July 2018 Newsletter

I hope you are enjoying the summer, nothing better than Sun, Beach, Vacations, Baseball, and POWER9s. Wait a minute, how did POWER9 get into that list. POWER9 is here in many ways, upcoming announcements, lots of installs, and iTech Solution’s presentations about POWER9 at Baseball games.  It looks from all indications that there is going to be another Power Systems announcement soon, which will be very exciting. Details will be forthcoming, as they are announced. We have been installing many POWER9 scale-out machines, which is the S914, over the last few months.  Last week it was 3 new systems,  as we are growing, I don’t get out as much as I used to, as we have so many more people who are in the field, but I still talk to the customers, as much as possible. They all pretty much say the same thing, “It’s lightning fast, and the migration was so easy, you guys made the migration look so easy”. POWER9 makes it fast, iTech Solutions makes is it an easy migration.  That is what I love hearing. Next, let me explain about bringing Baseball to POWER9.

In February IBM introduced the POWER9 family of scale-out servers, which are targeted towards most of the IBM i community.  A very exciting announcement on hardware that should support the IBM i community for the next 3 or 4 years.  We decided to host POWER9 presentations at Baseball games to learn more about the new features and functions, and enjoy a baseball game ( see the events section where you can sign-up for 9 innings with POWER9).  We have had great events with customers and non-customers in Portland ME with the Sea Dogs, Manchester NH with the Fisher Cats, and Pawtucket RI with the Paw Sox.  It was great to see so many familiar faces, as well as fun spending time just talking IBM i and watching some baseball. Still to come is the Schaumburg Boomers in Schaumburg, IL (on Aug 1), the Hartford CT Yard Goats (Aug 28), and Grand Rapids MI with the Whitecaps (Aug 22). These will be educational and fun, so signup now.

If you are still on IBM i 7.1, do you know that iTech Solutions can get you up to 7.2 or 7.3 for less money than you are paying in extended support?  If you are on a release earlier than 7.1, we can still move you forward, lets talk.

We have an article on the upcoming Hurricane season is here, but have you tested your backup lately. This is one of the most important part of your save strategy.  Testing your recovery.  If you need help with this, let us know.  We can help you.

There have been updates to the PTFs for Spectre and Meltdown for IBM i and the FSPs in the Power hardware.  There have actually been a few sets of these PTFs, so make sure you have the latest. You need PTFs for both IBM i itself and the FSP.  Check out our PTF section in the newsletter. We have been putting these on customer’s machines, and its time to get them loaded onto yours. In general, we have noticed a 5% performance impact.  Of course, your mileage may vary.  If it’s easier, just give us a call and let us do them for you.

This newsletter has 6 articles. The first article is by Chris on Access Client Solutions issues after upgrading Windows from 7 to 10.  The second article by Yvonne is her 2nd article in the series, What are Managed Services. The third article by a long time Friend Mike Mayer on using SQL via Access Client Solutions. The fourth article by Paul is on getting ready for Hurricane season.  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 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 8, and 7.3 will be Technology Refresh 4.

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Access Client Solutions after upgrading to Windows 10.    

Issue

You may encounter an issue after a Windows 10 update, where the IBM i Access Client Solutions (IBM i ACS) launching saved files from a Windows file system locations,  like the desktop or other folders, no longer work.

Symptom

IBM i ACS launching associated saved files like, .hod sessions and .dtfx data transfer downloads, are no longer working when launched from a Windows file system locations, like the desktop or other folders. Your users may get an error,  0x0000142, referring to the IBM i ACS Start_Programs acslaunch_win-##.exe.

Solution

Resetting the file associations will usually resolve the issue.  To reset file associations, one of the following options may be used:

1) From the IBM i ACS Main User Interface, go to Tools, then File Association, and uncheck all the options and then OK to accept.

Then go back through the same process, and select/check those file types you unchecked and the add file associations for IBM i ACS, see picture below.  The most common are .hod, .bchx, dtfx, dttx and .sql, and then OK to accept.

iAccess-launching1

2) From Windows Command Prompt:

Go to the folder that IBM i ACS is being launched from, which can be determined from the IBM i ACS Main User Interface, go to  Help, then About.

iAccess-launching2

The location is within the Start_Programs folder (Example: C:\Users\(username)\IBM\ClientSolutions), in the same place where acsbundle.jar is located, and then if the Help indicates that it is running (32-bit) or (64-bit) run the following commands:

For a 32-bit system:

First run: Windows-i386-32\acslaunch_win-32.exe /PLUGIN=fileassoc hod bchx dtfx dttx sql /c

Then run: Windows-i386-32\acslaunch_win-32.exe /PLUGIN=fileassoc hod bchx dtfx dttx sql

For a 64-bit system:

First run: Windows-x86-64\acslaunch_win-32.exe /PLUGIN=fileassoc hod bchx dtfx dttx sql /c

Then run: Windows-x86-64\acslaunch_win-32.exe /PLUGIN=fileassoc hod bchx dtfx dttx sql

NOTE: Only include those file types you have as file associations for IBM i ACS. Most common are .hod, .bchx, dtfx, dttx and .sql

If you need help with this, or anything else with Access Client Solutions, please Contact our sales team.

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Frequently we are asked “What are Managed Services?”

For the next installment in my series I want to talk to you about OS Upgrades and PTF applications. While I focus on how we help our Managed Administration customers with these services, of course anything can be a standalone project, as well. Everything we do can be configured into a project or service that works with what you want from us. For many of our customers their first introduction to us is via an upgrade or refresh and they see how much easier partnering with us makes their life.

This has been quite the year for upgrades with 7.1 going off of support from IBM. We have seen everything in our MSP accounts from those who were ready to go to 7.3 the second it became available to those who are still working with moving from 7.1. The first thing I am going to say is while iTech helps manage the risk and mitigate the complications of upgrading your OS, commitment to best practices can be complicated. When we see customers struggle it is usually because the system was allowed to languish for too long and software systems became too entrenched or off maintenance. We don’t have a magic way to fix the past, but we do help prevent these issues in the future, while addressing them in the present. All of our customers are always aware of the IBM roadmap and important dates. As soon as this information becomes publicly available, we are prepared to discuss it and work out the best solutions as a team. Organizations using our managed services were aware of timing, impact to their environments, costs, and planning factors, so they could schedule the best solution for their company.

Using iTech as a managed administrator ensures that PTFs and OS upgrades happen on a routine schedule. We upgrade every 2 years and apply PTFs every 6 months. Further, as we permanently apply the PTFs after 3 months of running them temporarily, we are IPLing the system in a controlled fashion every quarter, as recommended by IBM.  One of the strengths I see for many of our customers is the adherence to this practice. First, things aren’t going to fall through the crack or be forgotten as we are keeping track and ensuring application takes place. While it is so easy to say we will schedule this next month, or when someone returns from vacation, or… partnering with iTech and meeting twice a month ensures this critical task is not put off. It is always easier to prioritize something when working with a partner. Second, as I have mentioned many times, iTech becomes responsible for this work on your behalf. It is no longer an issue of having someone on the existing staff, who is usually over committed, making time for a process which isn’t in their comfort zone. The technician assigned to the account handles everything from getting the PTFs from IBM, loading the image catalogs, determining if preparatory PTFs are needed for some reason, scheduling the applications and IPLs. And, the best part is the support we provide after. There may be issues with 3rd party software, improperly documented or understood processes in IPL or start up procedures, one off needs or additions. The iTech technicians have seen it all and work through everything quickly and efficiently.

This brings me to a point I hear often, people saying they hate doing an IPL, the last time they had issues, or asking what if this causes something else to have problems. I understand. Start Up programs still stress me out and the last one I was responsible for was 17 years ago. However, ignoring system health because you are concerned about these things doesn’t help your IT infrastructure. As we know, staying current with updates for all software you run and IBM Hipers and Cum levels is the only way to ensure your system is safe and secure. And while there can be hiccups, it is much easier to deal with them one at a time, every six months than wait until you are forced to upgrade and need to drastically change both your ERP or other applications and the OS in a single project. It is far easier to track down one bug and get the needed fixes. Lastly, while the IBM i runs and runs and doesn’t NEED to be IPLed often we all know it can have sudden, unexpected outages. This is not the time to realize there is a flaw in the initialization programming. Especially when intimidated by this process, it is crucial to deal with unknowns in a controlled and supported structured environment, as part of a planned project.

As responsible IT professionals we know keeping our systems updated is one of our most important responsibilities. In spite of this, these task frequently are under prioritized. Teaming with iTech ensures that not only will PTF application and OS Upgrades be regularly scheduled and implemented, but they will be well organized and supported. Let us help you keep your business critical infrastructure healthy and moving forward with the modernization advances IBM delivers.

If you need help managing and administrating your IBM i, then contact iTech Solutions for a discussion on how we can help you.

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Using Access Client Solutions instead of STRSQL

Instead of STRSQL, we do it this way using the “Run SQL Scripts” either out of ACS itself or via the “Run SQL Scripts” tab on an ACS customized 5250 session

runSQL-Script

Copy and paste the SQL statement out of the article into the edit panel. Edit the SQL, so it fits into the panel for easier reading.

runSQL-Script-copy-paste

Click the “Run” tab on the top of the SQL editing panel. The “RUN” dialog box will open.

Utilize the “syntax check” selection to validate the SQL statement.

runSQL-Script-run

Save your SQL query, so it can be run on demand. Use the “save as” option.

In our shop, we created a folder on our C drive where we keep ACS SQL’s named “IBM i Nav SQL.

Note: Going forward, for each new SQL you write, stash it in that folder. This will be your repository going forward. And it’ll follow you through each ACS update.

From the SQL editing panel, select “file” then “open”. Select the SQL you want to run.

Click the “Connection” tab and then the “Connect to Database” choice.

Select the system you want to run your SQL from. We have prod, test and flash copy partitions. Many, if not most of you, will have multiple partitions to choose from.

Here’s the really cool part of the process. That is setting up how to display your results to the screen plus auto saving / opening in an Excel Spreadsheet.

From the SQL editing panel, click the Options tab, then choose the “Enable Save Results” and arrow over to “For This Session”.

runSQL-Script-option

Click the “Run” tab and choose the “Selected” option that will be displayed.

The data will be displayed to your screen.

At this point, if this works for you as an inquiry display, nothing more needs to be done. However if you want to / need to present this to your management in an Excel SS format, please perform the following steps:

Click File and then “Save Results”.

The following dialog box will be displayed

iAccess-runSql-SaveAS

Click OK.  The next dialog box message will be displayed.

iAccess-runSql-Saved

Click yes. Your Spreadsheet will be displayed.

The power of IBM i Access Client Solutions.  Are you getting everything from your IBM i as you should?  Contact iTech Solutions for help.

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Hurricane season is upon us. Have you done anything since last year?

The 2018 Atlantic and Pacific hurricane season is upon us, officially starting around the first of June and ending November 30th. The Atlantic hurricane season will affect the east coast of the US, the Gulf coast of the US and the islands within the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific hurricane season will affect the southern California coast down into Mexico and Central America. All of that covers a significant area of possible landfall.

The Atlantic hurricane season forecast, based on the past 30 year averages, is calling for 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, of which 3 will be a category 3 or higher, and depending on whose prediction you look at they range from less active to near or above normal activity. Typically, August will see an uptick in activity with peak activity during the first half of September.

To recap the 2017 Atlantic season there were damages totaling $282 billion, the costliest season on record, and we had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricane events.

Now is the time to ensure that you have some disaster recovery processes in place and tested. That process should ensure that you can provide for the continued processing of your business in the event of a disaster of any size and impact.

What you can do:

  • Have a written disaster recovery plan
  • If you don’t have a written disaster recovery plan, start one today
  • Test your disaster recovery plan, NOW!
  • Ensure your current system backups are completely adequate for a full system recovery
  • Test a restore of your current system backups

If you would like iTech Solutions to evaluate your disaster recovery preparedness please contact our sales team

If you find yourself affected by a hurricane event please reach out to us at iTech Solutions. We can react quickly and provide you with the assistance and resources to help you and your business stay running or get back up and running after an event. On the front end, we can provide the necessary testing to ensure your backups can provide for a complete restore of your system and on the back end we may be able to provide either a system to recovery to or a logical partition (LPAR) in our cloud to recovery to.

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Events

Knock-it-out-of-the-park-general

Wednesday August 1 – Knock it out of the Park with POWER9 and iTech Solutions 10:00am Schaumburg Boomers – Home of the Schaumburg Boomers – 1999 South Springingsguth Rd. Shaumburg, IL 60193

POWER9 is all about performance! With about 1.5 times the performance of a POWER8, this system is ready to help you knock the ball out of the park.

We’re offering our POWER9 roadshow at several minor league baseball suites over the summer to introduce our customers and prospects to the benefits of POWER9. We thought that it would be fun to enjoy 9 innings with you after the presentation, giving you a chance to network with our experts and other IBM i users.

Topics:

  • POWER9 Performance, Processing and more.
  • Difference between POWER7 and POWER9
  • IBM i Roadmap
  • Supporting your IBM i Environment

Join us on Wednesday Aug 1 at 10:00 AM

Boomers Stadium

1999 South Springingsguth Rd.

Shaumburg, IL 60193

Boomers

Register for POWER9 Presentation at Boomers Stadium 

Wednesday August 22 – Knock it out of the Park with POWER9 and iTech Solutions 6:00pm West Michigan Whitecaps – Fifth Third Ballpark – 4500 West River Dr NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321

POWER9 is all about performance! With about 1.5 times the performance of a POWER8, this system is ready to help you knock the ball out of the park.

We’re offering our POWER9 roadshow at several minor league baseball suites over the summer to introduce our customers and prospects to the benefits of POWER9. We thought that it would be fun to enjoy 9 innings with you after the presentation, giving you a chance to network with our experts and other IBM i users.

Topics:

  • POWER9 Performance, Processing and more.
  • Difference between POWER7 and POWER9
  • IBM i Roadmap
  • Supporting your IBM i Environment

Join us on August 22 at 6:00 PM Fifth Third Ballpark 4500 West River Dr NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321

Whitecaps-baseball
Register for POWER9 Presentation with Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark

Tuesday August 28 – Knock it out of the Park with POWER9 and iTech Solutions 6:00pm Hartford Yard Goats – Dunkin Donut Park 1214 Main St., Hartford, CT 06103

POWER9 is all about performance! With about 1.5 times the performance of a POWER8, this system is ready to help you knock the ball out of the park.

We’re offering our POWER9 roadshow at several minor league baseball suites over the summer to introduce our customers and prospects to the benefits of POWER9. We thought that it would be fun to enjoy 9 innings with you after the presentation, giving you a chance to network with our experts and other IBM i users.

Topics:

  • POWER9 Performance, Processing and more.
  • Difference between POWER7 and POWER9
  • IBM i Roadmap
  • Supporting your IBM i Environment

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Register for POWER9 Presentation with the Yard Goats at Dunkin Donut Park

Join us on August 28 at 6:00 PM Dunkin Donut Park, 1214 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103

Sept 27, 2018 – VTMUG Technical Conference – Trader Duke’s  Burlington, VT

Visit Laurie & Paul at our booth and learn how iTech Solutions can help you with your IBM i. Pete Massiello will be speaking on various Systems Management sessions to be determined.

Oct 15 – 17, 2018 – COMMON Fall Conference & Expo, Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, Pittsburgh, PA     Booth #20

Visit the iTech Solutions booth in the Expo and learn how we can help you get the most out of your Power Systems running IBM i. In addition hear Pete Massiello, Yvonne Enselman, Richie Palma, and Steve Pitcher speak on a variety of IBM i System administration topics.

Oct 15 – 18, 2018 – Jack Henry Annual Conference – Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine, TX

Visit the iTech Solutions booth in the Expo and learn how we can help you get the most out of your Power Systems running IBM i

Oct 17 – 19, 2018 – IBM Technical University – Hollywood, FL

Hear Pete Massiello speak on a variety of IBM i System administration topics.

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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 18025 18032 17192 15063 12094
Tech. Refresh  4 8 11
Grp Hipers 63 126 226 210 204
DB Group 10 22 43 33 33
Java Group 9 17 32 41 34
Print Group 3 13 31 49
Backup/Recov. 21 42 75 61 57
Blade/IXA/IXS 1 16 30 15
HTTP 15 28 53 46 36
TCP/IP  1 4 11 17 22
Security 29 64 83 60  33
High Availability 6 9 17  5
Hardware 15 32 42  17
Open Source 6 6 6

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 7.3, the ID is 18023. We can determine that it was created on the 23rd day of 2018, which is January 23, 2018. 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 End of Service
HMC (7063-CR1)

Power Based

V9R1
  1. MH01736
  2. SP1 MH01763
  3. MH01777
Not Announced
HMC (7063-CR1)

Power Based

V8R8.7
  1. MH01707
  2. SP2 MH01755
Not Announced
HMC (CR7 & above) V9R1
  1. MH01734
  2. SP1 MH01762
  3. MH01776
Not Announced
HMC (CR7 & above) V8R8.7
  1. MH01706
  2. SP2 MH01754
Not Announced
HMC V8R8.6
  1. MH01655
  2. SP3 MH01711
  3. MH01764
  4. MH01773
10/31/2018
HMC V8R8.5
  1. MH01617
  2. SP3 MH01689 (must be installed from classic GUI or command line)
  3. MH01758
  4. MH01730 (can be installed on any SP, required for upgrade to 8.8.6 or 8.8.7).
05/31/2018
HMC V8R8.4
  1. MH01560 (must be installed from command line using UPDHMC)
  2. SP3 MH01652 (must be installed from command line using UPDHMC)
  3. MH01730
  4. MH01729 (must be installed from classic GUI or from command line; can be installed on any SP, required for upgrade to 8.8.6)
11/30/2017
HMC V8R8.3
  1. SP3 MH01619
  2. MH01717
07/31/2017
HMC  V8R8.2
  1. SP3 MH01583
  2. MH01688
10/31/2017
HMC (CR4 last release) V7R7.9
  1. SP3 MH01546
  2. MH01587
  3. MH01687
12/30/2016
HMC V7R7.8
  1. SP1 MH01397
  2. SP2 MH01432
  3. MH01570
10/31/2015
or V7R7.7
  1. SP3 MH01379
  2. SP4 MH01415
  3. MH01516
02/28/2015
HMC C03 V7R3.5
  1. SP4 MH01277
05/31/2014

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 End of Service
POWER5 or 5+ 520, 515, 525, 550, 570 SF240_418_382 11/30/2012
POWER6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_176_038 01/31/2017
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_176_038 01/31/2017
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_176_038 01/31/2017
9119-FHA EH350_176_038 01/31/2017
POWER7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_159_159 05/31/2018
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_100_100 05/31/2018
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_167_167  05/31/2018
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-126_126  05/31/2018
POWER7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_126_126  05/31/2018
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AM770_126_126  05/31/2018
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_100_100  05/31/2018
POWER8 8408-E8E, 8284-21A,  8284-22A, 8286-41A, or 8286-42A SV860_165_165 (If HMC requires HMC 8.8.6+)
9119-MHE or 9119-MME SC860_165_165
POWER9 9008-22L, 9009-22A, 9009-41A, or 9009-42A VL910_089_089

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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