I can’t talk about the details of the future releases, or when they will come out.  IBM has publicly stated support  going out until at least 2026, which I think that shows IBM’s commitment to IBM i.  I am seeing many customers finally realizing the value of their IBM i, and these customers are modernizing their databases as well as their front end.  The backend that runs on IBM i is what IBM i is known for, its rock solid. From my view point, It looks like 2015 will be a good year for IBM i.  The POWER8 scaleout machines (low end machines like the 814 & 824) will finally get the ability to have external I/O draws providing additional space for I/O adapters, which is sometimes needed for a multiple LPAR machine.  Speaking of POWER8 machines, we have put in quite a few in 2014, and every customer has been more than pleased on the performance they are getting.  If you want to find out what a POWER8 machine can do for you, contact our sales team.

IBM has announced that IBM i 6.1 (as well as 6.1.1) will end support on Sept 30, 2015. If you are still on 6.1, please contact us and arrange for one of our System Admins to come and upgrade your operating system. Don’t wait until the last minute.  Of course, it doesn’t matter what release you are on, we can help you upgrade to the latest release IBM i 7.2  If you are still back on V5R4, we can help you with that upgrade as well.  We have the skills, the experience, and the knowledge to easily upgrade your operating system so you don’t have to worry.

Our New England 10 city roadshow is complete. We have enjoyed the time spent talking with customers on some of the new features, speeds, and functionality in the Scale-Out (Low end) POWER8 servers, and also tell about all the new features and functions that were delivered in IBM i 7.2.  IBM i 7.2 has some amazing features that will provide quite a performance boast to most environments. We received excellent feedback on the events from the attendees.  We look forward to a few more we are putting together in additional cities in 2015.  If you missed one, and would like a session customized for you on POWER8 and IBM i 7.2, please let us know and we will come to your company and present it to you.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article we poke a little fun at the under inflation of footballs & the iTech Solutions SuperBowl ad.  The second article is accessing your IBM i from a cell phone or other mobile device.  The third article is a set of tools we think are extremely helpful for IBM i shops, checkout TAATools.  The fourth is on a Systems Management Conference with Larry Bolhuis and Pete Massiello. 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 7.1 Technology Refresh 9 for you on your next application of PTFs. For the 7.2 customers, we will be installing 7.2 Technology Refresh 1.

Having a business partner isn’t the same as having iTech Solutions, if you aren’t getting the support, the help, the guidance, and the advice you need to succeed then you need to contact iTech Solutions for 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.

 

pmassiello_BPMark_web_base

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, blade installations, 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.


 

Superbowl Ad   

 

The other business partners in the area have been asking if iTech Solutions has been under inflating our quotes, as we have been providing our customers with more value for less money.  As you know,  the NFL has rules for the amount of air that goes into a football, but IBM doesn’t have any rules on the air that can go into either statements of work nor quotes.  While the other business partners may be putting more air and fluff into their quotes, you can guarantee that at iTech Solutions you are getting exactly what you are paying for. Great Value at a Great price.  We have the skills, the expertise, and the knowledge to deliver a touchdown solution to you every time, and it doesn’t matter how much air is in the ball.  We don’t have to over inflate our statements of work or our quotes, because we are delivering to you IBM i solutions and infrastructure that work just how you would expect.

While Bill Belichick isn’t Mona Lisa Vito when it comes to inflating of footballs, it has been said that iTech Solutions is the Mona Lisa Vito of IBM i infrastructure.  We have the skills, the expertise, and knowledge to deliver a touchdown solution to you each and every time.  Even Bill Nye “The Science Guy” stated when he needs help on IBM i, he calls iTech Solutions to help with Remote Management, OS Upgrades, New Hardware, Technical Support, Cloud Based Backups, Replication to the Cloud, IBM i in the Cloud, PTF maintenance, and Virtual Tape Libraries.

Deflated-NFL-Football

In light of the under inflation of the footballs in the championship, we have decided to pull our Superbowl ad this year from the big game. We had the halftime spot right after Kati Perry was going to perform.  I am sure it will be a let down to the NFL, but we have to make our stance on deflate-gate.  If you have iTech Solutions on your team, you can rest and relax this coming Sunday as you enjoy the Superbowl knowing your IBM i isn’t under or over inflated.  See www.itechsol.com

 


Mobile client to access IBM i .  TR7

A mobile solution for accessing IBM i is now available as a technology preview. Powered by IBM i Access for the Web (5770XH2), you can now access IBM i resources from any mobile device that supports a browser.  An iPhone, Android device, Web Browser, MAC, or an iPad all work amazingly well.  We use this to connect to some of our machines, and it is easy to use and configure.  It’s easy to install the 5770-XH2 product and configure.

Features include the ability to:

  • View and manage View PTFs and PTF Groups
    • jobs
    • messages
    • output queues
    • files
    • printers
  • View, add, insert and update database records
  • Build, run, save SQL statements with an SQL wizard
  • Start one or more 5250 emulation sessions with the ability to reconnect even after a device power down
  • Extract data from a variety of IBM i resources into a table using optional column selection
  • Distribute and manage files to other users from a common download location

 

This capability is provided as part of 7.2 IBM i Access for Web (5770XH2) which can be installed on IBM i release 7.2, 7.1 and 6.1. If you are using IBM i release 6.1 or 7.1, it is available on the Entitlement Software Support (ESS) website as feature 6289 under SS1.  If you need help in ordering this, configuring, or setting this up. Please contact iTech Solutions.

 


TAA Tools: There’s a Tool for That!  .iStock_000019030607XSmall

 

You’re working at your desk, when you get a frantic call from the Finance department. Some records of their sales transactions file were accidentally deleted from the system last night and they REALLY need them back.

With a grimace you find that the file was not being journaled, and then with a smile you remember, “There’s a Tool for that!”

To your panicky coworker you calmly reply, “No problem – I’ll take care of it. We have TAA Tools.”

You run the Retrieve Deleted Record [RTVDLTRCD] command and the transactions are once again alive and well. That was easy – thanks to TAA Tools. RTVDLTRCD is just one of over 2000 tools in the TAA Tool suite that help system administrators, programmers, and data administrators do their job better and faster everyday.

For IBM i professionals, TAA Tools have been an integral part of the system for years. TAA Tools make handling system functions quick and easy. There are system maintenance tools for system cleanup – delete old spool files [DLTOLDSPLF], delete old job logs [DLTJOBLOG], clean up dormant user profiles [DLTOLDUSR], and reorganize library files [RGZLIB] – just to name a few.

There are Security tools for auditing [AUDLOG], checking authority [CHKALLOBJ], reviewing security values [PRTSECAUD] , and more. Other tools compare IFS directories [CMPIFS], work with locks [RTVOBJLCK], and simplify RPG programming [DSPRPGPARM]. The breadth of function covered by the Tools is impressive – we could go on and on.

Companies train their professionals to first check the TAA Tool suite for any task they need to do before writing something themselves. With nearly 2000 tools and commands at their disposal, quite often “There’s a Tool for that!” Employee productivity improves, time and money is saved – it’s a winning formula. Some say TAA stands for “Totally Awesome and Amazing”. Users who swear by their breadth and simplicity would certainly agree.

Many of our most successful iTech Solutions customers are running TAA Tools, and we want to make sure that everyone is aware of just how easy it is to get these tools on your system. Check out the TAATOOL website and see how you can increase your productivity and all the tools that are available to make your life easy. iTech Solutions recommends TAA Tools for all our IBM i customers.

 


IBM i Systems Management System-Mgmt-LarryPete

Focused Education: IBM i SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT
New 2-Day Event with
Larry Bolhuis & Pete Massiello
Larry Bolhuis and Pete Massiello are the two experts that always come to mind when it comes to IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) Systems Management. With over 50 years between them of IBM i System Administrator experience, this amount knowledge is hard to find anywhere else. They have the practical experience, knowledge, and know-how to do Systems Administration the right way.

Now you have a great opportunity to learn from their experience and get the practical knowledge you need that you can immediately apply back at your shop. This new 2-day event will offer sessions such as:

  • Power Systems Virtualization, the Nuts and the Bolts
  • Understand How to Manage and Update your HMC, IBM i, FSP, & Firmware
  • What You Need to Know and Understand to do Successful IBM i Upgrades 6.1, 7.1,
    and 7.2
  • Advanced Interactive Work Management
  • Tips and Tricks to Improve System Performance and Save Disk Space
  • Managing IBM i with Navigator for i
  • Managing IBM i PTFs
  • Step by Step Guide to Creating Virtual i Partitions Hosted by IBM i
  • Worst Practices in Systems Management – You Really Did That?

This 2-day conference, held in partnership with iInTheCloud, will be packed with lots of sessions and education time. In addition to the education, there will be a 90-minute Q&A with Larry and Pete – get your questions answered and pick their brains.

Learn more and register today at www.common.org/sysmgt

More details coming soon!

Focused Education: IBM i Systems Management
March 3 – 4, 2015
Hilton Garden Inn, Des Plaines, IL
(just outside of Chicago)
www.common.org/sysmgt

 


 

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.

 

March 3 & 4, 2015 – COMMON and iInTheCloud present IBM i Systems Management with Pete Massiello and Larry Bolhuis right by the Chicago O’Hare airport. See www.COMMON.org for details on the sessions.

March 30 to April 1 – NorthEast User Groups Conference – Framingham, MA.  Come stop by our booth to talk with Glenn, Ken, Paul, and Rick.  Here Pete talk on the following sessions:

  • What you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.1 & 7.2
  • HMC, FSP, Firmware: Putting all the pieces together
  • Tips and Tricks to Improve Performance and Save disk space.
  • Cool things on Managing your system with Navigator for IBM i
  • A Programmer’s future: Looking back to see the future.

April 26 to 29th – COMMON Annual Conference. Stop by our booth visting Rick and Paul, or hear Pete Massiello speak on sessions:

  • What you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.1 & 7.2
  • HMC, FSP, Firmware: Putting all the pieces together
  • Tips and Tricks to Improve Performance and Save disk space.
  • Step by Step guide to building IBM i partitions hosted by IBM i.
  • A Programmer’s future: Looking back to see the future.

 


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.

7.2 7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 14276 14283 14197 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 1 9
Grp Hipers 23 130 191 203 169
DB Group 3 32 33 33 24
Java Group 4 19 30 34 23
Print Group 3 12 31 49 20
Backup/Recov. 8 42 54 57 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 1 16 30 15
HTTP 5 31 42 36 17
TCP/IP 8 16 22 16
Security 10 36 49 32
High Availability 1 8 4
Hardware 4 14 13

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 13287. We can determine that it was created on the 287th day of 2013, which is October 14, 2013. 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 & V5R4, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

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

Model Release Service Pack
HMC V8R8.2 MH01453, then MH01454
HMC  V8R8.1 SP1 MH01420 then MH01492

* Can’t use with Power5 hardware

HMC (CR4 last release) V7R7.9 SP 1 MH01428, then MH01484
HMC V7R7.8 SP 2 MH01432
or V7R7.7 SP 3 MH1397, then SP 4 MH01415,

then MH01471

HMC C03 V7R3.5 SP4

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

 

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 last
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_163 last
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_159 last
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_163 last
9119-FHA EH350_159 last
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_142
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_068
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_152
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-098
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_098
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AM770_098
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_068
Power8 8247-21L, 8247-22L, 8284-22A, 8286-41A, 8286-42A SV810_108

 

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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