A Word from iTech Solutions President, Pete Massiello.
Hectic. That is what the month of May has certainly been. Well, perhaps hectic isn’t even close, it was “uber-hectic”.
It seems like I was traveling more this month than I was home between conferences and customer visits. The good news is I was away at two of my favorite conferences in May: COMMON’s POWERUp 19 conference in Anaheim and IBM’s Technical University in Atlanta. I had the privilege of speaking at both, and we also had a booth at COMMON. At both conferences, I had updated my sessions with 7.4 content and also presented “How to successfully Upgrade to IBM i 7.4”. I have done over 25 upgrades to 7.4, in all different combinations virtual partitions, physical partition, new installs, installs from image catalogues and USB drives, and a few other types. There are a lot of cool new features in 7.4.
Quite a few people have asked me my opinion about 7.4, so here it is:
“We have been in the IBM i beta program once again for 7.4, and it has been rock solid since the first installation/upgrade that I have done. I would say this release is just as solid as the previous releases and I will be recommending to our customers that this release is ready for production use on day 1 of General Availability (GA), June 21. I have been going through all different upgrade paths and procedures, and I have yet to have any problems. The instructions were good, the documentation easy to understand, and the processes for upgrade have been flawless. I must have done about 25 upgrades already, using various different scenarios, and I am impressed.
When we first saw the release notes, we thought everything would be centered around Db2 Mirror for i, but to myself and my teams surprise, we have enjoyed learning about all the new functionality in the release. Actually, we have been amazed by all the new functions and features. It has been 3 years since 7.3, but it looks like it has been worth the wait.”
iTech was well represented at the at COMMON’s POWERUp 2019 Conference, as we had a lot of great IBM i presentations from Richie Palma, Steve Pitcher, Yvonne Enselman, and myself. Laurie LeBlanc and Rick Marcotte also at the conference, and they were mainly managing the booth. It was great to meet so many people who stopped by our booth in the expo and wanted to talk to us. It’s probably one of my favorite parts about going to a conference, which is meeting and talking to everyone. We had a video we played during the conference about what we can help you with, and then after the conference, we created a recap picture videoof iTech at the conference. We also recapped the conference in a blog, as well as a podcast.
On April 23rd, 2019, IBM announced the newest release of the operating system IBM i 7.4. The announcement contained hundreds of updates to the OS and licensed programs.
One new licensed program, DB2 Mirror for i was also announced. It provides continuous availability for IBM i applications. “Continuous Availability” is a new term, which previously we had High Availability.
How is Continuous Availability different than High Availability?
What are the software and hardware requirements for Db2 Mirror for i?
Does DB2 Mirror for i replace all the Data Replication products?
At each release, IBM tightens up the security of the system, which is a good thing for many shops. There are two system values, which while you might have set to *OPSYS, the underlying security will change when you upgrade to a new release. Now, I certainly recommend that most places have both System Values QSSLPCL (Secure Sockets Layer Protocols) and QSSLCSLCTL (Secure Sockets layer cipher control) both set to *OPSYS. This way, when IBM changes the defaults associated with the release, you get the newer versions, but you should be aware of the changes that will happen when upgrading to IBM i 7.4. All for the better in my opinion. So, let’s discuss Secure sockets layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) changes.
TLS enabled and default cipher specification lists have changed for System TLS
The System TLS enabled cipher specification list no longer contains Triple Des (3DES), Cipher Block Chaining (CBC), or RSA key exchange ciphers when the QSSLCSLCTL system value is *OPSYS. If one of those ciphers is needed, the administrator must add it to system value QSSLCSL. Administrators control the ciphers enabled for System TLS using the system values QSSLCSL and QSSLCSLCTL.
The System TLS shipped eligible default cipher specification list no longer contains Triple Des (3DES), Cipher Block Chaining (CBC), or RSA key exchange ciphers. If one of these ciphers must be added to the default protocol list after it has been added to the enabled list, use the System Service tools Advanced Analysis command TLSCONFIG option “eligibleDefaultCipherSuites” to add the value. [CONTINUE READING]
IBM i & Baseball – Join us this summer!
Let iTech Solutions take you out to the ballpark in a private suite to enjoy a minor league game while being able to socialize and network with IBM i experts and your peers. Food and drinks (yes, beer!) will be provided.
Before the game, we’ll present details on the POWER9 server and the release of IBM i 7.4, and what they offer to IBM i shops.
Join Pete Massiello as he gives the details on how to successfully upgrade to IBM i 7.4.
When doing an upgrade to IBM i, there is more work involved in the planning of the upgrade than in the actual upgrade itself. When you have done the planning, the actual upgrade is simple. We will cover planning tips, pre-requisites, and then post-installation requirements. Your upgrade isn’t complete until this last step is done.
Well, it has been a hell of a week, which seemed to start even on the way to the airport with getting in a few last minute calls.
So, how was my week at COMMON’s premier event, POWERUp 2019?
Probably the hardest place is where to start. It seems like we have been here for a lifetime, and at the same time the days went by so quickly. Certainly, the highlight for me was seeing so many friends, customers, meeting new people, and spending time with the other iTech employees: Laurie, Rick, Richie, Steve, and Yvonne. We don’t all work in Danbury, so every chance to see them is a treat for me. There was much to do together, from booth setup, meetings, working the booth, common sessions we attended, speaking, and then social events. This conference, other conferences, our customer meetings, as well as meetings in Danbury allow us to bridge the distance of not working in the same office each day.
iTech seemed to be everywhere, not just the people — but our logo. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing us. We were the Diamond sponsor for the COMMON Education Foundation, we were the Silver sponsor of COMMON, we had the full page ad in the paper, our logo on the front page, our logo on everyone’s badge holders, we had our coordinated shirts on each day, we were introduced on stage during opening session with IBM, Freshe, and us (for Platinum, Gold, and Silver sponsors of the conference respectively). I got on stage for a 20 year volunteer pin, picture displayed during open session had our three IBM Champions, Yvonne was recognized during the meeting of the members and received a well-deserved plaque for her 6 years of service for being a member of the COMMON Board, I had a quote on opening session during Steve Sibleys presentation on 7.4, Steve Pitcher got re-elected to the COMMON Board, and our iTech buttons were all over. [CONTINUE READING]
We recently had a customer with a power outage and the HMC and AS400 went down hard. When the power was restored the AS400 was ready to come up, but the HMC had a hard drive crash. If your HMC is set up right you can just push the button on the AS400 and it should start up. But this time it wouldn’t power on, the reason was the HMC “Power-On Parameter” policy was set to, User-Initiated. This needs to be set to Auto Start – Always for this option to be available to you.
You can do this simply by going to your HMC and selecting your server(1)
Go to General Settings(2) of your server
Scroll down to Power On Parameters (3)
Look for Partition Start Policy(4) and change it to say Auto-Start Always
While you are there make sure Power-On Policy is set to Temporary (Old B side)
-Keylock is set to Normal
Now that I have your attention, I want to discuss a serious topic; disaster recovery. In the event of an actual disaster, you want to be able to recover as quickly as possible to reduce the number of transactions that you lose, and the business you will lose as a result.
The real question is: Have you ever tested your disaster recovery process?
If the answer is, “no” or “not in a few years”, then your DR system might be nothing more than a boat anchor.
You’d be surprised by the number of companies we talk with who think that they have a disaster recovery plan because they all agree in the event of a disaster they will fire up the old POWER7 sitting in the corner, restore the last backup, and life will be great.
Wrong. It’s more likely that you will encounter issues you hadn’t planned on.
There are a number of things that you need to consider when creating a disaster recovery plan that includes using old hardware. [CONTINUE READING]
Last month, I talked about how you can make sure your system has the ability to report problems back to IBM in the event of a failure. That functionality can be invaluable for keeping your system running, but what happens if something goes wrong while the OS is still trying to start? What if something fails so far down the hardware stack that the system simply can’t be aware of it before the whole show grinds to a halt? That’s where an HMC has your back, and it can call home to IBM as well.
Not everyone has an HMC to manage their Power Systems server, but if you do then most likely the technician who installed it configured the call-home function for you when they set it up. However, as I discussed in the previous article there’s no accounting for network infrastructure and security changes that occur after the fact. Just as on the system itself, it’s a good idea to test the Service Agent connection periodically. [Continue Reading]
Featured IBM i Resources
Power Hardware Age Calculator
Let us know the make/model of your system, and we’ll calculate the following:
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Introduction to Quality Assurance and Software Testing
Set up a LIC macro for summarizing encrypted information
If you’re currently using any type of network encryption and want to understand the protocols in use, you can easily do this with a LIC macro. This is quite handy especially if you’re looking at turning off a less secure protocol like TLS 1.0….[Read More]