November 2012 Newsletter

Greetings!

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

 

First Hurricane Sandy, and then an early snowstorm.  If you live in the area impacted by Hurricane Sandy, we hope this newsletter finds you and your loved ones safe, and your life is returning to normal.  I know in Long Beach, Long Island my sister and her neighbors are still recovering from all the damage. I want to discuss preparing for a disaster later in the newsletter, but first we hope that everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving.

In light of Sandy and Thanksgiving, I thought I would recall a poem from last Thanksgiving:

When you have a job, think of those who are out of work.
When you have a home, think of those that are homeless.
When you have food on your table, think of those going hungry each night.
When you are surrounded by loved ones, think of those who are by themselves.
When you have what you desire in life, think of those without.

I certainly have much to be thankful for, and hope you do as well.  Remember to take some time to enjoy the upcoming holidays. Next month we will not be publishing our technical tips and technique newsletter, but will be publishing in the middle of the month our traditional story of how iTech Solutions helped Santa save Christmas.

Some business partners provide a lot of stuffing, but with iTech Solutions it’s like Thanksgiving all year round.  Why not “fill your plate” with IBM i (AS/400 iSeries) expertise to get the job done right the first time.  You will be surprised at the number of ways we can help you.  Each month our newsletter brings you IBM i tips and techniques that help many System Administrators in their job, as well as help IT managers know what is happening in the IBM i world.  Now, starting this month, we will introduce the iTech Solutions Blog.

The number of iTech Solutions customers is growing each month, and that is due to our commitment to our customers, our services, and the support that we provide.  Find out for yourself what it is like to work with a business partner who cares about you and your success.

This issue of our newsletter has six articles. In the first article, preparing and testing for a disaster. The second article is about the new iTech Solutions monthly blog.  The third article discusses IBM financing options available to you. The fourth article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating. The fifth article is on TCP Multicast errors.  The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information. Please note that we have added a new PTF group to our recommended list, which is the High Availability Group.  If you are an iTech Solutions PTF Maintenance customer, you will receive this on your next application of PTFs.

If you are still on V5R4, send Pete an email and he can help you upgrade to 6.1 or 7.1. With more upgrades than anyone else to 6.1/7.1 done to date you know iTech Solutions has the expertise and know how.

iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, perform security audits; implement a High Availability solution; perform health checks, systems management, remote administration,  PTF management, blade installations, iSCSI configurations, 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.

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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.

Prepare and Test.     

Light
 

 

On the Monday that Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on us, I got a call from a customer in New Jersey, asking if he could do a Disaster Recovery test. When I asked why he was calling today, he said because they were a few miles from the coast, and had never done a Disaster Recovery test on their Power5 550. He was nervous if anything happened he would be the one responsible and lose his job.  After a long discussion, I was able to persuade him it was more important to get a full backup right now, than it was to test. While I am a huge proponent of testing, when the waters and winds from the hurricane are upon us, it isn’t a good time to test.  Testing should happen when there is no threat.  I explained to him if they had a full backup we could easily restore the system on any of our iTech Solutions machines.  We did a GO SAVE 21 on his machine, had him take the tapes home with him so they were off-site, and in January we are planning a REAL recovery using their backup methodology.  Just a quick update this customer lost power for 4 days as the telephone poles in front of their location were snapped like tooth-picks, but they are currently working without any problems.

What have we learned from Sandy?  Well probably how devastating that mother nature can be, and that she doesn’t discriminate who is hurt, it is the path of the hurricane and flooding that separate the lucky from the unlucky ones. As I spoke to many clients in the following weeks, it seemed that people and their access to the computers were the real issue.  I had a few customers with great plans, who each year would perform a test at our facilities, but their issue was that their people couldn’t access their own systems. People in their homes without power, internet, cell service, or transportation that weren’t able to manage the company’s computers. So, no matter how good the planning, we need to understand that having people who understand your plan and can execute it in a time of disaster is just as important as the plan itself.

Devastating floods, buildings moved from their foundations, no electric for weeks, and loss of company infrastructure.  At what point does your plan start and stop?  Is your plan centered around losing your computers, but the building is still fine? What about if the building is structurally there but there is no power?  What about if you have a generator, but you can’t bring it on-line because of the flooding caused many electrical devices in your establishment to have been flooded with salt water?  All these items need to be part of your plan and contingencies.

No matter how much or little you plan, having a good backup is a great start.  Prior to the hurricane, I sent out a note telling how you can do a complete backup.  Most companies can’t do a complete backup every night. You should have some type of backup methodology that maps to the time that the business can afford to perform backups.  The more you can backup each night, the easier the restore.  We have many customers who once a quarter perform a full system save, and then each week or night backup other items so they are covered.  Of course, this makes the restore more difficult, but certainly not impossible.  This is where testing MUST be performed, so that you can insure you can put the pieces back together in the event of a restoration.

Once we have a good backup, what happens to the tapes?  If you are using the iTech Solutions Cloud based backups, you don’t need to worry about tapes, encryption, or off-site storage, as these are all taken care of with our Cloud based backup. Tapes must move offsite after each backup.  What good is the backup if the tape is floating down the street slightly in front of your computer? Useless.  Once a backup is done, you should move that backup off-site.  Don’t leave the tape sitting in the tape drive for a week.

Let’s talk about off-site storage.  First, you need to be able to get to the off-site storage during an emergency.  Don’t put your tapes in a local bank’s vault that is only open from 8am to 4 pm, because that means you won’t be able to get your tapes when the bank is closed. Again, this is where the cloud works best.  Your data is available 7×24, and don’t forget for the iTech Solutions Cloud backup, your data is replicated to our 2nd vault in Salt Lake City as soon as it hits our local vault.  Now, you have two copies of your data, a continent apart.

Recovery procedures, if you have never restored your system you might have a nice word document on what to do, but unless the procedures have been tested, it isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.  Sorry to be so blunt, but testing is key. I can’t stress this enough, every customer that we have done a test with, has found a flaw or two in their procedure.

So, we now have a good backup, tapes off-site, a tested procedure, what else?  Do you have a place for a recovery? If you don’t, you might want to look at http://www.iInTheCloud.com where we provide IBM i, AIX, LINUX, VMWare, and Windows servers to host your environment.

If you don’t have time for a nightly backup, then you need to talk to us about replication.  We can either replicate to your second machine, or to our cloud. Again, working with a partner who has helped many customers with Backup/Recovery and High Availability is advantageous for you.

There are many options to choose, which one is the right one for you?  Perhaps you would like to discuss your alternatives. Or, maybe you need for iTech Solutions to review your backups and its’ associated processes.  Contact Paul for how iTech Solutions can help you review your backups.

iTech Solutions Monthly Blog
Starting this month, we have created an iTech Solutions Blog, as another avenue for additional IBM i (AS/400 & iSeries) information.  We hope you enjoy the blog, and welcome you to create an RSS feed.  Here is the first article.
11-27-2012 08:09:48 AM

If you’re making IT decisions for a smaller company that still uses IBM AS/400 servers, then it has probably crossed your mind that you could benefit from an upgrade to the newer IBM System i or IBM Power Systems servers. … Continue reading →…»

IBM i Operating System


iTech Solutions with access to Four Billion in Financing.    

As an IBM Advanced Business Partner, iTech Solutions has access to IBM Global Financing to help our customers with financing new machines and upgrades. This allows us to bring new technology to your organization, at a price you can afford.  IBM has just made available four billion dollars in funds for financing new machines and machine upgrades.  Is your current machine coming off lease? Do you need more capacity? More storage? More CPU?  Are your jobs just taking too long to run?  Then contact Glenn to discuss how a new system can save you money, provide more performance, and reduce your electrical and cooling requirements. For many customers we have provided them with more storage and CPU as well as reduced their monthly payment. You can’t beat that.

 

Check out the IBM Press release, and see who makes a cameo appearance.

 

Upcoming Events. 

  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 http://www.itechsol.com.

December 11 – FASUG, in Norwalk, CT www.fasug.org

  • Programmer’s future: Looking back to see into the Future.

December 12 – LISUG in Woodbury, Long Island www.LISUG.org

  • Programmer’s future: Looking back to see into the Future.

 “Source specific multicast error occurred for line” 
Light

After upgrading to IBM i 7.1, you might have seen this error appear in the message queue, QSYSOPR.  I have seen this at quite a few installations, and have had customers ask what this message means.

 

The explanation is as follows: An older version IGMP or MLD querier exists on the network. When an older IGMP/MLD query is received by the system, a timer is started but due to a race condition, the system may start multiple timers. This can result in the system prematurely leaving the IGMP/MLD mode compatible with the router and so
repeatedly switching between IGMP version 3 or MLD version 2 and compatibility mode. The TCP26A2 message is issued each time the switch to compatibility mode occurs.

The race condition has been resolved so that the system will not prematurely switch back to IGMPv3/MLDv2 modes. This should
eliminate the repeated messages.

 

You will need to apply PTF MF54194 to 5770-999.  If you are on the iTech Solutions  PTF maintenance program, there is no need to worry.  This PTF has either just been installed on your machine, or will be on your machine during the next.  Not on our plan, contact Pete for more information.

 

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     12279    12305      12094       8267
Tech. Refresh         5

Grp Hipers            72        134        187        169
DB Group              19         28          33         24
Java Group           10         21          30         23
Print Group            6         25          46         20
Backup/Recov.      19        32           49         33

Blade/IXA/IXS       12         24           15           –
HTTP                    15         27           33        17
TCP/IP                  6          14           21          16

Security               23          37          30

High Availability     2           1

Hardware               2           2
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 & 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, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have an HMC, you should be running   V7R7.6. If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.5 SP4.
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_418. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_132.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_132. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_132.
Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B or C). The firmware level is AL730_099 for 8202-E4B & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_099 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_099 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).  The firmware level is AL740-095 for 8202-E4C & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM740_095 for 770 (9117-MMC) & 780 (9179-MHC).
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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