What do the IBM September 2021 announcements mean for IBM i System Administrators?

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

New Hardware

In IBM’s recent announcements the Power10 E1080 certainly stole the headlines with its incredible performance benchmarks, with like for like comparisons versus Power9 seeing upwards of 50% improvements. The E1080 will run IBM i V7R3 and V7R4, and while the enterprise capabilities of the E1080 are not for everybody, rest assured smaller scale-out servers will be announced in 2022.


(New) Navigator for i

For some years IBM have provided a graphical way of managing IBM i partitions, firstly with iSeries Navigator in 1995 which became System i Navigator and then the web-based Systems Director Navigator in 2008 followed by IBM Navigator for i in 2013. In efforts to modernize the day-to-day running of the platform, and steer System Administrators away from the green screen several features were only available in graphical interfaces. But despite credible progress over time many still relied on the 5250 interface.


(New) Navigator for i is available on September 27 and can be obtained by applying the latest group PTF packages for HTTP and Db2 and can be used with both V7R3 and V7R4. On first look the new tool looks to be game-changing, making the management of our favorite platform a real breeze. Navigator for i promises to improve the ability to manage multiple servers providing the capability to build dashboards and charts that can span your whole environment as opposed to a single server. The clever element of Navigator for i is that it utilizes the popular SQL Services – the modern alternative to APIs which can be used to extract a multitude of information from your IBM i that can help you to monitor, manage and secure it. While many of us make use of SQL Services for one-off queries run within Access Client Solutions to interrogate these metrics, Navigator for i builds upon this by providing the capability to chart these, plus the ability to both monitor them by way of customer defined thresholds, and ultimately raise alerts for exceptions.


SQL Services

SQL Services are neatly split into two; Db2 for i Services (designed for database engineers covering elements such as performance, application, and plan cache), and IBM i Services (covering non-database parts of the operating system covering areas such as BRMS, Java, Storage, System Health and Work Management). With IBM i V7R4 TR5 and V7R3 TR11, notable new SQL Services include:


COLLECTION_SERVICES_INFO - Collection Services are installed (and enabled) on every IBM i partition, by default set to wake up every 15 minutes (although this is customizable). They are designed to collect a large range of performance related data for later reporting on, or for troubleshooting purposes. The new SQL service allows you to see the settings and characteristics associated with your Collection Services setup.


ACTIVE_QUERY_INFO - When used this service returns information relating to SQL Query Engine queries.


QSYS2.SYSTABLES - Contains over a hundred different characteristics relating to database files. Think of this service as a modern equivalent of the Display File Description (DSPFD) command.


Access Client Solutions (ACS)

Access Client Solutions is the go-to tool for most System Administrators providing the capability to manage IBM i partitions, allowing you to:

  • Analyze server performance.

  • Manage the IFS and spooled files.

  • Run SQL scripts to interrogate dozens of built-in metrics.

  • Transfer data both to and from the server.

  • Manage Open Source packages.

  • Conduct restricted state tasks from the system console.

Version 1.1.8.8 of ACS is now available, addressing a number of IBM RFEs raised by the user community.


Access Client Solutions can be updated either by using HELP | CHECK FOR UPDATES, or by downloading the relevant PTF below:


IBM i V7R3 - SI73104 (for 5770SS1)

IBM i V7R4 – SI73103 (for 5770SS1)


Cloud Backups

With many IBM i environments now either residing in the cloud, or using the cloud for backups, both BRMS for i and IBM Cloud Storage Solutions for i have been enhanced to provide both multi-threaded and multi-part uploads to cloud storage targets such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3 or Google equivalents). Full FlashCopy support has also been provided.


To obtain these enhancements you will require the below PTFs:


BRMS

IBM i 7.3 - SI76737 (for 5770BR1

IBM i 7.4 - SI76738 (for 5770BR1)


IBM Cloud Storage Solutions for i

SI76887 (for 5733ICC)


Contact us today to learn more.

 

This article is written by Ash Giddings, Product Manager at Maxava