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Technology Focus: These Are Not Your Granddaddy's System Management Tools

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Choosing a performance-management or capacity-planning tool largely depends on whether you think your bottlenecks are primarily caused by hardware, applications, or databases.

 

Let's face it; we're spoiled. If you look at computing strictly from the user point of view, we're all ready to call "slow" any application or system that can't keep up with human decision-making speed. If the computer isn't ready to take the next input on which we've already decided or doesn't provide the information we need the nanosecond we're ready to read it, we notice and we're unhappy.

 

If you're an IT administrator, such expectations can rapidly turn into headaches when users complain, particularly if the users are calling from executive offices. When "fast" isn't good enough, after reaching for the ibuprofen, many administrators next reach for performance-management and capacity-planning software.

Types of Performance Solutions

For the System i, the two dozen or so products that are available to help with performance woes don't follow a particular pattern. In fact, they fall into five general groups.

 

Most common are performance-monitoring (PM) solutions that report and analyze multiple system metrics (e.g., response times, system overheads, CPU use, disk use, output queues) and perhaps even make some specific change recommendations, but they leave to humans the task of actually taking any remedial actions. The members of the second group are utilities that do automatically take some kind of performance-tuning (PT) action, but generally they're limited to a few specific functions. Third are solutions that presume performance problems are caused by how your applications are working, so they focus on applications monitoring (AM) (e.g., resource use, code execution efficiency). Group four zeroes in on database monitoring (DM) as the key problem, primarily examining database transaction speeds, SQL use, and similar issues. The final group employs capacity planning (CP) functions, use of which presumes that your system is ultimately not big enough and may require expansion or replacement. Products with this capability provide means (e.g., "what-if" scenarios, predictive tools, historical views of system resource use) to track system needs and project those needs into the future, given specific growth figures in numbers of users or transactions processed.

 

Products for the System i that run under i5/OS are listed below. We've included a "function types" parameter that categorizes the functions of each vendor's listed product(s) according to the groups specified above.

 

If you're trying to diagnose System i performance problems, you'll find that the solutions available specialize on one of the groups in particular, or at best, straddle two of them. In effect, that puts you in a position where, in order to best cope with your enterprise's particular performance problems, you pretty much need to know already whether the problem is with hardware, applications, or databases. Maybe that issue's a no-brainer for you, particularly if your enterprise has a history of trouble in one of those specific areas. But it's a bit limiting for shops whose systems have functioned fairly well in the past but are only lately showing signs of strain. For those enterprises, products categorized as members of the PM group are definitely the best place to start in looking for diagnostic help.

 

Please bear in mind that the descriptions offered for each product are simply summaries of the most pertinent features and are in no way a complete description of each product's capabilities. You should consult the links provided and other documentation available from the respective vendors to get a true picture of each product's feature set.

 

And as always when looking for products or services, be sure to check the MC Press Online Buyer's Guide.

 

Performance-Management and Capacity-Planning Solutions for IBM i

Advanced Automations Suite

Operations Center Suite

Halcyon Software

Function type: PM

Advanced Automation Suite is a central-console, system-management, task-automation product that includes a system performance monitor. Users can use the monitor to set performance thresholds and receive alerts if system conditions exceed those limits.

 

Operations Center Suite is a similar solution with additional features, including the ability to monitor performance of systems, jobs, and pools and to graphically display the resulting data. This suite includes specific monitors for disk space, audit journals, and job queues, as well as a wizard for generating service-level reports.

 

Automatic Partition Resource Manager (APRM)

Barsa Consulting Group

Function type: PM, PT

APRM is an automatic tuning utility for logical partitions (LPARs) operating on IBM i servers. It monitors memory, processor, and interactive functions to optimize the system resources available to each partition. APRM collects statistics from each partition every 15 seconds, enables user-defined tuning rules, and can help manage multiple servers.

 

Collaboration CONTROL!

Permessa

Function type: AM

Designed for use with IBM/Lotus products only, Collaboration CONTROL! is an application-performance solution that also helps with administrative tasks. The product compiles performance information and uses customizable Web portals to display it, automatically generates reports for delivery to specific recipients, and identifies abandoned databases, user IDs, and mailboxes.

 

CPU Scope

Raz-Lee Security

Function type: PM, PT

CPU Scope is a performance enhancer for System i that monitors CPU and I/O activity and either takes predesignated remedial actions or sends alert messages in response to problems. Users can vary product-action execution based on time of day, day of the week, or day of the month.

 

DASD-Plus

DASD-Plus Chart

S4i Systems

Function type: PM, PT, CP

DASD-Plus is an automated disk-management utility that offers 25 disk-maintenance routines, analyzes disk usage based on multiple parameters, and runs disk-optimization routines at user-specified intervals.

 

DASD-Plus Chart prepares graphical comparisons of libraries, objects, directories, and files and compares their disk utilization to similar structures on other systems. It also uses trend charts to show projected disk consumption at monthly intervals into the future.

 

Disk Space Analyzer

Performance Analyzer

Macro 4

Function type: PM, CP

Disk Space Analyzer automatically gathers data that system managers can use to analyze disk-space usage by application or other criteria, manage spooled files, schedule disk reorganizations, better control user journals and receivers, and carry out system capacity planning.

 

Performance Analyzer is a realtime performance diagnostic tool for System i. It collects performance data at user-specified times, lets managers monitor all networked systems from a central console, graphically presents performance data, and makes recommendations for resolving performance bottlenecks.

 

Global iSeries Application Performance Analyzer (GiAPA)

iPerformance ApS

Function type: AM

GiAPA runs in the background, using only 0.1 percent of a CPU cycle, and gathers application performance data every 15 seconds. System managers can use the data to determine the nature of application performance problems and see which threads/programs/statements are causing slowdowns.

 

GoFaster

Kisco Information Systems

Function type: PT

GoFaster is a performance accelerator for older System i machine models that have artificial limitations on their interactive operations, but it does not perform any performance analysis tasks.

 

HomeRun

Centerfield Technology

Function type: DM

HomeRun is a suite of database-performance tools. Suite members identify and optimize database indexes, analyze database operations, track SQL and other query use, graphically display job metrics, and help managers define system resource-use policies.

 

IBM Systems Workload Estimator

iDoctor for IBM i

PM for Power Systems

Systems Director Navigator for i5/OS Performance

IBM Corporation

Function type: PM, CP

IBM Systems Workload Estimator is a capacity-planning tool that lets users input data about current and future workloads and receive estimates of future processor, memory, and disk needs. It's designed to help users decide between new systems, system upgrades, and consolidation of multiple systems to meet future processing needs.

 

IBM's iDoctor for IBM i is a suite of realtime analyzers for all aspects of system performance. The suite members display data graphically, include drill-down features, individually cover a wide range of potential problem areas, and are designed for use by both experts and novices.

 

PM for Power Systems is a performance-analysis and capacity-planning software application for IBM i systems running i5/OS or AIX. It provides summary level information on performance characteristics of specific partitions or whole systems, as well as growth projections based on current use. A service available from IBM Global Services provides up to 26 additional graphs and charts showing details behind the summary averages.

 

Systems Director Navigator for i5/OS Performance displays summarized information in multiple charts and graphs with drill-down capabilities. It helps system managers spot and diagnose performance problems quickly.

 

iSeries Watchdog

First Option

Function type: PM

Although not available for licensed purchase, iSeries Watchdog is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution you can rent. The service monitors your System i machines remotely and displays key system health statistics in a graphical dashboard. Although the solution provides data useful for performance and capacity management, it takes no direct actions on the system itself in response to problems.

 

iSCORE for IBM i

Vision Director

Vision Solutions

Function type: PM, PT

Vision Solutions' iSCORE is freeware, a downloadable system capacity analysis utility that analyzes disk usage by various categories and provides an overall system score in a summary report. The utility evaluates performance of indexes, journals, queries, SAVF, and system values.

 

Vision Director is an integrated application set that monitors, manages, and optimizes IBM i servers, databases, and application environments. It produces a range of reports on factors affecting system performance and automates some system maintenance tasks.

 

JENNIFER

Jennifersoft

Function type: AM

JENNIFER is an application performance-management solution for Java and IBM WebSphere environments on System i and other platforms. Designed specifically for monitoring applications in production environments, JENNIFER watches performance of networked operations, end-user transactions, database activity, and other application internal services and reports them via a dashboard-style interface. It also provides root-cause analysis of performance problems to guide human intervention in their resolution.

 

Max400

Fax*Star, a division of SEPE

Function type: PT

Max400 tunes and maximizes interactive CPW performance of System i servers running OS/400 V4R1 through V5R4 in cases where the interactive capacity of the machine may have been set at a suboptimal level as a function of the machine model.

 

Messenger

Bytware

Function type: PM

Messenger monitors all message queues and automates handling of all message types, including alerts related to system performance problems. Messenger notifies appropriate personnel of common events and lets system managers design custom monitors for specific problems.

 

OS Director

OS Solutions International

Function type: PM

OS Director automatically analyzes many aspects of System i performance tasks, such as free space, data archiving, and system optimization. OS Director can help simplify oversight of databases, system resources and objects, and system activities.

 

Performance Navigator

Midrange Performance Group

Function type: PM, CP

Performance Navigator is a graphical application that runs on a PC and carries out performance analysis of System i servers. It provides 121 graphs and 271 reports on various hardware and software aspects of system performance and lets users run various "what-if" scenarios for capacity planning.

 

QSystem Monitor

CCSS

Function type: PM, CP

QSystem Monitor is a multipurpose system-monitoring and capacity-planning application that operates in real time and provides a graphical interface and graphical reports. The product maintains oversight of application and system performance metrics, DASD and IFS activity, system availability, and numerous additional metrics. It also provides historical system-performance data over multiple time periods (e.g., day, week, month), long-term retrospective analysis, and long-term predictive capacity-planning capabilities.

 

Robot/AUTOTUNE

Robot/CPA

Help Systems

Function type: PM, PT

Robot/AUTOTUNE monitors system performance factors such as memory allocation, CPU use, disk-space consumption, transaction rates, and response times and displays them graphically on a PC console, for up to 25 networked IBM i systems. In addition, it automatically makes adjustments to help tune systems and keep them at peak operating performance.

 

Robot/CPA automates System i resource-accounting tasks, manages accounting journals and history files, and keeps statistics that help system managers predict future system needs.

 

VISUAL Control Center

Tango/04 Computing Group

Function type: PM, PT

VISUAL Control Center is a suite of integrated products that help manage system performance. Suite members include tools for tuning LPARs, memory pools, resource-intensive batch and interactive jobs, and networked servers, as well as for graphically displaying statistics from suite members. In addition, the suite's Performance Planner module provides capacity-planning services such as graphing up to three years of performance data, letting system managers try out different possible system configurations, and providing concrete justifications for system upgrade scenarios.

 

Workload Performance Series

MB Software & Consulting

Function type: PM

Workload Performance Series is an integrated suite that analyzes System i application-processing environments. The suite examines system-resource trends and historical data, application source code, and other user-defined criteria. The product also makes recommendations for improvements (e.g., database tuning, application code changes, system management techniques).

 

 

 

 

John Ghrist

John Ghrist has been a journalist, programmer, and systems manager in the computer industry since 1982. He has covered the market for IBM i servers and their predecessor platforms for more than a quarter century and has attended more than 25 COMMON conferences. A former editor-in-chief with Defense Computing and a senior editor with SystemiNEWS, John has written and edited hundreds of articles and blogs for more than a dozen print and electronic publications. He is currently CEO of John Ghrist Agency, a marketing communications firm for technology companies. You can reach him at ghrist@comcast.net.

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    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.

     

     

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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.