May 2015 Newsletter

This newsletter includes:

  • Automatic IPL on PTFs?
  • IBM i Software Amnesty
  • Release levels and PTFs

IBM has announced that IBM i 6.1 (as well as 6.1.1) will end support on Sept 30, 2015. If you are still on 6.1, please contact us and arrange for one of our System Admins to come and upgrade your operating system. Don’t wait until the last minute.  Of course, it doesn’t matter what release you are on, we can help you upgrade to the latest release IBM i 7.2. If you are still back on V5R4, we can help you with that upgrade as well.  We have the skills, the experience, and the knowledge, to easily upgrade your operating system so you don’t have to worry.

It has been a busy time here at iTech Solutions over the last two months, between new employees, upgrades, conferences, and traveling the time has flew.  We have added two new experienced  members to our team, Daniel Lee in Sales and Nathan Williams in Technical Support.  This is providing our customers with additional resources for both sales and support. Our IBM i Managed Service Provider program continues to grow as we added new customers as well.  We have also been busy with conferences, NEUGC, COMMON, LISUG, and IBM’s Edge.  Once this newsletter is done I leave for Poland for COMMON Europe, and then Minneapolis for QUSER, and then Southern California for the OCEAN/400 conference. Don’t forget that IBM has made some announcements on IBM i and new Power8 hardware end of April, which are detailed in an article below.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article we discuss parameters on the CHGSRVA command for IPLing during installation of PTFs, number of Groups for each PTF group, and receiving critical messages.  The second article is on new features and functions added to IBM i 7.2 TR2 and IBM i 7.1 TR10.  The third article is on what Consoles are left when you upgrade to IBM i 7.2 .  The fourth is on the IBM i Software Maintenance Amnesty program. 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 7.1 Technology Refresh 10 for you on your next application of PTFs. For the 7.2 customers, we will be installing 7.2 Technology Refresh 2.

Having a business partner isn’t the same as having iTech Solutions, if you aren’t getting the support, the help, the guidance, and the advice you need to succeed then you need to contact iTech Solutions for your IBM Power Systems running IBM i needs. We can help you upgrade your AS/400 or iSeries to a Power Systems running IBM i, or even your existing POWER5, POWER6, or POWER7 machines to POWER8.



iTech Solutions vast experience 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, replication, 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.


Automatic IPL on PTFs?  light bulb


We do lots of PTFs for customers in our PTF Managed Services and I always hear a story from someone who forgot to change the Automatic IPL parameter from Yes to No. If you do a GO PTF, take option 8 you will see exactly what I mean. Don’t you wish that parameter defaulted to N instead of Y.  Well that is an easy change.

Using the command CHGSRVA  PTFINSTYP(*DLYALL) will change the default from a Y to a N. It is still going to apply all the PTFs delayed, but that is really what you want when you are applying Technology Refreshes or Cumulative packages.  Yes, there are options to change installing a cumulative package as immediate, but I don’t recommend that.  There are some other options on this command as well, so if you enter CHGSRVA and hit F4 you will see the other parameters. I know some people don’t like to see 2 (00002 is the default) entries for each group PTF on the WRKPTFGRP command, I personally like seeing the 2 copies and I keep it set at that.

There is also another parameter on this command as who is to receive a critical system message, such as a disk failure, when one is issued.  Like a disk failure.  You can put specific classes of users or individual users in the field and then they will receive a critical message when they occur.

IBM i 7.2 TR2 & IBM i 7.1 TR10.  TR7

IBM i integrates a trusted combination of relational database, security, web services, networking, and storage management capabilities. It delivers a broad and highly stable database and middleware foundation for efficiently deploying business applications.


With IBM i 7.2 TR2 and IBM i 7.1 TR10, DB2 for i, which is incorporated into the operating system, continues to focus on new and advanced SQL capabilities, database engineer productivity, SQL Query Engine (SQE) performance, and the ability to use SQL to access IBM i operating system detail. By moving up to the latest DB2 PTF group, clients will have a database that provides significant new capabilities for a wide range of users.


IBM continues to deliver new SQL-based services in IBM i 7.2 TR2 and 7.1 TR10. Several new IBM i services are provided, extending the ability to use SQL to efficiently access, transform, order, and subset IBM i operating system details.


Recent networking enhancements to SNMP for IBM i 7.2 and 7.1 allow application and firewall configuration simplification. SNMP will now send responses via UDP port 161 instead of a random ephemeral port, simplifying firewall configuration. SNMP also now supports GetBulk requests, which provide an easier method for an application to retrieve a large amount of data. The ability to configure storage pool and disk unit block sizes will enable an SNMP manager to calculate an accurate size for large storage pools and disk units.


IBM i continues to enhance the open source ecosystems on IBM i. The Open Source License Program Offering 5733-OPS is enhanced to include support for Python (Option 2) and other improvements for the Node.js support provided in Option 1 for IBM i 7.2 TR2 and i 7.1 TR10.


The recently released REST based support provided in the Integrated Web Services Server support is further improved to support returning user-defined media types and improved processing for the output data.


The IBM Developer Kit for Java for both IBM i 7.1 and 7.2 (5760-JV1 and 5770-JV1) has been enhanced to support Java 8.


IBM i Access Client Solutions, the strategic interface for accessing an IBM i system, has been enhanced to significantly improve the 5250 emulator experience and includes many new features.


This mobile capability, shipped with the IBM i Access for Web product (5770-XH2), is now generally available. Many new mobile-centric features have been included as well as Secure Telnet.


The Application Runtime Expert interface (5733-ARE) has been enhanced to provide the ability to easily distribute PTFs across an IBM i enterprise.


IBM i BRMS delivers periodic sets of enhancements through its PTF group. The most recent new functions extend its ease of use to validate proper network setup, allow centralized media movement, and allow saving of “Q” user libraries in an iASP.


Power Systems™ with POWER8™ technology have additional configuration options, including the support to attach the PCIe Gen3 I/O expansion drawer to selected models of the Power S814 and S824 systems, add additional PCIe Gen3 I/O expansion drawers to the Power E870 and E880 systems, and add additional System Node drawers to the Power E880 Enterprise systems. These options allow even more workloads to be consolidated onto the existing Power Systems with POWER8 technology.


The breadth of I/O options has also been increased with native SRIOV, and VIOS support of a new 4-port 10Gb Ethernet card. In addition, for IBM i 7.2 TR 2, IBM i supports native and VIOS NPIV attachment to the powerful Flash Systems 900, which is leading edge for high-speed disk storage. These announcements deliver support for the latest technologies that complement the growing workload needs on the Power Systems with POWER8 technology to meet the demands for higher capacity and smaller footprint than were previously possible. IBM i 16Gb Fibre Channel Native Direct Attach, 10Gb NIC/RoCE adapter, and new 10K RPM 4K Block size disks in 571GB, 1.1 TB, and 1.7TB sizes.


Configuring IBM i with tape libraries and stand-alone tape drives in a SAN configuration that has redundant paths has been complex. With IBM i 7.2 TR 2, both native and VIOS NPIV tape configurations with up to eight redundant paths may be configured, and a preferred path may be specified.


Some types of SAS adapter and disk errors and concurrent maintenance operations in SAS dual adapter configurations have resulted in slower performance on busy systems while automatic error recovery is occurring. IBM i 7.2 TR 2 and IBM i 7.1 TR 10 drastically reduce the recovery time for some of those scenarios.


With all these enhancements, what are you waiting for.  Let’s get you to the latest release of the operating system, and the latest Technology Refresh level.  If you need help, or wish to discuss your upgrade options, then get in touch with iTech Solutions.


Consoles with IBM i 7.2  .iStock_000019030607XSmall


It had to happen sooner or later.  Twinax is officially dead at IBM i 7.2.   That is because with IBM i 7.2 there is no more support for IOPs, or any hardware that supports IOPs.  Hey, I will be the first to admit as a dumb terminal Twinax was easy to use and convenient, but you couldn’t do anything remotely with it. It outlived it’s usefullness. Twinax was a technology whose time had passed.  Very similar to the black and white TV, or the transistor radio.

So, what does this mean.  Before upgrading to IBM i 7.2, you will want to change your console to either HMC or LAN Console.  You can’t just change your console, you actually need to install and configure either an HMC or a LAN Console. Both are great devices, and allow you to connect remotely to your console to do all those restricted system state functions (backups, upgrades, reclaim storage).   If you had Direct Console (The cable that went directly from your PC to the modem port on a communications card) that lost support with IBM i 7.1.  If you need help with an upgrade, installing an HMC or LAN Console, send us an email.


IBM i Software Amnesty Handcuffs


IBM has announced a program for those customers who have allowed their software maintenance (SWMA) to expire to renew their maintenance without the software After License Fee (ALF). The ALF is a fee that you are paying because you let your software expire and now you wish to get back on maintenance without paying the back (or due) maintenance.  The ALF can be quite expensive depending on how long the SWMA has expired.  It is a sliding scale based upon the number of months you have allowed the SWMA to elapse. Normally, if you are late by less than 30 days, IBM won’t charge an ALF.  I have seen customers get hit with a pretty high bill in the past when they have let it expire.

For a limited time, you can get back on maintenance without having to pay the ALF.  If your software maintenance is expired, it behooves you to act right now!!!  Let me repeat that, if your software maintenance is expired, give us a call right now.  If you act before May 31, 2015, you won’t have to pay the after license fee.  This can be a huge savings.

If you are looking at getting a new Power8 machine, we can transfer your software saving you quite a lot of money on the upgrade.  We can’t transfer your software if your SWMA is expired.  Therefore, this can save you money on an upgrade as well if you let your SWMA expire.

Send us an email, and one of our sales team will contact you to get your software maintenance back without a penalty.

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



June 1 to 3 – COMMON Europe, Gdansk Poland – hear PeteMassiello speak on:

  • Step by Step guide to creating Virtual i Partitions hosted by IBM i

June 17 – QUSER user group in Eden Prairie, MN – hear Pete Massiello speak on:

  • What you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2

July 17 – OCEAN User Group Conference Southern California

  • What you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.1 & 7.2
  • HMC, FSP, Firmware: Putting all the pieces together
  • Tips and Tricks to Improve Performance and Save disk space.
  • Cool things on Managing your system with Navigator for IBM


October 5 – 7 COMMON  Fall Event Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • Systems Management topics tbd


October 18 – 20 COMMON Sweden Data3 – Plats: Elite Marina Tower Hotel

  • Various Systems management Topics


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.

7.2 7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 14276 14283 15063 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 1 9
Grp Hipers 32 138 199 203 169
DB Group 4 33 33 33 24
Java Group 6 21 32 34 23
Print Group 3 12 31 49 20
Backup/Recov. 11 46 57 57 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 1 16 30 15
HTTP 7 33 44 36 17
TCP/IP 1 8 16 22 16
Security 15 40 55 32
High Availability 1 8 4
Hardware 7 17 14

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 V7R1, the ID is 13287. We can determine that it was created on the 287th day of 2013, which is October 14, 2013. 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 & V5R4, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have a Hardware Management Console (HMC,) you should be running:

Model Release Service Pack
HMC V8R8.2 MH01454, then SP1 MH01455, then MH01515, then MH01521
HMC  V8R8.1 SP2 MH01452
HMC (CR4 last release) V7R7.9 SP 2 MH01451, then MH01519
HMC V7R7.8 SP 2 MH01432, then MH01472, MH01518
or V7R7.7 SP 3 MH1397, then SP 4 MH01415,

then MH01516

HMC C03 V7R3.5 SP4

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 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
  • 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 have an Flexible Service Processor (FSP) your firmware should be:

Machine Processor Model Version Notes
Power5 or 5+ 520, 515, 525, 550, 570 SF240_418 last
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_163 last
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_163 last
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_163 last
9119-FHA EH350_163 last
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_146
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_068
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_156
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-101
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_101
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AM770_101
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_071
Power8 8247-21L, 8247-22L, 8284-22A, 8286-41A, 8286-42A SV810_108


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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