An Introductin to Distributed Data Management

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Brief: If you're looking for a simple, transparent way to access a remote database on an AS/400, IBM has a way for you to locate, retrieve and present the remote data virtually automatically, with distributed data management (DDM).

MIS shops that support multiple AS/400s are becoming more and more prevalent. Your AS/400s may be in the same room or at remote locations around the world; in either case, there may be occasions when you need to access data on one system using a program on another system. Imagine for example, that your company, located in Carlsbad, California, has just purchased a competitor located in Loveland, Colorado. Everyone from the CEO to the janitor is smiling-except you and your MIS team.

You are faced with the challenge of getting inventory information from one system to the other. Somebody suggests using Distributed Data Management (DDM) and soon a chorus of voices agrees that DDM might be just what you need. You're left with two questions: "What is DDM?" and "How can it help me?"

What is DDM?

DDM is part of OS/400. It permits applications or users on an AS/400 to access database files that exist on a remote system, with little or no RPG program modification. Access to remote files is transparent to the user except for the time required to establish a communications link between the two systems. (The systems may include AS/400s, S/36s, S/38s or other DDM-compatible systems.) For our example, we'll simplify things by having an inventory-inquiry program on the AS/400 in Carlsbad access a single inventory file on the AS/400 in Loveland. You can expand these concepts to access multiple programs and database files on the remote system and to allow two-way communication so that Loveland users can access the Carlsbad inventory.

I'll presume that you have established a point-to-point SDLC connection using Advanced Program-to-Program Communications (APPC). Establishing the connection is beyond the scope of this article, but I've included a reference list if you need more information on these topics. DDM connections are limited to either APPC (as we're using in this example) or Advanced Peer-to-Peer Networking (APPN).

There are three basic components of DDM that facilitate remote file processing: DDM files, Source DDM (SDDM) and Target DDM (TDDM). A DDM file contains information about how to find a database file on the remote system. When your RPG or CL program accesses a DDM file which points to a database file on the remote system, it triggers the entire DDM process. A DDM session is established between SDDM on the local AS/400 and TDDM on the target AS/400. The DDM session, SDDM and TDDM are all transparent to the user and the applications programmer, but they are necessary to pass the appropriate data to the program. We'll look at these elements in more detail in the following sections.

DDM Files

To access the inventory file on the Loveland system, you must create a DDM file on the Carlsbad system. DDM files are not database files accessible by programs! It might be helpful to think of a DDM file as a special type of access path: when a program on the source system (Carlsbad) accesses a DDM file, it is directed to the database file on the target system (Loveland). For each file in Loveland that you need to access, you'll need a DDM file on the Carlsbad system.

Before you can create a DDM file, you need some information about both the Loveland system and the Carlsbad system. You'll need to know the local location name for both systems and the local network ID and default mode for Loveland. Run the Display Network Attributes (DSPNETA) command (1) to get this information. Next you'll run the Create DDM File (CRTDDMF) command (2) in Carlsbad to define your DDM file for the inventory file in Loveland.

Before you can create a DDM file, you need some information about both the Loveland system and the Carlsbad system. You'll need to know the local location name for both systems and the local network ID and default mode for Loveland. Run the Display Network Attributes (DSPNETA) command (Figure 1) to get this information. Next you'll run the Create DDM File (CRTDDMF) command (Figure 2) in Carlsbad to define your DDM file for the inventory file in Loveland.

CRTDDMF has many parameters, most of which can be defaulted. But there are seven key DDM values that present valuable options you need to be aware of, so we'll cover them here. DDM has a wider variety of capabilities than I'll discuss in this article-you may need to modify additional parameters if you use these other features. For a comprehensive look at all of DDM's capabilities see the DDM Guide listed in the references section at the conclusion of this article. An important thing to keep in mind at all times is that DDM file information is based on locations, so the parameters that specify where database files are located are critical elements of the DDM file. Of the seven parameters we'll discuss, four deal directly with location.

1. Use the FILE parameter to specify a file name and library to store the DDM file on the Carlsbad system.

2. The remote file (RMTFILE) parameter points to the database file name and library on the Loveland system (e.g., NEWINV/INVTOT).

3. The remote location name (RMTLOCNAME) should match the local location from DSPNETA on the Loveland AS/400. Figures 1 and 2 show the relationship between DSPNETA parameters in Loveland and CRTDDMF in Carlsbad.

The next four parameters can all be defaulted, but you may need to specify them, depending on the complexity of your communications network.

4. The remote location can be further qualified with the remote network identifiers (RMTNETID) parameter (default *LOC). Two locations with the same remote location name but different remote network identifiers are two separate locations just as two files with the same name in different libraries are separate files. If you use the RMTNETID parameter, it should match the local network identifier from your Loveland DSPNETA command.

5. The DEV parameter specifies the name of the APPC device description on the source system that's used with this DDM file. You should default this parameter to *LOC for most applications. By taking the *LOC default, OS/400 will automatically select the appropriate APPC device associated with the remote location. If no APPC device description exists, OS/400 will build one.

6. The local location name (LCLLOCNAME) parameter (default *LOC) specifies the Carlsbad system and must match the default local location name on the Carlsbad DSPNETA command, unless you have multiple local locations defined. In that case, you may insert the local location name you desire.

7. The last DDM file parameter we will look at is MODE (default *NETATR), which refers to the mode name to be used in conjunction with the remote location name to establish a communication link. Either take the *NETATR default, which will get the MODE specified in the Carlsbad AS/400 network attributes, or specify a mode. As with local location name, this depends on the complexity of your particular AS/400 network environment. If you're not sure which local location name or which mode to use, ask your networking specialist.

For our example, we'll create a DDM file named RMTINV in library INVLIB on the Carlsbad system. It points to the inventory file in Loveland (INVTOT in NEWINV library). We'll use the RMTLOCNAME of LOVELAND. The CRT-DDMF command looks like this:


Once you've created your DDM files, you can use several commands to maintain them. I recommend using Work with DDM Files (WRK-DDMF) since it will allow you to create, change, display or delete DDM files easily.

Go to the Source

Unlike the DDM file, neither SDDM or TDDM require any input from you. These two elements establish the conversation between the Carlsbad system and the Loveland system. When a program on the Carlsbad AS/400 accesses a file, OS/400 looks for it within the Carlsbad database. In our example, a DDM file in Carlsbad points toward Loveland. At this point, the Carlsbad system will decide whether or not to start SDDM on the Carlsbad AS/400. It checks to see if an SDDM session for this job already exists, whether it's to Loveland or the Moon. If an SDDM session exists, it will be used. Otherwise, the Carlsbad system will start an SDDM session for the job. No matter how many DDM conversations are active or how many DDM files are open for a job, there will only be one SDDM session. You can find evidence of the SDDM session by using the Work with Configuration Status (WRKCFGSTS) command on the source system. Specify the line description that connects the source and target system for the configuration description (CFGD) parameter. You'll find an active job under that line.

In turn, SDDM checks to see if a DDM conversation to the remote system exists for this job. SDDM uses the remote location name and mode parameters in the DDM file to locate the correct system-for this part of the connection, Loveland and the Moon require separate conversations. If a DDM conversation exists for this job, SDDM will use it. If, however, a conversation for this job doesn't exist, SDDM sends a request to the Loveland system to start a TDDM job to establish the DDM conversation. Once the DDM conversation is active, SDDM and TDDM automatically handle the data interaction between systems. The entire process required to activate a DDM session is transparent to the user and occurs automatically.

Eyes on Target

Once the DDM conversation is established, TDDM is an active batch job on the Loveland system. You can find evidence of this job the same way you did for the SDDM job mentioned earlier (use the WRKCFGSTS command for the line description connecting the systems). You will find an active job for TDDM. It waits for instructions from SDDM and passes the request to database (or folder) management. For example, if a program in Carlsbad opens a DDM file, TDDM locates the file and passes on the request to open it. The result of the operation (in this case, a successful or unsuccessful file open) is returned to TDDM which, in turn, forwards it through the DDM connection to SDDM. SDDM forwards the information to the requesting application in Carlsbad and magically your program has opened the remote file.

Now let's talk about ending a DDM conversation. This is controlled by the DDM Conversation (DDMCNV) attribute of the Change Job (CHGJOB) command of the job in Carlsbad. The default for DDMCNV is *KEEP, which means that the DDM conversation will remain active until the job ends, or until a communications failure occurs. When using *KEEP, you may also use the Reclaim DDM Conversation (RCLDDMCNV), or the Reclaim Resource (RCLRSC) commands to explicitly terminate the DDM conversations.

You can override the default of DDMCNV to *DROP, using the CHGJOB command, which will terminate the DDM conversation automatically when all DDM files are closed and all file locks on the remote DDM file are removed (usually when the program ends). The key thing to remember about choosing between *DROP and *KEEP is the system overhead associated with keeping or restarting a DDM session.

If you think DDM will run multiple times throughout the day, *KEEP will save the system time and resources needed to start a DDM conversation.

On the other hand, specifying *DROP will free up the communications resources used by DDM.

What About the Application Programs?

We've got the basics of DDM plumbing sorted out, and it seems almost too easy to be true. But what about the application programs? What do we need to do to the RPG and CL programs in Carlsbad to display the Loveland inventory data? These modifications are surprisingly simple. A DDM file name can be used alomost anywhere a database file name can be used. If you externally define the DDM file which points to the Loveland inventory file in an RPG program, the DDS is automatically retrieved from the Loveland system. An even simpler solution is available for our example. The Loveland inventory file definition matches the Carlsbad inventory file so you can simply create a copy of the CL for the Carlsbad inventory inquiry. Insert an Override Database File (OVRDBF) command to point to the DDM file instead of the Carlsbad database file-DDM does the rest!

DDM files can also be specified in the Create RPG Program (CRTRPGPGM) command in the SRCFILE or PRTFILE parameters. When you specify a DDM file for SRCFILE, DDM automatically retrieves RPG specifications from the target system. If you use a DDM file for PRTFILE, a compiled program listing is stored in the specified database file on the target system.

Back to the Top

Now that we have the basic concepts of DDM laid out, let's review our example. Your mission is to attach a new option to the inventory inquiry menu which gives users access to the inventory in the Loveland location. To accomplish this goal, you'll need to :

1. Establish a communications link between the two systems.

2. Create a DDM file in Carlsbad that points to the Loveland inventory file.

3. Clone your existing inventory inquiry application and make it point to the Loveland inventory file.

When your users want to know the inventory in the Loveland location, all they have to do is select the new menu option. The CL behind this menu option uses an OVRDBF command to point to the DDM file (RMTINV) in Carlsbad, which in turn points across the communications line to the inventory file (INVTOT) in Loveland. SDDM and TDDM will be busily exchanging data and the Loveland inventory will appear on the screens of your Carlsbad users.

DDM offers an elegantly simple way to access data on a remote system. Its performance is not the greatest, but its flexibility, simplicity and transparent user interface make DDM a tool you should take advantage of.

You and your MIS team will be doing lots of smiling when your boss asks how you managed to accomplish this task so fast. Just smile at him and say, "It's DDM Magic."

Kris Neely is the connectivity editor for Midrange Computing.


APPC Programmers Guide (SC41-8189) APPN Guide (SC41-8188) Communications Management Guide (SC41-0024) Distributed Data Management Guide (SC41-9600)

An Introductin to Distributed Data Management

Figure 1 The Display Network Attributes Screen

 Display Network Attributes System: MC Current system name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : MC Pending system name . . . . . . . . . . . . . : Local network ID . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : APPN Local control point name . . . . . . . . . . . . : LOVELAND Default local location . . . . . . . . . . . . . : LOVELAND Default mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : LU62 APPN node type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : *NETNODE Maximum number of intermediate sessions . . . . : 200 Route addition resistance . . . . . . . . . . . : 128 Server network ID/control point name . . . . . . : *LCLNETID *ANY More... Press Enter to continue. F3=Exit F12=Cancel 
An Introductin to Distributed Data Management

Figure 2 The Create DDM File Command

 Create DDM File (CRTDDMF) Type choices, press Enter. DDM file . . . . . . . . . . . . FILE > RMTINV Library . . . . . . . . . . . > INVLIB Remote file: RMTFILE File . . . . . . . . . . . . . > INVTOT Library . . . . . . . . . . > NEWINV Nonstandard file 'name' . . . _______________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ Remote location . . . . . . . . RMTLOCNAME > LOVELAND Text 'description' . . . . . . . TEXT > 'DDM FOR REMOTE INVENTORY FILE' ___________________ Additional Parameters Device: DEV APPC device description . . . *LOC Local location . . . . . . . . . LCLLOCNAME *LOC Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MODE *NETATR Remote network identifier . . . RMTNETID *LOC Access Method: ACCMTH Remote file attribute . . . . *RMTFILE Local access method . . . . . ___________ Share open data path . . . . . . SHARE *NO_ Record format level check . . . LVLCHK *RMTFILE Authority . . . . . . . . . . . AUT *LIBCRTAUT Replace file . . . . . . . . . . REPLACE *YES Bottom F3=Exit F4=Prompt F5=Refresh F12=Cancel F13=How to use this display F24=More keys 


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    • 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 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.



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave 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.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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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.