In the Wheelhouse: No April Fools' Joke Here

Analysis of News Events
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Today, we'll cover the price benefits of recycling old tin and some new PTFs you gotta get. I was going to say something about IBM naming the line of servers called the CanuckleHead after me, but it was a groaner. And I'm sure my editor will leave that in.


IBM i Updates Trade-in Promotion for Older Boxes


IBM really wants you upgraded to Power7 and Power7+ iron and subsequently away from IBM i 5.4. How much so? Effective March 18, 2013, IBM's trade-in value for older machines running IBM i 5.4 have been updated according to announcement letter 313-025. The rebates are based not on what older tin you turn in, but actually what you upgrade to.


Hardware eligible to upgrade are all 940x (feature codes 5028 through 5033), 8203-E4A (FC 0533), and 8204-E8A (FC 0533).


What's kind of odd is the Power7 rebates are deeper than the Power7+ rebates. For instance, the 6-way Power7 3.0 GHz 720 Express rebate is $4000, but the 6-way Power7+ 3.6 GHz 720 Express is only $400.


No matter. For consolidation purposes, if you're planning on upgrading before IBM i 5.4 end of life at the end of the summer, you can trade in a few 5xx System i servers and put those workloads on a single 7xx series Power7 machine, transferring your IBM i license and paying the upgrade fee.


The pot has been sweetened. You can take advantage of the financial incentives now to get off of IBM i 5.4 before September. Not that IBM i 7.1 doesn't have any incentives of its own, of course.


Speaking of New Stuff in IBM i 7.1 TR6 and Group PTFs…


This past weekend, I took some time to update to IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 6, along with bringing my PTF groups for HTTP, DB2, Java, and others up to date. I had a look at IBMer Dawn May's i Can blog to catch up on the details of what's new in IBM Navigator for i. I'm a big fan of the new web-based Navigator, and I've been meaning to get patched up for a few months now.


Before I get into the features, I'll share with you what I tweeted after having a little look around once my oodles of PTFs were completed processing:




Yeah, it's that good. The only things missing for me are the EIM and NAS components. Hopefully, those will be implemented so I'll have no reason to go into the System i Navigator thick client ever again.


While Dawn May goes in-depth on some of this within a few articles (again, check her blog), I'll give you a brief summary here because these new IBM i Navigator features are fantastic. Also, IBM Navigator for i is updated with two things it's always seemed to struggle with in the past: speed and visual appeal. Dare I say I find the interface stylish?


User Interface Enhancements

The left-hand navigation is now very dynamic. When you expand a navigation tree itemlet's say subsystems, for instancethe list is generated for you on the fly and appears on the screen very quickly. The navigation performance is no longer a bit clunky. It's streamlined, quick, and easy.


The tabs on the top are now independent of each other. You'll notice the difference in feel as you use it.


Most of the tables you'll find are now updated to be dynamically generated. Context menus are added so that they'll show up on a right-click event. But the killer feature is the search capability. Let's say you're in the list of active jobs on the system and you want to filter the selection. All you have to do is start typing in the search field on the right and you'll begin to filter your results. No need for an Enter key press too; it's all dynamic based on what you type.


In the screen shot, you'll see that the left-hand navigation shows my active subsystems. On the right, I started typing "am" to filter jobs in the subsystem that start with "am," leaving only the Amgr Domino tasks. This is really handy if I wanted to get a quick subset of data. If I right-click those jobs, I'll get a drop-down menu with plenty of options, including performance information at the job level.



Figure 1: IBM Navigator for i gets slick.


Integrated File System

Two words: text editor! Have you ever wanted to edit a text file on the IFS but had to copy it locally, change the file, then copy it back up? What a pain. IBM has added a nice editor that allows you to edit the file in place.


Also, you now have the capability to upload/download files/folders through the web using IBM i Navigator. The user is even presented with a nice navigation tree so you can drill down to a target location. How about moving files from place to place within the IFS? Yes, it does that too.


Disk Management

User access has been simplified. Previously, the XPF and Service Tools user ID and password had to match and be uppercase in order to access disk management features with IBM i Navigator. This restriction has been removed.


Also, you can rebuild a failed disk in a parity set using IBM i Navigator rather than going into Service Tools and the Work with Disk Unit Recovery option.


There are also new enhancements in IBM i Navigator for DB2, Performance Tools, Omnifind search, ISC DHCP Server, and a lot more.


Also, I noticed that IBM cleaned up a few of the features that didn't translate in a more familiar fashion to, ahem, previous interface features. A few months ago, I noticed that the TCP/IP interface menu in IBM Navigator for i was sorted by IP interface by order of entry. So, for example, would show up at the bottom if you added it last, yet you've already got through as existing interfaces. On the thick client and 5250 interfaces, they're sorted numerically, so it just looked odd, especially if you've got a good number of IP addresses assigned to your system like I do. I mentioned it to IBM as a feature request, and wouldn't you know they went and implemented it! It made my day, so thank you, IBM. It's those kinds of little things that drive users crazy, especially users who didn't have that problem in the old tools. It goes to show that IBM's looking to make this interface very workable yet familiar enough so you don't get lost.


In order to get the bulk of these new features, you're going to have to pull down a few PTF groups:


  • HTTP Server (7.1 – SF99368 at level 17, 6.1 - SF99115 at level 29)
  • Java (7.1 - SF99572 at level 12, 6.1 - SF99562 at level 23)
  • Database (7.1 - SF99701 at level 23, 6.1 - SF99601 at level 28)
  • Performance Tools (7.1 - SF99145 at level 5, 6.1 – SF99144 at level 6)


Pro tip: If you're pulling down HTTP Server and you're running a version of WebSphere Application Server (WAS), you'll need to pull down the group PTFs for WAS and manually update the WAS servers after the PTFs are applied. The WAS PTFs are just placing an install image on the IFS, so if you do an IPL while applying the PTFs, you'll see messages in the QSYSOPR message queue stating you need to take action. Here are the instructions for WAS 7.0 and WAS 8.0, so brush up on your Qshell skills. Don't fret; the manual fix pack install is pretty simple. It will take you five minutes to run the commands and probably a good 30 or 40 for them to run on an entry-level box.

Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly


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