Distributed Data Management: From There to Here

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Suppose you work with a network of several AS/400s located in different branches of your company. One day, you need to get a several hundred line source program to another machine. What do you do?

A. Fax the listing and rekey the source program.

B. Save the source code to tape and send it overnight express.

C. Try to configure SNADS so you can send the source member with the Send Network File (SNDNETF) command.

D. Try to find the documentation for the file transfer subroutine, QY2FTML, and write a short program.

E. Run one command to create a Distributed Data Management (DDM) file and use the Copy File (CPYF) command to transfer the source to the other machine.

The simplest technique is E: create the DDM file, then use CPYF. Since this is a source file with only a few hundred records, you can probably do it in five minutes. Any of the other techniques will take much longer and will involve either more research, programming, or manual steps.

Even so, you probably didn't think of using DDM; if you did, you may have dismissed it out of hand. After all, you've heard DDM is slow and it involves communications functions you'd rather avoid. As I've pointed out before, though, if you can start Display Station Pass-through (DSPT) to another system, you can use other communications functions, including DDM (see "Understanding Display Station Pass-through," MC, March 1995). If you are involved with programming and you work with several AS/400s, you owe it to yourself to become familiar with DDM. (By the way, the documentation for the QY2FTML program is in the ICF Programming manual.)

What Is DDM and What Does It Do?

DDM is a technology that originated back when the S/36 and S/38 were young. DDM is implemented as an APPC/APPN function and is available for mainframes and other IBM machines, including the AS/400, PC, S/36, and S/38.

Simply put, DDM lets a program on your source machine access a database file on another machine as if the remote file were local to your machine. That means your program does not have to be changed to access the file; DDM works in conjunction with the operating system to make the file appear local.

An example of where you might use DDM is an inventory application, where database files on remote machines have inventory data. You can create a function in your inventory inquiry program to display the data from the remote machines along with the data from your machine. In the future, DDM will be used less in application programs. The preferred approach will be Distributed Relational Database Architecture (DRDA).

You will probably use DDM more as a utility function, as in the example of copying source to another machine. For these purposes, DDM is the simplest technique.

In addition to providing access to remote files, DDM provides an extremely curious function, the Submit Remote Command (SBMRMTCMD) command, which lets you submit a command to another system. I'll cover this in more detail later.

DDM Terminology

Although you can use DDM as soon as you have an APPC/APPN connection to another system, there are some DDM specific constructs you should be familiar with. As with all communication functions, you are affecting two machines, so it helps to have terminology to describe the processes on both machines.

The source system is where the application program requesting access to a remote database file through DDM is run. The application program can be a program that you create (e.g., an RPG program) or it can be a CL command (e.g., CPYF). The remote database file is located on the target system.

The source and target systems are connected with APPC/APPN. In an APPN network of machines, the source and target systems can be connected through intermediate machines. The application program is not aware of the intermediate systems; it simply works with the source and target.

A DDM file is a file object located on the source system. DDM files are unusual in that they describe a database file but contain no data, members, or field definitions. Instead, a DDM file points to the actual database file on the target system.

When you run a program that uses a DDM file, a source DDM job is started on the source system. A corresponding target DDM job is started on the target system. You don't usually have to be concerned with the source or target DDM jobs, but you should be aware that DDM imposes more work on the two systems.

Defining a DDM File

The Create DDM File (CRTDDMF) command uses parameters that apply to both database file objects and to APPC communications. DDM files do not contain data; there are no DDS specs or record lengths associated with them. The DDM file name can be the same as the database file name on the remote system.

The four groups of parameters used on CRTDDMF are shown in 1. The only required parameters are FILE (the name of the DDM file on the source system), RMTFILE (the name of the database file and optionally the member on the remote system), and RMTLOCNAME (the name of the remote location where the database file is located).

The four groups of parameters used on CRTDDMF are shown in Figure 1. The only required parameters are FILE (the name of the DDM file on the source system), RMTFILE (the name of the database file and optionally the member on the remote system), and RMTLOCNAME (the name of the remote location where the database file is located).

The FILE parameter can be any name you want. It may make sense to use all 10 characters allowed in a file name-even if you will be using the DDM file with RPG programs-since you will probably be using an Override Database File (OVRDBF) command with the DDM file.

For RMTFILE, supply the qualified name of the file on the remote system. Note the format for specifying a member name, as shown in 1.

For RMTFILE, supply the qualified name of the file on the remote system. Note the format for specifying a member name, as shown in Figure 1.

The RMTLOCNAME is the name of the remote system. If you have established a DSPT session to the remote system, you can use the same remote location name for the DDM file that you use for the DSPT session. The remote location name is the default local location name of the remote system, which you can find by using the Display Network Attributes (DSPNETA) command on the remote system.

The CRTDDMF command runs very quickly, because there are no DDS statements to process. Also, the existence of the file on the remote system is not verified when you run CRTDDMF. You are not even required to have an active connection to the remote system when you run the command.

Using a DDM File

You will typically use a DDM file either with a high-level language (HLL) application program or a command that includes a file parameter. An example of using DDM files with an HLL program is an inquiry program in which you need to view data from files on other systems. An example of using a DDM file with a command is using the CPYF command to copy a member from one system to another.

When used with an HLL program that references the file as externally described, you'll need to use OVRDBF prior to starting the HLL program and, unless you have a similar externally described file on your system, prior to compiling a program that references a DDM file. On the OVRDBF command, specify the program file name in the FILE parameter and the name of the DDM file in the TOFILE parameter. When the program opens the file, it opens it on the remote system. You'll need to ensure that communication to the remote system is active before you open the DDM file in your program.

When used in a command like CPYF, you can usually just specify the name of the DDM file you want to copy to or from. For example, you can use a DDM file in the FROMFILE or TOFILE parameters, or both.

Many system-supplied create, change, and display commands include a SYSTEM parameter. The default value for the SYSTEM parameter is *LCL, meaning that the file is local to the system the command is run on. You can specify *RMT to indicate that the file is a DDM file, or *FILETYPE to indicate that the file may be either local or remote, depending on the definition of the file. If you do not specify a library qualifier for the file, the first occurrence of the file name in the library list is used, and the type of file is determined from that.

DDM Conversation Control

Because DDM files use communications, they have the potential to impact other communications work. Techniques are available to control that impact. When using DDM to another system, you are using one of the available sessions of a communications link. The number of sessions for a link and characteristics of those sessions are defined through a mode description object (*MODD), which the DDM file references. Other communications work (DSPT, SNADS, other DDM users) may be competing for the bandwidth available within the mode. The goal is to release the session as soon as possible.

You have two ways to control session usage. The first is with the DDMCNV job attribute. The default value for this parameter is *KEEP. The DDM conversation is kept active within the job, even if all DDM files used in the job have been closed. This might be advantageous in applications that require good response time and reservation of a session.

For example, an inquiry application may include several different programs that use DDM files on a menu. If it is likely that the user will access the programs throughout the day, it makes sense to keep the conversation active, even when the inquiry programs are not being used and the DDM files are closed. Keeping the conversation active helps avoid the overhead of establishing the session and, perhaps more importantly, reserves the session, so the chance of receiving a "Session Not Available" message is decreased when the user restarts a program.

The second technique uses either the *DROP value for the job's DDMCNV attribute or the Reclaim DDM Conversation (RCLDDMCNV) command. You can use the Change Job (CHGJOB) command with DDMCNV(*DROP). You would typically run either of those commands after the program that used the DDM files finished or closed the files. For example, a long-running batch program might use DDM files at a certain point, then no longer require them. To free the session, you could issue either command within the batch job stream.

The conversation is dropped only when there are no open DDM files. The CHGJOB technique sets a condition for the job in that the session is dropped as soon as the last DDM file is closed. RCLDDMCNV will drop the session only if all DDM files are closed when it is run; otherwise, it simply stops the target DDM jobs.

The Reclaim Resources (RCLRSC) command can also be used to reclaim a DDM conversation, but that command affects more than just DDM conversations.

DDM Access on the Remote System

There are other attributes of DDM to consider. For example, in addition to object authority to DDM files on the source system, the database files on the target system, and APPC device security, you can set the DDM Access (DDMACC) network attribute value on the target system. This attribute is used to indicate whether or not the target system will accept DDM requests.

You can view the current value of DDMACC with DSPNETA, and change the value with the Change Network Attributes (CHGNETA) command. The default value, *OBJAUT, means that object authority of the objects on the remote system is used to control access to the objects. A value of *REJECT means that no DDM requests are accepted by the target system. You can also specify an exit program, which you provide, that receives a parameter list indicating the user profile, type of request, and other information, and provides a return code, indicating your acceptance or rejection of the request. For example, you might want to limit DDM access to certain days and time periods; you can accomplish that with an exit program.

The DDMACC network attribute also controls old-style PC Support type 0 and type 1 shared folders and the use of the remote command function.

The Remote Command Function

Using what looks to be an afterthought, it is possible to submit a command to a remote system through a DDM file. This is accomplished with SBMRMTCMD. You can use this command to run a command on another system, without first having to establish a DSPT session to the system.

SBMRMTCMD uses a DDM file on your system simply as a pointer to the other system. The most relevant parameters from the DDM file are the remote location name and the mode name. The actual file name on the remote system, as specified in the DDM file on your system, is not used.

The CMD parameter of SBMRMTCMD is used to specify the CL command that you want to run on the remote system. The command must be allowed in both batch and interactive environments on the target system in order to be run with SBMRMTCMD. The command should make sense; for example, you cannot use SBMRMTCMD to run the Work System Status (WRKSYSSTS) command on the remote system and expect to see the display at your terminal.

"Submit" does not mean that the command is submitted to batch on your system. If you run SBMRMTCMD in your interactive job, you will tie up your job for as long as the command takes to run on the remote system. You can use SBMJOB on your system to run SBMRMTCMD on a target system.

I would be extremely reluctant to publicize the use of SBMRMTCMD to users. If you want to submit jobs to a remote system, you should investigate SNADS Submit Network Job (SBMNETJOB) command. With SNADS, you have better traceability of the job on both the source and target systems.

From There to Here

Is DDM on the way out? For most application program work, DDM is probably not the preferred technique when it comes to performance. With the improvements to the AS/400 database in V3R1, you should investigate using database facilities rather than the file-oriented DDM.

In some cases, though, DDM may be the simplest technique to access data on another machine. It's ideal for batch work, where response time is not an issue. DDM can be a lifesaver for programming work, where moving source code around quickly is required.

Craig Pelkie can be contacted through Midrange Computing.

References ICF Programming V3R1 (SC41-3442, CD-ROM QBKANU00). OS/400 Distributed Data Management V3R1 (SC41-3307, CD-ROM QBKALH00).

Distributed Data Management: From There to Here

Figure 1 CRTDDMF Command Parameter Grouping

 File Related FILE-the name of the DDM file on the source system. This follows normal file naming, with the library/file name convention. LVLCHK-level checking in effect for the DDM file. AUT-authority used with the DDM file. REPLACE-replace existing DDM file. SHARE-share Open Data Path (ODP). TEXT-text description. Remote File ID RMTFILE-the name of the database file on the remote system. This can be specified in one of two ways: 1. No member required. RMTFILE(library/filename) 2. Member name required. RMTFILE(*NONSTD 'library/filename(member)') *NONSTD also allows naming conventions other than those used by the AS/400, S/38, and S/36. APPC/APPN RMTLOCNAME-the name of the remote location (target system) where the file specified in RMTFILE is located. DEV-the APPC communications device used to connect to the target system. LCLLOCNAME-name of the local location being used to con tact the remote location. MODE-name of the mode description used when the APPC session is established. RMTNETID-APPN network ID associated with the remote location. How Used ACCMTH-used when remote file is not on an AS/400 or S/38. Lets you request access by key, relative record number, or both. PTCCNV-protected conversation used if two-phase commitment control is used with this DDM file. 


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    • 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.