June 2011 Newsletter

Greetings!

Earlier this month I was down in Alabama doing an upgrade, and I had a free day in my schedule.  I decided to take a ride to Tuscaloosa to see the area where the F4 tornado had gone through.   This was about 6 weeks after those storms ripped through the area, so I thought things would have started to recover. Being from the northeast, and never experiencing  a Tornado what I found was shocking.    I was expecting to see down trees and wind damage.  Instead what I saw was people’s entire lives just blown away.  Giant trees lying in the road and on lawns in every direction.  Trees that were as wide as a car were thrown around like match sticks.  Houses without roofs, houses without walls, empty slabs of concrete where houses once stood, houses without a family, families without homes, and communities without people remaining. On some roads you would look down the street, and see nothing but total destruction in every direction.  Not one house in an entire neighborhood survived.  The destruction in the path of the tornado was mind boggling.  People left for work the morning of April 27th perhaps worrying about small issues, and that afternoon everything they owned, everything they worked for was gone.  It was a eerie feeling standing in the middle of a neighborhood without anyone around, and destruction in every direction.  The ray of hope was the human spirit that I saw. People helping people, and signs on many houses proclaiming “we will be back”.  While it was easy for my knees to shake surveying the damage that mother nature can unleash, it was good for my heart to see people fighting back to rebuild their communities, their neighborhoods, their houses, and their homes.  My heart goes out to those families who suffered, and hope that their strength will shine through as they rebuild their homes.

 

So, I can imagine some of you maybe asking “Well what does this have to do with IBM i and System Administration”.  People’s entire lives were changed and possibly destroyed in an instant when the tornado passed by.  What if some event like that happened that affected your business?   Those people that regularly read this newsletter know I am always talking about getting your backups done, testing your recovery, insuring the backups are done each night, that the backup tapes aren’t left in the tape drive or in the computer room, etc.  If something happened to your company or even your computer room that was a 10th as bad as that tornado, you would have nothing left. Nothing! So, what are you waiting for?  Check out your backups, make sure you are moving your media off-site, make sure you are backing up everything you need, and insure you test out your recovery.  It is probably a good idea to talk to us about our iTech Solutions eVault for off-site remote backup.  Your backup is immediately off-site, and fully encrypted.

 

 

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

That is what our customers are finding out!  That their IBM i (AS/400, iSeries, i5) can do anything when they work with iTech Solutions. If you aren’t, you can call our customers and they will tell you why you should.

 

Each month our newsletter brings to light tips and techniques that help many System Administrators in their job, as well as managers know what is happening in the IBM i world.  We are happy to be able to help so many people in the IBM i community.  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 five articles. In the first, I want your opinions on what you are doing with Disaster Recovery and High Availability. The second article is on making Operations LAN Console easier to use.  The third article is about a PTF that improves the time it takes to save your IFS. The fourth 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.

 

 

If you are still on V5R4, send Pete an email and he can help you upgrade to V6R1 or V7R1, with over 300 V6R1 upgrades done to date you know iTech Solutions has the expertise and know how.

iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, upgrade i5/OS, perform security audits, implement a High Availability solution, Health Checks, Systems Management, Remote Administration,  PTF management, Blade installations, iSCSI Configurations, 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 System i.

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For more information on any of the articles below please visit us at 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.

Disaster Recovery and High Availability Survey.
Light
 

Last month I ran this article, as we were looking for information on what people were doing with Disaster Recovery & High Availability, as well as what they were planning on doing.  I didn’t get as many responses as I needed, so I want to ask you if you didn’t get a chance last month if you could take the survey.  Thanks.

 

One of the things we are always interested in is what people in the market place are doing.  Trends, directions, issues that companies are facing. What are they doing to fix or resolve those issues facing them.  We have seen in the past, that many people in the i community have similar issues.

 

We would like to find out your opinion on what you are doing with Disaster Recovery & High Availability.  Please click on the link below to take this 2 minute survey and let us know what is happening in the market place.  Everyone who completes the survey will be entered to win one of three $100 American Express Gift certificates.

 

Disaster Recovery & High Availability survey.

 

Thanks, and we will be sharing the results with everyone in the coming months.

 

You don’t have to sign-on to DST every time you take over the console.   
   magnifying glass
Do you use Operations LAN Console for your IBM i (AS/400 or iSeries) console? If you don’t have an HMC, this is the console that we recommend. If you currently have a twinax console, contact John at iTech Solutions and have him convert you to Operations LAN Console.  The best reason is remote connectivity, like being able to do a full system back (Go SAVE 21) from home.  Any kind of restricted system command.  Operations LAN Console is just a blessing when it comes to more easily managing and administrating your machine.

 

One of the annoyances that happens when you are using Operations Console, is that when you try to reconnect to Operations Console it asks you to enter your DST/SST userid and password.  Then the Console Information Status screen is displayed, where you hit F10 to take over the console.  Well, with 6.1.1 & 7.1 this sign-on can be skipped.  In fact, if you put PTFs MF44882 & MF44894 on V5R4M5, or MF44644 & MF44647 on V6R1 you can also have this new functionality.

 

With the new functionality, when you are presented with the DST Signon screen, you will notice an F18 function key at the bottom of the screen.  Pressing F18 will skip the DST sign-on screen, and bring you right to the IBM i sign-on screen for the console device in the controlling subsystem.  This makes your life so much easier.

 

We have pointed this out to a few customers during some recent health checks. The iTech Solutions Health Check is to identify problems you might have, best practices you might not be following, identify performance issues, security issues, etc.  Yet, sometimes it just takes someone to see the very simple things that you are doing wrong.  For help or to have an iTechSolutions Health Check contact Pete

 Faster IFS Saves  

IBM i Operating System

 

IBM has released a PTF to improve the performance of Saving the IFS.  I have a few customers who have a few million IFS objects, so I know they will really benefit from this.  Of course, if you are on the iTech Solutions Quarterly PTF maintenance program, you will get this PTF as part of your next service.  For those people not on our program, I will give you some additional information below. You might want to get us maintaining your machine for you, so email us.

 

While one of the best ways to have faster IFS saves is to do a little cleaning.  Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible.  I have noticed that on many customer’s machines, their IFS seems to “collect” objects. Sometimes this is because people don’t have insight into the IFS. If you are managing your objects on your system using the RTVDSKINF command (which collects the information on objects in libraries  residing on your machine).  You need to run the RTVDIRINF command, which I wrote about in a previous newsletter. This command will gather information on all the objects in the IFS.

 

The save process of the IFS can be a very I/O intensive operation. IBM says that there will be more CPU used after installing this PTF during an IFS save, but in our overnight saves at a few customers we saw the time to save the IFS being reduced, but they weren’t keeping track of overnight CPU utilization. If your saves are running with nothing else running, then it won’t be a problem.   These PTFs change the way a temporary structure is accessed which results in a reduction in the number of I/O operations.  If you are interested in the technical details, this is the link for the informational APAR MA40515.  By the way, this is a delayed PTF which will require an IPL to activate.

 

Here is the PTF for supported releases:

 

R540 MF52564
R545 MF52565
R610 MF52495  
R611
MF52284   
R710 MF52772
 

If you need help managing your PTFs, if you would like us to handle your system management, or take a look at one of our support programs, contact Pete.

Upcoming Events. 

Tuesday Sept 13 Omni User Group in Chicago – Opening session, and technical sessions TBA.

 

Tuesday Sept 27 – Vermont User group – Technical Sessions TBA.

 

October 3 to 5th, in St.Petersburg, FL at the COMMON Fall Event, Pete Massiello will present:

  • What you need to know to do successful IBM i (OS/400) upgrades to 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.
  • HMC, IBM i, FSP, Firmware: Putting all the pieces together.
  • Everything you need to know to get started with the new Systems Director Navigator Console.

 

IBM i DevCon 2011 Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood Hotel – Nov 2 to 4th.  Sessions currently being setup.

 

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    11116   11102   11137     8267

Tech. Refresh         2

Grp Hipers            34        92      157      169

DB Group                9        20        31       24

Java Group             5        15        26       23

Print Group             3        21        44       20

Backup/Recov.      10        23        41       33

Blade/IXA/IXS         6        20        14        –

HTTP                      8        20        28      17
TCP/IP                    3        11        18      16

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 V7R7.3M0. If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.5 SP3.
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_403. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_107.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_107. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_107. POWER7 the firmware level is AL730_035 for 8202-E4B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_035 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_035 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).
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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