October 2010 Newsletter

Greetings!

The leaves are changing color here in New England, and it is probably the best place in the world to view the magnificent colors. Fall and Information Technology are about change. Information Technology is bringing new technology to the business, helping the company take advantage of the new technology, and leveraging all the resources of the business to make the business as efficient as possible.  As IT professionals, we are change agents. We bring change into the company, and help guide and steer this technology change within the business.  I think for the most part we do a great job, but why is it that when it comes to changing our systems we don’t do it.  I am seeing many more people in all my travels who have already upgraded to 6.1 or 7.1 of IBM i.  Yet, I still talk to people who are on V5R4.  You need to change, you need to get on the latest release of the operating system to take advantage of the new features and functions.  You can’t stay cemented to V5R4 for the rest of your lives.  How are you going to take advantage of the future, when you are stuck in the past?  If you don’t want to upgrade, or are scared to upgrade just call in iTech Solutions.  We will do the upgrade for you.  If you want to insure your programs will work after the upgrade, try our “No-worry” upgrade. We bring a machine into your environment for 2 weeks and restore your system onto this machine.  We upgrade this machine to 6.1 (your machine is at your current release running the business), and let you test and play with your applications on our machine so that you can be sure when the actual upgrade is done on your machine, everything has been tested.   Peace of mind for upgrades, plus you are working with the company that does more i5/OS upgrades than anyone else.

We have packed a lot of information into this newsletter, and I hope that you find this useful. This issue of our newsletter has five articles. In the first, John discusses how to get your Data Transfer link back into Excel after upgrading to IBM i Access.  The second article is from a story I did with Dan Burger at IT Jungle on upgrading to 6.1 & 7.1.  The third article is on how often companies should apply PTFs or upgrade their operating system or firmware. The fourth article is a list of upcoming events we will be participating in.  The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information.

iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, upgrade i5/OS, perform security audits, implement a High Availability solution, Health Checks, Systems Management, Remote Administration,  PTF management, Blade installations, iSCSI Configurations, 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 System i.

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For more information on any of the articles below please visit us at 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.

We Upgraded to IBM i Access 6.1 or 7.1 and lost our data transfer link in Excel.

Light

Well, the link no longer uses the Software Development Kit (SDK), but now links through the Component Object Module (COM).  The former file was found as this .xll file -> C:/Program Files/IBM/Client Access/Shared/cwbtfxla.xll and the new file is found as this .dll file  -> C:/Program Files/IBM/Client Access/Shared/cwbtfcai.dll.  How you link up depends on your version of Microsoft Office.

For Office 2003, right-click along the toolbar menu, and from the menu presented, select Customize.  This presents the Customize menu and the Commands tab.  From the Categories list, select Tools, and then from the Commands list select COM Add-Ins.  Now, using your left mouse button, drag the selected COM Add-Ins to your toolbar menu.  Once in place on the toolbar, you can now select this option, and you will be presented with the Com Add-Ins menu.  You should be presented with an available Add-Ins of Data Transfer Excel Add-in, if not, use the Add button to find the .dll file as listed above.  Once the Data Transfer Excel Add-in is check marked, you are back in business.

For Office 2007/2010, you would right-click on a selection along the toolbar menu, and select Customize Quick Access Toolbar.  This presents the Excel Options menu.  Select Add-Ins from the left hand selections; from there you will notice a Manage selection item at the bottom with a drop-down selection showing Excel Add-ins.  Change the drop-down selection to Com Add-ins and then select Go.  Like Office 2003,  you should be presented with an available Add-Ins of Data Transfer Excel Add-in, if not, use the Add button to find the .dll file as listed above.  Once the Data Transfer Excel Add-in is check marked, you are back in business.

 

IBM i Access is the new name for Client Access or iSeries Access.

Upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.   

IT Jungle

Recently I had a telephone conversation with Dan Burger from IT Jungle to discuss some of the issues that I am seeing with people upgrading their systems to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1. We discussed ANZOBJCVN, Observability requirements, and required PTFs for upgrading to name a few topics.   Here is the start of the article, and then a link to the remainder.

Somewhere someone is about to take a stab at upgrading an IBM i operating system to version 6.1 or 7.1. The probability of mistakes being made is pretty high. The trouble resulting from those mistakes will range from easily correctable to call in the cavalry. The difference can be nailed down to two factors: poor preparation and too little time allotted for completion. Yes, we’re talking about program conversion, which often has more bark than bite.

When you do more than 75 of these OS upgrades in the past year, and more than 200 total, you see the commonly made mistakes. Advice comes from experience. That’s why I called Pete Massiello, a guy who knows the ropes by virtue of the aforementioned hundreds of upgrade experiences …….. Remainder of the article

How often should I apply PTFs, Upgrade the operating system, or firmware?       

I get asked this question quite a lot when I am traveling around the country speaking on systems management topics.  While there is no right answer that works for every company, I can tell you that you don’t want to keep putting it off.  Most people should be upgrading their PTFs either quarterly or semi-annual.  That is a good schedule to keep up with fixes that IBM comes out with to address known problems and balancing the amount of system time that is required for these processes.   If you can keep on this schedule, then you will never get too far behind.  When you get far behind is always when the problems start occurring. Staying current means that as IBM fixes problems, those fixes are put on your system quarterly before you might experience the problem. Your Flexible Service Processor (FSP) Firmware, and updating the license code on your HMC if you have one should also be updated quarterly.

Last month I was at a new customer that hadn’t upgraded their HMC for 5 years.  In fact, their previous business partner, never upgraded their HMC or the firmware of their FSP. To make matters worse, the business partner did an i5/OS upgrade to version 5.4 two years ago, but never took into account that the firmware of the FSP had to be at a certain minimum for each release of the operating system.  A potential problem just waiting to happen, and IBM would have said this isn’t a supported combination of IBM i and the firmware on their FSP. It doesn’t matter if you have an HMC or not, every Power5, Power6, and Power7 machine has an FSP that requires updates.  This customer was so far behind that we had to do multiple upgrades of the FSP firmware and the HMC to get them back to a supported release.  So, something that should have taken 4 hours to do, took over 2 days.

What about releases of IBM i (i5/OS).  Well I can tell you that I have been running IBM i 7.1 since January as part of the beta team, and we have found the release to be rock solid.  In addition, we have been upgrading customers to 7.1 all summer. At this point, I am telling everyone there is no reason not to upgrade to 7.1.

What about IBM i 6.1.  Again, 6.1 has also been extremely solid, but you have to make sure you perform the Analyze Object Convert (ANZOBJCVN) on all your programs before crossing the 6.1 barrier (V5R3 or V5R4 to 6.1, or V5R4 to 7.1).  See the article above for additional information on Analzye Object Convert.  Making sure that you do the planning for your programs to insure they can convert after upgrading to 6.1 is why you need to run ANZOBJCVN a few months before the upgrade.  Once you have a clean ANZOBJCVN report, you are ready to go. If you are having problems, concerns, or questions on this, please send me an email and we can address your issues.

In summary, everyone should be on IBM i 6.1 or 7.1, version 7 of the HMC, the latest firmware for your processor, and applying PTFs at least quarterly.  If you don’t wish to perform these functions, or you wish to offload these tasks, please contact us and we will be glad to work with you in performing these functions.

When you do as many upgrades and PTF installations as we do, we know what to do, how to do it, what to expect, and can insure your upgrade or PTF installation is a success.

Upcoming events
People Learning 

Here is a list of upcoming events that iTech Solutions will be participating in or that Pete Massiello will be speaking at:

October 26 – IBM Power7 for IBM i customers.1:00pm Warwick New York Hotel, 65 West 54th St., New York, NY
November 15 to 17 iSeries Dev Conn http://www.iseriesdevcon2010.com/ Las Vegas, NV Topics:
1) Everything you need to know to upgrade IBM i (i5/OS) to IBM i 6.1 or 7.1
2) Building virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i – no additional hardware required!
3) Putting the pieces together: Understanding your options with HMC, FSP, and firmware on the IBM i
4) Tips and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space
5) Everything you need to know to get started with the new Systems Director Navigator Console

April 11 to 13, 2011 Northeast User Groups http://www.neugc.org/ Framingham, MA

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    10229   10215   10117     8267

Grp Hipers            14        73      138      169

DB Group                3        15        27       24

Java Group             3        13        24       23

Print Group             1        18        41       20

Backup/Recov.        4        17        35       33

Security Group         3       19        15        7

Blade/IXA/IXS          2       17        14        –
Http                        2       14        24       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 V7R7.2.  If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.2 SP1.
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_403. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_071.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_071. If you have a Power6 595 (9119-FMA) then you should be on EH350_071. POWER7 the firmware level is AL720_066 or AM710_097 depending on your model.
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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