October 2014 Newsletter

Dear iTech Fan,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

Change is in the air, as we see the leaves turning beautiful colors here in New England. Change is also coming for the high end IBM Power Systems. In the beginning of October, IBM announced new high end POWER8 Enterprise class machines, the E870 and E880. The POWER7/7+ line had 750, 770, 780, and 795 machines. These new machines represent a merger between two classes high end of Power Systems machines. The top end POWER8 machine with up to 192 cores on a 12-Core processors, with right now 8TB of memory, increasing later to 16TB of memory these machines are extremely powerful.  These machines also introduced the PCIe GEN3 expansion drawers for additional card slots, which is something that is lacking on the low end POWER8 servers.  IBM has provided a statement of direction that this will be resolved for the low end in 2015.  In my opinion, IBM has missed the boat on this, and should of had the additional card draw available by now for the low end POWER8 servers. I think this is why they haven’t removed from marketing the POWER7+ servers, as they still fill a niche in the product line.

Our New England 10 city roadshow has been quite successful so far, with 3 additional stops left on this tour. You will see we have Springfield MA, and Waltham MA in beginning of November, and then Manchester NH in December. We have enjoyed the time spent talking with customers on some of the new features, speeds, and functionality in the Scale-Out (Low end) Power8 servers, and also tell about all the new features and functions that were delivered in IBMi 7.2.  IBMi 7.2 has some amazing features that will provide quite a performance boast to most environments. We received very good feedback from the attendees.  We look forward to a few more we are putting together in additional cities in 2015.  If you missed one, and would like a session customized for you on Power8 and IBMi 7.2, please let us know and we will come to your company and present it to you.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will discuss the Reclaim Storage (RCLSTG) command, what it does and how often you should run it. The second article is on the new HMC interface coming with HMC 8.8.1 and some ways to avoid the pitfalls.  The third article is about keeping an eye on Electronic Service Agent collections  The fourth is on the iTech Solutions POWER8 and IBM i 7.2 Roadshow coming to your area. The fifth article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information. Please note that for all 7.1 customers that are on the Quarterly or Semi-annual iTech Solutions PTF maintenance plan, we will be installing Technology Refresh 8 for you on your next application of PTFs.

Having a business partner isn’t the same as having iTech Solutions, if you aren’t getting the support, the help, the guidance, and the advice you need to succeed then you need to contact iTech Solutions for your IBM Power Systems running IBM i needs. We can help you upgrade your AS/400 or iSeries to a Power Systems running IBM i, or even your existing Power5, Power6, or Power7 machines to Power8.

 

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iTech Solutions vast experience can help you improve performance, perform security audits; implement a High Availability solution; perform health checks, systems management, remote administration,  PTF management, blade installations, Cloud based systems, Hosting, replication, 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.

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.


 

Reclaim Storage   140x100_ibmi

How often and When?

I am always asked when and how often should I be running Reclaim Storage.  We run a reclaim by using the command RCLSTG which has to be run in a restricted state (Meaning all subsystems have been ended using the command ENDSBS *ALL).  Over the years IBM has recommended that you do not need to be running this regularly.  Yet, I know many accounts who have been running reclaim storage monthly for the last 20 years.  This falls into the thought process of we did it this way 20 years ago (when that was ok) and why should we change.  It’s time to change!  This isn’t your grandfathers AS/400.  So, before we go any further, let’s make sure everyone knows about reclaim storage.

Reclaim Storage command performs a variety of functions including the assurance of object addressability.  Reclaim storage will

  • Check each object and make sure it isn’t damaged.
  • Find orphaned objects, objects without a library.
  • Validates the headers and pointers for each object.
  • Deletes any unusable objects or fragments
  • Checks the ownership of the object.
  • For incompletely updated objects, places library based objects into QRCL library, and Integrated File System objects into either /QReclaim or /QOPenSys/QReclaim directories.

The next question that people always ask me is “well how long will it take to run”.  The answer is the standard IBM answer “It Depends”. The length of time to run a reclaim storage will be determined by the number of objects, type of objects, amount of memory on the partition/machine, amount of disk space, and amount of damage on the objects.  You can look at the data area QRCLSTG in QUSRSYS for the date and time the last RCLSTG ran.  It will tell you the start date/time, and the end date/time.

IBM recommends newer ways to find damaged objects, and we wrote about this in the iTech Solutions Feb 2014 Newsletter. This is a much better way to find damaged objects. IBM recommends only running RCLSTG when it tells you that it is needed to be run.  Which means, you don’t need to run it unless instructed to.  There still are pieces within RCLSTG that I continue to run.

Before any upgrade, I don’t run a RCLSTG, but I do run a RCLSTG *DBXREF, which corrects the database cross reference files.  I run this before any  OS Upgrade, and after any migration from one machine to another.  While a dedicated system is required to perform this, it doesn’t usually take very long.

If you do run a full reclaim storage, what needs to be done afterwards:

  • Check for any messages in QSYSOPR, the joblog of the job running the RCLSTG command, and QHST.
  • Review the objects in QRCL library.
  • Review objects in directories /QReclaim and /QOPenSys/QReclaim

Times change, and so does what should be done on your system, or perhaps in this case what shouldn’t be done.  If you are running your IBM i like it was 1990 or an AS/400 perhaps it is time to bring in iTech Solutions for a health check, or some managed services to meet your needs. Contact iTech Solutions today


HMC 8.1 new GUI .  TR7

I recently had the displeasure to use the new HMC 8.8.1.0 GUI interface on a new POWER8 installation.  It had some great function for providing the HMC to be the GUI interface for VIOS and not having to know those cryptic VIOS commands. This was great. This was using the new enhanced logon option, which adds a new GUI providing a no-touch PowerVM management interface; system and partition capture and deploy functions; and a Performance Collection Monitor (PCM) that can provide a single pane of glass for viewing and logging a wide range of server metrics.Yet, when you used this new enhanced interface for creating partitions and profiles, it was terrible.  In a cloud environment, when building partitions from templates, I can see the advantages.  For the average IBM i shop, it wasn’t required.  It only made using the HMC more difficult.

Luckily, when you sign onto the new HMC interface, you have the option of the “classic” interface or the “enhanced” interface. The default is the last one you have used.  Pick the classic interface.  Just, in case I wasn’t clear in my previous recommendation.  Pick the classic interface, as I think the enhanced interface just isn’t ready for prime time yet. While I was at the IBM Enterprise conference earlier this month, one of the IBM presenters was talking about a new interface to replace the enhanced interface.  I don’t know if that was to make it better, easier to use, or what.  In either case, if you need to upgrade to 8.8.1.0 (Which is required to manage POWER8 servers) with service pack 1 of the HMC , then you will want to start by using the Classic HMC interface.

If you need help upgrading your HMC, installing a new POWER8 machine, or anything else when it comes to IBM i, PowerSystems, or HMC, then contact iTech Solutions.

 


Keeping tack of information collected by Electronic Service Agent.   .iStock_000019030607XSmall

Starting at V7R1M0, Electronic Service Agent (ESA) uses the CISA server to collect software and hardware inventory for IBM i operating systems. We have seen some growth in the IFS, and want you to keep track of the size of this folder. CISA has the ability to collect a delta inventory which contains only the new instances since the previous inventory collection. In order to implement the delta inventory collection, CISA uses the IFS folder /instancecache to store the instances collected during the current inventory collection (located in the resources and relationships folder) as well as the instances which are changed since the last inventory collection (located in the deleted-resources folder). CISA will create the /instancecache folder when inventory is started if the directory does not exist; therefore, there is no need to delete or backup the /instancecache folder.

Typically the size of the resources and relationships folder will not change, unless there are significant updates to the system. (e.g. the operating system is updated to a new release, new hardware is installed, or a new PTF group is applied to the system) The number of files in the deleted-resources folder depends on how many instances are changed since inventory was last collected. The size of the deleted-resources folder may change all the time; however, it will never become larger than the resources folder.

The user profile which the QSJSENDER job runs under determines the location of the /instancecache folder. If the user profile has a home directory, then the /instancecache folder will be located in the home directory, for example, /home/QSECOFR. Otherwise, the /instancecache folder will be located in the root directory (/). Note: The default home directory for a user profile is /home/<user profile name>

The files are reused daily when Electronic Service Agent (ESA) Inventory runs. If you remove the folder, it will cause the regenerate of full inventory next time (comparing to only generating a subset of delta or changed data).

The size is proportional to the number of hardware and software inventories; for example, the logical device attached to the system, the software or PTF installed on the system, and so on. Typical size is a few hundreds of megabytes and will not continue to grow.  On some systems we have seen this grow to be quite big, and want you to be aware of what is in this folder, and the need to keep track of it’s size.

Contact iTech Solutions to learn more about this offering and to start your subscription today.


POWER8 & IBM i 7.2 Roadshow presented by iTech Solutions 140x100_ibmi

Join us for the iTech Solutions Power8 and IBM i 7.2 Roadshows where you can learn all about IBM’s recent announcements of the Power8 servers and the enhancements delivered in IBM i 7.2. These announcements emphasize IBM’s commitment to the Power systems platform and the IBM i operating system.

iTech Solutions will present multiple sessions at each of these roadshow locations. The first session covers the Power8 servers and how they can significantly improve your organizations processing capabilities. The second session covers the announcement of enhancements that are available in IBM i 7.2. The third session will be on Cloud Computing for IBM i, Managed Services, and High Availability as a Service.

Session Highlights

  • Power8 processors and I/O enhancements
  • New features, speeds, and functions
  • IBM i 7.2 enhancements to Security, Application Development, and Performance
  • IBM’s commitment to Power Systems and IBM i Roadmap

iTech Solutions Roadshow schedule:

Tuesday September 16, 2014 Crown Plaza Hartford-Cromwell, Cromwell, CT

Monday September 22, 2014 IBM Facility 590 Madison Ave New York City

Tuesday September 23, 2014 Marriott Hotel, Providence, RI

Wednesday September 24, 2014 Fireside Inn & Suites, Portland ME

Tuesday September 30, 2014 Fireside Inn & Suites ,W. Lebanon, NH

Thursday October 02, 2014 Double Tree Hotel, Tarrytown, NY

Thursday October 02, 2014 Norwalk Inn, Norwalk, CT

Wednesday November, 05, 2014 Forefront Conf. Center, Waltham, MA

Thursday November 06, 2014 Marriott Hotel, Springfield, MA

Thursday December 18, 2014 The Yard Seafood & Steakhouse, Manchester, NH

Check our web site http://www.itechsol.com/events for up to date information on these venues and to register for the presentations closest to you.

You won’t want to miss these informative sessions presented by iTech Solutions’ Pete Massiello.

 


 

Upcoming 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.

 

October 26 – 29, 2014 COMMON Fall Event – Indianapolis, Indiana  http://www.common.org

Come visit Rick & Paul at our booth, and hear Pete speak on:

  • COMMON Opening session
  • Tip and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space
  • Building Virtual i Partitions Hosted by IBM i
  • What you need to know for a successful IBM i upgrade.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and firmware.

See the Article above for local iTech Solutions Power8 & IBM i 7.2 Roadshow coming to local venues in the northeast.

 


Release levels and PTFs 

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.

7.2 7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 14101 14143 14197 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 8
Grp Hipers 15 122 184 203 169
DB Group 2 31 32 33 24
Java Group 3 18 29 34 23
Print Group 2 11 30 49 20
Backup/Recov. 5 39 52 57 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 15 28 15
HTTP 3 29 40 36 17
TCP/IP 8 16 22 16
Security 8 34 46 32
High Availability 1 7 4
Hardware 2 12 12

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 V7R1, the ID is 13287. We can determine that it was created on the 287th day of 2013, which is October 14, 2013. 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 & V5R4, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have a Hardware Management Console (HMC,) you should be running:

Model Release Service Pack
HMC  V8R8.1 SP1 MH01420 then MH0147

* Can’t use with Power5 hardware

HMC CR4 V7R7.9 SP 1 MH01428, then MH1473, &

MH01435

HMC V7R7.8 SP 1 MH01397,then MH01472,

then MH01447

or V7R7.7 SP 3 MH1397, then SP 4 MH01415,

then MH01471

HMC C03 V7R3.5 SP4

If we have a model listed above in the HMC column that is the highest level of firmware that model of the HMC can be upgraded to.

  • Note that release 8.8.1 does not support any Power5 servers.
  • Version 7.7.9 is not supported and cannot be installed on HMC models C03, C04 or CR2.
  • If an HMC is used to manage any POWER7 processor based server, the HMC must be a model CR3 or later model rack-mount HMC or C05 or later desk side HMC.
  • HMC V8R8.1 is supported on rack-mount models CR5, CR6, CR7 and CR8; and on desktop model C08. These listed models meet or exceed the V8R8.1 minimum memory requirement of 2GB however 4GB is recommended.
  • If you want to manage a POWER8 machine, you need to be on HMC 8.8.1

 

If you have an Flexible Service Processor (FSP) your firmware should be:

Machine Processor Model Version Notes
Power5 or 5+ 520, 515, 525, 550, 570 SF240_418 last
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_159 last
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_159 last
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_159 last
9119-FHA EH350_159 last
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_142
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_059
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_152
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-090
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_090
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AM770_090
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_059
Power8 8247-21L, 8247-22L, 8284-22A, 8286-41A, 8286-42A SV810_081

 

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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