May 2018 Newsletter

Greetings iTech Fan

The May newsletter is a little late this month we have been swamped with helping new and existing customers that we just couldn’t get this out before Memorial Day.  Add to that, iTech (Pete, Richie, Steve, & Yvonne) was doing 21 sessions 2 weeks ago at the COMMON Powerup18 conference in San Antonio, and I was speaking at the IBM Technical University conference in Orlando at the beginning of the month, you can see why.  But, the bright side to all that is it’s always great to see our growing customer base at these conferences.

What seems like a reoccurring theme in every month’s newsletter this year, is that we are continuing to grow, and have added additional people.  May was no exception.  We added a third IBM Champion to our sales staff, Richie Palma.  Richie is a dynamic sales executive and he has a deep technical knowledge of IBM i.  He will be covering the Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio areas. Our team continues to grow for one reason and one reason alone, our ability to help solve our customer’s IBM i needs. If you need help, just let us know we look forward to working with you.  I am so proud to work with everyone here at iTech, it’s a great group of individuals.

In February IBM introduced the POWER9 family of scale-out servers, which are targeted towards most of the IBM i community.  A very exciting announcement on hardware that should support the IBM i community for the next 3 or 4 years.  To learn more about this, and enjoy a baseball game, see the events section where you can sign-up for 9 innings with Power9.  We have events scheduled in Portland ME with the Sea Dogs, Manchester NH with the Fisher Cats, Pawtucket RI Paw Sox, Hartford CT Yard Goats, and in Grand Rapids MI with the Whitecaps. These will be educational and fun, so signup now.

There has been updates to the PTFs for Spectre and Meltdown for IBM i and the FSPs in the Power hardware.  There has actually been a few sets of these PTFs, so make sure you have the latest. You need PTFs for both IBM i itself and the FSP.  Check out our PTF section in the newsletter. We have been putting these on customer’s machines, and its time to get them loaded onto yours. In general, we have noticed a 5% performance impact.  Of course, your mileage may vary.  If it’s easier, just give us a call and let us do them for you.

On July 1, IBM is increasing the prices on Memory within their Power 8 and Power 9 system offerings.  You will not want to think about paying more when expressed as a Percentage.  In reality, for the 2-5% uplifts, it’s only a couple hundred dollars. However for the 128GB Config /  35% uplift, it’s real money.

The price increases range from:

P8 Models – 5%

P9 Models:
16GB – 2%
32GB – 4%
64GB –  5%
128GB-  35%  – WOW!!! That’s a $3,400 increase right there!!

Contact our sales team to place your order before the increase.

This newsletter has 6 articles. The first article is by Richie and is a comparison on POWER7, POWER8, and POWER9 CPW performance.   The second article on old hardware comes back to haunt a company that uses third party maintenance.  The third article by Phil is on Security high level principles.  The fourth article by Richie on the 7 things to do when coming back from a conference.  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 the latest PTFs as you are most likely now on Technology Refresh 11. For the 7.2 customers, we will be installing 7.2 Technology Refresh 8, and 7.3 will be Technology Refresh 4.

Differences between POWER7+, POWER8, and POWER9.

We thought it would be good to have a little cheat-sheet with what the CPW differences are between the 3 different generations of Power machines.

The chart might be a little small, but you can get a PDF of the chart at the following link: IBM Power Systems CPW Performance Data Comparison P7 vs P8 vs P9 June 2018. As you can see, there is quite an improvement moving from POWER7 to POWER9, and even POWER8 to POWER9.  Let us help you design and configure a new machine that meets yours needs.  In many cases, we have been lowering the total cost of ownership. Contact our sales team.

Old Hardware Comes Back to Haunt Company With 3rd Party Hardware Maintenance

I received a call recently on a Friday morning from a company who they lost their DR machine.  They had a Power5 at a colocation down south.  Five disks failed and they needed a new disk expansion unit, things were not good.  We were able to IPL the system to DST on Friday, seeing the new hardware, but it couldn’t see all the disks correctly.  Some of the disks were unknown in the parity set, yet they were there.  The third party service provider (it wasn’t IBM, you get what you pay for) wound up replacing all those disks that were unknown or failed, six in total.

So, Friday after numerous attempts we couldn’t get the unknown disks to go away, even after initialization of the new ones, etc.  We knew we had to recover the entire system, but wanted to insure we had RAID5 protection on the disks before we started the reload. On Friday night, I restored the LIC from their latest backup tape. I didn’t SLIP the LIC, as I needed to wipe out the disk configuration, as we were getting nowhere with the service provider, so I installed the LIC and initialized System (the option we only take in emergencies, after triple checking this is correct).   I got this done a little after midnight, and then was able to start RAID5.  Remember, this was a POWER5 with disks in an 0595 expansion unit, which were SCSI disks feature code 4328s, meaning 141GB each.  It took over 5 hours to build the RAID sets, and then 2 hours Saturday morning to add the disks to the ASP.

That’s when the fun really started.  They were so far back in PTFs, that I tried two times to load the OS, but stopped on a C9002950, Installing the Database objects at 30%.  I decided to use the previous OS tape from 9 months earlier, and received the same error.  This took the entire day, and by about 6pm that night, I knew we had to have another option.  My thought was to get a backup from another system to restore the next day.

On Sunday morning, I decided to take the 2nd partition down, and update HIPER Group on the partition, which took 3 hours, and then required an IPL.  Followed by a SAVE 22.  Then Sunday afternoon, I slipped the LIC from the 22, restored the OS & Licensed Program Products and everything was great.  I was able to not restore system info from the new partition, as it had completed that step in the failed OS attempt, so all the system values, system names, and RDP were of the correct system (not restored from tape).  I continued to restore the 22, so all the LPPs were correct.  Then I put in the first tape back in, and did a Restore 23 from the Save 21.  That worked great, but the libraries didn’t finish until 2:45 am, followed by the DLO and IFS, finishing around 7:00am.  You get so spoiled working on POWER7 & POWER8 machines, throw in SSDs, as most new machines have and you have what seems like lightening in a bottle.  You have to love those new machines, and POWER9 means even more speed.  I restored the authority, performed an IPL and they were up at 8:30 am on Monday.  Good thing this was their DR machine.

Understanding the Save/Restore process, and how the pieces are put together was a great help in getting this system back online.  Once the system was back up, the company had to let their replication perform its audits and catch up.

The moral of this story is that old hardware has a cost, and this company certainly realized it as they were scared to death about not having an active DR system.  In addition, this was an unplanned cost of 35 hours of billable time to recover their systems. You don’t realize the cost of downtime, until it happens.  You could get lucky, but do you really want to take a chance with your business?

If you’re running hardware that is no longer supported by IBM than you are at risk of having this happen to you.  Contact iTech Solutions for a system review and get a POWER9 for probably less money than you are paying now for your old hardware.

Security high level principles

Security is a combination of protection, detection and response. You need prevention to defend against low-focus attacks and to make targeted attacks harder. You need detection to spot the attackers who inevitably get through. And you need response to minimize the damage, restore security and manage the fallout.

Cybersecurity threats know no boundaries. That’s why assessing the readiness of your IBM i and a thorough understanding on how to better protect your server from the internal or external threat has been and will continue to be an important focus in the IT industry.

Recommended controls to secure your IBM i: 

  • Control and monitor system access.
  • Encryption
  • System parameters monitoring (System Values …etc).
  • Monitor/Filter system messages, send immediate alerts and automate actions to be taken.
  • IBM i exit point security control.
  • Policy Management

Exciting announcement

iTech Solutions announces it has been shortlisted for a prestigious Cyber Security award.  The category is for the best “Cyber Awareness Plan of the Year”. The winning plan will be presented to the world’s media at a prestigious black tie event in London on June 21st 2018, sponsored by Cyber Security Awards, a leading awards event for the cyber security industry. The Cyber Security Awards, established in 2014, reward the best individuals, teams and companies within the cyber security industry.

Call us for help with your security project today and let us show you how we can help you, contact iTech Solutions.

7 Things to do when you get back from PowerUP18 or really any conference.

The last 3 weeks have been fun, exciting, and in some cases scary.  For those of you who don’t know me or my back story, I kicked off the biggest career move thus far in my professional life by joining the iTech Solutions Group team 6 days before PowerUP18.  Joining a new team is tough, but then throw into the mix the 5 presentations I had to prepare for and PowerUP18 can quickly feel like you’re trying to land a 737 on a soccer field.  Just because I am on the other side of the Powerup18 event doesn’t mean my PowerUP18 journey is over.  I want to use this article to share my knowledge on how to get the most out of your PowerUP18 experience after the closing event.

#1 – Login to sched.com and download those presentation decks. 

I can tell you that this action has more than paid for my trip to Common conferences in the past.  The information and knowledge that you can pull off these slide decks can fuel you with what you need to deliver value to the business you serve, or help you optimize your applications to lower demands on your infrastructure and avoid having to activate that next processor core.  I can’t even tell you how many times I went back to reference Steve Pitchers “Rapid Fire Admin” presentation.  Also, don’t hesitate to download the slide decks from other presentation that you weren’t able to attend.

#2 – Email your team with a list of the top things you learned

Whether you paid your own way to PowerUP18 or like most people your company took on the financial burden of the conference, let them know what you learned and how you’re going to use it to deliver business value.  I have found that the process of putting the email together actually helped me better reflect on the knowledge growth.  I also use this email as a way to commit to some things I plan to execute on when I get back into the office.

#3 – Get connected to the folks you met at the conference

The people I have met through Common and at events like PowerUP18 have blossomed to a level I would never have imagined.  So lay those business cards on the table and start reaching out to them via email, phone, GIThub, LinkedIN, or whatever other means you have of connecting.  Communities and careers are built on relationships, so start building some.  Also, do not hesitate to connect with the speakers as well, they love educating the community and are all in support of bring folks together.

#4 – Package up some value and hand deliver it to your business

When you attend a conference like PowerUP18 you come back recharged with both passion and ideas.  Sometimes all the new technology or the new ways we learned to mold our technology can feel like we’re trying to craft the Taj Mahal and we all know the Taj Mahal wasn’t built in a week.  I always try to find one new tool, fix, or solution that will have a noticeable impact quickly within the business.  This is also a great way to pay for your trip to PowerUP19.

#5 – Investigate some of the great vendor offerings you found in the expo

The vendor expo was packed with solutions to many, if not all of the pressing needs of our IBM i shops.  These are the products, software, and service offerings that will help you deliver value to the front lines of your business. Be sure to reach out to these vendors.  Now that I am working  for one of those vendor’s myself, I know that by nature we love helping people towards finding a solution to their problems/opportunities and that is a very Common (see what I did there) theme with vendors in the IBM i community.

#6 – Block out some time on your calendar to dive a little deeper. 

Over the next few weeks, schedule a few 2 to 3 hours blocks of uninterrupted time to expand your knowledge/understanding of a desired topic.  I am a firm believer that scheduled blocks of time (On-Calendar) for knowledge attainment is critical to continuous growth.  I would suggest using these blocks of time to further learn on specific topic, running through any examples you might have received, or expanding upon the knowledge that you learned in conference.

#7 – Reach out to the experts with any questions

You were exposed to many of the top experts in the IBM i marketplace and I can tell you from experience they are all receptive to people who genuinely want to better themselves and this amazing platform.  If you come across questions on a topic that you really can’t find a solid answer on, please reach out to the folks who know the answer.  I always appreciate when people ask me questions because it helps me fill gaps for folks looking to find answers or information on topics that I have answers for.  For example, a few conferences ago I received many questions about licensing options for RDi.  I was able to answer each of the individual questions and also craft a nice blog post explaining RDi licensing, which filled a big content gap for people in our community.

I hope these tips serve you well as you get back to the office and into the grind.  If this was your first event or maybe your first event in a while, please understand that showing your business the value you gained from the conference is key to getting them to send you next year for more growth.

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 iTech Solutions Health Check contact our sales staff.

Events

June 17  – 20 COMMON Europe Warsaw, Poland 

Wednesday June 6 – Knock it out of the Park with POWER9 and iTech Solutions 5:30 Portland Sea Dogs Hadlock Field – Skybox

POWER9 is all about performance! With about 1.5 times the performance of a POWER8, this system is ready to help you knock the ball out of the park.

We’re offering our POWER9 roadshow at several minor league baseball suites over the summer to introduce our customers and prospects to the benefits of POWER9. We thought that it would be fun to enjoy 9 innings with you after the presentation, giving you a chance to network with our experts and other IBM i users.

Topics:

  • POWER9 Performance, Processing and more.
  • Difference between POWER7 and POWER9
  • IBM i Roadmap
  • Supporting your IBM i Environment

Join us on June 6th at 5:30 PM

Hadlock Field

Home of the Portland Sea Dogs

271 Park Ave., Portland, ME 04102

Register for POWER9 Presentation at the Portland Sea Dogs Game – June 6th

June 14, 2018 – Michigan IBM Power Systems Technical Education Conference, Livonia, MI at the VisTaTech Center Schoolcraft College

Visit the iTech Solutions booth in the Expo and learn how we can help you get the most out of your Power Systems running IBM i. Stop by and talk with Richie Palma.

Tuesday June 26 – Knock it out of the Park with POWER9 and iTech Solutions 5:30pm New Hampshire Fisher Cats Dental Field – 1 Line Drive – Manchester, NH 03101

POWER9 is all about performance! With about 1.5 times the performance of a POWER8, this system is ready to help you knock the ball out of the park.

We’re offering our POWER9 roadshow at several minor league baseball suites over the summer to introduce our customers and prospects to the benefits of POWER9. We thought that it would be fun to enjoy 9 innings with you after the presentation, giving you a chance to network with our experts and other IBM i users.

Topics:

  • POWER9 Performance, Processing and more.
  • Difference between POWER7 and POWER9
  • IBM i Roadmap
  • Supporting your IBM i Environment

Join us on June 26th at 5:30 PM Dental Field – 1 Line Drive – Manchester, NH 03101

Register for POWER9 Presentation at New Hampshire Fisher Cats Dental Field

Thursday July 12 – Knock it out of the Park with POWER9 and iTech Solutions 6:00pm Pawtucket Paw Sox  – McCoy Stadium – Skybox – 1 Columbus Ave. – Pawtucket, RI 02860

POWER9 is all about performance! With about 1.5 times the performance of a POWER8, this system is ready to help you knock the ball out of the park.

We’re offering our POWER9 roadshow at several minor league baseball suites over the summer to introduce our customers and prospects to the benefits of POWER9. We thought that it would be fun to enjoy 9 innings with you after the presentation, giving you a chance to network with our experts and other IBM i users.

Topics:

  • POWER9 Performance, Processing and more.
  • Difference between POWER7 and POWER9
  • IBM i Roadmap
  • Supporting your IBM i Environment

Join us on July 12th at 6:00 PM McCoy Stadium – Skybox – 1 Columbus Ave. – Pawtucket, RI 02860

Register for POWER9 Presentation at Pawtucket Paw Sox McCoy Stadium Skybox 

Wednesday August 22 – Knock it out of the Park with POWER9 and iTech Solutions 6:00pm West Michigan Whitecaps – Fifth Third Ballpark – 4500 West River Dr NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321

POWER9 is all about performance! With about 1.5 times the performance of a POWER8, this system is ready to help you knock the ball out of the park.

We’re offering our POWER9 roadshow at several minor league baseball suites over the summer to introduce our customers and prospects to the benefits of POWER9. We thought that it would be fun to enjoy 9 innings with you after the presentation, giving you a chance to network with our experts and other IBM i users.

Topics:

  • POWER9 Performance, Processing and more.
  • Difference between POWER7 and POWER9
  • IBM i Roadmap
  • Supporting your IBM i Environment

Join us on August 22 at 6:00 PM Fifth Third Ballpark 4500 West River Dr NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321

Register for POWER9 Presentation with Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark

Sept 27, 2018 – VTMUG Technical Conference – Double Tree Hotel Burlington, VT

Visit Laurie & Paul at our booth and learn how iTech Solutions can help you with your IBM i. Pete Massiello will be speaking on various Systems Management sessions to be determined.

Oct 15 – 17, 2018 – COMMON Fall Conference & Expo, Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, Pittsburgh, PA     Booth #20

Visit the iTech Solutions booth in the Expo and learn how we can help you get the most out of your Power Systems running IBM i. In addition hear Pete Massiello, Yvonne Enselman, and Steve Pitcher speak on a variety of IBM i System administration topics.

Oct 15 – 18, 2018 – Jack Henry Annual Conference – Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine, TX

Visit the iTech Solutions booth in the Expo and learn how we can help you get the most out of your Power Systems running IBM i

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.

7.3 7.2 7.1 6.1 V5R4
Cumul Pack 18025 18032 17192 15063 12094
Tech. Refresh  4 8 11
Grp Hipers 58 121 221 210 204
DB Group 10 21 43 33 33
Java Group 8 16 31 41 34
Print Group 3 13 31 49
Backup/Recov. 19 41 74 61 57
Blade/IXA/IXS 1 16 30 15
HTTP 14 27 53 46 36
TCP/IP 3 10 17 22
Security 28 63 82 60  33
High Availability 6 9 17  5
Hardware 14 31 41  17
Open Source 6 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 7.3, the ID is 18023. We can determine that it was created on the 23rd day of 2018, which is January 23, 2018. Look at your machine and this will give you a quick indication of just how far out of date in PTFs you may be.

HMCs

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

Model Release Service Pack End of Service
HMC (7063-CR1)

Power Based

V9R1.910
  1. MH01736
  2. SP1 MH01763
Not Announced
HMC (7063-CR1)

Power Based

V8R8.7
  1. MH01707
  2. SP1 MH01726
  3. MH01753
Not Announced
HMC (CR7 & above)

Power Based

V9R1.910
  1. MH01734
  2. SP1 MH01762
Not Announced
HMC (CR7 & above) V8R8.7
  1. MH01706
  2. SP1 MH01725
  3. MH01752
Not Announced
HMC V8R8.6
  1. MH01655
  2. SP3 MH01711
10/31/2018
HMC V8R8.5
  1. MH01617
  2. SP3 MH01689 (must be installed from classic GUI or command line)
  3. MH01758
  4. MH01730 (can be installed on any SP, required for upgrade to 8.8.6 or 8.8.7).
05/31/2018
HMC V8R8.4
  1. MH01560 (must be installed from command line using UPDHMC)
  2. SP3 MH01652 (must be installed from command line using UPDHMC)
  3. MH01730
  4. MH01729 (must be installed from classic GUI or from command line; can be installed on any SP, required for upgrade to 8.8.6)
11/30/2017
HMC V8R8.3
  1. SP3 MH01619
  2. MH01717
07/31/2017
HMC  V8R8.2
  1. SP3 MH01583
  2. MH01688
10/31/2017
HMC (CR4 last release) V7R7.9
  1. SP3 MH01546
  2. MH01587
  3. MH01687
12/30/2016
HMC V7R7.8
  1. SP1 MH01397
  2. SP2 MH01432
  3. MH01570
10/31/2015
or V7R7.7
  1. SP3 MH01379
  2. SP4 MH01415
  3. MH01516
02/28/2015
HMC C03 V7R3.5
  1. SP4 MH01277
05/31/2014

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 as of 12/30/2016 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

Some notes on the new HMC release V8R8.6 that just came out:

  • Will be the last release to support POWER6.
  • Will be the last release to allow ‘classic’ UI login.
  • Will be the last release that supports the model CR5, CR6 and C08.
  • The HMC must be at version V8 R8.4.0 or later to be upgraded to HMC V8 R8.6.0. This requirement is enforced during installation.

If you have a Flexible Service Processor (FSP) your firmware should be:

Machine Processor Model Version End of Service
POWER5 or 5+ 520, 515, 525, 550, 570 SF240_418_382 11/30/2012
POWER6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_176_038 01/31/2017
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_176_038 01/31/2017
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_176_038 01/31/2017
9119-FHA EH350_176_038 01/31/2017
POWER7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_159_159 05/31/2018
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_100_100 05/31/2018
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_167_167  05/31/2018
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-126_126  05/31/2018
POWER7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_126_126  05/31/2018
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AM770_126_126  05/31/2018
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_100_100  05/31/2018
POWER8 8408-E8E, 8284-21A,  8284-22A, 8286-41A, or 8286-42A SV860_165_165 (If HMC requires HMC 8.8.6+)
9119-MHE or 9119-MME SC860_165_165
POWER9 9008-22L, 9009-22A, 9009-41A, or 9009-42A VL910_073_073

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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