July 2017 Newsletter

Greetings iTech,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

I think everyone on IBM i 7.1 contacted us in July, and told us they wanted an OS upgrade.  Our phone hasn’t stopped ringing, and emails are just pouring in.  I am glad to see people are thinking about moving off of IBM i 7.1, as it is way past it’s prime now.  It is time to upgrade to 7.2 or 7.3.  With 9 months left (Ends April 30, 2018) of support on 7.1, I think we are going to get buried in upgrade requests as the months progress. The recommendation is get on our queue early.  There are quite a lot of items to check for when upgrading your OS, so make sure if you plan to do it by yourself that you do extensive research.   You might want to check out our blog on 7.3 items to be aware of when Upgrading to IBM i 7.3.

This issue of our newsletter has 7 articles. The first article by Laurie is If it’s not broke, you still need to keep it current.   The second article from Chris is the Recommended steps for a rolling upgrade using PowerHA. The third article is about Operations LAN Console changes for IBM i 7.3.  The fourth article is iTech Solutions 2017 IBM i State of the Union.  The fifth article is a press release announcing that iTech Solutions will be offering Midrange Dynamics Change Management software as a cloud offering. The sixth 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.

The 2017 iTech Solutions IBM i State of the Union was completed in the beginning of May, and I hope you had a chance to read about where we see the platform currently, and predictions for the future.  We have gotten some great feedback already from those who have read the 2017 State of the Union. Check out the iTech Solutions video on our 2017 IBM i State of the Union and later on in this newsletter you will see a link to read the entire document.  Turn up your speakers, and click here, or the image below to watch the video.

 

sotU-Cartoon.jpg

 

Some notes on the latest HMC release:

  • 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 (Not happy with that decision).
  • 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.

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.

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If it’s Not Broke, You Still Need to Keep it Current.  

At iTech Solutions we do OS upgrades every week, and at certain times we can be doing upgrades daily.  Not all OS upgrades are created equally though.  This isn’t because IBM makes it difficult to move from one release to the next.  Although, the V5R4 to 6.1 conversion was a big task, most upgrades are not as precarious as that.  The complexity of an OS upgrade is increased by the other licensed programs that you are running, and how current you keep them.

We recently met with a prospect who is running IBM i 6.1, who wanted to upgrade to a supported release.  If you read our posts or newsletter, than you already know that 7.1 will be end of life on April 30, 2018.  This company wanted to upgrade to 7.2, in hopes that they would have some time before they have to undertake another OS upgrade.  While this was a great decision for their business, the problem was that they hadn’t keep current with their licensed programs either. Specifically, the problem is that the version of MQ that they are running won’t work on 7.2 and they can’t upgrade to a newer release of MQ on IBM i 6.1.  They are at a stalemate. The only solution is to upgrade to IBM i 7.1 with the current version of MQ.  Then they can upgrade MQ to the next release which is compatible with 7.2.  So, instead of being able to upgrade straight to 7.2, we had to suggest that they move to 7.1 to be able to catch up with the licensed programs.

Many shops view their applications and licensed programs with an, ”if it’s not broke don’t fix it” attitude. WebSphere MQ is widely used as a way to pass data from IBM i to other platforms and applications, especially in the logistics and retail industries.  This makes it a critical component for a lot of businesses.  As a result, companies don’t always keep MQ current because they are afraid to have something break.  However, this just makes it harder when you do need to upgrade.

Many applications use Java today.  It’s everywhere.  However, we find a lot of companies don’t keep current with this either.  IBM i 7.3 requires you to be running Java 7.0 or higher.  If you are currently on IBM i 7.1, and wishing to upgrade then installing the latest versions of Java on the current operating system and testing your applications in advance of an upgrade is the suggested method.

The problem is that all of these pieces have to fit together.  The OS can only support certain versions of WebSphere, Domino, MQ and Java.  If you aren’t updating these programs then you are make things even harder on yourself.  If all of a sudden you’re behind on the version of one of those products, and you need to upgrade and you want to upgrade your OS, you suddenly have a lot of parts that can break.  Many new points of failure for your applications. How will you ever determine the cause of the failure when you take this approach?  In addition, your current version might be out of support, so doing the upgrade of one of those products would also be more risky.

A better approach is to keep your licensed programs and applications current.  When you want to do an OS upgrade, you have less risk of encountering problems, or being out of support.  Any upgrade can be nerve racking, especially when it touches a mission critical application, but keeping current can also protect your business.  New releases are more secure and offer new functionality that can improve how you do things. Putting off the inevitable doesn’t help you in the long run, it actually can make everything more difficult in the long run.

In the long run it’s cheaper, easier and safer to have a maintenance plan for your OS, licensed programs and applications.  Had this prospect been more current with their licensed programs, we could have confidently upgraded them from 6.1 to 7.2.  This at least would have them in a better position and could save them from having to pay end of life support fees come April.  It’s still a multi-step process to get to 7.2 and they have increased their risk.

We can help you to develop a maintenance plan to ensure that your OS upgrades are as painless as possible. We will take a look at the current state of your system and develop a plan that is achievable. We can take the burden of keeping up with PTF updates and OS upgrades off your plate and help make future transitions easier, while ensuring you have the latest security controls and the latest functionality available.

So, the moral of the story is, if it is not broke, you still need to keep it current.  Or your risk of failure will increase, your cost to upgrade will increase and you miss out on functionality that is supposed to make your life better. Want help with an OS Upgrade, or maybe even bringing your PTFs up to date? Contact us by emailor call us at 203-744-7854 press 3 for sales.

 


 

Recommended steps for a rolling upgrade with PowerHA.

 


 

With so many customers running replication, whether it’s logical replication like MIMIX or hardware replication with PowerHA, you upgrade one machine while the other is up, and then switch roles and the users run off the upgraded machine while you upgrade the other machine.

We wanted to provide some steps with PowerHA connected to external SAN via SVC, for doing a rolling upgrade of your systems, Below is a set of recommended steps, when doing an OS release.    This way, an upgrade can be performed with testing in between.

 

  1. Upgrade the secondary to the new code (for example 7.3)
  2. Then perform a detach, CHGSVCSSN SSN(ssn name) OPTION(*DETACH)
  3. Vary on the IASP and perform verification tests
  4. Vary off the IASP
  5. Perform a reattach, CHGSVCSSN SSN(ssn name) OPTION(*REATTACH)
  6. Wait for the data to be synchronized (DSPSVCSSN to look at the synchronization status)
  7. Perform a switch over to switch to the secondary
  8. Upgrade the original primary
  9. Perform a detach and vary on, on the original primary to verify the original primary after the upgrade
  10. Perform a reattach, and wait for the data to be synchronized
  11. Perform a switch over to switch back to the original primary.

For more help with performance, or other system issues contact iTech Solutions.


 

Operations LAN Console changes for IBM i 7.3

 

Plan for your Operations LAN Console installation or upgrade

If you are using IBM LAN Console for your IBM i Console, you need to upgrade your client before upgrading to IBM I 7.3.  Starting with IBM i 7.2, there were only two console choices available for IBM i: LAN Console or HMC Console.  Now, with 7.3 you can no longer use the old 7.1 IBM i Access for Windows Client, if you are using LAN Console.

 

The service tool server which includes LAN console is removing support for SSL V3 ciphers which means the LAN console feature in the 7.1 IBM i Access for Windows client is no longer supported in 7.3. IBM i Access Client Solutions is now required for LAN console in 7.3. IBM i Access Client Solutions, also known as the Java based client, should be installed on the PC which you use for the Console before upgrading the License Internal Code (LIC) to IBM i 7.3, or installing a new partition which uses IBM i 7.3. The LAN console feature in IBM i Access Client Solutions can connect to any supported IBM i release. If you decide that you want to change your console while still on earlier versions of IBM i, you will need to install and IPL your machine, as these are delayed PTFs.

  • 6.1.1    MF60292
  • 7.1       MF60291 (Requires MF99010)
  • 7.2       MF60290 (Requires MF99102)

The circumvention is to modify the JRE’s java.security file and comment out two lines. Doing this affects anything that uses the JRE on the PC and exposes you to sites that use the older ciphers where data could be compromised. If you are keeping your PTFs up to date, you should have the above PTFs on your system.

Note: The LAN console feature in the IBM i Access for Windows client will work for a D-mode install because SSL ciphers aren’t used during the D-mode IPL but on the following A-mode IPL the IBM i Access for Windows LAN console will fail to connect. The IBM i Access for Windows client does not need to be removed from the PC, but be aware the IBM i Access for Windows console will not continue working if the system is upgraded to 7.3.

If you are upgrading to IBM i 7.3 and you want to replace an existing console with a LAN attached Operations Console, upgrade the PC to the new IBM i Access Client Solutions beforehand. If this is more than you want to be concerned about, contact iTech Solutions, and we will handle this for you.

 


iTech Solutions IBM i State of the Union.   

Last year we published our first annual iTech Solutions IBM i State of the Union looking at where the platform has been over the years and seeing what directions it is moving in. Being in touch with members of the IBM i community by visiting customers weekly and attending conferences provides the insight into what shops are doing. One thing is certain, no one is standing still. The IBM i (once known as the AS/400, iSeries, or System i) is still going strong; new applications are being developed, existing ones expanded and modernized, while integrating with a myriad of external sources. Those utilizing the capabilities of the system are forward thinking, innovative companies. Unfortunately, there are still companies trapped in the year 2000. There is a mix of both in this community, but we are seeing more of the former investing in their IBM i and upgrading to utilize the functionally the platform has to offer. Later, we will discuss both these types of organizations as they are interesting and affect us all, as professionals in this industry.

 

For over 29 years IBM i has gained a well-deserved reputation for security, reliability, and performance which is unbeaten. This is due to the tightly integrated and tested systems delivered by IBM Rochester remaining committed to the calling of being “easy to use and administer.” There is a persistent perception that businesses have moved away from the platform attributed to application availability, green screens dated reputation, emergence of other technologies, and potential lack of skilled professionals. However, companies should be aware this isn’t your grandfather’s AS/400. The playing field has changed. Making business decisions based on antiquated notions of this system being a “has been” is a disservice to the organization and the professionals supporting it. This is often seen……….

To continue to read this, or download the entire iTech Solutions IBM i State of the Union, click here.

 

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iTech Solutions Group/Midrange Dynamics Collaboration Highlights Advantages of Cloud Hosting and Managed Services

Midrange Dynamics change management subscriptions are now available to iTech Solutions hosting clients

ZUG, Switzerland – July 27, 2017 – Midrange Dynamics is pleased to announce a collaboration with market leader iTech Solutions Group. iTech will add Midrange Dynamics Change Management (MDCMS) to the portfolio of solutions that the renowned Power Systems solutions and services company offers to its hosting and managed services customers.

iInTheCloud, iTech’s commercial-grade Tier 3 hosting service, provides its clients with scalable, flexible, and highly available IBM Power Systems servers. “Our foundation is built on IBM Power Systems hardware running IBM i, so we can quickly provision cloud-based partitions and adjust resources as required to meet our clients’ changing needs,” says Pete Massiello, president of iTech Solutions Group.

iTech Solutions clients can now purchase an affordable, user-based Midrange Dynamics Change Management software subscription, which includes free codes for HA/backup systems, as an additional item in their cloud bundle. A subscription can include the company’s MDWorkflow project management solution and MDOpen Eclipse plug-in.

“We have enjoyed a close relationship with iTech Solutions for years, and we confidently refer our software customers to iTech when they require any of the many products and services that iTech provides, including cloud hosting,” says Midrange Dynamics Managing Director Michael Morgan.

The Advantages of Change Management in the Cloud

Midrange Dynamics software subscriptions are ideal for clients who wish to enhance the operational benefits of using cloud hosting services for their development systems, as well as their backup systems, by implementing feature-rich change management.

“Midrange Dynamics has offered a software subscription option for several years. Initially our customers purchased subscriptions to lower the cost of software acquisitions, when replacing a legacy change management solution with MDCMS, for example,” says Mr. Morgan.

“Subscriptions are increasingly popular with our customers who are moving away from purchasing and maintaining their own Power Systems hardware and software,” says Mr. Morgan. “They also are a good fit for businesses who may be considering a move off the platform and need the flexibility to maintain their applications through what can be a lengthy transition period,” he notes.

With Midrange Dynamics’s flexible licensing model and cloud-friendly architecture, customers with hosted environments may purchase an MDCMS software subscription or a permanent license, depending on their needs.

MDCMS is known for quick configuration and ease of use, so clients can be up and running in days rather than the weeks or months it can take to implement other solutions. “Our experts work with customers to define their optimal workflow process in the shortest amount of time possible. We help them bring their active development projects into the MDCMS framework, so they can immediately realize significant time savings and benefit from clean, automated, and fully audited software deployments,” says Mr. Morgan.

Ultimate Flexibility Supports Diverse IT Strategies

“We are seeing an increasing number of companies taking advantage of the cloud to meet a variety of needs and requirements,” says Mr. Massiello. “Some are moving their entire systems to the cloud, others are moving specific functions, and others are using the cloud for High Availability. The cloud provides that level of flexibility,” he continues.

Regarding system administration, Mr. Massiello notes that clients may have iTech handle it for them or they can continue to perform that function themselves. “At iTech Solutions, we have the knowledge and experience to help clients better manage their Power System and IBM i environments. That is why we are excited to team up with Midrange Dynamics. It’s an opportunity to bring change control to our customers with a very affordable solution that is really plug-and-play,” he concludes.

About iTech Solutions Group

iTech Solutions Group is an IBM Premier Business Partner delivering solutions and services to IBM i shops throughout the world. Power Systems hosting services, HA and replication, Cloud backup, disaster recovery, hardware and software upgrades, system healthchecks, and managed services are just a few of the solutions in the iTech portfolio. iInTheCloud is a commercial-grade Tier 3 hosting service operated by some of the best-known IBM i and Power Systems experts in the world.

About Midrange Dynamics

Midrange Dynamics has provided application development software and consulting services for IBM i systems from its headquarters in Switzerland since 1998. Midrange Dynamics is an IBM Business Partner and a member of the Fresche Power Partner Program. Midrange Dynamics partners with companies around the globe to sell and support the MDCMS product suite.

About MDCMS

Upgrade to change management that can handle today’s development needs and new technologies/initiatives. MDCMS and its MDOpen Eclipse-based plug-in incorporate everything needed to modify, install, and distribute software changes across IBM i and multiplatform environments including UNIX, Linux, Domino and .NET. Work comfortably in your preferred environment: Rational Developer for i (RDi), Zend Studio, or any Eclipse-based IDE. Git and SVN users benefit from direct interfaces to their source repositories and comprehensive deployment and rollback. MDCMS includes MDXREF field-level cross referencing, seamless integration with FrescheView and X-Analysis, and superior SQL management capabilities.

MDCMS also presents a lower total cost of ownership, with tremendous savings in time and budget spent on implementation and ongoing management of the product. Easy upgrade to new MDCMS versions means users can take advantage of new functions without needing to reconfigure their environment.

Contact iTech Solutions for more information.


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.

 

Sept 19, 2017 –  OMNI Technical Conference – IBM Schaumburg, IL

  • Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.3
  • Step by Step guide to building Virtual partitions hosted by IBM i
  • HMC, IBM i, FSP, and Firmware: Putting the pieces together
  • How to be a Rockstar System Administrator using Navigator for i

 

Sept 21, 2017 – VTMUG Technical Conference – Doubletree Hotel, Burlington, VT

Come visit Laurie & Paul  in the expo.

 

Sept 27-29, 2017 – Magic Virginia Beach IBM i User Conference Holiday Inn Virginia Beach, VA

Come visit Charlie in the expo.

Oct 2 – 4, 2017 – COMMON Fall Conference. Hyatt Regency St. Louis, Missouri

Visit Laurie in the Expo.

Pete will be speaking on:

  • What you need to know when Upgrading IBM i to 7.3, 7.2, and 7.1
  • Step-by-step guide to creating IBM i partitions hosted by IBM i
  • Cool Things in Navigator for IBM i to be a Rock Star Administrator
  • HMC, IBM i, FSP, and Firmware: Putting all the pieces together
  • Tips and Tricks to improve System performance and Save Disk Space

Steve will be speaking on:

  • Rapid Fire Administration
  • IBM i and our False Sense of Security.

 

Oct 17 – 19, 2017 – Jack Henry & Associates Annual Conference Gaylord Opryland, Nashville, TN

Visit Laurie & Pete in the Expo.

April 23 – 25, 2018 – Northeast User Group Conference, Sheraton Framingham, MA

May 20 – 23, 2018 – COMMON Annual Conference & Expo, Marriott River Center, San Antonio, TX

 



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 17061 17068 16320 15063 12094
Tech. Refresh  2 6 11
Grp Hipers 34 95 199 210 204
DB Group 5 17 41 33 33
Java Group 5 13 28 39 34
Print Group 3 13 31 49
Backup/Recov. 12 34 68 61 57
Blade/IXA/IXS 1 16 30 15
HTTP 8 21 47 46 36
TCP/IP 3 10 17 22
Security 16 47 70 60  33
High Availability 4 7 14  5
Hardware 12 29 39  17
Open Source 5 5 5

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.  SP1 MH01656
  2.  MH01703
HMC V8R8.5
  1. SP2 MH01657 (must be installed from classic GUI or command line)
  2. MH01702
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. MH01701 (must be installed from classic GUI or from command line)
HMC V8R8.3
  1. SP3 MH01619
  2. MH01700
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 as of 12/30/2016 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 a 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_084_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, 8284-21A,  8284-22A, 8286-41A, or 8286-42A
  • SV860_103_056 (OS Managed or HMC Managed; requires HMC 8.8.6+)
  • SV860_103_056 (HMC Managed; HMC 8.8.5 and below)
9119-MHE or 9119-MME SC860_082_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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