July 2014 Newsletter

Dear iTech Fan,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

Can you believe it is almost the end of July, where is the summer going?  We hope that you are enjoying the summer and have either gotten a little vacation or have some plans for vacation in August.   One of the biggest IBM announcements coming in July, was that the 4-core Power8 machine will now support a maximum of 10 disks in the CEC instead of 8.  This gives many people additional capacity and performance when upgrading.  Speaking of which, you will notice that we have a 10 city Power8 & IBM i 7.2 Roadshow coming to a city near you over the next few months.  Please register for a local event and hear about the new features and functions delivered in IBM i 7.2, and also hear about the capabilities of the new Power8 machines.  In addition, we will have some information on Cloud Computing, Managed Services, and High Availability offerings in the cloud. I look forward to seeing you when we come to your area.

Last month, I had told you we had launched our new website, http://www.itechsol.com.  We continued to make minor modifications over the month of July, and hope that you have stopped by and visited to see the helpful IBM i and Power Systems information that can help you.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will discuss some tips and techniques that I use when managing PTFs. The second article is on the iTech Solutions Power8 and IBM i 7.2 Roadshow coming to your area. The third article is the updated IBM i Strategy roadmap, make sure everyone in your organization has a copy of the document and reads it.  The fourth article is on why you need to be Reorganizing your physical files, and the benefits from performing reorgs.  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 Technology Refresh 8 for you on your next application of PTFs.

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.

 

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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.


 

Managing PTFs Tips & Tricks.   

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At iTech Solutions many of our customers have us manage their PTFs for them on a quarterly or semi-annual basis.  I am going show you a few tips and tricks that we use to more easily know and understand which PTFs have not yet been loaded, which are loaded but not applied, and which will be applied at the next IPL.  This little tip will use SQL to go against the SQL catalogues in QSYS2 which hold this information.
So many times when we get to a new customer, there are PTFs that have been downloaded on their systems, but not applied.  Of course, there could be many reasons for this, but one of the most common reason is just lack of experience. In my examples below, I am going to select the Product ID, the actual PTF, the PTF Status, the PTF action at the next IPL, and any action pending.
To see which PTFs are on your system, but have not yet been loaded you can use the following SQL statement:
SELECT PTF_PRODUCT_ID, PTF_IDENTIFIER, PTF_LOADED_STATUS,    
PTF_IPL_ACTION, PTF_ACTION_PENDING FROM qsys2.ptf_info WHERE
PTF_LOADED_STATUS = ‘NOT LOADED’  
To see which PTFs are on your system that have been loaded, but not yet applied you would use the following SQL statement:
SELECT PTF_PRODUCT_ID, PTF_IDENTIFIER, PTF_LOADED_STATUS,   
PTF_IPL_ACTION, PTF_ACTION_PENDING FROM qsys2.ptf_info WHERE
PTF_LOADED_STATUS = ‘LOADED’ and PTF_IPL_ACTION =   ‘NONE’ 
Now, to see which PTFs are on your system and will have action taken on them at the next unattended IPL you can execute this SQL command.  I always like to know which PTFs are going to applied on an IPL so I can estimate how long the IPL will be.
SELECT PTF_PRODUCT_ID, PTF_IDENTIFIER, PTF_LOADED_STATUS,    
PTF_IPL_ACTION, PTF_ACTION_PENDING FROM qsys2.ptf_info WHERE
PTF_IPL_ACTION <>   ‘NONE’ 
Remember, to execute these SQL statements, you need to start SQL by entering STRSQL on a command line.   If you need help in managing your PTFs, or worse you haven’t put PTFs on your machine in quite some time, then its time to contact iTech Solutions for having us manage your PTFs for you.

 


iTech Solutions Power8 & IBM i 7.2 roadshow.  TR7

Join us for the iTech Solutions Power8 and IBM i 7.2 Roadshows where you can learn all about IBM’s recent announcements of the Power8 servers and the enhancements delivered in IBM i 7.2. These announcements emphasize IBM’s commitment to the Power systems platform and the IBM i operating system.

iTech Solutions will present multiple sessions at each of these roadshow locations. The first session covers the Power8 servers and how they can significantly improve your organizations processing capabilities. The second session covers the announcement of enhancements that are available in IBM i 7.2. The third session will be on Cloud Computing for IBM i, Managed Services, and High Availability as a Service.

Session Highlights

  • Power8 processors and I/O enhancements
  • New features, speeds, and functions
  • IBM i 7.2 enhancements to Security, Application Development, and Performance
  • IBM’s commitment to Power Systems and IBM i Roadmap

iTech Solutions Roadshow schedule:

Tuesday September 16, 2014 Crown Plaza Hartford-Cromwell, Cromwell, CT

Monday September 22, 2014 IBM Facility 590 Madison Ave New York City

Tuesday September 23, 2014 Providence, RI

Wednesday September 24, 2014 Fireside Inn & Suites, Portland ME

Tuesday September 30, 2014 Fireside Inn & Suites ,W. Lebanon, NH

Wednesday October 01, 2014 Springfield, MA

Thursday October 02, 2014 Double Tree Hotel, Tarrytown, NY

Thursday October 02, 2014 Norwalk Inn, Norwalk, CT

Monday October 20, 2014 Forefront Conf. Center, Waltham, MA

Monday October 20, 2014 The Yard Seafood & Steakhouse, Manchester, NH

Check our web site (www.itechsol.com) for up to date information on these venues and to register for the presentations closest to you.

You won’t want to miss these informative sessions presented by iTech Solutions Pete Massiello.

 


IBM i Roadmap.   .

 

Over the years people in the IBM i (Formerly AS/400 & iSeries) community have been looking for the direction that IBM is taking with the platform. In May 2014, IBM updated the IBM i roadmap with information on Power8 & IBM 7.2.  This is a great document to share with your management, as well as read what is happening with the platform.  I highly recommend downloading this document, and insuring that everyone in your group reads this.

IBM i Strategy Road Map

If you have any questions on where the platform is going, directions, futures, etc please contact iTech Solutions sales team for a custom briefing.

 


Reorganizing your physical files  Intrusion Detection

Improving performance and saving disk space. 

Everyone who has been on the IBM i knows the benefits of doing a “reorg” on a physical file. A reorg is a Reorganization of a physical file member. First, it compresses out the deleted records in each page on the disk, thereby reducing the number of I/Os from disk while reading the file sequentially. Secondly, it reduces database page faults so as to have better memory utilization. Thirdly, it saves space on disk as well as on your backup tapes. While many shops perform a “reorg” for saving disk space, the performance benefits can be staggering on a very active file. One of the biggest obstacles over the years has been the fact that you need to have exclusive access to the file during the reorganization process. No one else can be using the file for the duration of the “reorg” process. IBM enhanced the command in V5R3, to give you “reorganize while active”. The file must be journaled for the process to occur, but that is easy to do. As a side note, now with 6.1, you can start and stop journaling without requiring exclusive access to the file, a further benefit to both 6.1 and Reorganize while active.

The parameter to allow reorganize while active is ALWCANCEL(*YES). Yes, it is not the most intuitive parameter, but now you know how to use this. The file can remain in use by your users and batch jobs while you are compressing the deleted records to the end of the file. You control the level of access your users will have to the file while you are reorganizing the file with the LOCK parameter. You can let others read the file with LOCK(*EXCLRD) or read and write to the file with LOCK(*SHRUPD) parameter. This gives you the ability to improve the performance on your machine, even if your application maintenance window is not very long. Let’s look at a real life example we had at one of our customers recently. It was taking 9 hours to reorganize one of their inventory transaction files, but they never had a window long enough where the file wasn’t being used. Therefore, it was never reorganized. The file was 22GB in size, and it contained 15GB of deleted space. We recommended that they use reorganize while active. We set this up to run, and it took about 14 hours to compress out the deleted records. Then they only needed to make the file unavailable for 5 to 10 minutes to remove the deleted records from the end of the file. Although the reorganization process took a longer time frame than originally, the file was still available for their jobs and users to read. It was only unavailable for that short period of 5 to 10 minutes. In summary it takes a little longer in total to reorganize the file (9 hours vs. 14 hours), but the file was only unavailable for 5 to 10 minutes.

If you need some help with this, or any other system management functions, please contact iTech Solutions on how we can help with any and all your IBM i System Administration needs.


 

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.

 

September 5, 2014 OMNI Chicago IL http://www.omniuser.org

  • Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2
  • Step by Step guide to building Virtual partitions hosted by IBM i
  • Managing IBM i with Navigator for IBM i
  • Opening Session

September 17, 2014 New England Midrange Users Group:  www.nemug.com

  • Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2

Oct 6 -9, 2014 IBM Power Technical University @Enterprise 2014 at the Venetian, Las Vegas

  • Upgrading Roundtable
  • What you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 7.2
  • Tip and Tricks to Improve System Performance & Save Disk Space
  • Step by step guide to IBM i Hosting IBM i.

October 26 – 29, 2014 COMMON Fall Event – Indianapolis, Indiana  http://www.common.org

Come visit Rick & Paul at our booth, and hear Pete speak on:

  • Tip and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space
  • Building Virtual i Partitions Hosted by IBM i
  • What you need to know for a successful IBM i upgrade.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and firmware.

See the Article above for local iTech Solutions Power8 & IBM i 7.2 Roadshow coming to local venues in the northeast.

 


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 14101 14143 13312 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 8
Grp Hipers 10 116 179 203 169
DB Group 1 29 32 33 24
Java Group 2 17 28 34 23
Print Group 1 10 29 49 20
Backup/Recov. 3 37 50 57 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 15 28 15
HTTP 2 28 39 36 17
TCP/IP 8 16 22 16
Security 7 33 45 32
High Availability 1 7 4
Hardware 1 11 11

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  V8R8.1 eFix MH01421 then MH01436

* Can’t use with Power5 hardware

HMC CR4 V7R7.9 eFix MH01406 then MH01435
HMC V7R7.8 SP1 eFix MH01416, MH01423, eFix MH01431, MH01434
or V7R7.7 SP3 eFix MH01409, MH01422, MH01439
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 8.8.1 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 deskside 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 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_149 last
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_149 last
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_149 last
9119-FHA EH350_149 last
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_127
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_056
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_126
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-076
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_076
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AL770_076
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_056
Power8 8247-21L, 8247-22L, 8284-22A, 8286-41A, 8286-42A SV810

 

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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