October 2009 Newsletter

Greetings!

The leaves may be changing all around us here in the northeast, and IBM has a lot of change going on as well.  As you read the iTech Solutions newsletter this Tuesday morning, Oct 20, IBM has made some important announcements in the IBM i world this morning.  I plan on covering some of the highlights in the articles below, but I want you to know that IBM i 6.1.1 was announced this morning, and will be available now for General Availability on Oct 23. 

We have packed a lot of information into this newsletter, and I hope that you find this useful. This issue of our newsletter has six articles. In the first, we will discuss IBM i 6.1.1 and what this brings to you.  The second article will be about IBM i 7.1 and a Statement of Direction of what IBM is including with this next major release to come out this spring. The third article is about IBM i Access Support (Client Access) with Microsoft Windows 7.  The fourth article is about IBM extending the IBM i Life Cycle for V5R4, V6R1, and V7R1. The fifth article is on changing phone numbers in Connecticut. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information.  I was going to write another article on how to create PDFs for free with V6R1, but this month’s newsletter had so much information, that I decided to keep that for November.

We receive a lot of calls from customers who haven’t had a chance to upgrade and now have an urgent need because they realize that their support has ended.  As a reminder, support for i5/OS V5R3 ended April 30, 2009. Give us a call, and we will do the upgrade to V5R4 or V6R1 for you.

Don’t forget to checkout our website for event where we’ll be this month and throughout the rest of the year.  You can find iTech Solutions presenting or exhibiting at the Vermont User Group, Fairfield CT User Group, and iSeries DevConn2009 in Las Vegas. See events.
Don’t forget on Sunday November 1st, at 2:00 am we fall back one hour.  Your IBM i, if current on the operating system release and current on PTFs, will have no problem self adjusting to the new correct time.   Remember, the National Fire and Safety institute recommends changing the batteries on your smoke alarms in your home at the same time you change your clocks.

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 on the web at iTech Solutions  or  email iTech Solutions.  I 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.

IBM i 6.1.1 Announced today.
IBM i Operating System

 

I don’t care what we call it, OS/400, i5/OS, or IBM i, it’s always exciting to learn about the new features and functions that come out in a new release.  If you are still on an old release like V5R2, V5R3, or V5R4, then you won’t be able to take advantage of all these new features and functions.  If you are intimidated doing an operating system upgrade, then let iTech Solutions do the upgrade for you.  We have the expertise and experience to make sure the upgrade is smooth and problem free.

Let’s summarize some of what is new:

  • Enhanced support for Solid State Drives (SSD)
    • New trace and balance commands can move hot data to SSDs
    • High priority object types are automatically placed on SSDs.
    • DB2 Objects have new parameter and can be placed on SSDs.
    • SSDs can be placed in SANs or VIOS.
    • New SSD Analyzer tool (runs on 5.4 or 6.1) to determine if you will get the benefit from SSDs.
    • Up to 40% increase in throughput implementing IBM invented skip-read-write technology.
  • PowerVM Virtualization Enhancements
    • Redundant VIOS Support for IBM i 6.1.1 partitions, being Active/Active on Power6 processors.
    • N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) Support which allows direct Fibre Channel connections to SAN resources, which simplifies management of Fibre Channel DS8000 environments for Power6 based servers. Also enables access to tape libraries.
  • New i Edition for BladeCenter S with RAID Support.
    • Integrates i and Windows blades plus RAID protected storage, networking, into a single chasis.
    • Pre-installation of IBM i and VIOS.
    • RAID SAS Switch Modules.
    • Direct backups to TS2240 LTO-4 tape drives.
  • Internal Disk enhancements
    • Dual SAS Raid Adapter support. Supports new PCIe 380MB and PCI-X 1.5GB Cache SAS Raid adapters.  Supports Active/Active configurations.
    • Hot Spare for mirroring.
  • Support for new I/O devices and adapters.
    • PCIe 380MB Cache SAS Raid adapter
    • Higher Capacity 139GB SAS SFF Disk Drives.
    • 12X I/O Draw for PCIe adapters , no disk.
    • Solid State Disk support in 12X I/O Draws.
  • Expanding storage options for IBM i clients with PowerVM VIOS.
  • Temporary File System Support can improve IFS Performance.
    • A new type of User-Defined File System (UDFS) for applications which use temporary data.
    • IFS performance can improve up to 70-80% by eliminating the system overhead which ensures the persistence and protection of permanent objects when they are created.  Consequently improves the speed with which temporary objects are created or deleted.
    • Data does not persist through an unmount or IPL.
    • Can only be created in the System ASP.
  • Performance Data Investigator enhancements
    • Enhanced viewing and analysis of i collection services data.
    • New Performance group in Navigator for i
    • Visualize data in charts and tables.
    • Collection Services files from a previous release can be converted to a i 6.1 format and then viewed in the tool.
    • Graphical Health Indicators for system resources – CPU, Memory, Response time.
    • Integrated with Workload Estimator.
  • HA Assist Complements PowerHA for i
    • Used to replicate objects that are not supported by administrative domains or on IASPs.
    • Will also replicate libraries/applications than may not be IASP enabled.
    • Code base is iCluster for i.
If you have a question on any of this, or would like iTech Solutions to upgrade your system or operating system,  send Pete an email at pmassiello@itechsol.com
 

 

IBM i 7.1 Statement of Direction.
  magnifying glass

         

While we couldn’t talk about this before today, we are now able to discuss the information that IBM has released.  IBM plans to deliver a new release of IBM i in 2010.  IBM i 7.1 is currently planned for the Spring timeframe of 2010, and of course that can change.  There are some really cool new features and functions, and here are just a few of the new capabilities planned for this new release:
  • The integrated DB2 database for IBM i will be enhanced with support for XML, enabling clients to store and search XML documents.  IBM also plans for DB2 for i to support transparent encryption of a specific column in a database table, enabling clients to further protect sensitive information.
  • PowerHA for i is planned to support asynchronous replication, providing clients a disk clustering based disaster recovery solution.  In addition, PowerHA for i will support LUN-level switching, providing another high availability option for clients with selected IBM System Storage solutions.
  • IBM i storage management will further leverage Solid State Disk technology by automatically moving data that is accessed most frequently to SSDs, designed to help clients improve application performance.
  • IBM Power Systems and IBM Rational will provide enhancements to RPG enabling RPG programs to easily work in a variety of client applications including web services, mobile devices, and XML.
  • Additional management tasks for IBM i will be available in web-based Systems Director Navigator for i that IBM plans to include with the IBM i operating system.  Additional monitors for IBM i will be added to Systems Director providing an alternative to Management Central for clients with multiple IBM i environments.
  • IBM i integration with BladeCenter and System x via iSCSI technology will be enhanced with support for software target support.  This solution is planned to support a faster connection between IBM i and x86-based systems while potentially lowering the cost of the solution.
  • IBM i support for PDF documents will be enhanced to support the transformation of existing spool files to PDF files.

One of the advantages of working with a business partner like iTech Solutions is that we know the current hardware and software technology of the Power Systems (AS/400, iSeries, IBM i) product lines, and we spend time working with IBM Rochester on future requirements and functionality. Using this knowledge, we are able to insure that our customers make the best decisions in their IBM i investments. When you think i, think iTech Solutions.    

IBM i Access (Client Access) Support for Window 7. Light
We keep hearing about Windows 7, and I sure as heck hope that it works better than Windows Vista.  This latest version is supposed to be available on October 22.  Here is the information on IBM’s support of Windows 7 when using IBM i Access (formerly known as Client Access or PC Support).

  • The 6.1 IBM i Access for Windows client will begin supporting Windows 7 as part of the next 6.1 IBM i Access for Windows service pack, scheduled for release on December 1, 2009.
    • There are no plans to support V5R4 IBM i Access for Windows client on Windows 7.
  • As you plan to adopt Windows 7, please be aware of the following:
    • The AFP Driver and AFP Viewer components in the V6R1 IBM i Access for Windows client will not be supported on Windows 7 until sometime in 2010.
    • Windows 7 has a similar security model as Vista and therefore some IBM i Access for Windows functions require elevated authority.  See Information APAR II14338 for addition details.
    • A more complete list of limitations and permanent restrictions will be available with the service pack.
  • The 6.1 IBM i Access for Windows client is supported when connecting to IBM V5R3 and later.
    • If you are still at IBM i 5.4: You can call iTech Solutions and have them acquire the 6.1 IBM i Access for Windows client while keeping your operating system at V5R4, or have them work with you to upgrade your IBM i (i5/OS) to 6.1.1.

The IBM i NetServer and QNTC components also plan to officially support Windows 7 beginning December 1, 2009 for 5.4 and later releases of IBM i.  PTFs will be made available by this date.

One known restriction:  it may be necessary to change a policy on the Windows 7 machine to allow QNTC access. QNTC does not currently support the NTLMv2 authentication method that is the Windows 7 default. You may need to change the ‘Network Security : LAN Manager Authentication Level’ policy to ‘Send LM & NTLM – use NTLMv2 session security if negotiated’ to allow QNTC to connect to a share provided by Windows 7. A reboot of the PC is required to activate that change.

There are currently fixes for known NetServer problems with NTLMv2 authentication:

  • V5R4M0: MF47178
  • V5R4M5: MF47174
  • V6R1M0: MF47172

Other PTFs will be available to address Windows 7 compatibility with NetServer and QNTC on December 1st. We hope this information is useful as you roll out Windows 7 in your iSeries environment.

Extending the IBM i Life Cycle. 
 

IBM i Operating System
As users of IBM i, we are always interested to know about the product’s life cycle.  This article is just going to discuss the releases that I am able to publically share with you, but it is important to understand that IBM is still investing in the operating system.  It is my opinion that this lengthening of the life cycle was done as people have been slow to move to IBM i 6.1, and IBM is providing longer support for 5.4, 6.1, and 7.1. Remember that hardware and operating system releases tend to directly tie together.  So for instance, you can’t move to Power 6 hardware and take advantage of these very speedy machines unless you are on V5R4M5 or 6.1.  I am sure a similar dependency will exist for future hardware and operating system releases.  Therefore, it is in your best interest to stay current so that you can take advantage of new technology when IBM delivers it.  iTech Solutions has migrated a lot of customers to 6.1, and they are all operating without any problems. IBM i 6.1 has been a very stable release.  We have seen some customer reluctance in the magazines and on the forums to upgrade to IBM i 6.1, but that fear is due to application program conversion worries. IBM i 6.1 is a great release and it is stable.  If you want to go to IBM i 6.1, just give us a call and we can do this upgrade for you without any problems.
To enhance the support for IBM i customers, the plan for marketing and service of IBM i releases, starting with 5.4, has been extended one additional year.  Marketing of IBM i 5.4 is extended until January 2011, which gives customers who are on the unsupported releases of V5R2 and V5R3 an upgrade path.  If you are on an older release of i5/OS or OS/400, give iTech Solutions a call, and allow us to do the upgrade to V5R4 or 6.1.1 for you.
This also means that IBM i 6.1 (and 6.1.1) will be supported from a marketing perspective until the end of 2012, and for support into the beginning of 2014.  IBM i 7.1 will be marketed into the beginning of 2015, and supported through 2016.
IBM i upgrade paths:
  • i5/OS V5R2 to IBM i 5.4
  • i5/OS V5R3 to IBM i 5.4 and 6.1
  • IBM i 5.4 to IBM i 6.1 and IBM i 7.1

Remember that IBM i 5.4 operating system runs on both Licensed Internal code versions V5R4M0 and V5R4M5.  IBM i 6.1 operating system runs on both Licensed Internal code versions V6R1M0 (6.1.0) and V6R1M1 (6.1.1).

 

Customers with phones & modems in Connecticut.
Phone 

Effective November 14, 2009, all customers with a 203 or 860 area code must dial the area code for all calls, including local calls within the same area code.  If you forget to dial the area code on or after that date, your call will not be completed and a recording will instruct you to hand up and dial again, including the area code.  Your telephone number and area code aren’t changing.
The new dial procedure is required when an “overlay” area code is added to the same geographic region as an existing area code.  In Connecticut, the new 475 area code will serve the same geographic area served by the 203 area code, and the new 959 area code, when implemented, will serve the same geographic area served by the 860 area code.
Besides changing the way you dial, you may need to update any preprogrammed seven digit numbers in your fax machines, modems, IBM ECS call home modem, and other electronic equipment with automated dialers.

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   9111   9104    8267   6080

Grp Hipers        47     112     169      189

DB Group          11       22      24        25

Java Group       10       21      23        27

Print Group       12       34       20         7

Backup/Recov.  10       27       33        31

Security Group   10       9         7         –

Blade/IXA/IXS    11      11        –          –
Http                   9       20      17         –



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 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 V7R3.4.0 with Service Pack 2 and PTF MH01181 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 code level of the FSP should be 01_SF240_382. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL340_101.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM340_101. If you have a Power6 595 (9119-FMA) then you should be on EH340_101.
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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