September 2013 Newsletter

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

isurance. No, I didn’t misspell the word by leaving out the first n. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get some type of insurance for your IBM i. You know, insurance that it is working correctly, insurance that it is performing correctly, insurance that you are keeping up to date with all the right PTFs for your machine, FSP, and HMC, insurance that your machine was upgraded correctly, insurance that you are installing the right hardware, insurance that you are backing up the right data and can restore it, insurance that you are replicating your data correctly, insurance that someone is watching and monitoring your machine with the skills to know what to do in the event something goes wrong. Well, that would be isurance by iTech Solutions. This is IBM i insurance, for your peace of mind. To insure that  everything is running correctly, to insure that your system is configured correctly, your upgrade was done correctly, your backup is able to be restored, your PTFs are all on the system, and your system is being monitored correctly. That is isurance by iTech Solutions. Isn’t it time you got some isurance?

If you are a regular reader of this newsletter, you know that standard IBM support for V5R4 goes away in just a few days on Sept 30, 2013. What the heck are we going to be writing about next month you are probably wondering? Don’t worry, 7.2 is out in 2014, so we will start to talk about moving off of 6.1 🙂 . If you are still V5R4, you know what I told you last month. Stop praying for a miracle upgrade. God is too busy to help you with an IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS) Upgrade!!! The next best thing is iTech Solutions. Give us a call, don’t go at it alone. Check our references, because they will tell you just how smooth their upgrade was.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will discuss selecting the right parity set optimization for your Raid sets. The second article is about different FTP formats (library/file vs. IFS) and how to switch between them. The third article is how to use FTP from inside a batch program. The fourth article is running remote commands with FTP. 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 iTech Solutions PTF maintenance plan, we will be installing Technology Refresh 6 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.

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, Cloud based systems, Hosting, 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.

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.


 

Parity set optimization for Raid5 protection   Technology

I have been asked a few times, what determines how many disks are in a parity set.  I thought this little known topic would be very helpful to many.  There is a limit to the number of disks that can belong to a parity set, and that is different based upon the disk controller. When you select to optimize a parity set, the disk controller, also known as the  I/O Adapter, will choose disk units for the parity sets according to the optimzation value that you have set.  You must set this value before starting Raid (also known as parity).  These different options will mostly be used with SCSI disk controllers,  as SAS disk controllers provide optimal performance, capacity, and balance.  There are 4 types: Availability, Capacity, Balanced, and Performance.  Have you ever looked at the size of your disks with WRKDSKSTS, and you can sometimes see different sizes, even though you know they are all the same physical size.  That is how the disks are stripped with Raid, and which ones in the parity set have the stripes on them.

When in a dual storage disk controller configuration (5913s or 5805 disk controllers), select performance parity set optimization. This makes the system attempt to create an even number of parity sets. An even number of parity sets distributes the workload evenly between a pair of adapters which are in a dual storage disk controller  configuration. When not in a dual storage disk controller configuration, select capacity parity set optimization or balance parity set optimization. Either of these selections gives you the optimal capacity and balance of the parity set configuration.

Availability

A parity set optimized for availability offers a greater level of protection because it allows a parity set to remain functional in the event of a I/O bus failure. The availability optimization value ensures that a parity set is formed from at least three disk units of equal capacity each attached to a separate port (bus) on the disk controller. For example, if a disk controller had 15 disk units and was optimized for availability, the result might be five parity sets with three disk units each attached to separate I/O buses on the adapter. Remember, that 3 disk parity sets under SCSI disk controllers don’t perform well.

Capacity

A parity set optimized for capacity stores the most data possible. The disk controller may generate fewer parity sets with more disk units in each parity set. For example, if adisk controller has 15 disk units and is optimized for capacity, the result might be one parity set containing 15 disk units.

Balanced

A balanced parity set compromises between the ability to store large amounts of data and also provide fast access to data. For example, if a disk controller has 15 disk units and you choose balanced parity optimization, the result might be two parity sets, one with nine disk units and one with six disk units. Not totally balanced as you would expect, but close.

Performance

Parity sets optimized for performance provide the fastest data access. The disk controller may generate more parity sets with fewer numbers of disk units. For example, if a disk controller had 15 disk units and is optimized for performance, the result might be three parity sets with five disk units each.

As you can see, there is no right or wrong answer, nor is there one that you should always use.  Make sure you pay close attension to if you have single or dual disk controllers for a set of disks, as you will want to follow that recommendation very closely.  If you have any questions on this, please contact Pete Massiello.


Different FTP Formats. cloud-computing

Did you ever want to transfer a file into the IFS, but the FTP session didn’t want to do anything except use a library, file, and member?  Did you ever want to transfer a file into a library, member, file, but you could only get to the IFS?  Let’s go over what controls this on your system.

First off, each system has a default that you can set using the CHGFTPA command.  If you enter that command and hit F4 to prompt it, you will see the value of the NAMEFMT parameter (which is the name format).  This parameter can have one of two values:

*LIB
The LIBRARY/FILE.MEMBER naming format is used.  This is  equivalent to specifying the SITE NAMEFMT 0 subcommand to the FTP server.

*PATH 
The path naming format is used for files.  This setting is equivalent to specifying the SITE NAMEFMT 1 subcommand to the FTP server.

This will be the default whenever you are transferring files to your system.If you decide to change this, and you should be careful if you do, you have to stop and start the FTP server with the ENDTCPSVR *FTP and  STRTCPSVR *FTP commands.  You can over ride the value set in as the system default for each individual FTP request. Namefmt 0 is usually the default but I have encountered many systems where the default is 1.It depends on the value of the CHGFTPA command.  FTP session defaults can be changed if desired and you use the FTP command quote site namefmt 0 statement to set this to library/file format. If you want to transfer to the IFS, you would use the FTP command quote site namefmt 1.  You should set thethe format to whatever you wish before issing the CD command to set the destination on the target.

 



FTP from a batch file.  

Disk

 

How many times do you have a batch job that is running, and you would like to transfer a file using FTP, but can’t figure out how to automatically have FTP send the file.  Well, this article gives you the commands to do that.

You can capture the output of the FTP process as well.  I think for this article we are going to use an example.  What we are going to do is put our commands into a source file, and have the FTP program use those commands instead of us having to enter them (which we really couldn’t do if it was running in batch, this is why we need this).

FTP uses the display station for command INPUT and message OUTPUT, and this needs to be overridden for use in batch mode. We use the OVRDBF, Override Database File command to overwrite these files with the ones to be used in batch.  Therefore, we are going to override the INPUT file, with our own file which will have our FTP Commands inside of it, and we will override our OUTPUT file so that the output of our FTP session is logged. In the example below, I am going to put my FTP commands into a file called QCLSRC in library ITECHSOL, with a member name of FTPCMDS1. The output I will put in the same file, expcept direct the output to the member, FTPLOG1.

I will start PDM and create a member called FTPCMDS1 in file QCLSRC in library ITECHSOL.  One command per line, and I am going to send a file from one IBM i to another.  The file we are moving is in library QGPL as well as where we are placing it, so I am going to set that library name for the source and target. The  command file would look like this:

OPEN machinename
USER userid password
BIN
QUOTE SITE NAMEFMT 0
CD QGPL
LCD QGPL
PUT sourcefile.member targetfile.member
QUIT

That is the input file.  You would use either your machine name or IP address in the open on where you want to connect to, and then the userid is the user id on the target side you are signing into, and the associated password.  Of course, you can see that you are going to be storing a password in the clear here, so there is a little security exposure.  Also, when that userid’s password is changed, you would have to come back into this file, and change it before the FTP would run.

Here are the overrides for the input and output files that FTP uses.  Then once I have the over rides, I just use the FTP command, and when it executes it will read the file ITECHSOL/QCLSRC with member FTPCMDS1 for its commands.

OVRDBF FILE(INPUT) TOFILE(ITECHSOL/QCLSRC) MBR(FTPCMDS1)
OVRDBF FILE(OUTPUT) TOFILE(ITECHSOL/QCLSRC) MBR(FTPLOG1)

Yes, it really is that easy.  Give it a try.  Two items to note.  When you transfer Save files, make sure you use the BINary parameter.  When transferring a save file, make sure you create the file before the file transfer on the target machine.  Then you can use the (REP which is the replace parameter of the PUT command.

 


Execute a command from within FTP   Intrusion Detection

 

 

This is an extremely powerful function within FTP, and many people don’t realize that it is possible.  In fact  in the wrong hands, people have the ability to power down your system from within FTP.  This is another reason why you should have an FTP exit point(s) to lock down the functionality of FTP.  There was a previous newsletter article on just that.

You probably thought that people could only transfer files with FTP, and that should also be controlled and regulated, as people can transfer and recieve data from your IBM i.  If you need to run a command on your target system, from inside your FTP script (either in batch as our in previous article or interactively) this is it.  You need to use the FTP statement QUOTE RCMD followed by the IBM i command.  So, if in my FTP process I had the need to create a save file called XFER in library ITECHSOL before sending it to the target machine, I would use the following command.

QUOTE RCMD CRTSAVF ITECHSOL/XFER

You have to make sure you have the entire command syntax correct, and if you do you will get a 250 message Command crtsavf itechsol/xfer successful. Remember, this is a very powerful tool.  I have used it to run commands to bring up subsystems when I couldn’t get terminal access to a machine, as well as just to create a file.

 


 

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.

 

Sept 25, 8AM EDT for Help Systems’s customers.   http://www.helpsystems.com/solutions/webinars/how-to-upgrade-ibm-i-operating-system Replay is also available. Tom Huntington & Pete Massiello will present:

  • How to move your operating system from 5.4 to 7.1 of IBM i

Oct 21 to 23 – IBM Enterprise Systems 2013 – Power Systems University –  Orlando FL. http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/enterprise/  Pete Massiello will present

  • Best Practices to Improve IBM i System performance & save disk space
  • Step-by-Step guide to building Virtual Partitions hosted by IBM i
  • Managing your IBM i operations with IBM navigator for i

Nov 12 – Copenhaugen Denmark – COMMON Denmark (GS-Gruppen) http://www.gs-gruppen.org/

  • Programmers Future
  • Managing your IBM i operations with IBM navigator for i
  • Tips & Tricks to improve performance and reduce disk space.

April 7 – 9, 2014 Northeast User Groups Conference – Framingham, MA http://www.neugc.org

May 5 – 8, 2014 COMMON Annual Conference – Orlando, FL http://www.common.org

 


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.

7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 13037 13058 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 6
Grp Hipers 94 156 201 169
DB Group 25 30 33 24
Java Group 14 25 34 23
Print Group 8 27 48 20
Backup/Recov. 27 40 56 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 13 25 15
HTTP 21 32 36 17
TCP/IP 7 15 22 16
Security 29 42 32
High Availability 5 3
Hardware 6 6

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 with Service Pack 3 or V7R7.7 with Service Pack 2 and eFix MH01355. 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_149.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_149. If you have a Power6 595 (9119-FHA) then you should be on EH350_149. Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B, C, or D). The firmware level is AL730_122 for 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_122 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_122 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).  The firmware level is AL740-100 for 8231-E1C, 8202-E4C , 8231-E2C, & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM770_52 for 770 (9117-MMC) & 780 (9179-MHC).

For Power7+ processors, the firmware level is AL770-032 for 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, & 8205-E6D (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM770_052 for 750 (8408-E8D) & 760 (9109-RMD). Use AM760_068 for 770 (9117-MMD) & 780 (9179-MHD).

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.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*