September 2018 Newsletter

A Word from iTech Solutions President, Pete Massiello.

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I told someone the other day that it was “raining POWER9s”. They said, “What do you mean by that?”. It seems like we are installing a few new POWER9 systems a week at this point, and we have quite a few that we are in the process of helping customers order.

These machines are fast, and a great replacement from any previous machine. We recently had a customer who was running a POWER6 at a P20 software tier, and we were able to give him a machine with twice the CPW, 4 times the memory, and a good amount of more disk for less money than he was paying in just software maintenance costs, as he went from a P20 tier to a P10.

The initial savings don’t even take into account the savings on hardware maintenance, since the new POWER9 came with 3 years of warranty coverage. Another happy customer.

We have some new videos on installing POWER9 coming soon to our website, with a few more already being recorded. Also, don’t forget our iTech Solutions iTips for help with your IBM i.

Disaster Recovery

I can’t not talk about Hurricanes as that was one of the biggest stories in September. We helped a few customers with issues from Hurricane Florence. The flooding was just unreal watching it on the news. We hope those customers, employees, and their families impacted by the hurricane are recovering.

For the rest of us, have you tried to recover your system since then? What will it take to test your recovery? If your recovery is a wish and a prayer, then I think it is time to test your recovery. Even the most polished shops need to test out their recovery. You may be surprised by the issues you will uncover. The job you may save may be your own.

You want to test out the recovery process when it isn’t an emergency. To do that, you need to do a full system recovery based upon how you normally backup your system. If you back up the entire system each Saturday, and perform selective backups during the week, then you need to try and recover using both sets of backups. If you don’t have a machine to test a recovery on, contact our sales group and they can set up a contract for you to use one of our systems at your location, or our location to perform a disaster recovery test. Or better yet, talk to our sales group (203)-744-7854 press 3 for sales about our DR as a Service (DRaaS), where for a very low monthly rate you can do a test and have a partition in our cloud when a disaster strikes.

Conferences

With the fall approaching, its conference time again. Look for iTech Solutions to be at the Vermont IBM i Users Group, Jack Henry Conference, COMMON Fall, IBM Technical University, and COMMON Sweden. Our dates are in the events section of this newsletter. I hope if you are planning on attending these, that you plan to stop by either our booth or at one of our speaking sessions and say hello. It’s always great to meet our customers, and learn more about them. I will be at most of those events.

Encryption

One item that I see quite a few of our customers asking for is encryption at rest. Most people in the financial sector, as well as medical are asking for this. While IBM i does offer software encryption on an ASP, you can’t do the entire system unless you use external storage. We have implemented this over the last few months at a couple of customers who required it, and it was just so simple with the IBM Storwize.

In one case, we converted them over with only 90 minutes of downtime. There are some great features and functions in a SAN, there are also many benefits to internal disk as well, so let’s discuss which makes the most sense to you from a financial, performance, and ease-of-use perspective.

IBM i 30th Anniversary eBook

Have you seen the IBM i 30 years of innovation eBook? And to think we are just getting started.

There are some great stories about the success of companies using IBM i, and you can read them in the book. We have quite a few clients in there as well, and that makes me extremely proud knowing that we have been instrumental in our clients use of IBM i in the success of their company. View the book here.

This newsletter includes:

  • 6 Steps to Help Backup Your Data During Hurricane Season
  • Guide: 25 Tips to Prepare your IBM i for the Unexpected
  • iTech iTips from Steve Pitcher

  • Infographic: IBM i Identity & Access Management

  • Featured Blog: How to Evaluate Your Managed Service Needs by Laurie LeBlanc

  • Managed Service vs. Self Service by Phil Pearson
  • Events

  • Release Levels and PTFs

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 the latest PTFs as you are now on Technology Refresh 11. For the 7.2 customers, we will be installing 7.2 Technology Refresh 9, and 7.3 will be Technology Refresh 5.

Thanks,

Pete

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6 Steps to Help Back Up Your Data During Hurricane Season

A couple of weeks ago, we were bracing for Hurricane Florence to hit the Carolinas with massive flooding and wind damage up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. Right after that, we have Hurricanes Isaac and Helene currently forming in the Atlantic, their direction is still indecisive. It’s hurricane season.

Of course, the first concern is keeping you and your family safe. The Red Cross has excellent resources on Hurricane and Tropical Storm preparedness. You can see those here.

There may come a time when you ask if your business is fully prepared.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

The first question you have to ask yourself is “Do I have a full backup in case my machine is destroyed or damaged?”. This is probably the number one issue that I see in our industry today. Most businesses don’t have good backups that they can rely on.

If you are a regular reader of the iTech newsletter, you have probably heard me stress that you need to test your recovery and that it still holds out.

Take a moment to ask yourself:

  • Am I 100% sure of my backups?
  • Can I put the pieces of my backups together again?
  • Do I know where my tapes are?

If you have to pause a moment when going over those questions, we will go over some steps below to help.[CONTINUE READING]

 

Read Full Article

Get the Guide: 25 Tips to Prepare Your IBM i For the Unexpected

Be prepared before disaster strikes.

Natural disaster can strike any where and at any time.  Will your IBM i be ready if disaster strikes?

In this guide, we cover 25 tips to help with your IBM i disaster recovery planning.

Get The Guide

 

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Using TRCINT to find detailed encrypted connection information

Here you’ll find a detailed method to determining the strength of each encrypted connection to your IBM ipartition. Commands used: TRCINT SET(*ON) TRCTBL(‘All-encrypted’) TRCTYPE(*SCKSSL) SLTTRCPNT((17000 17004)). TRCINT SET(*OFF) TRCTBL(‘All-encrypted’…[Read More]

Watch Video >

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Set up a LIC macro for summarizing encrypted information

If you’re currently using any type of network encryption and want to understand the protocols in use, you can easily do this with a LIC macro. This is quite handy especially if you’re looking at turning off a less secure protocol like TLS 1.0….[Read More]
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Using Run SQL Scripts to get a high level user profile security summary

Need a way to get a high level understanding of your user profile security? Look no further. This simple script will allow you to summarize key aspects of your user profile security, from special authorities to group profiles with passwords. [Read More]

Watch Video >

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Determining Who Responded to QSYSOPR Messages

Ever want to see who responded to a message on the QSYSOPR message queue? There are two easy ways to do it.

Watch Video >

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iAM Security Infographic

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Can you say “iAM Secure”?

The onslaught of cyberattacks shows no signs of slowing. From Verizon to Equifax — even the CIA and the Dark Web weren’t immune. Compromised credentials, including weak or stolen passwords, are the #1 cause of breaches.

Too much trust has been placed in a network perimeter that was supposed to separate approved users from unauthorized users. Weak authentication systems and excessive privilege, is to blame.

In the last year, iTech has conducted more than a 100 security vulnerability assessments and in all cases, there are too many user accounts with too much authority.

This continues to be the biggest problem on the IBM i. [SEE FULL INFOGRAPHIC]

 

See Full Infographic
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Featured Blog: How to Evaluate Your Managed Service Needs

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Managed Services can be tailored to fit the needs of your business, which means you need to evaluate where a third party provider can provide you with the most benefits. Identifying where you have vulnerabilities or gaps with your system administration is the easiest place to start.

When building your case for managed services, we recommend you focus on three key areas:

  1. Your resources
  2. Their available time
  3. Skills gaps

[CONTINUE READING]

 

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Managed Services vs Self Service

Phil_cropped-2Managing a large and complex server like the IBM i, can be daunting. Add to this the fact that you may have Scaling Up/Down/In/Out, need to control High Availability and Monitoring, Patching, Manage Backups and Restores, you have to ensure the OS is kept up to date. Even the fundamentals such as security and configuration can take significant expertise.

To do this, you need the right skills, operational procedures while maintaining a best practice approach while adhering to stringent Internal/external governance.

Imagine if all you had to do is manage your database, or like many of our customers; they only have to manage Database Clients and Queries, Create Indexes and Maintain referential constraints between tables.

managed service partner takes care of everything else; this will include:

Managed IBM i High availability using Multi-LPAR topologies, which provides an SLA up-time of 99.95%.

With the Multi-LPAR features enabled on your production server, iTech provides asynchronous “standby” replica of every database and system across multiple systems. Since both the database and its replica are in sync, there is no chance of data loss. iTech manages the whole process, and also offers a fully managed failover service, so even if the master production database goes down, an automatic failover mechanism will change the master DNS to a replica to achieve high availability. [CONTINUE READING]

 

Read Full Article

 

Upcoming Events

Oct 15 – 17, 2018 – COMMON Fall Conference & Expo,

Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, Pittsburgh, PA    

Booth #20

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Visit the iTech Solutions booth in the Expo and learn how we can help you get the most out of your Power Systems running IBM i. In addition hear Pete Massiello, Yvonne Enselman, Richie Palma, and Steve Pitcher speak on a variety of IBM i System administration topics.

Pete’s Sessions: 

  • What You Need to Know to Successfully Upgrade to 7.3, 7.2, and 7.1
  • Step by Step Guide to creating Virtual i Partitions hosted by IBM i
  • Tips and Tricks to Improve System Performance and Save Disk Space
  • Cool things in Navigator to be a Rockstar System Administrator
  • POWER Panel: POWER 9

Richie’s Sessions:

  • Student Discussion Panel
  • POWER Panel: POWER 9
  • YiPs Roundtable

Steve’s Sessions:

  • Update your IBM i Modernization Mindset
  • Anatomy of a Security Failure
  • RPM’s for the System Administrator
  • POWER Panel: Security
  • CAAC Panel
  • YiPs Roundtable

Yvonne’s Sessions:

  • Basics of Testing for Programmers

 

Oct 15 – 18, 2018 – Jack Henry Annual Conference 

Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine, TX

Copy of 2017 JACK HENRY CONFERENCE

Visit the iTech Solutions booth in the Expo and learn how we can help you get the most out of your Power Systems running IBM i

 

Oct 15 – 19, 2018 – IBM Technical University 

Hollywood, FL

Pete Tech U

Hear Pete Massiello speak on a variety of IBM i System administration topics.

 

WMCPA User Group Meeting
Dec 13th
Milwaukee, WI

Richie Palma will be speaking on:

  • Understanding your licensing and what you are entitled to on POWER Systems
  • IBM i a Corner Office Perspective: Articulating the business value of IBM i

 

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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 18025 18032 17192 15063 12094
Tech. Refresh  4 8 11
Grp Hipers 67 130 229 210 204
DB Group 10 22 43 33 33
Java Group 9 17 32 41 34

[Continue Reading]

Read the Full Article
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Moving IBM i to POWER9

It’s always exciting when IBM announces new hardware and today is no exception! We have been hearing about the new POWER9 Chip for several months.

Read the Blog

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What are the True Costs of Staying
on Old Hardware?

It’s not news that keeping old hardware will cause your maintenance fees to increase. But what are the true costs?

Read the Blog

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6 Steps to Execute an IBM i Security Project

Many companies want to improve the state of their IBM i security, but they often don’t know where to start. They also might not understand the long-term impact of recommended changes.

Read the Blog

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How to Conquer IBM i Staffing

The use of Managed Services are predicted to continue to increase in 2017. Companies are realizing that focusing on what they do best can provide them with a competitive edge.

Read the Blog

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