Day: June 28, 2022

June 2022 Newsletter

This newsletter includes:

As we approach the end of June, I just wanted to thank all of our customers for another great record-setting first half here at iTech Solutions. We thank you for allowing us into your environment, we know you had a choice and we are so happy you have chosen us. We take pride in our work, we love helping our customers, and we value the relationships we have with you…

The Economic Cost of Falling Behind

The Economic Cost of Falling Behind

We have talked on many occasions about the negative results of companies on this platform that are simply not doing their due diligence to ensure their business systems stay current and modern.

“Why Should I Change Anything When Everything is Working Just Fine?”

I do not have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I have heard someone on the IBM i platform make that comment. For a long time, I struggled to find the right response to that statement that would educate rather than insult. It became clear to me that trying to convince someone with that mindset was not an effective use of my time unless I could come up with a question or comment that would completely make them stop and think otherwise.

Typically, that question or comment included the words “economic risk to the business.”  With security concerns in today’s world that are keeping business owners up at night, that phrase is becoming more resounding.

The cons of not keeping your systems current are outweighing any pros of maintaining the status quo. The biggest negative being the costs involved in fixing a problem that could have been avoided with proper planning and upkeep of your systems.

The goal of this article is to provide you with a solid, workable list of best practices for annual/biennial planned system maintenance.

Resource Page

The Value of Staying Current 

Information on why to upgrade, how to upgrade, and options to move forward.
View information on IBM Power10, IBM i 7.4 & 7.5, and more.
View Resources

Hardware & Software Maintenance
No brainer. Keep it current unless you want to deal with not getting support when you need it most or if you want to pay more than what it would have cost to just pay the annual maintenance fee. It more than pays for itself when you can get the assistance you need when you need it.

Firmware Updates
Firmware is invisible to the user which can allow firmware hacks to go undetected before anyone notices any wrongdoing. Compromised firmware can lead to more serious attacks involving the OS, user passwords, releasing ransomware, etc. Companies sometimes put firmware updates on the back burner because they can be disruptive and require downtime. Wouldn’t you rather plan the downtime on your own schedule rather than have your system go down unexpectedly by an unfriendly outside source? According to

How Do We Fix The Great IBM i Resource Shortage

How Do We Fix The Great IBM i Resource Shortage?

I’ve had the chance to get out and meet with people from the IBM i community lately at COMMON and the NHMUG meeting. After two long years of isolation, it was great to be out again and talk with people. Everyone was excited to get together, but there was another topic on everyone’s mind; how do we fix the great IBM i resource shortage and find more people to support IBM i?

It’s an interesting problem when you think about it. IBM i is the backbone of many industries, from financials and trucking to manufacturing and everything in between. IBM i runs the world, literally. Yet, for a platform so critical to industry and its success, there is very little education available for students to learn about this platform. There are a few opportunities for students to learn about IBM i, such as Gateway Technical College (They do a great job, and their students are successful in landing jobs in the IBM i world.), but they are few and far between.

Why is it that every student knows how to use a PC? But when they go to college, don’t learn about IBM i as an option? When I was attending classes, I could take AS/400 courses. Half of the class were adult learners who worked with the platform and wanted to learn more about it. I needed college credits at the time, and I had been an AS/400 administrator at my previous job and was working at a software company for AS/400 change management, so it seemed like a good idea.

I was a System Administrator for an AS/400 shop running JDE when I was twenty. I was tossed into the role when I was laid off from the same company as a Sales Administrator the week before. Two people in the IT department gave their notice on the same day. I received a call from my friend who was promoted to IT Manager, and she asked if I wanted to learn about the system.

That was it. I had an aptitude for computers my whole life. It started in the fifth grade when our Principal decided we all needed to learn about computers. He taught small groups of students at a time about the computer and how we could write Basic programs to make it do things. Before we could even touch the computer, he made us memorize …

Deploying Access Client Solutions Centrally with Java Included

Deploying Access Client Solutions Centrally with Java Included

The IBM i Access Client Solutions tool is the de facto standard for managing your IBM i systems. It allows you to start 5250 telnet sessions, 5250 console sessions, transfer files to and from the system, run SQL scripts, analyze SQL performance, create indexes, and much, much more. Most organizations have a significant number of users that are using this product or its predecessor – IBM i Access for Windows. Updates come to the product once or twice a year and performing those updates can be a bit cumbersome with a large number of users. Often times the updates just never get done.

There has been one large drawback when it comes to changing from Access for Windows to Client Solutions – it requires Java to be installed on each workstation. This then also requires the administrator to ensure Java is getting updated on all those workstations. In some cases, the only application requiring Java on these workstations is Client Solutions.

An option that’s been gaining traction recently is centrally deploying IBM i Access Client Solutions – putting it on a file share and placing a shortcut on each user’s desktop to execute it remotely. Using this option allows you to update the product once and all users then have the newest version the next time they launch the product. And it gets even better:  You can also include your Java JRE in this central location, and then you don’t have to have it installed on every end user’s workstation!

Follow these simple steps to put the JRE in the proper spot:

  1. Download a Java JRE (such as IBM Semeru Java 11 OpenJ9 JRE)
  2.  Locate the folder with the Windows executable on the file server (C:\Users\Public\IBM\ClientSolutions\Start_Programs\Windows_x86-64)
  3.  Unzip the folder into the Windows_x86-64 directory and rename it – adding jre on to the end of it. Client Solutions will find the Java JRE as long as the folder ends in jre.

Now with a simple shortcut to the executable on the file share, users can access both IBM i Access Client Solutions and the necessary Java file to run it. One last note – when you go to update Client Solutions in the future, make sure you make a copy of your outside the install directory, update the product, and then overwrite the new with the copied one. This will prevent you from losing changes you’ve made to …

Reimagining Your IBM i Backup Strategy With External Storage

Reimagining Your IBM i Backup Strategy With External Storage

These days I spend a fair amount of my time working with IBM i clients of all sizes to enhance their backup strategy.  Or in some cases just crafting a solid backup strategy that they could actually recover from. Recoverability remains the most important driver for point in time backups. Unfortunately, due to a lack of knowledge, demands for uptime, outdated hardware, or just simply a lack of care for business resiliency, some organizations fall into a reality where they have little faith in their recoverability.

I cannot stress how important your backup strategy is and will be, as we operate in a world of ransomware and cyber-attacks.

We have noticed a major uptick in IBM i shops that have business operations taken down due to cyber-attacks. I am going to try not to get on my Security soap box here and stick with point in time backup strategy. So I will keep the security talk brief. One of the best things you can do to protect your organization from a security threat, is have a solid backup. Sure, there are many things we can do to position ourselves well for preventing an attack. Having a solid backup gives you the piece of mind, that you can get back up on your feet if you ever get knocked down.

Great news is we can greatly enhance the quality and drastically reduce the impact point in time backups have on the business and its users with IBM’s FlashSystem external storage portfolio. Many IBM i shops continue to shy away from external storage due to their perception of cost and the fear of additional complexity. While I can’t argue that external storage becomes another thing to manage when you are used to internal disk and IBM i just being a rockstar at managing it, I think you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least look at the value it can serve up to the business before dismissing it.

One of the biggest reasons IBM i shops shortchange their backups is due to demands for uptime.

Backing up to LTO tape or even a VTL requires downtime and for shops running 24×7 operations, this becomes a major problem.  With IBM FlashSystem external SAN storage and a tool called FlashCopy, which is built into the software stack called Spectrum Virtualize, you are able to get a full system save with …