June 2014 Newsletter

Well June has has been another busy month mostly with OS Upgrades.  On the board in the conference room today we have 27 OS upgrades currently in progress. From V5R3 to 6.1, V5R4 to 6.1 or 7.1, 6.1 to 7.1, and a few 7.1 to 7.2 upgrades.  What a variety, but that is what is out in the market. People always ask us what is the best release you can go to, and I always tell them “The highest release that is supported by your hardware and software”.  That is why you will notice we are still upgrading people to 6.1 and 7.1.

Over the last few months, we have been working diligently on a new website, and I am happy and proud to announce that we are live with our new website https://itechsol.com I hope you click on the website and check it out.  Quite a lot of work by our team, and I think they did a great job.  Of course, this is an on-going project with constant tweaks and updates, but it is live and I think looks great (OK, I am a little biased).

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will discuss two items: Errors upgrading to HMC 7.7.8 and can’t backup to the DVD after upgrading to 7.7.8. The second article is on Linux on Power and what do people mean by little endian and big endian. . The third article is on some comparisons for the 4U POWER7 and POWER8 machines.  The fourth article is about POWER8.  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 8 for you on your next application of PTFs.

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, 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, 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.


Errors upgrading to HMC 7.7.8 and an issue using the DVD for backups after upgrading to 7.7.8.   


Careful on upgrading your HMC to 7.7.8. After an upgrade of the HMC to 7.7.8, no user profile is able to log into the GUI. The GUI login fails with a message that either the USERID or PASSWORD is not correct. If SSH is enabled, only the HSCROOT userid is able to log in successfully. The problem is caused by an error parsing and restoring the HMC user profile data during the upgrade process.  The problem will affect HMCs that has had an additional HMC user profile created.  Which is probably everyone, but both of the following must also be true:

  • The user profile must have the letters “hmc” in the name. For example “hmc”, “hmcuser”, etc.
  • The user profile must have a “UID” (an internal user id number used by the base operating system) that conflicts with the UID of one of the built in user ids in 7.7.8.

To prevent the problem, log into the HMC before upgrading.  Go into HMC Management, then Manage User Profile and Access, and make sure none of your userids have “hmc” in the user name.  If you have a userid with ‘hmc” you will need to delete the userid. Of course, you are better off creating a replacement userid first without the hmc in the userid. After fixing this issue, then you can run the Save Upgrade data task prior to starting your upgrade. Contact iTech Solutions for more information or to have us upgrade your HMC.

Can’t backup to DVD after upgrading to 7.7.8 adding-a-hard-disk-1-1

After upgrading to HMC 7.7.8, you will notice that you no longer have the option of saving Management Console data to the DVD, nor can you restore from the DVD.  You might also know this function as Critical Console Data if you have used the HMC for some time. You now have to use a USB drive to do this backup.  Be prepared and have a USB memory stick on hand. Contact iTech Solutions for more information or to have us upgrade your HMC.


Big endian and little endian and why it matters to you.  TR7

Well I certainly didn’t think I would be writing about Linux here, but I think this is pretty big news for IBM i shops.  I had a laugh when I had first heard the announcement, because someone had asked me what this “Big Indian/Little Indian” was about.  I said “No, not Indian, i’ts endian”.  Confusion ensued, but that is ok, everyone needs to learn. Let’s first discuss the different, and why it matters to us.

Most Linux distributions that run on X86 use the little endian mode to access data. Up until POWER8, the distributions on Power used big endian.  This means that application vendors couldn’t simply port their applications from one to another.  When we store data we usually organize 8 bits into a Byte and 4 Bytes are a Word. The order of the bytes in the word is what endian is all about. When the x86 (little endian) stores its data it stores the least significant byte of a word in the smallest address and the most significant byte is stored in the largest address.  Big endian, stores it opposite, meaning is stores the most significant byte in the smallest address.  So, if we were storing a word made up of “01020304”, little endian would store this in memory as 04030201, while big endian would store this as 01020304.  You can see an application just couldn’t be ported from one to the other.

As a user you don’t really care, which endian you have, but if you are a software developer doing any kind of bit manipulation you need to know which order the data is in.  Kind of like having a date field and not knowing if the data is in YYMMDD or MMDDYY.  You would get very different results.

I don’t know of another platform other than Power which supports both big and little endian.  Remember, you have some activated processors which you can run Linux on.  Only POWER8 processors will support little endian.

POWER7 720 compared to POWER8 S814.   .


How do the two machines compare?  Below is a chart which IBM presented in Rochester last month during the announcements. Both machines are 4U and come with 4, 6, or 8 cores.  I want to just talk about the 1 socket machine, the two socket POWER8 machine would be an S824 and be compared to a POWER7 740.  You can see that the memory is faster in the POWER8, but the amounts for the 4 core and 6/8 cores are the same between POWER7 & POWER8.  You will notice the POWER8 has memory cache and a faster memory bandwidth providing additional speed. There is one more slot on the POWER8 for cards, but the 720 had the upper deck which could hold an additional 4 low profile cards. One of the big items in favor of the POWER8 is the card slots are hot-pluggable, which means the machine doesn’t have to come down to replace a card in the CEC.  Of course, right now you can’t have additional card enclosures on the POWER8, IBM has issued a statement of direction, but that is a limiting factor if you need many I/O adapter cards. You will also notice the I/O bandwidth is double on the POWER8, assume that has to do with the PCIe GEN3 slots. I think one of the biggest changes is the internal disk controllers.  The POWER7 had an integrated disk controller with 175MB of cache, and the POWER8 has an integrated disk controller with effectively 7GB of cache.  That is enough speed and cache to run 18 SSDs right in the system unit (CEC).  Pretty powerful, and that will provide you with quite a lot of I/O Operations per second. Of course, the 4-core has a limited number of disks.

Understanding the differences between the models, as well as which version of IBM i run on the machines is important if you are looking at upgrading.  POWER8 only supports 7.1 w/TR8 and 7.2, while POWER7 supports 6.1.1, 7.1, and 7.2. Don’t forget about CPU, on a POWER7 you are looking at about 7,000 CPW per core, while a POWER8 has almost 10,000 CPW per core. If you would like a presentation on POWER8 contact your iTech Solutions sales person or send us an email.


POWER8  Intrusion Detection

 The next generation of Power Systems is here !

IBM is shipping its next generation of Power Systems™ incorporating IBM’s POWER8™ processor. The new POWER8-based systems result from a $2.4B, 3+ year development effort, underscoring IBM’s commitment to providing higher-value, and open technologies to clients. They are ideal for deploying cloud, big data, and mobile Systems of Engagement and offer higher quality of service and improved performance and scale compared to competitive scale-out servers. If you’ve been waiting for an infrastructure solution uniquely designed for a new era of big data, now is the time to act. See what a difference a new POWER8 based server can do for your organization.  Right now, there is no external draws for additional I/O adapters, but IBM has issued a statement of direction to provide this capability.  If that is an issue, a POWER7+ is the right alternative.

The Power Systems servers with POWER8 enable organizations to manage staggering data requirements with unprecedented speed.

  • According to IBM tests, POWER8 servers running DB2® with BLU Acceleration can analyze data 82x faster than a comparably configured x86-based system.1
  • Certain companies have reported analytics queries running >1,000 times faster, reducing run times from hours to just seconds.
  • Upgrade from POWER7 based machines and see 40% performance in CPW.

Three out of four of the new Power Systems shipping today can run various combinations of Linux, IBM AIX® or IBM i operating systems. The fourth, the Power S822L, runs Linux exclusively. To simplify migration of Linux applications to POWER-based cloud deployments, IBM offers PowerKVM, the first virtualization solution for Power Systems designed with open source technology, as well as Ubuntu Server, the datacenter-ready Linux distribution from Canonical. The availability of Ubuntu on Power Systems complements the existing availability of Red Hat and SUSE Linux, already supported on Power Systems.

To make these even more attractive, IBM Global Financing is offering 0% 24 month financing for its most credit worthy customers.  Let someone from iTech Solutions show you the advantages of upgrading your POWER5, POWER6, or even POWER7 machine to a POWER8.  Contact us today.



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.


September 5, 2014 OMNI Chicago IL http://www.omniuser.org

  • What you need to know to upgrade to IBM i 7.2

September 17, 2014 New England Midrange Users Group:  www.nemug.com

October 26 – 29, 2014 COMMON Fall Event – Indianapolis, Indiana  http://www.common.org

Come visit Rick & Paul 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.


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.

7.2 7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 14101 14143 13312 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 8
Grp Hipers 7 113 176 203 169
DB Group 1 29 32 33 24
Java Group 1 16 27 34 23
Print Group 1 10 29 49 20
Backup/Recov. 2 36 49 57 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 15 28 15
HTTP 1 27 38 36 17
TCP/IP 8 16 22 16
Security 5 32 44 32
High Availability 1 7 4
Hardware 1 11 11

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 13287. We can determine that it was created on the 287th day of 2013, which is October 14, 2013. 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 & V5R4, 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  V8R8.1 eFix MH01421 then MH01436
HMC CR4 V7R7.9 eFix MH01406 then MH01435
HMC V7R7.8 SP1 eFix MH01416, MH01423, eFix MH01431, MH01434
or V7R7.7 SP3 eFix MH01409, MH01422, MH01439
HMC C03 V7R3.5 SP4

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 8.8.1 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 deskside 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 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 last
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_149 last
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_149 last
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_149 last
9119-FHA EH350_149 last
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_127
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_056
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 AM780_056
Power8 8247-21L, 8247-22L, 8284-22A, 8286-41A, 8286-42A SV810


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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