May 2010 Newsletter

Greetings!

Well the buzz last month was about the new IBM i operating system version 7.1.  We discussed all the new features last month, and we have been busy upgrading and playing with this new release.  As I said last month, we were part of the beta team since January, and this is a very stable and rock-solid release.  We have started doing customer upgrades and as of this writing have 12 scheduled customer upgrades to 7.1.  If you are on V5R4, you still have to perform all the 6.1 object conversions if you upgrade directly to 7.1  If you are thinking of upgrading, go to the IBM i upgrade specialists, iTech Solutions. Over the next few months, we will be bringing out what is new.  My favorite new feature of 7.1 is with the enhancements of managing disk using SST, and will be a featured article next month.

We have packed a lot of information into this newsletter, and I hope that you find this useful. This issue of our newsletter has five articles. In the first, we will address the need to manage SST/DST user profiles with a new 6.1 command. The second is about how iTech Solutions reduced a customer’s IBM i (i5/OS) upgrade from 66 hours to 8 hours.  The third article is about getting rid of that annoying message in PDM. The fourth article is on the different install images for iSeries Access. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information.

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.

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.

 
 

What userids do you have setup in SST/DST?  Light

Often I am asked by customers what the DST/SST user profiles are.  These profiles are different from the regular IBM i User Profiles (*USRPRF).  These DST/SST user profiles allow you to get into Dedicated System Tools (DST) and System Service Tools (SST).  In these functions you can work with Disk Units, Start a Service function, work with System Capacity, work with System Partitions (Power 4 models), and work with System Security.  To enter SST, you would run the command STRSST from a command line, but you need *SERVICE authority in your IBM i User Profile in order for the command to run.  There are more functions in DST than in SST.  To get into DST, you can either do a manual IPL or run a function 21 from the front panel. If you have partitions, then from the HMC you would take the menu option for Serviceability for the partition and then Control Panel Functions.

These SST/DST user profiles, while possibly having the same names as your IBM i user profiles, do not necessarily have the same password (unless you set them both to the same password). Many times, people get locked out of SST/DST because they change their regular IBM i password, and just assume that the password for the SST/DST user will also be changed at the same time. These are two distinct objects.  Also please note that the SST/DST passwords are upper and lower case and you must be cognizant of the case when entering them.  You will disable an SST/DST user profile if you enter it incorrectly 3 times.

Now in V6R1 there is a way to list the user profiles with the command DSPSSTUSR.  You can see what profiles that you have defined for DST/SST, their status if they are enabled or disabled, if they have been linked to an IBM i user profile; and then by placing a ‘5’ next to a profile, you can see what SST/DST functions have been granted to each profile.  One thing I would highly recommend is that you create an additional profile, as I did below for myself (PETEM), using your naming conventions so that you have a back door in case you disable QSECOFR or someone changes the password.

66 hour V6R1 upgrade done in 8 hours.
IBM i Operating System

Recently we had a regional liquor distributor in Massachusetts that was running V5R4 on their Power 5 520 and wishing to upgrade to IBM i (also known as OS/400 or i5/OS) V6R1.  iTech Solutions has been doing their operating system upgrades now for the past 10 years, but this upgrade was a little different.  They had grown bigger over the years, and now we had a smaller window for downtime.  We started the upgrade process 3 months ago when they wanted to upgrade to the next version of IBM i 6.1.  iTech Solutions came in and ran all the preparation for the upgrade. One of the steps is the analyze object command,  ANZOBJCVN, which examines all the programs on a machine and determines which programs lack either observability or creation data, and therefore would be a problem getting re-encapsulated after the upgrade to 6.1. If the program can’t get re-encapsulated, it won’t be able to be recreated and run on 6.1.

The ANZOBJCVN report said that the conversions would take 58 hours to convert (re-encapsulate) all their programs after going to 6.1.  The customer thought that was a little excessive, but they had quite a few programs. We didn’t want the machine all tied up performing conversions after the upgrade, thus leaving little CPU for the users to perform their regular tasks.  Using parts of the iTech Solutions Guaranteed Upgrade program, we were able to take all the customer’s programs back onto one of our machines a few days before the actual upgrade and convert the programs for them.  Then after we completed the upgrade to 6.1, we restored the 6.1 converted programs back to their machine, and we were done. A quick verification using STROBJCVN showed that everything was converted.  We performed a SAVSYS of the new licensed code, IBM libraries and directories so that we had a new recovery starting point and were back on line in less than 8 hours.  That is a significant savings when you compare that the original estimate from the IBM ANZOBJCVN command was 58 hours, plus another 8 hours to do the actual upgrade and save afterwards. We were able to complete everything in those 8 hours using our time-proven upgrade methodology.  iTech Solutions does more IBM i upgrades than most business partners could ever even imagine.  When you want your upgrade done right, come to iTech Solutions.  We have probably already done an upgrade similar to yours, so you get the benefit of our knowledge, expertise, and experience.

Have you tried the new alternative to PDM?       
 

If you are a programmer, you should definitely be using RDi, WDSc, or its newest name RDP.  The Rational Developer for Power is a great replacement for STRPDM.  What happens if you have the need to use PDM, but are sick and tired of seeing the message “Have you tried the new alternative to PDM?” every time you do a STRPDM?  It’s easy to turn off the message, yet I am surprised how many people have not done this.  When you are on the main PDM screen, hit F18 for Change Defaults. Page down once, and you will see the option Display Informational Messages.  Change the default from a ‘Y’ to an ‘N’, and you will no longer see the message every time you enter PDM.

64 Bit PCs and iSeries Access.  IBM i Operating System
Some of the new computers my customers have been ordering have been coming with 64-bit processors.  I wish they were ordering one for me as well, because these babies were fast.  Well everyone gets excited when they get a new PC, mainly because you are thinking “I am finally getting rid of my slow PC for a faster one”.   Of course moving from an old PC to a new PC isn’t always easy, and it surely isn’t as easy as moving from an old AS/400 to a new Power System (like a new Power6 520).  Yes, I will tell you that moving to a new Power System is easier, especially if you are using iTech Solutions for the migration.  Do you know why?  When you get to the new Power Systems machine, all your defaults, all your settings, all your programs, all your data is on the new machine.  When people move from their old PC to their new PC, almost nothing is the same.  It’s very frustrating.  After getting the new PC, next comes reinstalling all the software that you had on the previous PC. As more and more people are getting new PCs and/or moving to a machine with Windows 7, they will need to install iSeries Access (Client Access or PC Support are the old names) onto the new machine.  Things have changed since the last time you loaded iSeries Access. At V6R1, iSeries Access comes on two DVDs.  There are three installation images, distributed across 2 DVDs, on the iSeries Access for Windows DVD set that are based upon the type of processor for the PC.  DVD1 contains the 32-bit processor image (what you used for XP and if you have a 32bit Windows 7 client) and the 64bit AMD processor image. DVD2 contains the 64-bit Itanium processor image.

If you have purchased a new 64 bit PC computer, then you will need to select the correct installation.  I have seen the following happen several times.  A customer will call the iTech Solutions help desk and tell us they have gotten a new computer and are installing the new version of iSeries Access, and a message keeps occurring telling them they have the wrong processor type.  We ask them what they purchased, and they tell us they purchased an Intel 64-bit processor. Then we ask which installation image are you choosing, and they tell us they are choosing the 64 bit “I” image.  Remember, the “I” doesn’t stand for Intel, it stands for Itanium. When installing the 64-bit image for Intel, you will use the AMD version.  Confusing?  Yes I know it is.  But you can’t do without iSeries Access on your new PC and this will certainly make the installation simpler. Don’t forget to also get the latest service pack for any image that you install from http://www.ibm.com/systems/i/software/access/.

 If you require any help or would like to learn more about how iTech Solutions can help you manage your environment and get more from your existing system, please contact iTech Solutions.

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    10096   10047   10117     8267

Grp Hipers             3        62       127      169

DB Group               1        13         26       24

Java Group             2       12         23       23

Print Group             –       17        39       20

Backup/Recov.       2        15        32      33

Security Group        1       16       14        7       

 
Blade/IXA/IXS          1      14       14        –
 
Http                        1      13       22      17                   



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 off the list, because if you are on V5R1, you don’t need to be worrying about PTFs, you really need to be upgrading your operating system.  The same can be said for V5R2 and V5R3, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have an HMC, you should be running V7R7.1  If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.
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_382. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_063.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_063. If you have a Power6 595 (9119-FMA) then you should be on EH350_049. POWER7 the firmware level is AL710_065.
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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