March 2012 Newsletter

Greetings!

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

 

If Spring is about change, then this is a great time to look at upgrading your operating system, and moving to 6.1 or 7.1.   If you are still on V5R4, IBM has stated support for this release will end on Sept 30, 2013. If you are still on an older release of the operating system, or on older hardware, then it is really time you started to think about moving forward.  Contact iTech Solutions, and allow them to work with you to get you on the latest operating system and/or the latest hardware.  You will be happy you did, ask any of the hundreds of customers who have upgraded with us.

We are pleased to welcome Paul Rogers to the iTech Solutions team.  Paul, based out of New Hampshire, will be our new sales executive covering: New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
April and May is also a busy time with user groups, as we have the COMMON Annual Conference May 6 to 10th in Anaheim, and a local conference here in New England, the Northeast User Group Conference April 2 to 4th.  Both of these are my favorites, and provide a great deal of education for the dollar.  You have heard me say this many times, you have to invest in yourself, you have to insure that you learn the new technologies to keep your company competitive and your skills marketable, you have to grow as an individual.  You can’t just stay stagnant with the same skills.  You must expand your horizons, and user groups provide some of the best value in education when it comes to this.  I hope you support both these groups, as well as your local user groups in your area.  If you haven’t registered for either of these conferences do it today.

 

This issue of our newsletter has five articles. In the first, the topic is our Upgrade Plus offering. The second article is about a PTF that is required to fix problems with Telnet restarting.  The third article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating. The fourth article is on testing. 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 360 V6R1 upgrades done to date you know iTech Solutions has the expertise and know how.

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, 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 IBM 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.

V5R4 Upgrade Plus – The end is near.
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Upgrading your operating system is always a difficult task, especially if you are going at it alone. iTech Solutions always tries to insure that every item has been covered during our extensive planning. No matter how much planning and checking occurs, the best way to insure everything is going to work is to test your applications and system on the new release. Something that not everyone was able to do until now. Many customers don’t have the luxury of having a 2nd machine to test their upgrade before upgrading their current machine. So, what is a customer to do? Call iTech Solutions, which has been providing a virtual upgrade service for IBM i 6.1 for 4 years now (and 7.1 for 2 years). In addition, to their regular upgrade service, iTech Solutions has their Upgrade Plus service, which allows you to test your upgrade on one of their machines without effecting your systems. Remember, IBM has stated that i5/OS V5R4 will no longer be supported after Sept 30, 2013.

 

The problem with upgrading your operating system from V5R4 to either 6.1 or 7.1 is that your programs have to undergo a re-encapsulation. The operating system essentially recreates each application program from itself, as long as the program has either creation data or observability. The question comes from each of our clients, “how do I test my programs to insure they will work on 6.1 when I only have one machine?” They call iTech Solution and get our Upgrade Plus service.

 

iTech Solutions will work with you and your staff to run IBM’s Analyze Object Conversion tool, and create a roadmap document that shows whatever issues your system has with the program conversion. Then once we review and fix the issues, we will restore your backup onto one of our machines in the iTech datacenter. If you know you need to upgrade, but either don’t have the resources to plan, prepare, and succeed in an upgrade, this is for you. Once your system is restored onto one of iTech Solution’s machines, iTech Solutions will upgrade this restored system to 6.1 or 7.1. Then, your own programmers can access this remote IBM i 6.1 or 7.1 instance machine through a virtual private network for 14 days for testing.  They can even fix the code as needed to be compatible with i 6.1 or 7.1. At this point iTech Solutions can also create backup tapes for you to restore your converted programs back to your machine after the upgrade and reduce your conversion time. The fee for this Upgrade Plus service is $3,500. If you then have iTech Solutions perform the actual upgrade on your machine, we will knock off $1,000 of the price of the upgrade. There is also an option to have an iTech Solution’s machine brought onto your site.

 

iTech Solutions Upgrade Plus is what every customer needs who is unsure if their system will convert properly to 6.1 or 7.1. This is easy, helpful, and reduces the stress and strain of going about an upgrade by yourself. Many of our customers already have us perform the operating system upgrade for them, now you can get additional peace of mind knowing beforehand that all your applications have been tested.

 

Contact Paul Rogers at iTech Solutions and schedule your operating system upgrade, as well as get the Upgrade Plus service. This will become even more of a hotter ticket as next September approaches and V5R4 is no longer supported.

 

 

 

Telnet issues.    

IBM i Operating System

Recently we have had a few customers experience problems with Telnet services restarting.  This was mostly after an IPL. There are some synchronization problems between ending Telnet and the ending the interactive subsystems that were causing the Telnet service to not restart after an IPL, or even when bringing down the system for a backup.  This happens mostly when you do an ENDSBS *ALL.  If you run the command ENDTCPSVR *TELNET, then there wasn’t a problem.  IBM has a PTF to fix this, which are listed below.  If you don’t have the PTF on yet, and you experience the problem.  Just manually bring down the telnet server with ENDTCPSVR *TELNET, wait a minute, and then restart the service with STRTCPSVR *TELNET.  

 

The fixing PTFs are:

  • MF54626 for V5R4M0
  • MF54627 for V5R4M5
  • MF54608 for 6.1.0
  • MF54612 for 6.1.1
  • MF54614 for 7.1

If you haven’t been keeping up to date on PTFs, perhaps it is time to bring in iTech Solutions for our quarterly or semi-annual PTF maintenance program. Contact Pete.    

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Events. 

  Events 

 

 

 

April 2 to 4, Northeast IBM User Group Conference www.neugc.org, Framingham, MA.

  • What do you need to know when upgrading IBM i.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.
  • Systems Director Navigator.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.

May 2 to 6, COMMON User Group, www.common.org Disneyland, California.

  • What do you need to know when upgrading IBM i.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.
  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance and reduce disk space.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.
  • A Programmers future: Looking back to see into the Future.

Visit the iTech Solutions booth at the Long Island System’s User Group www.lisug.org on Wednesday May 16th.

 

June 10 to 12, COMMON Europe www.comeur.org in Vienna Austria.

  • What do you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance  and reduce disk space.
  • A Programmers future: Looking back to see into the Future.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and Firmware.

July 20th OCEAN User group www.ocean400.org of Southern California.

  • Sessions TBA

 

 

Test your Testing Procedures beforehand
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What is the reason for a test?  To insure that a certain change we are going to perform will get the same results before the test and after the test. This proves us with confidence that our changes are working, and nothing has been negatively impacted.

I think we can all agree on that.  It doesn’t really matter if you are doing application development or an operating system upgrade, you have to know what your test results are going to be before hand.  Otherwise, why even test? How do you validate your results?

Therefore, before making the change, it is imperative that you run through your scripts, know what the desired results will be, what options should be tested, which options will work and what the results of each individual option is going to be.  You have to know and understand the data you are going to be using for the test, or which subsystems should be up and running, are you currently getting any error messages, what and how the interface is to react when each of your paths of the test is executed.  Depending on the change, you might need to look at before and after data, results of the data, effects on other data after your change occurs,what the impact is on your surroundings.

Performing the test before making the changes allows you to be able to establish a baseline to validate the results that will be expected when the new application program or operating system upgrade is performed.  If you were using our Upgrade Plus in the article above or were doing an upgrade at your location, you would want to know the various scenario’s you need to test on the new release with your programs.  You need to know what the results that are expected, so that you will know if the test is good or not.

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    11270    11256   11137     8267

Tech. Refresh         3

Grp Hipers            55       115     172      169

DB Group               13       24        32       24

Java Group             8        19        29       23

Print Group             4        22        45       20

Backup/Recov.      12        25        43       33

Blade/IXA/IXS         9        23        15        –

HTTP                     11        23        30      17
TCP/IP                    5        13        20      16

Security                 13        28        22

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 with SP3, or V7R7.4 with SP1 & eFix MH01302. 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_415. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_118.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_118. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_120.
Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B or C). The firmware level is AL730_078 for 8202-E4B & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_078 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_078 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).  The firmware level is AL740-077 for 8202-E4C & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM740_077 for 770 (9117-MMC) & 780 (9179-MHC).
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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