April 2014 Newsletter

Today is the long anticipated day that the entire IBM i community has been waiting for, a new release of IBM i 7.2 and new Power8 based machines.  Exciting!  Last month we told you that IBM had announced 7.2 would be available soon, but we couldn’t discuss it in any more detail.  iTech Solutions has been a beta site for IBM i 7.2 now for 3 to 4  months, and the release has been rock solid.  There are so many cool new features and functions in this release, you are certainly going to want to learn more.  I will go into more details on both 7.2, as well as Power8 based machines in this newsletter.  I was at IBM in Rochester last week and was able to see first hand the new Power8 based machines.  Very impressive.  I also want to share this chart, on two additional releases planned after 7.2 which was presented in Rochester.   Now, as you can see IBM removed some of the future dates, but the important item here is at least two more releases of IBM i and the continuing of new Technology Refreshes every 6 months.  I was speaking to Dave Norman (Director, IBM i Development) last week and he said they were already working on these releases that come after IBM i 7.2.  Also, lets not forget that IBM i is a major contributor to Power Systems revenue.  All great news for IBM i going forward.

At iTech Solutions, our commitment to IBM i and IBM Power Systems is very evident.  We have the skills, the experience, and knowledge to provide the right solution for you as well as help you with anything that is IBM i (or Power Systems) related.  Last month, iTech Solutions became an IBM Premier Business Partner, and we are very proud to have earned this title and be in a very exclusive group of IBM Business Partners.  We could not have done this without our loyal customers, and great staff at iTech Solutions. Thanks!.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will discuss Whats new with 7.2. The second article is our blog on how to upgrade to IBM i 7.2, what you need to know. The third article is on the new Power8 machines.  The fourth article is migrating from ProtectTier. 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 Technology Refresh 7 for you on your next application of PTFs, and beginning in June Technology Refresh 8.

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 vast experience 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, 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.


IBM i 7.2 features and functions.   Technology

IBM i 7.2 is now announced.  There are some really cool features in this release, and IBM has been hard at work addressing our requirements and needs.  Below is a summary of what is coming in 7.2.  In the following  article, I go into the details of what you need to know to upgrade to 7.2.  If you would like to hear more about what is in 7.2 or POWER8, please contact Glenn, Ken, Paul, or Rick to schedule a briefing. The following summary is some of the new items in 7.2.

DB2 for i enhancements in IBM i 7.2


  • Protect business critical data using data-centric design with Row and Column Access control (RCAC). Deploy Column masks for items like Social Security numbers depending on the users.
  • Secure remote journaling with SSL, to achieve HA & DR objectives without exposure
  • A user with security administration function usage (QIBM_DB_SECADM) will be
    able to grant or revoke privileges on any object to anyone, even if they do not have
    the SELECT privilege.
  • Have to load 5770-SS1 option 47 IBM Advanced Data Security for i, permissions for rows and masks for columns.

Application development

  • Improved ability to build, maintain and extend complex database application architecture with:
    • Named and Default parameter support on UDF/UDTFs
    • Function resolution using casting rules
    • Use of ARRAYs within UDF/UDTFs
    • Obfuscation of SQL triggers
    • Built-in Global Variables
    • Expressions on PREPARE & EXECUTE IMMEDIATE
    • Autonomous procedures
    • CURRENT USER special register
    • LPAD and RPAD scalar functions
    • Constants in LANGUAGE SQL routines
    • Unified debugger support for SQL functions
    • Datetime scalar function improvements

Database Engineering (DBE)

  • Timestamp precision control (upto 12 decimal places)
  • Partitioned tables automatically re-position a row when updated
  • Queued exclusive locks control
  • SQL Server Mode detail in collection services
  • SQL Details for Jobs enhancement
  • Improved VARCHAR & LOB space management
  • Automatic record movement between partitions


  • SQL Query Engine (SQE) supports OPNQRYF & Query/400
  • Other SQE enhancements
  • Use SQL to see temporary storage consumption

Significant Enhancements to RPG built into 7.2 with New Free Format RPG

JTOpen Lite – Java Toolbox for the mobile world.  Significantly smaller footprint for Java toolbox for IBM i, supports mobile devices capable of java, and targeted to high use elements.

IBM i HTTP Server now running Apache 2.4

IBM i integrated Application Server now powered by Liberty 8.5, which runs on Java 7 & 7.1, and replacement for Tomcat.

IBM Navigator for i – has been enhanced with new functions

  • Performance & Usability
    – New browsers
    – My Favorites
    – Quick Search
  • PTF management
    – Installed PTF Navigation
    – Load/apply PTF on single or group systems
  • Message Queue monitor
    – Based on the same CIM infrastructure
    – Filter messages based on rules
    – Trigger action to handle messages automatically
  • System monitor
    – User defined IBM i OS metrics monitor
    – Graphical displays of performance trend
    – User defined event automation
  • Database
    – Create new function and procedure
    – DB Performance Metrics

Improved Management of Temporary Storage

Mobile IBM i Access that ships with iAccess, 5770-XH2. To access your IBM i from any web enabled mobile device. THis is a tech preview with 7.2, and we have it running on our cloud and it is very nice.

Operations Enhancements:

  • Improved ease for installing Licensed Programs
  • CRTIMGCLG support to automatically add all images with the catalogue directory
  • D-mode UPL support from USB
  • Tape & Tape Library devices can now be configured for Online at IPL
  • PTF Enhancements
  • New functions for save restore:
    • Journaling enhancements for handling the wrong order restores
    • TCP/IP configuration automatically saved with QUSRSYS
    • More object selection capability
    • Spooled file backup enhancements
    • Better IFS backup performance using ASYNCBRING (see iTech Solutions newsletter Article Sept 2012)

Networking enhancements

  • System SSL (Security updates)
    –  TLSv1.2
    –  Elliptical Curve (ECDHE and ECDSA)
    –  Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP)
  • VPN
    –  IKEv2 NAT
    –  Re-keying IKE SA
    –  Advanced IKE & IpSec Cryptographic Algorithms, ECDSA authentication
  • Virtual LAN supports IEEE 802.1Q (VLAN)
  • IPv6 Neighbor Proxy Discovery for virtual Ethernet and PPP
  • LAN Console IPv4 initial configuration enhancements
  • SNMP enhancements including implementing SNMPv3 Manager APIs
  • TCP/IP IPv6 XML configuration file enhancements – validation and diagnostic messages
  • Retrieve/Update TCP/IP Information
  • CL commands for loading/unloading VPN & IP Filtering configuration files
  • VIPA proxy ARP support tied in with the existing dead gateway support

Printed Output Enhancements

Java; Support for Java 6, Jave 7, and Java 7.1. But beware, because support removed for Java 5 and Java 1.4.2

SAMBA support, which is a replacement for Netserver.

Extended Limits

  • 32 virtual disks per VSCSI adapter in IBM i client partition from 16.
  • Memory pools > 2 Terabytes
    –  New parameter on CHGSHRPOOL, CRT/CHGSBSD for units (*KB/*MB)
  • Job table limit 970,000 (QMAXJOB system value)
    – From 485,000
  • SMTP removed the SDD limitations
  • Optical: Expanded large saves for IFS QOPT files
    –  Max IFS QOPT file size now almost 10 TB from 4 GB
  • PowerHA Administrative Domain monitored resource entry (MRE) limit now 45,000
  • Maximum load source size will accommodate up to 2 TB, and load source drives must be at least 70 GB

Managing Limits Easier than Ever

  • Navigator’s Health Center has DB2 and System Limits
  • Hold a job that exceeds its defined limits (MAXTMPSTG and MAXCPU) and allow the operator to change the limit and let the job continue, or end the job

This is just scratching the surface, if you would like additional details, or help upgrading to 7.2, please let us know.


What you will need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2. TR7

If an upgrade to your current IBM i (OS/400 or i5/OS) operating system is something you’ve been putting off for quite some time, then the time has certainly come.

With IBM’s latest release of IBM i version 7.2, this release is packed with some really cool things. How long can you afford to keep waiting?  First, let me say that we have been a beta site for IBM i 7.2 over the last 3 to 4 months, and this release has been rock solid.

Upgrades, updates, PTFs, enhancements are nothing new to the IBM i community.  IBM has heavily invested in what was OS/400 up to what we now call IBM i during the last 26 years. While they have certainly changed the methodology of delivering new features and functions in 7.1 with Technology Refreshes, the new enhancements were what we needed.

Technology Refreshes have been coming out every 6 months over the last 4 years for 7.1, and you should have been taken advantage of these to quickly and easily get the new enhancements.  Of course, if you weren’t on 7.1 you couldn’t take advantage of these as 6.1 didn’t have them, and V5R4 is ancient….

For the remainder of the blog click here

POWER8 machines.  


IBM has announced 5 new POWER8 based machines, that are called “Scale-out” machines. Hence, they all start with an S.  The naming convention is S8su, where s is the number of sockets, and u is the height.  So, an S824 would be a Scale out POWER 8 machine, with two sockets and four “U” in height.  There are two other machines that have an L after them, and they just run Linux.  Out of the 5 machines, just two will be used for IBM i, and they are the 4U versions.  Currently you can either get a 2 socket (Like the previous Power7 740 class machine) or 1 socket machine (like the previous POWER7 720 class machine).  At this point, we haven’t even started to talk how many cores on each of the sockets, we will do that shortly.  One item to note, is that this is the start of a roll out, and that no other machines will be announced at this point.  Currently, there is no P05 machine, so if you want a P05, you would stay with the POWER7 4-Core machine.  Let’s be realistic, if you need a P05 machine, the POWER7+ 720 4 core machine is pretty powerful for an entry machine.

You can get the S814 as a Rack mount or a tower.  On both the S824 & S814 machines, you will notice that there are dual power supplies, and each power supplies has two electrical cords. So, to have redundancy, you would have 4 power cords. The one socket machine can have 1 Dual Chip Module that can have 6, 8, 10, or 12 cores.  That is all P10.  The first machines will have upto 1TB of memory per socket.  The S814 has either 3.0 Ghz or 3.7 Ghz processors.  There are 7 PCIe Gen3 slots that are Hot Plugable.  Yes, Hot Plugable is back, and was certainly a shortcoming on the Power7 machines. The POWER8 machines have smart acceleration enabled by Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) technologies. The POWER8 processors also support 8 simultaneous threads.

These machines (S814 & S824) come with 3 different backplanes, but really the only one of interest to IBM i users will be the one with 18 SSF disk bays and the high performance integrated disk controller.  This internal disk controller, has 7GB of compressed write cache.  That should be fantastic, in fact enough performance to drive the entire 18 bays full of SSDs.

The S824 will have everything the S814 has, except it will be a P20 class machine, and have 11 PCIe Gen3 slots.  In addition, it has a built-in Easy Tier, with an additional location for SSD drives, that you can put in 8 drives.

You can attach external disks to disk controllers in the CEC, but there are currently no external card towers.  This will be resolved in the future, but this is what I meant by a roll out of the POWER8 product line.  Still, a set of high performance disk controllers can support so many disks, that this shouldn’t be an issue for you.

If you would like a presentation on the new POWER8 processors, please contact Glenn for NY & NJ, Gary for PA & VA, Ken for CT, Paul for VT, NH, & ME, and Rick for MA or RI.  For others contact Pete.


IBM ProtecTIER® Customers  Intrusion Detection

This article has been updated in the May 2014 newsletter.



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 https://itechsol.com.

May 4 – 7, 2014 COMMON Annual Conference – Orlando, FL http://www.common.org

Come visit Rick, Paul, and Ken at our booth, and hear Pete speak on:

  • Tip and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space
  • A programmers future: Looking back to see the future
  • Building Virtual i Partitions Hosted by IBM i
  • What you need to know for a successful IBM i upgrade.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and firmware.

May 14, 2014 Long Island Systems User Group – Woodbury, NY http://www.lisug.org

Come visit Glenn at our booth

May 24 to 28th COMMON Poland -Warsaw, Poland www.common.org.pl

June 3, 2014 Michigan IBM i Technical Conference – Livonia, MI http://gomitec.com

June 18, 2014 New England Midrange Users Group – Managing IBM i with Navigator for i www.nemug.com


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 13287 13312 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 7
Grp Hipers 109 172 203 169
DB Group 28 31 33 24
Java Group 16 27 34 23
Print Group 9 28 49 20
Backup/Recov. 34 47 57 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 15 28 15
HTTP 26 37 36 17
TCP/IP 8 16 22 16
Security 31 43 32
High Availability 6 4
Hardware 10 10

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

Model Release Service Pack
HMC V7.7.9 eFix MH1406
HMC V7R7.8 SP1 eFix MH01416
or V7R7.7 SP3 eFix MH01409
HMC C03 V7R3.5 SP4

If you have an Flexible Service Processor (FSP) your firmware should be:

Machine Processor Model Version
Power5 or 5+ 520, 515, 525, 550, 570 SF240_418
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_149
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_149
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_149
9119-FHA EH350_149
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_127
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_054
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_126
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-076
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_076
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AL770_076
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM760_078


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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