September 2009 Newsletter

Greetings!

 
September sure has been a busy month, and I believe that October will be equally as busy.  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 want to make you aware of how easy it is to add your own code to the nightly IBM Cleanup process with QEZUSRCLNP. The second article has a title sure to get your attention “The best way to motivate management about Disaster Recovery is to set the building across the street on fire”.  I hope you think about your plan, how effective it is, when was the last time you truly tested it, along with are you doing good backups. The third article is about how to easily log what is happening in your startup program.  The fourth article is about iTech Solutions presence on both Facebook and LinkedIn.  The Fifth article is on some information for next year and Power 7 machines. Letting you know what won’t be supported in terms of I/O. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information for your use. 

In addition, I want to bring to your attention that the Fairfield CT AS/400 User Group (FASUG) will be having their 17th annual All day Technical Conference called Application Development Day.  This is a great place to learn about new technology in the IBM i world, sharpen your skills, find out how to modernize your applications,  better use DB2 WebQuery, improve uses of RPG, learn PHP & MySQL for the i, and how to Upgrade to i5/OS V6R1. Click here for the agenda. FASUG has brought the best speakers from around the world to Danbury, CT for this event on Tuesday Oct 20.  For a great price of just $225.

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.


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.

QEZUSRCLNP: Adding your cleanup routines to the Nightly Cleanup program.
Light

 
As many of you know I go to many different customers each week helping them with their systems management, backup/recovery analysis, system performance, database performance, PTFs, and/or i5/OS Upgrades.   A question that keeps coming up from my customers is how can I automate as much of the cleanup process as possible.
 
Many of us know about the Operational Assistant Cleanup functions that are run each night, but what about if you wish to add your own routines to this?  It’s very easy to do, and in this article I will show you how you can add your nightly cleanup functions to Operational Assistant Cleanup.
 
Well lets start by making sure that everyone knows what Operational Assistant Cleanup is and what it does. You get into this by entering GO CLEANUP. Objects, such as system logs, journal receivers, and message queues, gather information and store it on the system during normal operations. Old information should be deleted from the system on a scheduled basis to ensure the system does not become cluttered.  The system administrator should use the Cleanup function to automatically:
  • Clear the system journals
  • Delete the history log and problem log entries
  • Delete messages from the user profile message queues
  • Delete messages from QSYSOPR and all work station message queues
  • Delete system output such as job logs
Cleanup is designed to run once a day.  When started, the cleanup function submits a group of batch jobs to clean up objects older than a specified number of days on the system. 
 
These cleanup options can be viewed and changed from the Change Cleanup Options menu, by entering GO CLEANUP (if you don’t have *SECADM, *ALLOBJ, and *JOBCTL authority, you won’t see options 1 through 4).   One important item to note is that while cleanup cleans up spool files, it only cleans up spool files in two output queues, QEZDEBUG and QEZJOBLOG.
 
I hope that everyone is using Cleanup to keep their system clean.  Most customers schedule this to run each night when nothing else is happening on their machines. What happens if you wish to add your own functions.  Perhaps, you want to “roll” your journal receivers each night so that you have a new receiver each day, or expire some of your own spool files.  You can add your commands to the program QEZUSRCLNP which will then be called by the IBM Cleanup program.

To add your items to this program, you will need to build your own copy of QEZUSRCLNP program. To do this, follow these steps: 

1.  Use the Retrieve CL Source (RTVCLSRC) command to retrieve CL program QEZUSRCLNP.
2.  Change the QEZUSRCLNP program source to do any cleanup of user objects by adding your commands.  Don’t forget to monitor for error messages with a MONMSG after your commands.
3.  Compile the QEZUSRCLNP program using the Create CL Program command into a library above QSYS.
The QEZUSRCLNP program will automatically be called whenever the IBM Cleanup program runs each night.
If you had a question on this, or would like us to help you with your system cleanup procedures, send Pete an email at pmassiello@itechsol.com
 

“The best way to motivate management to invest in a DR plan is to set the building across the street on fire.” -unknown
  magnifying glass

         

A friend of mine sent me that about 2 weeks ago in an email, and I had a really good laugh. Now, I am not advocating anyone do anything crazy like that, but if you sit back and think about that statement for a minute, there certainly is some truth in it.   People don’t get serious about DR, backups, or recovery, until something happens. Don’t let that be you.
 
How many times do you think about disaster recovery, but just know the boss isn’t going to sign the PO to get a second machine for High Availability, or even signup with a Hot Site for Disaster Recovery?  I was at a new prospect last month who was taking us up on our iTech Solutions Cash for AS/400 Clunkers, and I got on their 170 machine to just “poke around”, and I noticed that they didn’t have any disk protection (i.e. no Raid nor Mirroring).  That machine is over 10 years old, how much longer before a disk failure? They are living on borrowed time.  I then looked for when the last time they did a full backup, and it was over 4 years ago.  So, I asked them “When was the last time you backed up the machine?”.  They told me “last night”.  I said to them, “No, you just backed up your data library last night, when was the last time you did a full system backup”.  They gave me the funny look, like I have no idea.  I said, “How about 4 years ago”.  They said “No way”, and went over to the filling cabinet (not a fireproof cabinet, but just a filling cabinet you purchase at Staples to hold files) to pull out the last full save.  She read the tape, and it said 2005.  She looked at me and said “How did you know that?”.  I then ask her, “What would happen to your business if you lost this computer”.  We scheduled a full system save for that night, and moved it off site to the CEO’s house. While that isn’t the best location for the tape, being off-site 15 miles away is certainly better than 5 feet away from the machine. 

 

Many shops don’t understand the need for taking an occasional full backup, and also moving that backup off-site.  They understand when a disaster occurs and they need to recover.  The reason the title of this article is so apropos, is that don’t let a disaster happen in your shop or across the street to then examine your plan.  Can you sleep with your answers to these questions:

  • How often do I do a full system backup? Is it at least monthly?
  • Do I have written procedures off-site that describes what is backed up and how to recover?
  • Are the tapes off-site?
  • Are the tapes labeled?
  • Do I know which tapes and how to recover?
  • Have I tested my plan in the last year?
  • Do I have a site that I can run a test recovery on?
  • Do I have a site I can recover to?
  • What happens if my staff isn’t available to recover?
  • What about the other machines in your network?
  • If you have HA software, when was your last roll-swap?
  • If I have an HMC can I recover that?
  • Is my I_BASE_01 CD/DVD someplace safe and accessible?

Disaster Recovery is a vital function that your company can’t afford to just gloss over.  It starts with good solid backups.  If you don’t understand backups, aren’t sure if you are doing backups correctly, or wonder if you have everything?  Then bring in iTech Solutions for our Backup/Recovery analysis and we will insure your backups are complete.  While there are some customers who can’t afford a second machine, or others that don’t want a cold site (where you restore your backups to). The easiest thing to do is a full backup at whatever frequency you think you can afford.  I would recommend at least monthly, but some customers will do this quarterly.  But just remember, you can’t recover without a good backup. If you are unsure of what you are backing up, you can be sure you will have no idea what to restore and if you restored everything.

We are working with a few customers right now to bring in a second machine for High Availability, as well as working with a few customers documenting and testing their disaster recovery. These customers have seen the holes in their disaster recovery, and are doing the right steps to insure in a disaster they can recover their machine and the data on it.  Would you wait for the building across the street to be on fire before you test your fire extinguishers?  Probably not, so why wait to test your DR plans.  As IT professionals, I believe that it is our responsibility to make management aware of the need for a proper DR plan, and the risks they are taking by not testing and investing in a good DR plan.  If management isn’t willing to invest in any plan, make sure you have written evidence that you made suggestions and they decided to not fund them.  This is what we call CYA.
I certainly hope you look at your plans right after reading this article, and don’t wait until you see the fire trucks coming down the road. If you need some help, give us a call at 203-744-7854.
 

Logging your system startup program: QSTRUPPGM Light
Here is a little trick that I always put in my System Startup program.  The system value QSTRUPPGM tells the system what program to execute when it starts the system.  This program is responsible for starting your subsystems, writers, some TCP/IP Servers, or anything else that you need up for you to use your IBM i.
Many times a customer will say to me “My startup program always brings this or that up, but I don’t know why it didn’t this time”.
I always put this command  “CHGJOB LOG(4   00   *SECLVL) LOGCLPGM(*YES)”  in my startup program so that it creates a joblog with all the CL commands.  Then I can always find out if something ran or didn’t, and why it might have failed.   So many times, it is an authority issue, but without being able to see the joblog, they just don’t know.  To make matters worse, if they put in a MONMSG CPF0000  after the failing command, which is what they should be doing, then they don’t know the command failed.  With the change job in the program, the program will always produce a joblog.  Now all you have to do is do a WRKSPLF QPGMR and find the QPJOBLOG file for the QSTRUPPGM and you will be able to determine what happened in the job.

Facebook and LinkedIn
 

Facebook
Social Networking seems to be the rage nowadays, with posts, blogs, and information being written daily.  We want to be able get information to our customers as quickly as possible, but also give our customers the ability to ask questions of us, or post to a forum to get a reply back as quickly as possible. We have created two groups for those of you on either Facebook and/or LinkedIn.  We haven’t done the Twitter route, as I don’t think there is much you can write technically in 140 characters.   For those of you on Facebook, please add the iTech Solutions Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=126431824120, and on LinkedIn, the iTech Solutions Group is http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2206093.  If you are on both, please join them both.
We hope these new additions are helpful to you and provide an additional source of IBM i information besides our monthly newsletters.  Please feel free to ask questions or post an answer to a question on either one.  It’s a great way to contact our technical folks with questions as well.
 LinkedIn

Upgrading to Power 7 Tips.
iSeries Family 

Some customers have started asking us about Power 7, and we think that it is important for them to know and understand the following.  As we have been explaining in all the hardware upgrades we have done this year, we want you to get the most out of your investment now, but also be able to maximize your current hardware investment in the IBM i, as we move forward into the future.  For this reason, we have been trying to move you away from Twinax, IOPs, SCSI Disks, HSL Loops, and older types of draws/cabinets that won’t connect. We want to make sure  you aren’t investing in these old technologies that won’t move forward in the future.
Here are a few items to think about:
  •  Any upgrades preserving the same serial number into a POWER7 server will be from a POWER6 server. Clients on POWER5 and earlier technology will need to upgrade to POWER6 prior to being able to upgrade to POWER7 if they wish to preserve their original serial number
  • 12X I/O drawer support is planned on POWER7 while RIO/HSL (HSL & HSL2) I/O drawers/tower support is not planned.
  • Small and/or slow (10K) SCSI disk drive support is not planned.
  • QIC tape drive support is not planned.
  • IOP support is not planned.
When you work with a business partner like iTech Solutions that knows the current technology and where IBM is driving the new technology, you are able to purchase the right hardware today that will get the most life for the use in the future and with your next machine.

 

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        45     110     169      189

DB Group          11       22      24        25

Java Group       10       21      23        27

Print Group       11       33       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_075.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM340_075. If you have a Power6 595 (9119-FMA) then you should be on EH340_075.
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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