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Hierarchical Storage Management-- Better Access to Your AS/400 Data

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It’s the end of the week, and, just as you’re getting things cleaned up in preparation for the weekend, a coworker comes into your office and explains that she must have immediate access to a file that was saved to tape and deleted. After looking through copious save logs, you identify the tape containing the file, travel to the building containing the off-site backups, retrieve the desired tape, return to your machine room, and, finally, restore the file. Congratulations! You’ve just experienced the most basic example of hierarchical storage management (HSM).

In this article, I will discuss the concept of HSM and some of the available commercial products that implement it. I’ll also be discussing how you can use the tools that are available with OS/400 to implement your own HSM solution, including a way for your programs to access data stored offline without any modifications.

Storage on any computer comes in various layers. The fastest storage—in the registers of the CPU itself—is extremely expensive on a per-byte basis. The next step down in speed is cache memory, followed by RAM, fast hard disks, compressed hard disks, and, last but not least, removable forms of storage, such as optical, tape, and floppy disks. The price per byte of storage decreases as the access time increases. Thus, there is a huge difference between the cost of storing one byte in a CPU register and the cost of storing one byte on a tape, just as there is a huge difference in the time it takes to access those bytes.

In a perfect world, every computer would contain enough RAM to house every datum and program that would ever be needed. The speed of this fantasy computer would be incredible. In an imperfect world, the computer would have only enough disk and memory to process one job at a time. Such was the situation in the early days of computing when programs and data were stored on punched cards or the first floppy disks. Today’s IT manager is in charge of one or more computers that fall somewhere between these two extremes. For the remainder of this discussion, I’ll assume that the AS/400s you’re responsible for have a sufficient quantity of memory to address any performance problem due to a lack of memory.

Hierarchical storage management has been part of managing a computer system since the very first computer was brought online. The premise is quite simple: Maximize


system transaction throughput by storing the most frequently required data on the fastest (most expensive) devices, while storing less frequently accessed data on the slowest (cheapest) devices. The quantity of storage media is based, as always, on budgetary constraints and access requirements.

Planning for maximum transaction throughput includes not only the memory and disk requirements for the computer system but also the time of the animated overhead (the people) that service or use the computer.

What’s That Data Worth?

The reality-based anecdote that appeared at the beginning of this article demonstrated a large time-based cost for the retrieval of a file. Another way to look at this is from the viewpoint of a datum’s value. An open accounts-receivable entry is typically more valuable than a closed accounts-receivable entry, so I’m willing to store it on pricier disk real estate. As that entry moves from open accounts receivable to closed accounts receivable, from current month to previous month, from current quarter to previous quarter, from current fiscal year to previous fiscal year, and from pre-accounting audit to post-accounting audit, its value to the corporation decreases. As the immediacy of the data decreases, so does its value, which means it can be staged through its life cycle to increasingly slower and cheaper devices. HSM is all about deciding when the data should be devalued and ensuring that it remains at the appropriate level of accessibility throughout its life.

There are many options available for staging the data on a large AS/400 configuration. One of these typically would have the requisite system auxiliary storage pool (ASP), plus a number of user ASPs, and possibly a tape or optical library.

As an example, the aforementioned open accounts-receivable entry would be created on the system ASP, presumably on the fastest drives available. The entry would remain there until the account is paid. Once the debt is satisfied and the entry only of historical value, it could then be moved to a user ASP, perhaps on a compressed drive where access speed is traded for denser storage capabilities. As time progresses, the entry might migrate to a tape in a tape library or onto an optical medium in an optical library. At some point, it would find its way into the corporate archives or into the “bit bucket.”

HSM Products

IBM has several software products that will help you create an HSM solution, such as ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager (ADSM) for the AS/400, a client/server solution that permits mixed clients to store data on one or more servers. For instance, one AS/400 could serve as a repository for backups of PC clients and other AS/400s. ADSM client software is available for all the popular PC operating systems, including the Windows variants, OS/2, and Linux. ADSM can be set up so that clients send their backup data to the AS/400 at their convenience, or they can be polled by the AS/400 when it is ready to accept their data. Once the data has made it to the AS/400, there are a number of options available, such as how many versions to save, how long to keep each version, and when to move the data to tape.

Another IBM software product that adds to the HSM toolkit is Backup Recovery and Media Services (BRMS) for AS/400. This program is a sophisticated tape librarian capable of automatically retrieving archived objects—that is, objects saved in a tape library with their storage freed.

Of course, there are many more storage and retrieval vendors out there besides IBM, each with its own unique products. For example, LXI Corp. has a product called Media Management System (MMS), which is a tape management storage and retrieval system for the AS/400. It also has a relatively newer product, Tape Management System (TMS/ix), which runs across both AS/400 and UNIX boxes simultaneously. There are many other vendors who provide similar services and products. Check the Online Yellow Pages on the Midrange Computing Web site at


www.midrangecomputing.com/yellowpages for more vendors providing competing products and services.

Build Your Own Solution

Even if you don’t have an AS/400 large enough to have tape libraries and user ASPs or a budget large enough to purchase all of the software mentioned, you can still build your own HSM solution. Don’t believe it? Then consider that the AS/400 already implements HSM. Let me give you an example. We, as programmers, do not need to concern ourselves with where OS/400 is storing our objects across the various storage layers. When we call a program, regardless of where it is located on the various storage layers, it gets transparently loaded into real memory and is then executed. The first call loads the program from disk into memory.

Subsequent calls may find the program already available in main memory or, perhaps, still in cache. We, as programmers, need only intercede when a requested object no longer exists online.

IBM has provided APIs to make the creation of a custom-built HSM solution possible. The APIs are Move Library to ASP (QHSMMOVL), Move Root Folder to ASP (QHSMMOVF), Move Spooled File (QSPMOVSP), and Save *STMF with Storage Free (Qp0lSaveStgFree).

The first two APIs, QHSMMOVL and QHSMMOVF, do exactly what their titles suggest: They move either a library or a root folder, respectively, from one auxiliary storage pool into another. Before performing the actual move, they ensure that sufficient space exists in the target ASP to permit a successful transfer. Neither of these APIs, however, are useful if there are no user ASPs available on your AS/400.

The third API, QSPMOVSP, moves spool files from one output queue to either the top of another output queue or after another spool file in the same queue. Should the target queue exist in a different ASP than that of the source, a test for adequate space is performed. The move is accomplished only if it passes the test, just as the first two APIs do. There are some restrictions to the use of the various APIs. It is not possible to move system libraries (those beginning with the letter Q) or libraries that contain objects that are not permitted in a user ASP or objects that can’t be renamed. The QSYSWRK subsystem must be active, since it handles migration jobs, and the objects to be moved may not be allocated by another job. In short, any limitation that normally applies to the location and use of an object is still enforced even when using one of these APIs.

Some of the functionality of these HSM APIs already can be found in CL commands. For example, the functionality of the QSPMOVSP API is available in the Change Spool File Attributes (CHGSPLFA) command. Figure 1 is a program that demonstrates the use of the QSPMOVSP API to move a spool file from one queue to another. You could just as easily use the CHGSPLFA command to perform the same task. But the APIs provide more flexibility since they can be called directly from a high-level language. The ability to save a stream file object with freed storage is not available in the SAV command as it is with the Qp0lSaveStgFree API, so, in this case, the API has the clear advantage.

Weighing Your Options

If you plan to work with these or any of the other OS/400 APIs, be sure to load licensed product 5769SS1 Option 13 of OS/400: System Openness Includes. You can find this on the OS/400 installation media and load it through the licensed program menu (GO LICPGM). Option 13 loads the library QSYSINC onto the AS/400. This library includes source files containing members you can copy into your programs. In turn, these source files contain predefined data structures that make accessing the APIs much easier. For example, member QUSEC in file QSYSINC/QRPGLESRC provides the ILE/RPG common data structure for the error code parameter used by many of the APIs. The


comments included in the members provides some good information about the APIs, so they’re worth studying.

Depending upon your current AS/400 configuration, your reaction to these APIs could fall anywhere between boredom and excitement. If you have one or more user ASPs, you can write software that takes advantage of the APIs by moving static information from the system ASP to a user ASP. This user ASP would need to be backed up only whenever additional information is added to it. Thus, you can easily improve your backup times with just a little creativity.

Archiving Solution

Even if you find yourself uninspired by the APIs mentioned in this article, there exists one exciting HSM opportunity available for AS/400s of all sizes. To take advantage of it, you need to load 5769SS1 Option 18 of OS/400: Media and Storage Extensions (MSE). This option provides a user exit program and OS/400 exit points that permit a user program to be called whenever an archived version of an object needs to be restored to the system to satisfy a system request.

An object is considered to be archived when you have saved it to an offline medium, such as tape, and have specified that the storage for the original object should be freed. This causes the object to be saved and then the contents of it to be deleted from the system. The description of the object, including the save information (such as the device type and volume ID of the save medium) remains on the system. Without MSE, whenever access to an archived object is attempted, OS/400 returns a variety of error messages to the caller that all amount to the same thing: The object is inaccessible. With MSE and one of your own programs registered to an MSE exit point, you can intercede. The program can then do something as simple as prompting the user to insert the appropriate tape, restore the file, and exit. OS/400 then attempts to access the object and finds it completely intact. Meanwhile, the program that attempted to access the archived object will never know what happened. Instead of having to code special logic into each program to ensure object accessibility, the function can be pushed down to the operating system level. This is akin to using database triggers to enforce business rules.

Option 18: Media and Storage Extensions is not free. It costs $995 regardless of machine size. It is provided on the OS/400 installation media and can be installed through the licensed program menu (GO LICPGM). As with all IBM V4R4 software, you can “try it before you buy it” for 70 days, so you do have some time to play before you pay.

Design Time

To really take advantage of HSM, you need to design it into your applications. The APIs discussed in this article work on entire libraries or root directory trees. Saving objects, such as files, causes them to be saved as a complete entity. So, in both cases, you may not have the granularity you need for HSM. By redesigning your systems and applications so that you can split things into more logical units, perhaps by their relative “value,” you’ll be able to keep your system throughput and human throughput optimized.

References and Related Materials

• Complementing AS/400 Storage Management Using Hierarchical Storage Management APIs, Redbook (SG24-4450-01)


* TO COMPILE:

*

* CRTBNDRPG PGM(xxx/MOVSPLFR) SRCFILE(xxx/QRPGLESRC)

*

*

** MOVSPLFR - This program demonstrates the QSPMOVSP and QHSNDPM APIs

*

* References: System API Reference Manual SC41-5801

* file: QSYSINC/QRPGLESRC,QUSEC

* file: QSYSINC/QRPGLESRC,QSPMOVSP

*

** MODIFICATION HISTORY

** 2000-04-24 Initial incarnation. Barry L. Kline

** Fields used as parameters to this program

D srcJobName s like( qspsjn01 )

D srcJobUser s like( qspsjun01 )

D srcJobNumber s like( qspsjnbr01 )

D srcSplFile s like( qspssfn )

D srcSplFileNbr s 5p 0

D targetQueue s like( qsptoqn )

D targetQueueLib s like( qsptoql )

* Fields used as QMHSNDPM parameters

D callStack s 10 inz('*')

D msgData s 100

D msgFname s 20 inz('QCPFMSG *LIBL ')

D msgId s 7

D msgKey s 4

D msgLen s 8b 0

D msgType s 10 inz('*STATUS')

D stackCounter s 8b 0 inz(2)

* Fields used as QSPMOVSP parameters

D fmtName s 8a

D fmtLength s 8b 0

* This data structure is for the error code parameter use in both APIs

* Data structure modified from QSYSINC/QRPGLESRC,QUSEC

Dqusec ds

D qusbprv 1 4B 0

D qusbavl 5 8B 0

D qusei 9 15

D quserved 16 16

D qused01 100

* Copy the API headers provided for QSPMOVSP. There are two

* different data structures provided in the /copy member which

* represent the two different functions available in QSPMOVSP.

* We're going to use QSPF0100 to move the file to a new output queue.

/copy qsysinc/qrpglesrc,qspmovsp

** Program entry.

*C *entry plist

C parm srcJobName

C parm srcJobUser

C parm srcJobNumber

C parm srcSplFile

C parm srcSplFileNbr

C parm targetQueue

C parm targetQueueLib

* Fill in QSPF0100 fields

C eval QSPSJN01 = srcJobName

C eval QSPSJUN01 = srcJobUser

C eval QSPSJNBR01 = srcJobNumber

C clear QSPSIJID01

C clear QSPISFID

C eval QSPSSFN = srcSplFile

C eval QSPSSFN00 = srcSplFileNbr

C eval QSPTOQN = targetQueue

C eval QSPTOQL = targetQueueLib

* Fill in the fields required for the call to QSPMOVSP

C eval fmtName = 'MSPF0100'

C eval fmtLength = %size(QSPF0100)

* Move the spool file.

C call 'QSPMOVSP'

C parm qspf0100

C parm fmtLength

C parm fmtName

C parm qusec


* If any errors occurred, pass them back to the caller of this program

C if qusei <> *blanks

C

C call 'QMHSNDPM'

C parm qusei msgId

C parm msgFname

C parm qused01 msgData

C parm qusbavl msgLen

C parm '*DIAG' msgType

C parm callStack

C parm stackCounter

C parm msgKey

C parm qusec

C

C endif

C eval *Inlr = *on

Figure 1: Here’s an example of using the HSM APIs to move a spool file.


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    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

     

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days

     

  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using NodeRun.com as a pre-built development environment

     

     

  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.