June 2013 Newsletter

Dear Mike,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

June 21, 1988 the AS/400 was announced. As I am sure you have heard by now, we are celebrating the 25th Birthday of IBM i (formerly the AS/400 & iSeries). The machine has grown up quite a bit since those large ugly white boxes first were in data centers 25 years ago this week. Now, we have PowerSystems, which runs IBM i as the operating system. There have been quite a few improvements since then, and the machines are so much more powerful than those first “B” models. There are so many new features and functions, yet the machine has never lost sight of what it was built upon: Integrated, Easy to use, Secure, and powerful. The AS/400 and now the IBM i has been a cornerstone in many datacenters over these past 25 years, and it has grown with the times to last for the next 25 years as well. Check out this link for a cool poster of the 25 themes of the IBM i Birthday celebration. Of course, you have to keep current with the operating system to receive those new functions. If you are a regular reader of this newsletter, you know that IBM support for V5R4 goes away Sept 30, 2013. About 90 days from now!!!!! If you are still V5R4, you know what I told you last month. Stop praying for a miracle upgrade. God is too busy to help you with an IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS) Upgrade!!! The next best thing is iTech Solutions.

End of last month, and beginning of this month, IBM had some announcements on external storage. This allows IBM i and Power7 machines to directly attach to IBM Storwize V3700 and V7000 SANs. This is great news for IBM i customers. It allows you to take advantage of external storage at an extremely affordable price. For more information on this, see the fourth article or email Paul.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will review the Work Contact Information command, which works with the IBM call-home functions we wrote about last month. The second article is on iTech’s Cloud Based Backup. The third article is a reprint of Pete’s Perspective that appears in the COMMON Connect bi-monthly magazine on where we were 25 years ago when the AS/400 first came out. The fourth article is the iTech Solutions Blog on IBM i and External Storage. 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 iTech Solutions PTF maintenance plan, we will be installing Technology Refresh 6 for you on your next application of PTFs.

iTech Solutions 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, iSCSI configurations, 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.


 

Work Contact Information  Contact_us_red_phone
In Last month’s newsletter two of the topics had to do with connecting back to IBM for Service Director’s call home functionality.  That generated a good amount of questions, and a friend of mine suggested a related topic might be contact information.   I agreed, and this topic will foucs on the Change Contact Information command CHGCNTINF.
When your machine calls “home” to IBM for service, how does IBM know who to contact, what their email and phone number is, and where the machien is located.  It’s the contact information.  If you want to see what yours is set to, use the WRKCNTINF command, select option 2 for local Service Information, and then option 1 to display it.  If any of this information is incomplete or inacurate, then you need to update the information.  You use the CHGCNTINF command to do this.  First off, you want to make sure the Company name and contact name are set correct. Then page down until you get to Contact telephone number.  We usually put a primary phone number as well as an alternative phone number.  Either a cell phone or other phone that is manned 24 hours as that alternative. Next you want to enter a fax number, probably not the most important, but you might as well have a correct fax number.  Then the actual physical address of the machine.  Make sure you put floor, suite, or anything else that will help the IBM CE if they have to come on site. You will want to make sure you have the primary and secondary email address correct.  More and more communications happens by email these days.  Then on the final panel, make sure you put your media for PTFs, if you don’t know just enter *automatic.

Now, when your machine call’s home, IBM knows who to contact. Note: If you are using PM Agent (formerly PM/400), then you should update the contact information on that as well.  Enter GO PMAGT (Older releases of the operating system enter GO PM400) and select option 1 to update the information there as well.

If you need additional help on this, please contact iTech Solutions to get your machine back calling IBM for help. Otherwise, the next time something fails, your machine won’t call home.


IBM i Cloud Based Backupscloud-computing

How would you like to perform backups and immediately have your data off-site? How would you like your data totally encrypted? Would you like this easy to use, and direct from your IBM i, iSeries, or AS/400?

iTech Solutions Vault, Powered by EVault®, is a premier online backup and recovery service that provides secure, reliable, efficient protection of your organization’s critical data. The service gives you a professional-grade data protection infrastructure that safeguards your data without additional capital or IT expenses-the same top-tier cloud infrastructure, team of storage experts, and state-of-the-art technology that powers backup and recovery for over 32,000 companies worldwide, as well as the online data protection services used by some of the world’s largest managed service providers.

iTech Solutions and EVault offer proven best-practice deployment of industry-leading technology and a team of data protection experts to follow through on our commitment to your backup and recovery requirements. iTech Solutions operates, manages and fully supports the EVault service from our data center, and encrypted backup data is replicated to a secondary vault in a top-tier data center, providing 99.98% availability. You get the reliability of the EVault cloud with iTech Solutions broad service offerings, local expertise, and business know-how. The iTech Solutions Vault, Powered by EVault solution provides a perfect fit for companies with limited IT resources who want a complete backup and recovery managed service, and who prefer a “pay as you go” business model.  We also have machines that you can recover your system on in the event you lose your entire machine.  If your data center is gone, we can also host the machine in our data center.

How It Works

The iTech Solutions service centralizes the backup and recovery of data distributed throughout your organization: headquarters, branch offices, and even laptops. Agents automatically back up your data over the Internet to a highly secure data center. You monitor and manage everything within a web browser. Recovery is just as easy: when you need to restore data, simply navigate to the recovery point via an intuitive user interface, then click. EVault Reports provide a detailed look at the status of your backups.

Secure, Reliable Data Protection Infrastructure

EVault manages more than 35 petabytes of data in nine geographically dispersed, state-of-the art data centers. This ensures that your data is stored at the highest level of classifications for data center reliability and performance Independent audits, completed every year through SAS 70 Type II Certification, guarantees our facilities and processes conform to industry standards FIPS approved AES encryption locks your data before it leaves your computer, and ensures that only you have the key to unlock it.

Transfer Data Quickly and Efficiently

One of the few storage solutions offering both source-side (Agent) and back-end (Vault) data compression and deduplication, EVault can reduce transmitted data volume by more than 99 percent, dramatically minimizing storage space and bandwidth requirements.

  • Front end data deduplication ensures that only new and changed data blocks are sent to storage, decreasing backup times and reducing storage footprints.
  • Back-end data deduplication streamlines storage by eliminating redundant blocks of data within backup jobs, further decreasing storage footprints without compromising performance or scalability.
  • Compression technology and bandwidth throttling maximize backup transfer speed and reduce impact on productivity

Easy Deployment and Management:

  • A simple web interface takes the pain out of data protection.
  • Our technical specialists can help you set up even the most complex backup schedule in short order.
  • Customizable views and simple task delegation.
  • Hot backups support 24/7 operations by backing up mission-critical applications while they are online

Ensure Compliance with Data Protection Policies, Regulations, and Governance

  • Flexible retention scheduling to help you satisfy internal and external requirements.
  • Use EVault Reports to get instant, centralized, and accurate information about your entire backup and recovery process

If you are interested in the iTech Solutions Vault, powered by EVault, please send an email to Rick.

 



25 Years Ago 
1988

This was written by Pete Massiello for his bi-monthly article in COMMON Connect, called Pete’s Perspective. I thought this was a good article to include in this newsletter as it is a stroll down memory lane where we were 25 years ago when the AS/400 was announced.

IBM i celebrates Twentyfive years, wow that is quite an accomplishment. You will see quite a lot of articles, social media, a birthday cake during the COMMON conference in Austin, TX last month. Also, if you are on Facebook, don’t forget to like the ibmi25 page. I am sure you are reading all the articles, but I was thinking that quite a lot has happened in our industry as well as the world in that short space of time. I thought would be interesting to go back in time and look to see what was happening in June 1988 as it relates to our industry. Internet, mobile applications, storage area networks, competition, viruses, search engines, programming languages, CPU power, and disk sizes. So much that we currently take as a normal part of our lives wasn’t even there 25 years ago, and what was has changed dramatically.

To see what’s changed lets go back in time. Twenty five years is a very short amount of time as it relates to the time that humans have inhabited the earth, yet the change is amazing. In the world, the US and Canada reach free trade agreement, the Iran-Contra case, Terrorists kill 9 tourists on Aegean cruise. Democrats nominate Michael Dukakis & Llyod Bensten for President and VP, while the Republicans nominate George Bush & Dan Quayle. George Bush wins the election, but Dan never learned how to spell potato in his four years as VP. Benazir Bhutto elected first Islamic woman prime minister of Pakistan, the cost to mail a first class letter was .22, and a Pan-AM 747 explodes from a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie Scotland. We also had both the Winter and Summer Olympics back then in the same year. There was East Germany and West Germany in 1988, as the fall of East Germany happened the following year. The USSR still existed. Johnny Carson was still the host of the tonight show, The Cosby Show was the number one TV show, Rain Man was the highest grossing movie of the year, and the number one hit on June 21, 1988 was Debbie Gibson’s Foolish Beat.

While both technologies had been released 10 to 15 years earlier, it was now in everyone’s homes. Everyone was getting VCRs, but you had to choose Betamax and VHS, there was no such thing as CDs or DVDs. People were buying VCRs to record movies and TV shows on. Blockbuster stores were in every town where you could go and rent a movie for your VCR. At the time we had two rival technologies VHS which was cheaper and not as good quality, and Betamax which had exceptional quality and was more expensive, but never really caught on. Anyone who had a VCR remembers that most of the time the clock would flash 12:00. Today, I would bet you can’t even buy a VCR.

Cell phones. It’s either cell phones or the internet that has changed our lives the most, they are either 1-2 or 2-1 in which has caused the most change. I can remember having a bag cell phone in 1988, it was the size of a brick. There was a battery and phone big enough to fill a medium sized lady’s pocketbook.   It would cost over a dollar a minute to call or receive calls, and there were no texting. This was basically a house phone with a battery. Hardly anyone had a cell phone back then. Today there are more cell phones in the US then there are people. People thought the far off future was the Dick Tracy wrist watch communicator. Today, our cell phones have much more capability than Dick’s communicator.

If you told someone about a search engine in 1988 they would assume this is some Coast Guard boat that was used to find people lost at sea. Google was something a baby said before they could talk, and Bing was a noise the doorbell made when you held the button. Yahoo was something you yelled when you were excited. The Internet hadn’t really caught on yet, as commercial Internet Service Providers were just coming on the scene in the late 1980s. The Internet was born from ARPANet, but it really wasn’t until 1982 that TCP/IP was standardized. Even then, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the Internet was really commercialized. The Internet really became widely used in the late 1990s. In 1988 you couldn’t email your grandmother pictures of your kids, as there was no email. If you did have mail at your company, it was most likely internal email like OfficeVision. You never heard the term “I have an App for that” in 1988, there were no mobile applications. FAX was the best way to get documents or information from one place to the next.

When we wanted to back something up or exchange a file with someone we didn’t send it over email, we didn’t plug in a USB memory stick. We asked them for a 3.5 inch diskette. The 5 ¼ inch diskette were on their way out in 1988. Those first 3.5 inch disks were mostly 720kB, and not until the High Density format that arrived in 1987, with the label HD did we have 1440 kB.   You know I almost wrote 720MB as I was thinking a very small number, but technology has really changed.  Today our USB memory sticks are measured in Gigabytes, and they are all interchangeable. You can get a 16GB USB memory stick today for $12.99.

 

AS400-image

The AS/400 came in its own 19 inch white rack, before people were putting servers in racks. That initial largest machine at the time, which was a B60 (the B70 didn’t come out until one year later) cost a boat load of money and only had less than 20 CPW (Commercial Processing Workload – how we measure performance). Today, the smallest Power7 plus 720 with just one core has a CPW of 7300. That’s the difference between a skateboard and a Ferrari. The 9332 disk drives that came out with it were either 400Mb or 600Mb. Today, you can get drives that are 1,000 times larger, rotate twice as fast, and probably cost less than those original 9332 disks.

Like a fine Red Wine, the AS/400 has gotten better with age. As it has changed into an iSeries, and then later morphed again into IBM i running on PowerSystems, we are celebrating the 25th birthday this June 21, 2013. It’s been a fast 25 years, looking forward to the next 25 years.


IBM i & External Storage  Intrusion Detection

IBM i and its predecessor the AS/400 have always been known for reliability, integration, dependability, ease of use, and of course full functionality. To this end, most of the systems even today are sold with internal storage. It’s just another piece of the IBM i integration puzzle. From the setup, to the administration, to the day to day use of the storage is so easy with internal disk. Yet, the industry is changing. External storage and specifically Storage Area Networks (SANs) are one of the hottest topics in IT today. Why, I believe part of it has to do with virtualization, and the other part is cost.

If every server (Power, Windows, Linux, etc.) or partition has its own independent storage, then I have to manage all the storage independently. This increases our administrative costs, as well as the skills required to manage our storage. In addition, if one system is using 20% of its storage, and another system is using 98% of its storage, it is usually not possible to move the storage from one server to the other.   This is where virtualization plays a key part to drive down our administrative costs and acquisition costs, but can increase the skills required to manage the new virtualization. On the IBM Power platform, we have VIO Server (You might hear this called VIOS or Virtual I/O Server) to help with storage virtualization. VIO Server is extremely powerful when it comes to virtualizing storage and networking, but it does require some additional skills that most IBM i shops don’t have, since VIO Server is a subset of IBM’s AIX operating system. VIO Server can connect to almost any external storage. This is probably its biggest virtualization benefit. So, you may be wondering why IBM i can’t connect to everything. IBM i uses 520 byte sectors for disk, and the industry uses 512 byte disk sectors. Most SANs use 512 byte sectors, which provides difficulty for IBM i to connect to. Although, you can connect VIO Server to the storage, and then let VIO Server virtualize the storage to IBM i. This works great, but again you have to have VIO Server skills.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an IBM i like Storage Area Network. One that was easy to use, easy to administer, competitively priced, had a great GUI front end, and connected to IBM i directly. Well, up until last week I would have said that the IBM Storwize V7000 was all that, except you had to have VIO Server host the storage to IBM i. As of today, the IBM i can directly attach to the IBM Storwize V7000 and its lower priced brother the Storwize V3700, and this is great news for IBM i. It’s the best of two worlds coming together.

The V7000 is enterprise class storage at an affordable price that is ease to use and manage. It has a remarkably easy to use GUI interface that is intuitive and almost self-guiding. Each time I have used the GUI I am just amazed at the graphics. The V7000 uses the same code that you will find in many of the IBM SANs, such as the SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and includes so many enterprise class options enabled. By the way, if you have ever looked at PureFlex system, it also comes with an integrated V7000 for storage. Some of the features includes with the Storwize V7000 are:

  • Thin Provisioning – storage is not allocated until data is written
  • Full Copy of volumes and space efficient snapshot offloads CPU resources from Hypervisor hosts
  • Easy Tier™ – automated tiering between SSD and HDD storage
  • Real-Time Compression – Automatically compress data with no performance impact.
  • Remote Mirroring – with Global and Metro Mirror.
  • Non-Disruptive data migration within and between internal and external storage

The Storwize V7000 Unified allows you to use this storage for both your block (IBM i & AIX) and file (Windows) capabilities. It has support for NFS/CIFS/FTP/HTTPS/SCP file protocols in addition to existing block protocols (iSCSI and FCP). There is file replication and snapshots for business continuity and disaster recovery in addition to existing block functions.

I believe we will see a new era starting right now in midrange disk with the ability of IBM i to directly attach to the IBM Storwize V7000 & V3700. IBM i will be able to connect via a Fibre Channel Adapter over Fabric (via a Fibre Switch) or directly using a Fibre card. I see many new Power Systems running IBM i having a V7000 or V3700 to handle the needs of its storage, and the storage for the rest of the enterprise. I know this is what many of iTech Solutions customers will be requiring over the next few years as we work together to drive down their costs of storage acquisition, and allow for easier storage management all from a single interface.

 


 

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.

 

August 21,12 noon free webinar. www.common.org

  • Step by step guide to building virtual IBM i partitions hosted by IBM i.

September 9 to 11, St. Louis, MO COMMON Fall event www.common.org

  • What do you need to know when upgrading IBM i.
  • A Programmers Future: Looking Back to see the Future.
  • Tips and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.

COMMON Denmark (GS-Gruppen) Nov 12th Copenhaugen, Denmark

Topics to be determined.


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.

7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 13037 13058 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 6
Grp Hipers 88 149 197 169
DB Group 24 29 33 24
Java Group 13 24 32 23
Print Group 8 27 48 20
Backup/Recov. 26 39 55 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 13 25 15
HTTP 19 30 35 17
TCP/IP 7 15 22 16
Security 26 40 32
High Availability 4 3
Hardware 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 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 V7R7.6 with Service Pack 2 and eFix MH01353 or V7R7.7 with Service Pack 2 and eFix MH01355. If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.5 SP4.

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_418. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_143. For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_143. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_143. Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B, C, or D). The firmware level is AL730_114 for 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, or 740), AL730_114 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_114 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB). The firmware level is AL740-100 for 8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8231-E2C, & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, or 740). Use AM740_100 for 770 (9117-MMC) & 780 (9179-MHC).

For Power7+ processors, the firmware level is AL770-048 for 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, & 8205-E6D (710, 720, 730, or 740). Use AM770_048 for 750 (8408-E8D) & 760 (9109-RMD). Use AM760_062 for 770 (9117-MMD) & 780 (9179-MHD).

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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