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Cloudify Your Applications by Creating a Software Virtual Appliance

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Package your existing applications for automatic deployment into clouds.

 

The vast majority of IT professionals today understand that cloud computing constitutes a fundamental paradigm shift in how the software solutions are marketed, distributed, and deployed. I contend that there are two fundamental features of cloud computing that will guarantee its success in the marketplace:

 

  1. Self-service
  2. Automation

 

The concept of self-service empowers the end-users. They can browse a catalog of prepackaged software solutions and decide when to deploy the workloads that satisfy their requirements. In this scenario, the data center provides the required services much in the same way as your public utilities company delivers electricity to your home. The data center administrators are no more the gatekeepers; they become transparent to the end-users.

 

With a high level of automation, the companies are able to lower their data center operational expenses (OPEX) by orders of magnitude. To achieve these high levels of automation, however, the IT shops need to adopt a new deployment model. In the traditional model, a solution provider such as an ISV would send a specialist to a customer location to install or upgrade their solution. Often, it is a cumbersome, time-consuming, tedious process that needs to be repeated over and over again at each customer location. Cloud computing simplifies this problem by implementing a solution known as a software virtual appliance (software VA, for short).

 

A software virtual appliance is a self-contained and self-described entity that consists of one or more virtual machine images and a metadata descriptor that describes the content of the virtual appliance and the required features of the target deployment platform.

 

IBM—along with many other vendors in the virtualization space—have adopted the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) Open Virtualization Format (OVF) specification as a standard way of building and deploying software virtual appliances.

Why Implement Software Virtual Appliances?

The software virtual appliances can encourage a quicker transition to the cloud deployment model by dramatically lowering the initial requirements for in-depth virtualization skills and addressing the key issues that have previously hindered adoption of the virtualized solutions:

 

  • Software Licensing—The software license agreement can be included in the software virtual appliance so that the deployer must accept its terms and conditions before the appliance can be successfully activated.  
  • A standard way to accompany the executable image with contextual information—The metadata descriptor, called the OVF file, contains detailed information about the target system Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) requirements, such as how many virtual CPUs are needed, what the networking setup is, etc. In addition, the OVF file can contain precise descriptions of the software components that constitute the appliance. For example, there might be separate sections describing the attributes of the operating system, the middleware, and the end-user applications. 
  • Support for software topologies that require multiple virtual machines—The realistic multi-tier software architectures can be properly represented with each tier being mapped to a separate virtual machine image. Note that in the DMTF specification a virtual machine is called a virtual system.
  • Vendor and platform independence—The appliances can be ported across management stacks, making a migration among virtualization vendors and among data centers fairly easy and non-disruptive.
  • Industry standard content verification and integrity checking support—The appliance payloads are digitally signed, ensuring that the content was not tempered with or modified.

The Anatomy of a Software Virtual Appliance

As mentioned, a software virtual appliance can consist of one or many virtual systems (VSes). Each VS can contain one or many virtual disks. The relationships between components as well as their attributes are described in the OVF file. All of the components, including binary images of the virtual disks along with the corresponding OVF file, are packaged in a tar archive. This tar archive becomes a software VA. In its most basic form, a software VA consists of a single virtual server that contains just one virtual disk image and a corresponding OVF.

 

Figure 1 illustrates the contents of a software VA targeting KVM as the deployment hypervisor.

 

061311JarekFigure1V2

Figure 1: These are the contents of a sample software virtual appliance. (Click images to enlarge.)

 

The software VA archive shown in Figure 1 consists of several components. Let's discuss the most important ones:

 

  • OVF File—This is an XML document containing the metadata describing the content of the software VA. It must be present as the first file in the root directory of the archive.
  • Manifest File—This is used to digitally sign the software VA. It guarantees the integrity and the security of the content. The cloud deployment platform will reject the deployment of an appliance with a compromised digital signature.
  • Virtual Disks—Each virtual system may require one or many virtual disk images. A virtual disk is a binary representation of a disk that is needed by a given virtual system to boot and function properly. For instance, the first disk is a bootable image of the operating system, the second is the data disk, etc. The DMTF OVF standard does not deal with the virtual disk formats. It requires only that the format is published. In the above example, I use the raw disk format, which is supported by the open-source hypervisor called KVM.
  • Supporting Files—In certain cases, some software artifacts need to be loaded at the time when the software VA is booted for the first time. These artifacts can be packaged with the software VA as ISO images or zip archives.

The OVF File

The OVF file is a critical part of every DMTF-compliant software VA. The cloud deployment management system parses its content to retrieve the information that is necessary for a successful activation of the software solution contained in a given appliance. The OVF file is an XML document that contains a number of sections. Each section describes a different aspect of the appliance.

 

Let's examine the most important parts of a typical OVF file:

 

Disk Section

The Disk Section defines all virtual disk images at the global (virtual appliance) level. Here's an XML snippet that shows a typical Disk Section for a simple single-VS, single-disk appliance:

 

<ovf:References>

       <ovf:File ovf:href="vs0/disk0.raw" ovf:id="disk0"

ovf:size="10737418240" />

</ovf:References>

<ovf:DiskSection>

       <ovf:Info>Describes the set of virtual disks</ovf:Info>

       <ovf:Disk ovf:capacity="10737418240"                                    [1]

ovf:capacityAllocationUnits="byte"

ovf:diskId="vs0/vd0"                                     

ovf:fileRef="disk0"                                              [2]

              ovf:format="http://www.ibm.com/xmlns/ovf/diskformat/qemu.raw"  [3]  

              ovf:populatedSize="10737418240" />

</ovf:DiskSection>

 

In the sample above, at [1] the virtual disk capacity is specified, and at [2] a file reference to the disk image location is defined. The deployment platform uses this info to locate the file within the appliance tar archive that contains the binary image of a given virtual disk. At [3] a link to the disk format specification is provided.

 

Network Section

The Network Section provides all network definitions at the global level, listing the required private and public networks used in the software VA.

 

Virtual System Collection

The Virtual System Collection contains one or many virtual system definitions. This concept allows the deployment platform to manage the collection of the virtual systems as a unit of deployment. A successfully deployed Virtual System Collection becomes a workload that can be started, stopped, and migrated as a unit. 

    

Virtual System

The virtual system defines the metadata for each of the virtual machines that make up the appliance.  The virtual system section contains the following sections:

  • Eula Section—This is the license agreement for the given virtual server.
  • Product Section—This defines application, service, and static info that needs to be configured at the deployment of the appliance. For example, the local host name needs to be changed in the DB2 server configuration. 
  • Hardware Section—This defines the virtual hardware to be used per virtual server. This needs to be in the scope of the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) of the hypervisor chosen for deployment. Typically, this section describes the following aspects of HAL: network (virtual or physical),  capacity of virtual servers that will boot from images (memory, CPU),  storage controller, and devices.

The Magic of the Virtual Appliance Self-Activation

The true value of the OVF-compliant software VAs lies in the ability to automatically install and configure all of the software components, including the operating system, middleware, and end-user applications. Unfortunately, the prevailing approach of many appliance architects is to ship them "half-baked" without automating the activation of the entire software stack. Often, appliance architects use, say, the VMWare tools to ensure the reconfiguration of the OS-level settings, such as host name, domain name, and root password. They tend not to address the reconfiguration needs of the software components above the OS at the initial deploy time. For example, they do not reconfigure the database settings. Consequently, at deployment time, the host name at the OS level gets set to the proper value, while the database configuration shows the original host name. This may lead to unpredictable results and often requires manual debug and repair. This approach is problematic for several reasons:

 

  • The need for a manual configuration of deployed workloads defeats the key value proposition of cloud computing—namely, automation.
  • The deployer (a cloud admin) may not have the necessary domain knowledge to properly reconfigure a third-party application or middleware or the inter-dependencies of a multi-tiered application construct.

 

A preferred solution to address these issues is to take advantage of the IBM Virtual Solutions Activation Engine (VSAE). The Activation Engine is a software tool that is used during the appliance creation and deployment phases. The appliance architect installs the Activation Engine in each virtual system image during the appliance construction phase. Then, when the appliance is deployed, the Activation Engine runs in each of the virtual systems and reconfigures the system and the installed applications.

 

Essentially, the VSAE is a scripting engine that starts on the first boot before the application services are activated. For example, the WebSphere Application Server (WAS) data source configuration requires the DB2 server host name, the port on which DB2 is listening, the database name, and DB2 user credentials. Please note that these settings may be different for each instance and are runtime environment–specific. They need to be set before the WAS application startup to prevent conflicts and security exposure.

 

The VSAE supports a pluggable architecture where the configuration tasks for a specific aspect of a software stack are performed by the specialized activation programs. These activation programs are invoked by the Activation Engine in a predefined sequence. 

 

The OVF standard recommends that the runtime parameters are passed to the Activation Engine using an XML configuration file (default name is ovf-env.xml) contained in a virtual CD drive. The virtual CD drive is attached to a given virtual system at the boot time. The Activation Engine parses the XML configuration file to retrieve the parameters and then calls a specific activation program that sets points of variability (change points) in the application stack.

 

These concepts are illustrated in Figure 2:

 

061311JarekFigure2V2

Figure 2: These are the Activation Engine components.

 

Let's analyze the activation flow in greater detail. For example, an activation program that reconfigures a DB2 instance requires a number of runtime-specific parameters that need to be passed by the deployment platform using the ovf-env.xml transport mechanism. Here's an excerpt from the ovf-env.xml file that illustrates how the DB2 runtime parameters are passed to the Activation Engine:

 

<PropertySection>

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.db2inst1_password"

                     ovfenv:value="" />

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.db2fenc1_password"

                     ovfenv:value="" />

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.dasusr1_password"

                     ovfenv:value="" />

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.db2inst1_username"

                     ovfenv:value="db2inst1" />

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.db2inst1_group"

                     ovfenv:value="db2iadm1" />

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.db_name_new"

                     ovfenv:value="SAMPLE" />

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.db_action"

                     ovfenv:value="do-nothing" />

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.db2_license_type"

                     ovfenv:value="paid" />

<Property ovfenv:key="com.ibm.vsae.2_1.db2-config.db2_hostname"            [1]

                     ovfenv:value="vs102" />

/PropertySection>

 

In the example above, at [1] the db2_hostname parameter is passed with the value of "vs102". Note that I use the fully qualified parameter name that will allow the activation engine to locate the proper activation program to which to pass the hostname parameter and thus avoid the name conflicts for the same-named parameters used by different activation programs. For instance, the WAS activation may also require a db2_hostname parameter to properly reset the server name in the data source object.

 

There are two methods for setting the parameters:

 

1. At the appliance construction time—The appliance architect can use the OVF Product Section for DB2 to preset the parameters to their default values. Consider the following excerpt from the corresponding OVF file:

 

<!-- db2_hostname = localhost -->

<ovf:Property ovf:key="db2_hostname" ovf:type="string"

       ovf:userConfigurable="true" ovf:value="localhost" password="false">   [1]

              <ovf:Label ovf:msgid="ConfigDB2.db2_hostname.label"></ovf:Label>

              <ovf:Description>Local Hostname</ovf:Description>

</ovf:Property>

 

 In the snippet above, at [1] the appliance architect sets the db2_hostname to a default value of "localhost". He or she also indicates that the value is user-configurable, meaning that it can be changed by the deployer.

 

This leads to the second method for parameter modification:

 

2. At the deployment time—The deployment platform identifies all the parameters that have the userConfigurable attribute set to true. The parameters will be presented to the deployer at one of the deployment steps, at which time they can be changed to the values that reflect the current runtime environment. For example, the db2_hostname gets set to "vs102". Note that the deployer can be a human being or the cloud management software, such as the appliance placement services.

 

The actual code within the activation program responsible for resetting the host name may look as shown below:

 

echo "Update the DB2 hostname to $db2_hostname"

set -x

$DB2_PATH/adm/db2set -g db2system=$db2_hostname

set -

echo

 

Following the methodology described in this section, a number of software VAs were built for IBM partners. These software VAs fully automated the deployment of the real-life, sometimes-quite-complex solutions.

Building Software Virtual Appliances

By now you should be excited about the tremendous possibilities offered by the software Virtual Appliance deployment model. You may ask yourself, "How do I package my applications into this format so that they become cloud-ready?" Well, there are several options:

 

1. Build the software VA manually using the open-source tooling. For example, you could install on your Linux workstation the open-source hypervisor KVM, along with the virtualization tools, such as virsh, virt-manager, and virt-viewer. You would then use the virt-manager to create the virtual machine images, boot those images on KVM, and install all the necessary software components. A simple text editor could then be used to create or modify an OVF file to describe the content of the virtual machine images you created. The final step would be to create a tar archive that contains the images and the OVF. This is, of course, easier said than done. The manual VA creation requires significant virtualization and OVF skills and probably is appealing only to geeks. So let's explore other options.

 

2. Use VMWare tooling. VMWare Studio and the OVF Toolkit are aimed at simplifying the process of virtual appliance creation. The virtual appliances created in VMWare Studio can be easily imported and deployed using vSphere Client. The process is well-documented in the VMWare publications. Please keep in mind that VMWare tools do not support open-source hypervisors such as KVM or architectures other than Intel.

 

3. Leverage Virtual Appliance Factory Service (VAF Service). With this no-fee service, IBM Business Partners and ISVs get assistance and resources to build virtual images and software virtual appliances. The VAF Service is a set of Web 2.0 tools, services, and processes that dramatically simplify and automate the process of ISV solutions "cloudification." Currently, this service is hosted by the IBM Innovation Center in Waltham, Massachusetts. Some of the benefits of the VAF Service include these:

 

  • Allows entry into cloud space with minimal up-front investment
  • Hides complexity of the virtualization infrastructure, meaning that partners can focus on their knowledge domain, which is multi-tier application composition rather than infrastructure setup
  • Creates a virtual appliance deployable into DMTF OVF–compatible data centers
  • Delivers on two key value propositions of cloud computing: automation and self-service (industry-strength IBM VSAE can be bundled with the VAs)

 

Please contact the author for further details on the VAF Service.

Closing Comments

The software virtual appliance model governs the packaging and deploying of software solutions into cloud environments. It does not have dependencies on any specific cloud architecture or cloud services. I believe that the software VA standard as codified by the DMTF OVF spec has been the best option for easing the pains of moving from the traditional deployment model to the cloud deployment model. It speeds up the process of "cloudifying" a range of applications. On the one end of the spectrum, you can take an existing matured, hardened, and market-tested COBOL app and with little effort package it as a single-image, single-disk software VA, which immediately becomes deployable into the cloud. On the other end of the spectrum, you can package a newly implemented, highly distributed, service-oriented application. In this case, the software VA may consist of multiple virtual systems, each requiring multiple disks and sophisticated activation logic. This newly created software may, in fact, integrate with the services provided by the cloud, such as database services or queuing services. Please note, however, that this integration with the cloud services is neither required nor governed by the DMTF OVF spec. Which underlying services to use is the solution architect's choice much in the same way as she or he may choose to use J2EE rather than .NET. This has nothing to do with how the solution is packaged.

 

I hope this helps clarify the scope and the benefits of the software VA deployment model.

 

Additional Material

The DMTF OVF specification Web site:

 

http://www.dmtf.org/standards/ovf

 

The IBM Web site for Partners who wish to participate in the Cloud Specialty program:

 

https://www-304.ibm.com/partnerworld/wps/servlet/ContentHandler/isv_com_spe_cloud_index

 

as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7, V6R1

Jarek Miszczyk

Jarek Miszczyk is a Lead Technical Consultant for System x Virtualization and Cloud Computing at the IBM STG Global ISV Enablement organization. He is located in Rochester, Minnesota. He can be reached by email at jarek@us.ibm.com.

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    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task

     

  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach

    SB_PowerTech_WC_GenericGet actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite.

     

  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericYou need to know when IBM i disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends

     

     

  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericMany business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation.Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying? It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, see how HelpSystems data automation software will help you stop re-keying data.

     

  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_GenericWhen it comes to IBM Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"

     

  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericToo much paper is wasted. Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets.And distributing documents is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    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.