Nearly 1,500 register to hear Soltis webcast where Vision Solutions introduces upgraded Vision Director.
Your system is running slower than it should and you're using up DASD faster than you can afford. What to do about it? a) Throw yourself on your spear and spend hours every week cleaning and optimizing your computer; b) Hire a consultant to come in and do it for you at company expense, or c) Find a reliable tool that will run constantly in the background and automatically optimize your system for you. Let's see—that's a tough choice!
The problem of maintaining an optimized System i or Power System was addressed last Thursday by Vision Solutions and guest speaker Dr. Frank Soltis, considered the father of the AS/400, and a member of the Vision Advisory Board. The webcast, titled "Critical Tips to Get the Most from Your System i," was held to increase awareness of the need for system optimization in advance of the company's release next month of V8 of Vision Director, a system monitoring and optimization tool that has been significantly upgraded in the forthcoming release. Nearly 1,500 viewers registered for the webcast, which is available online for replay.
The importance of and need for good system optimization was supported by Vision's surveys of user needs and behavior along with Soltis' recap of the history of the AS/400 and IBM Power Systems. Soltis noted that in years past, when users found their systems were getting bogged down, it was only a matter of time before they upgraded to a faster processor and more disk space. Such advances often alleviate the problem until the next upgrade. In the course of time, the system has become more complicated and produced more unnecessary files taking up space and memory rather than being deleted.
Today, the situation is different, Soltis noted. Processor power is limited by heat, so manufacturers have moved to multi-core designs using parallel threads. At issue is limited application utilization of advanced hardware features. Few applications are really using the full capabilities of 64-bit architecture. Even though current processors offer eight cores running up to 32 threads, most applications are running in only a single thread. The anticipation that today's current applications will be rewritten to take advantage of multi-threaded processor technology—in most cases—probably won't happen, Soltis predicted. The net result will be the continuation of what he called "inefficient software" requiring a significant share of system resources and making system optimization more important than ever.
Sharing the virtual podium, Bill Hammond, Vision Solutions' director of product marketing, presented attendees with a series of statistics and survey findings supporting the company's contention that System i users are spending far too much time today optimizing their systems, time that could be put to better use elsewhere. Apparently, it also is work that most system operators and administrators aren't eager to keep doing, since 75 percent of them surveyed indicate an eagerness to offload the tasks to an automated optimization solution if given the chance.
Vision was interested in learning what was going on in the marketplace and whether there really is a demand for a good system optimization tool for the IBM midrange. To find out, it contracted the Information Availability Institute to conduct a survey of AS/400, System i, and Power Systems users. The findings couldn't have reinforced their hopes much more than they did as respondents indicated time and again they would like to have a tool that provided ongoing optimization and would prefer it if the functions were automated. Some three-fourths of the survey respondents indicated a desire for both features. Ironically, the response in favor of automation was more than twice that for results of what the tool would actually do. Between 30 and 40 percent indicated they would want the tool to reclaim DASD, improve interactive response time, and improve batch processing. But the main message was: give me something so I don't have to keep doing this job manually.
In fact, nearly 35 percent indicated they used operating system commands to help optimize their systems, about the same number who ran customized scripts to accomplish the job. Fewer than 10 percent used IBM Systems Director for this task, just shy of the 15 percent who used application- specific tools. Those using an ISV software package accounted for about 7 percent, and some 2 percent outsourced the job to consultants.
Vision concluded there was a large unmet need for such a tool in the marketplace and decided to promote its recently upgraded Vision Director product to address it. Citing broad survey results is fine, but what counts to the individual user is the actual state of ill health the computer in-house is displaying. Vision decided to release part of the Director product to users for free so they could determine for themselves just how much bloat they were carrying onboard their systems. iSCORE is now a free download and available from the MC Press Software Center. Users can install it onto their computers without charge to determine whether a tune-up might be their next best friend.
What Vision Director does, according to Hammond, is a very thorough job of monitoring and managing resources above and beyond what can be done with native System i utilities since it uses its own resource and information gathering tools, then presents the information in reports the user can drill down into for more detailed information. The objective? Save money and save time.
Specifically, Director offers advanced system optimization without introducing downtime while improving system efficiency for novices as well as experienced administrators. In fact, there are two versions of Director, the standard version for users who don't consider themselves to be intimately familiar with all the inner workings of the machine, and a more advanced version for IBM i experts who can use it to tweak the system to their heart's content.
The tool is intended to maximize storage utilization by cleaning and optimizing DASD and proactively planning for the ultimate addition of additional disk storage if, and when, it is truly needed to support increased data or applications.
Improving application performance is something IT always likes to do since batch and interactive performance can affect work schedules, and Director promises to help in both areas. It also allows the user to investigate and take action to resolve application and database problems.
Overall, Vision Director is designed to help reduce planned system downtime and is an essential element when a company is moving to a high availability solution where files are mirrored onto another computer. Obviously, there is no point in mirroring files that not only could be deleted but should be deleted. Director also can make upgrading hardware and software a bit easier in that the user is in a better position to migrate only the data necessary for the upgrade.
Another aspect of Director mentioned briefly in the presentation is the tool's ability to demonstrate compliance with service level agreements. Director displays a graphical system health dashboard that includes
The free iSCORE download will present users with summary information to evaluate the health of their IBM i systems, Hammond said. He noted it is easily installed, doesn't require a license key, and will be useful even for those users who have limited technical expertise.
To view the Webcast with Dr. Frank Soltis and Bill Hammond from Vision Solutions, visit http://www.mcpressonline.com/webcast.html. To download the free iSCORE tool to evaluate the health of an AS/400, iSeries, System i, or Power System, visit http://www.mcpressonline.com/software.html.