September 2016 Newsletter

Greetings iTech Fan,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

Wow, that IBM License transfer promotion was the bomb.  That is why the newsletter is late, we have been working like crazy on installations and migrations.  What a great promotion, and I am so happy we were able to help so many of our customers take advantage of this and save them money.

In the news, we have read about Hurricane Matthew and the path of destruction that this hurricane is leaving in its wake.  We pray for those people that have been affected, it is such a shame.  As IT professionals, we need to also worry about our computer systems.  If your machine were to get destroyed, would you be able to recover the machine?  Would your company recover?  At the minimum if you can’t remember the last time you did a full system save (GO SAVE 21), then it is certainly too long ago.  If you remember, but would be embarrassed to admit it, then again it’s too long ago.  What can you do, do a full backup as soon as possible, and get in the habit of doing good verifiable backups.  An occasional restore test is also a good idea.  Need more than that, then consider replication to our IBM i in the cloud.  iTech can handle the infrastructure, replication, service, whatever you need. For the smallest RPO and RTO that you require, think iTech. Don’t let a disaster make you think about backups and recovery, this should be something in the forefront of your minds at all times.  If you need help, we can help you.

We are coming to a city near you, if you live in the Northeast of the US.  Starting Sept 28, we will be once again presenting our Power8 and IBM i 7.3 roadshow.  We invite you to come and hear all the latest information on Power 8 Servers and details about what is in IBM i 7.3.  There is no charge for registration, so we hope to see you there. The first few shows have been great.

As we have been publishing our monthly newsletter now for 9 years, we continue to help our customers and members of the IBM i community get the most from their IBM i and Power Systems investment.  If your current business partner isn’t providing you with the same value, switch to iTech Solutions by calling our sales team at 203-744-7854 then press 3 for the sales team.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article we tell you about our Power8 and IBM i Roadshows coming to the cities in the northeast US. The second article is from Chris on finding the level of Apache you are running. The third article on Are the ISV’s killing the IBM i.  The fourth is on upgrading your LAN Console before upgrading to 7.3.  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 7.1 Technology Refresh 11 for you on your next application of PTFs. For the 7.2 customers, we will be installing 7.2 Technology Refresh 3.

In March we released our first IBM i State of the Union and the positive comments and the number of downloads has been phenomenal.  We just completed updating this to include everything from the first half of 2016, you can get a copy on our website.

Having a business partner isn’t the same as having iTech Solutions. If you are not getting the support, the help, the guidance, and the advice you need to succeed, then you owe it to yourself to contact iTech Solutions for all 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.

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, 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.

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iTech Solutions Power8 and IBM i 7.3 roadshows are near you.

If your IBM i could walk, it would come to one of our presentations.

Join us for an IBM Power8 and IBM i 7.3 Roadshow sponsored by iTech Solutions Group, where you will learn about the exciting new announcements that emphasize IBM’s continued commitment to the Power Systems platform and the IBM i operating system.

The Roadshow is about what is new and exciting with the IBM Power8 servers and the latest level of the OS. If you are operating any of IBM’s iSeries, Power5, Power6, or Power 7 servers these Roadshow presentations will have everything you need to know about how the new Power8 servers can vastly improve your IT environment and reduce operating costs.

Pete Massiello of iTech Solutions Group, an IBM Premier Business Partner, will present two sessions at each of these roadshow locations.

Session Highlights to include:

  • IBM Power Systems Roadmap and Commitment to i
  • How Organizations are running mission-critical workloads on Power8 with reduced TCO
  • Understanding of IBM Power8 processors, enhancements and new features
  • Discussion of IBM i 7.3 newest enhancements including: DB2,  Security, and System Management
  • Reducing system downtime with High Availability and Backup options

 

iTech Solutions Roadshow Schedule: Session Time

(Registration 30 min prior)

Location
Thur – Oct 6, 2016 9:00am – 12:00pm Providence Marriott Downtown, Providence, RI
Thur – Oct 6, 2016 2:00pm – 5:00pm Sheraton Tara, Framingham, MA
Wed – Oct 12, 2016 9:00am – 12:00pm Norwalk Inn, Norwalk, CT
Wed – Oct 19, 2016 2:00pm – 5:00pm Albany, NY
Thur – Oct 20, 2016 10:00am – 1:00pm Burlington, VT
Wed – Nov 2, 2016 9:00am – 12:00pm Holiday Inn, Totowa, NJ
 Wed – Nov 2, 2016  1:00pm – 5:00pm  Westbury Manor, Westbury, NY
Thur – Nov 3, 2016 9:00am – 12:00pm IBM 590 Madison Ave, New York City, NY

 

To register for one of these sessions, choose from the locations listed and click the date of the event in your area. For more information you can always contact sales@itechsol.com or dial 203-744-7854 press 3 for sales.

 


 

Version of Apache

We were recently working on an HTTP Server project, and Chris thought this would be helpful.  If you are ever involved in a PCI audit, you can get asked what version of Apache your system is on.  To find that out, and take a print screen for Auditors:

STRTCPSVR SERVER(*HTTP) HTTPSVR(*ADMIN ‘-V’), then page up to beginning, and you see the server information (example below).

Also, to determine if you have the latest PTF’s that address Apache security vulnerabilities for PCI Compliance, which you may be asked by someone running penetration testing, check the website for the appropriate OS version/release: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/wikis/home?lang=en#!/wiki/IBM%20i%20Technology%20Updates/page/PCI%20Compliance

If you would like to discuss how iTech Solutions can help you, email our sales group.   Our Administrators have the skills, knowledge, and experience to perform any other IBM i System Admin functions.

 


Are Some Independent Software Vendors having a Negative Impact on IBM i? 

You are probably thinking that this question is a little harsh. But time and time again, I continue to get questions from customers on this issue. As such, I feel compelled to address it and take a look at what’s currently going on.

Starting with a little history will help. Back – I mean way back when the AS/400 was first announced – remember what the AS in AS/400 stood for, Application Systems. Without a doubt, the success of the AS/400 came from all the applications it ran. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) had ERP packages, and there were third-party utilities for adding functionality missing from either the Operating System (OS) or the ISV offerings. I would say the success of the platform was the many ERP companies and their great applications used by companies to run their businesses. Adding to that, industry needed add-ons such as emailing, faxing, replication, program-to-file references for programmers, address verification, shipping and EDI. Eventually, modernization vendors came to the party.

Now that we understand the players in the market, let’s look at some of the practices impacting our community. As most people know, my company is a hardware reseller. A core practice of my business is working with customers moving to a new server. Customers buying new hardware understand the costs of the new machine just as they clearly know the costs for upgrading to the latest version of the IBM i OS. Additional IBM software, peripheral IBM hardware and maintenance costs for all the above are equally transparent.

The harder part comes when I have to direct my customers to every ISV supplier and have them ask, “Is there a charge to move from model xxx with processor feature ppp to model yyy with processor feature rrr?” When we are changing the release of the OS, we also need to ask about compatibility between the version currently in use and the update. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to know, at this point, the ISVs add their charges to the equation. What’s unsettling to me is that there are times when an ISV wants to charge more than the cost of the new IBM product to migrate its ERP or utility package.

Let’s put a few items in perspective. If the company is not under a software maintenance contract with the ISV, then I agree there should be a charge. Software maintenance provides enhancements, bug fixes and support. However, if a customer is under a software maintenance contract with the ISV, I believe same P-level server migrations (keeping the same number of processors of course) should be included. Meaning, if the customer is currently running an IBM P10 software tier on its existing server and the new POWER Server latest and greatest is also a P10, there should be no charge in my opinion. To be clear, there aren’t charges (usually) when the exact same version of the software can run on the IBM i OS the customer is choosing to run..

Many ISVs want to charge several thousands of dollars for the customer to move software from one machine to another, even when in the same P-Level tier. Yes, the machine might have more CPW, however, essentially the work load is comparable. Additionally, the business already paid a license to use the software on the server and continues to pay a premium to do so every year. Maintenance fees are not an insignificant amount of the revenue ISVs generate. I certainly understand that some companies charge a small license transfer fee (i.e. an administrative or paperwork fee). I am fine with that and so are most of the people who I have spoken to for this article. I also respect a company’s right to make money. However, the combination of the initial purchase price, training and consultation fees and the ongoing maintenance should adequately cover the use of the software by the ISV’s customer.

What dismays me is a practice by some ISVs to use this situation to compel customers to pay more. This pricing model deters modernization! Just at a time when one would think ISVs would welcome a customer’s commitment to the IBM i platform and investment in its future on Power Systems, the symbiotic nature of the relationship changes.

We all understand the value for companies using IBM’s Power Systems to run their businesses. Yes, there are cost savings and value-added justifications in the new server like ongoing maintenance cost reduction, consolidation of machines, enhancement of services, improved performance, etc. However, in the worst-case scenarios I have seen, the customer has already purchased the new server and ends up with no other alternative than to pay the additional fees to its ISV. I don’t want to name the ISVs that many customers mentioned during data collection for this article, but I will note that there are some ISVs who aren’t charging. I know of one that has never charged for server upgrades, and another has recently seen the light and is no longer charging for server upgrades on its software. These companies are helping the community. I keep hearing customers say, “I can’t afford to purchase all the software, so the CIO is looking at getting off the platform.” This is the same software they already paid for and continue to pay maintenance on yearly.

These practices are what I am referring to when I say some ISVs can have a negative impact on the IBM i community.

For my customers, some say they pay the additional charges and then start looking for another vendor to replace the product. Unfortunately, some companies will continue to use these costs as a reason to move off the platform. Then, of course, they often blame “IBM” as being too expensive. As a businessman, I would think these ISVs are being terribly short sighted, maybe even penny-wise and dollar foolish. Unfortunately, I wonder if the ISV owners just don’t want the IBM i business and are trying to exit that product line?

In the end, what can be done if you don’t agree with these ISV’s charging practices? Make your concerns known.

I started this article far more negatively than I usually would, and it was a difficult decision to make. I respect many professionals in the ISV community, have a lot of friends in same, and I believe in a lot of the products my customers rely on. However, if I don’t talk about what I see every day – firsthand – who will? I see these practices, I see the impact on the companies who are dedicated to our platform, and I know it isn’t unique to a single ERP or utility provider. It is endemic. It is a disease weakening our businesses and companies.

 


Plan for your Operations LAN Console installation or upgrade.

Before upgrading to IBM i 7.3 you need to update your client, if you are using IBM LAN Console for your IBM i Console. Starting with IBM i 7.2, there were only two console choices available for IBM i: LAN Console or HMC Console.  Now, with 7.3 you can no longer use the old 7.1 IBM i Access for Windows Client, if you are using LAN Console..

The service tool server which includes LAN console is removing support for SSL V3 ciphers which means the LAN console feature in the 7.1 IBM i Access for Windows client is no longer supported in 7.3. IBM i Access Client Solutions is now required for LAN console in 7.3. IBM i Access Client Solutions, also known as the Java based client, and should be installed on your PC which you use for the Console before upgrading the License Internal Code (LIC) to IBM i 7.3, or installing a new partition which uses IBM i 7.3. The LAN console feature in IBM i Access Client Solutions can connect to any supported IBM i release.

Note: The LAN console feature in the IBM i Access for Windows client will work for a D-mode install because SSL ciphers aren’t used during the D-mode IPL but on the following A-mode IPL the IBM i Access for Windows LAN console will fail to connect. The IBM i Access for Windows client does not need to be removed from the PC, but be aware the IBM i Access for Windows console will not continue working if the system is upgraded to 7.3.

If you are upgrading to IBM i 7.3 and you want to replace an existing console with a LAN attached Operations Console, upgrade the PC to the new IBM i Access Client Solutions beforehand. If this is more than you want to be concerned about, contact iTech Solutions, and we will handle this for you.

 


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.

 

Archived available anytime – Steve Will and Pete Massiello host a session on what’s new for IBM i 7.3.    

 

September 28 – November 3, 2016 – iTech Solutions Power8 & IBM i 7.3 roadshows http://www.itechsol.com

  • IBM Power Systems Roadmap and Commitment to i
  • How Organizations are running mission-critical workloads on Power8 with reduced TCO
  • Understanding of IBM Power8 processors, enhancements and new features
  • Discussion of IBM i 7.3 newest enhancements including: DB2,  Security, and System Management
  • Reducing system downtime with High Availability and Backup options

October 24 – 26, 2016 – COMMON Fall Event, Columbus, OH    http://www.common.org

  • What you need to know to Upgrade to IBM i 7.2 & 7.3 
  • HMC, IBM i, FSP, and Firmware
  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance and save disk space

November 16, 2016 – New England Midrange User Group  http://www.nemug.com

  • ICool things in Navigator for i to make you a RockStar System Administrator

December 7 – 8, 2016 – COMMON Forum – Systems Management, Orange County, CA  www.common.org

  • Cool things in Navigator for IBM i to make you a Rock Star Administrator
  • What you need to know to Upgrade to IBM i 7.2 & 7.3 
  • HMC, IBM i, FSP, and Firmware
  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance and save disk space
  • Step by step guide to Creating Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i
  • Rapid Fire Admin

 


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.

7.3 7.2 7.1 6.1 V5R4
Cumul Pack 16085 16127 16120 15063 12094
Tech. Refresh 4 11
Grp Hipers 15 74 178 210 204
DB Group  2 13 40 33 33
Java Group 3 11 26 37 34
Print Group 3 12 31 49
Backup/Recov. 4 26 60 61 57
Blade/IXA/IXS 1 16 30 15
HTTP 3 16 41 46 36
TCP/IP 3 9 17 22
Security 7 38 62 60  33
High Availability 2 5 11  5
Hardware  2 18 28  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 V7R1, the ID is 16120. We can determine that it was created on the 120th day of 2016, which is April 29th, 2016. Look at your machine and this will give you a quick indication of just how far out of date in PTFs you may be.

HMCs

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

Model Release Service Pack
HMC V8R8.5
  1. MH01617 (must be installed from classic GUI or command line)
  2. SP1 MH01633 (must be installed from classic GUI or command line)
  3. MH01649 (must be installed from classic GUI or command line)
HMC V8R8.4
  1. MH01560 (must be installed from command line using UPDHMC)
  2. SP2 MH01620 (must be installed from command line using UPDHMC)
  3. MH01662 (must be installed from classic GUI or from command line)
HMC V8R8.3
  1. SP2 MH01584
  2. MH01647
HMC  V8R8.2
  1. SP2 MH01488
  2. MH01646
HMC (CR4 last release) V7R7.9
  1. SP3 MH01546
  2. MH01587
  3. MH01644
HMC V7R7.8
  1. SP1 MH01397
  2. SP2 MH01432
  3. MH01570
or V7R7.7
  1. SP3 MH01379
  2. SP4 MH01415
  3. MH01516
HMC C03 V7R3.5 SP4 MH01277

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.x 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 at least 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_382 last
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_172_038 last
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_172_038 last
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_172_038 last
9119-FHA EH350_172_038 last
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_152_035
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_080_040
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_161_042
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-112_032
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_112_032
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AM770_112_032
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM780_075_040
Power8 8408-E8E, 8284-22A, 8286-41A, or 8286-42A SV840_113_056
9119-MHE or 9119-MME SC840_111_056

 

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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