November 2008 Newsletter

Greetings!

 
It is just amazing how fast the years pass as we get older.  Can you believe it’s almost December, and that Thanksgiving is upon us? Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate all that we are grateful for, to count our blessings as there are those less fortunate than ourselves, and to be thankful. We hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving, and we would like to thank you for allowing us to earn your trust over the years. We value our relationship with all of you.

 Happy Thanksgiving
This issue of our newsletter has three  articles.  In the first article, we want to discuss how to optimize your infrastructure to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. In the second, we look at PHP and the iSeries.  The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information for your use.  For a list of events that we will be attending over the next few months, please go to Events.
iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, upgrade i5/OS, perform security audits, implement a High Availability solution, VoIP, Systems Management, PTF management, Blade installations, iSCSI Configurations, 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 iTech Solution or contact us at info@itechsol.com . We would also like to know what you think of this newsletter and any items you would like us to discuss in future issues.

Optimize your infrastructure.   

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I hear from many of our customers that budgets are getting tighter, spending has been curtailed, and they are expected to do more with fewer dollars.  Well, it could be the economy, or perhaps the financial guys just trying to keep costs in line.  In either case, we have been helping customers through the years look at their IT infrastructure and figure out what we can do to make them more efficient, better utilize their current equipment, use less power, reduce costs, and make the best use of their people.

A strong IT infrastructure can help a company expand and grow, as well as keeping their costs under control.  One way that we can help our customers is to do an analysis of your IT Infrastructure with a focus on your IBM iSeries.  We recently completed a project where we consolidated 18 stand-alone servers onto 5 blades using iSCSI to host the disk from the iSeries storage.  This greatly reduced their footprints, their power, their administration and overall costs; made backups so much easier; and provided greater control for their staff.  At another company we looked at their older iSeries hardware, and we were able to bring in a new iSeries machine with 5 times the CPW rating for less than they were paying for H/W and S/W maintenance.  At another company we analyzed their database, as their jobs were taking forever to complete, and they thought they needed a bigger machine.  Instead, we looked at their Access Paths, made a few recommendations based on our analysis, and their jobs were flying through the system.  They will probably stay on their machine for the next 15 months, as they were 21 months into a 36 month lease. At another company that was recently audited, we were able to work with them to resolve their security holes. 
 
These are  just some of the items we  uncover when we optimize infrastructure.  If you are interested, give us a call or email us and we will set up an appointment to analyze your environment to help you optimize your infrastructure. 
 
Here are some of the areas:
  • Server consolidation
  • iSeries performance & optimization
  • Hardware and software maintenance review
  • Power and energy analysis
  • Review cost of old hardware
  • Systems Management
  • How to take advantage of release upgrades
  • Tape utilization and effectiveness
  • i5/OS V6R1 readiness assessment

Why not spend time with the people who spend time at IBM Rochester: iTech Solutions?  We can help you build your plans to take advantage of future Power Systems and IBM i directions.

If you need help, we have a great deal of experience in these areas, and can help you by monitoring your system for you or including you in one of our maintenance programs.  Contact us and let iTech Solutions help you.

PHP          PHP Logo

PHP, the most popular scripting language on the web, has come to the iSeries. Millions of web programmers use PHP to easily create interactive, dynamic web applications. Now, so can you on your iSeries !!! .

Ok, so what exactly is PHP?  PHP is often called a programming language, but it really is a scripting language.  You don’t compile PHP programs as you do with RPG and COBOL, but rather it uses an interpreter whenever a script is run. 

Where does PHP actually run? PHP runs within a web page where it can add dynamic content. PHP really runs on the server (in our case the iSeries), which is different than JAVA or VBScript which gets downloaded to our PCs before running. When PHP runs on the server the output from PHP code is combined with the HTML in the script and the result sent to the user’s browser. Therefore the browser can never tell the user whether the web server uses PHP or not, because all the browser sees is HTML. So PHP acts similar to ASP or ColdFusion, but unlike ASP or ColdFusion, PHP is Open Source and cross-platform.

What exactly does PHP stand for? Well this seems to be a riddle, as originally it was Personal Home Pages, then Professional Home Pages, but it really means PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (yes, I know it’s a recursive definition).  it has also been joking referred to as  Pretty HTML Programs or Programmers Hate Perl.
So, why is this in the newsletter, and why am I telling you about it?  Well PHP is supposed to be the biggest programming language with more programmers than any other language.  Some say how the AS/400 is old technology.  But remember, we don’t run AS/400’s any longer, we run IBM i on Power Systems or i5/OS on iSeries.  These machines also run PHP and MySQL natively on the iSeries.  This is free software that you can setup, configure and install on your machine.  We have been installing it all around the northeast at a number of our customers.  This is the language that all the kids coming out of college know, and this is what they want to write their web applications in.  They might not know RPG, but they know PHP.
We can install PHP on your iSeries for you and get you started on a new way to better utilize the best machien in the world, your iSeries. If you are unsure or need some help with this process, give us a call at 203-744-7854 or contact us via email and we can work on this together with you. 

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.  You might notice that this week, IBM just created a new Security PTF Group, so I have added this to our list, as we are installing this for our customers on iTech Solutions Quarterly Maintenance program.
Releases

                     6.1    V5R4    V5R3    V5R2
Cumul. Pack   8288   8305    8267   6080

Grp Hipers       24      88      159      189

DB Group          6       18       23         25

Java Group       5       17       22         27

Print Group       5       25      16          7

Backup/Recov.  3      22       30         31

Security Group  3       3         3           –


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 8183. We can determine that it was created on the 183rd day of 2008, which is July 1st, 2008.  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 V7.3.4, with PTF MH01148 installed. This PTF is Required for V7.3.4.

For your Flexible Service Processor (FSP) that is inside your Power 5 or Power5+ (520, 515, 525, 550, 570), the level should be 01_SF240_358. Power 6 customers should be running EL340_039 (for 940x M15, M25, M50 machines. Also 8203 E4A and 8204 E8A) and EM340_039 (for MMA machines. Power 560 and Power 570 machines). If you have a 595 (9119-FMA) then you should be on EH340_039.
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.

 

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