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A Server Consolidation--Integrated Netfinity Server on the AS/400

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Throughout the late ’80s and ’90s, IT shops migrated away from a centralized computing environment to one of multiple compartmentalized servers. The trend in recent years is reverting back to centralized systems because of an expanding realization of the increased costs of managing and maintaining individual servers. Of 50 IT managers interviewed in Mathew M. Nordan’s “The New Server Landscape” (1999), “70 percent [of IT shops] have undertaken server consolidation projects within the last two years, and another 20 percent will join in by 2001.” There are several definitions of server consolidation within the AS/400: multiple AS/400 environments in a single box with logical partitioning, consolidating several Lotus Domino servers into one AS/400, running UNIX AIX applications in the AS/400 Portable Application Solutions Environment (PASE), and running both AS/400 and Windows applications inside an Integrated Netfinity Server (INS) installed on a single AS/400. This article focuses on the Windows and AS/400 aspect of server consolidation.

Keeping the Users Happy

The Integrated Netfinity Server includes a PC motherboard with a processor, memory, and cache plugged into the back of the AS/400 that enables PC programs to execute without any changes. Device drivers and integration code are provided to enable PC applications to access the AS/400 DASD, tape, and CD-ROM and to manage the server from the AS/400. The concept of running Microsoft Windows NT applications on an Integrated Netfinity Server was first introduced to satisfy AS/400 customers who wanted to keep their applications on the AS/400 but were also interested in applications offered for NT. These customers are happy with the AS/400’s reliability and its ability to run their business applications without much intervention, and they want to extend these attributes to Windows applications.

The previous implementations of OS/2 LanServer and Novell Netware for the Integrated PC Server (IPCS) products provided a platform to give customers what they wanted with NT. In 1998, support for running NT applications on the IPCS was first made available. Initially, customers were interested in one or two different NT applications, so


they purchased a single IPCS card. In 1999, the IPCS was renamed the Integrated Netfinity Server to show the product’s alignment and increased integration with IBM’s Netfinity Division. Today, INS usage has grown from customers using one or two INS cards to customers using four to eight cards inside a single machine, with each INS running a single Windows application. As shown in the example in Figure 1, a wide variety of applications are being used, ranging from popular PC tools to custom business applications. Customers are buying AS/400s just to consolidate and manage NT servers. The question is why.

Why Server Consolidation?

In general, consolidating small servers into larger systems offers many benefits. Server consolidation with the Integrated Netfinity Server offers several advantages because of the inherent architecture of the AS/400 and also the added integration features of the product. These benefits include the following:

• Physical space—A branch office such as a retail store or insurance company has a limited amount of office space, so it is a benefit to have the PC located inside the AS/400.

• Warranty and hardware service costs—The Windows server hardware and warranty costs are included with the AS/400. If you have a hardware problem, you call only AS/400 service instead of using a second PC service company for your Windows server hardware problems. Customers want the same service they get with their AS/400 extended to their PC environment.

• Total cost of ownership—Customers tell us that the total cost of ownership is less for server consolidation, such as the AS/400 and INS combination.

• Application isolation—The INS on the AS/400 is well suited for many Windows applications that run better on servers by themselves: for example, the domain controller or a mail server. It also benefits the user when the application sits alone on a server because of its resource requirements or reliability.

• Reliability—Many customers have said that Windows on the AS/400 is more stable and easier to install than on a standalone PC server. How can that be? From a software perspective, the operating system is Windows NT straight out of the box. Think about your personal computer either at work or at home. When was the last time you updated the device driver for your network adapter? When you first installed the system? When you reported a problem and the help desk told you to download the latest version of the driver, take two aspirin, and call back in the morning? You also probably have a mixture of hardware vendors providing the LAN adapter, disk drive, and CD-ROM drive. Have they ever been tested together as a system? Maybe. With the INS, however, every OS/400 release and version and IBM and Microsoft service pack are tested together with the latest IBM-supplied device drivers and integrated code to ensure that they function correctly together. You receive the benefits of an integrated solution.

Server Administration—Local and Remote

Because the INS resides inside an AS/400 and its management is integrated with the OS/400 operating system, it can take advantage of the rest of the AS/400’s functionality. For example, imagine that you are a system administrator in Dallas, Texas, who manages two AS/400s in Dallas and Austin, each of which contains an INS. A user calls you at home during the Cowboys game and says, “The NT server just crashed, and I have a deadline to meet by Monday!” Instead of leaving your house and missing the game, you can simply dial in to your AS/400 from your home PC, vary off (shut down) the INS’ NT


server, and then vary it on (reboot the server) again. The user is happy, and you can go back to watching the game, all in a matter of minutes. If your NT server were a standalone PC, you would need to physically be in Austin to press the power switch to reboot the server.

As an administrator, you can monitor the ongoing activity on the NT server by mirroring the NT event log to an AS/400 message queue. There is an Event log parameter on the Install Windows NT Server (INSWNTSVR) and the Change Network Server Description (CHGNWSD) commands that allows you to specify a message queue to receive copies of your NT server’s event log messages. In this way, you can see what’s going on in your Integrated Netfinity Server’s NT server from your AS/400 display without being physically logged on to the NT server. Figure 2 shows an example of this. In an upcoming release, NT server administration functions such as vary off, vary on, and displaying the status and monitoring the event log of the server will be available through the AS/400 Operations Navigator in Client Access Express for AS/400.

Disk Management

Disk flexibility can be illustrated another way. Consider the example of an auto parts store that uses an NT server to place orders for customers and passes them to an order fulfillment application on the AS/400. The auto part inventory list exists on a single drive linked to the Windows server. Each month, the main office updates the inventory list with new and obsolete parts. The inventory administrator updates the parts list, saves the disk (server storage space) to a save file with the AS/400 Save Object (SAV) command, and sends it to each of the branch offices. The old inventory disk is unlinked from the server with the Remove Server Storage Link (RMVNWSSTGL) command, and the new one is linked in its place with the Add Server Storage Link (ADDNWSSTGL) command. Now, each branch office has the updated inventory list.

Another example is this: Suppose you are monitoring the NT server on the Work with NWS Storage Spaces (WRKNWSSTG) screen and you notice that one of the disks is at 93 percent capacity. That night, you create a larger disk with the Create NWS Storage Space (CRTNWSSTG) command, vary off the NT server, link the new disk up to the server, vary on the server, and format the drive. You now have another, larger disk ready to use. Figure 3 gives a visual representation of this. Of course, this is somewhat oversimplified, but those are the steps you’ll need to go through to make this all work.

From a hardware perspective, the disks associated with the Windows server are spaces carved out of the AS/400 DASD. Therefore, the built-in RAID 5 and independent auxiliary storage pool facilities available on the AS/400 can also be carried over to your Windows server.

Backup and Recovery

Disks associated with an Integrated Netfinity Server are known as storage spaces to the AS/400. OS/400 creates storage spaces located in the AS/400 Integrated File System (AS/400 IFS) in the QFPNWSSTG folder under the Root (/) file system. These files can be backed up along with the rest of your AS/400 data in your routine backup procedure. This is a good way to ensure that you can fully restore a working NT server in case of a catastrophic failure. (On a standalone PC server, you would probably need to reload NT.) This method saves each NT disk as a single entity on the save media and enables you to restore the entire disk. Some customers save a critical data disk every night and relink it to the server each day as an archived backup disk from which any of their users can copy a file they may need to recover.

An option for a small branch office environment where local disk is not required may be to use the AS/400 NetServer function of the AS/400 IFS to define a network drive that is visible from your NT server but is totally managed from the AS/400. You access the files on the drive from your client as you would any network drive through Network


Neighborhood, but you can save and restore files individually through the AS/400 SAV command.

You can also use NT backup tools and save the data to your AS/400 tape drive. Backup programs that have been tested on the Integrated Netfinity Server include Windows NT Backup, Computer Associates’ ARCserve, and VERITAS’ Backup Exec.

In an upcoming release, file-level backup will be enabled through the AS/400 NetClient function of the AS/400 IFS. This allows local files from an active NT server to be saved and restored individually from the AS/400 save (SAV) and restore (RST) commands. This method is best used for incremental backups of critical and high-use files on a nightly basis.

Hot Spare Capability

IT directors who are responsible for several NT servers in a server farm may decide to purchase an extra hot spare PC server that is reserved for emergencies. If there is a hardware failure on one of the production servers, the reserve server can be installed and brought online until the failing hardware is fixed or replaced.

The hot spare concept is easy to implement with the INS on the AS/400. To do this, a customer purchases an extra Integrated Netfinity Server to be used as a hot spare. If a hardware failure occurs on one of the production NT Integrated Netfinity Servers, the administrator performs the following steps to bring the server back online:

1. She installs the hot spare Integrated Netfinity Server on her AS/400.

2. She uses an AS/400 command line to vary off the failing Integrated Netfinity Server’s Windows NT server.

3. She changes the Resource Name value in the AS/400 network server description object (NWSD) that represents the failed server so that the server’s description points to the resource name of the newly installed hot spare Integrated Netfinity Server.

4. She then varies the Integrated Netfinity Server’s Windows NT server back on from an AS/400 command line. This is all done without having to reinstall the server software and files or reconfigure anything on the NT server.

By doing this, the hot spare Integrated Netfinity Server comes online with all the resources that were being used by the failed INS card, including the INS’ linked storage spaces. You can then replace the failed card and use it as your new hot spare.

Server Flexibility

The same “hot spare” concept comes in handy if you are testing a service pack or new software such as Windows 2000. For example, you can bring down your production server on a Saturday, install the test version or service pack to a new NWSD object, vary on the server, test out the changes with your applications, vary off the test server, and vary the production server back online in time for opening business on Monday.

What’s in Store for the Integrated Netfinity Server?

Several enhancements are being implemented for Windows on the Integrated Netfinity Server. Some have been alluded to in this article such as server management from Operations Navigator, file-level backup enablement, and support for Windows 2000. Hardware capability will be increased with processor speed, main memory, and disk capacity. Design is also underway to provide additional management functions through Operations Navigator for disk management. Also, the AS/400 division has issued a statement of direction to support a bus-connected Symmetric Multiprocessor Netfinity


Server (see “Reshuffling the Deck on AS/400-Windows Integration,” Jim Bahr and Kyle Wurgler, MC, August 1999).

Since becoming generally available, use of the Integrated Netfinity Server has spread among AS/400 customers, and it is demonstrating its usefulness, reliability, and administrative and maintenance cost savings. With this kind of customer satisfaction, the current trend toward IT consolidation and optimization, and IBM’s commitment to the product, the future of the Integrated Netfinity Server looks extremely bright.

References and Related Materials

• “AS/400 Short-listed—Do Sweet Spots Still Exist?” Brad Day, Giga Information Group, December 14, 1999, Ver: 1.0 P-299-012: www.gigaweb.com

• “Building Server Cooperatives,” Mathew M. Nordan, Forrester Research, Inc., December 1997

• IBM AS/400 Windows NT Integration Web page: www.as400.ibm.com/nt

• IBM Netfinity Servers home page: www.pc.ibm.com/us/netfinity

• “Reshuffling the Deck on AS/400-Windows Integration,” Jim Bahr and Kyle Wurgler, MC, August 1999

• “The New Server Landscape,” Matthew M. Nordan, Forrester Research, Inc., August 1999


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AS/400
Line of Business Applications

Integrated Netfinity Servers

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Microsoft Exchange Outlook Citrix MetaFrame Microsoft SQL Server Custom Application Microsoft Exchange Outlook Backup Primary Domain Controller

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NTSvr1 NTSvr2 NTSvr3 NTSvr4 NTSvr5 NTSvr6 Hot Spare

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LAN

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Figure 1: This is an example of a consolidated AS/400 with Windows servers.

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Figure 2: This is an example of NT event log monitoring in Operations Navigator.


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Administrator Manages Branch Office Server

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C Disk D Disk E Disk New F Disk

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Figure 3: Adding a new disk to a server remotely is easy.


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    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.

     

     

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

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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.