Application Runtime Expert (ARE) is an easy-to-use tool that can play a critical role in solving complex problems easier and faster.
"It would have been nice to know the 'good' configuration status of the application and system-related parameters prior to the problem occurring." I'm sure this would be one of the many thoughts racing through your mind in the midst of troubleshooting an application problem. This information would not only save you a whole lot of time, but also contribute to bringing your application back online faster. And that's exactly the beauty of Application Runtime Expert (ARE).
ARE is an inexpensive automation tool (IBM i licensed program product) that verifies the status and runtime attributes of applications and systems environments. It has the potential to revolutionize how you provide application service and support to the various IT teams within your organization.
Multiple logical partitions and interconnected systems can make IT environments complex and difficult to understand. These interdependent environments require thousands of parameters to be set correctly for the application environments to function as desired. ARE can mask this complexity by building a knowledge base or master copy of the current state of the application and system environment parameters via an easy-to-use wizard-based browser interface. You can build your knowledge base to cover a myriad of parameters: user profile attributes, system values, TCP configuration, PTF levels, required licensed programs, Java environment, and file authorities are just few of them.
This knowledge base can help you in many service- and support-related situations.
Your "Smart Cookie" to Assist with Problem Diagnostics
ARE can be your first point of contact for problem diagnostics. Let me describe a very familiar scenario: Since the IT development team performed a change to one of the applications, some of the users cannot connect to the server. The operations support team is scrambling to resolve the issue. They're already talking to the system administrator, who is checking the communications and networking side. The application team is busy checking the user profile attributes and file authorities. A number of areas need to be investigated before you can get a grasp of what went wrong.
Most IT shops compare these parameters manually, working their way through using multiple screen shots and spreadsheets and trying to figure out what changed. Depending on the complexity of the environment, in some cases this can take hours. Every lost second translates to lost business.
Instead, you can activate ARE, which is capable of comparing the current "bad" state of the application environment with the "good" state that existed when the application was functioning as normal. The differences (if any) can be identified within a few seconds by launching the ARE console and comparing with the target environment. Since this process is automated, it's not prone to human errors. Using ARE provides additional time for exploring other areas that could have caused the problem.
Your In-House Subject Matter Expert
Using ARE to obtain status reports is like having a subject matter expert on site to spot the differences and identify changes that have taken place. Multiple LPARs or physical systems can be checked and validated quickly for required operational parameters. You can further go one more level and automatically fix some of the problems.
These are some of the situations that ARE can automatically fix for you:
Authorities related to ownership, primary group, authorization list, and private authority
User profile attributes
Automatically re-creating the missing symbolic links
Two out-of-the-box, ready-to-run plug-ins are worth mentioning:
The Software Requirements plug-in can be customized to verify the IBM i products (licensed program products) and PTF prerequisites required for different applications in your environment.
The Network Configuration plug-in can be customized to verify a variety of TCP/IP configuration settings and network characteristics related to TCP/IP and ports applications.
Your "Smart Capture" Tool for Further Troubleshooting
Let's say you couldn't solve the problem and need to quickly send the files and objects related to the problem to the support team from IBM or the application software vendor. The Resource Collector plug-in allows you to collect and package IFS and native IBM i files and objects from the target system into a single archive file (.ZIP file) for further troubleshooting. The single archived file can be easily sent to support teams for troubleshooting.
With IBM i Technology Refresh (TR) 7 recently announced, ARE can now be used for checking the environment periodically via the "scheduled verification" process. This means your application health status is checked more often and you are alerted to potential problems in advance.
ARE is a simple, easy-to-use tool that can play a critical role in solving complex problems easier and faster. This means your system- and application-related problems are solved much quicker and your system availability gets a boost.
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