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What's New in Systems Director Navigator for i in V7?

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And how does that product relate to System i Navigator and Systems Director?

 

Managing your IBM i has been a focus item of IBM's for the past few releases. Users want a consolidated, easy-to-use, modern interface for managing their system. With the release of the new IBM i 7.1 version of the operating system, the development team has continued this theme, adding a number of important enhancements to the systems management console.

 

When mentioning Navigator or Director Navigator, a common reaction is usually "What interface are they talking about?" A recent i Can blog does a good job of addressing these different interfaces.

 

To summarize, these are the different IBM GUI interfaces:

  • System i Navigator is a Windows client–based application that has been around since V3R7. When folks think about Navigator, this is most likely the one that comes to mind.
  • Systems Director Navigator for i is a Web-based console integrated into IBM i since V6.1. This is the "new kid on the block."
  • Systems Director is a multi-platform manager that supports numerous platforms, including IBM i.

 

In this article, we focus mostly on IBM Systems Director Navigator for i, the strategic Web management interface for IBM i. This Web interface is integrated with and ready to run on your IBM i system. It includes over a dozen task areas for managing the system plus additional plug-ins for products such as PowerHA and BRMS. Accessing the interface is as easy as pointing your Web browser to http://<youribmisystem>:2001. Sign in, and you are ready to start managing your system (Figure 1).

 

041410NavigatorFigure1

Figure 1: This is the IBM Systems Director Navigator welcome page. (Click images to enlarge.)

 

What's New in V7.1

As with the IBM i operating system itself, the V7.1 release of the management console GUIs contains numerous enhancements and usability features to increase functionality, make your work easier, and improve stability. Since there are numerous areas under the console umbrella, let's go through a few of the highlights.

 

Database

 

One of the core pieces integrated into IBM i is the DB2 database. Both the Web and Windows GUIs expose new database capabilities as well as new items previously available only through the command line. While the Web console continues to be the strategic direction, as of 7.1 there are still a few key database capabilities that exist only in the Navigator Windows-client GUI. For more casual database interaction, the Web interface provides considerable capability. However, if you are a heavyweight user of database tools, you'll probably be more comfortable continuing to use the Windows interface.

 

The numerous database enhancements in V7.1 are accessible from the GUIs. Database XML is supported both in exposing the new XML data type as well as handling XML schemas (schema repositories). Other new database functionality—including SQL arrays, global variables, and field procedures—are also supported in the GUI. New, more granular user access control allows you to better control database tool usage. For example, you can now authorize users to performance tools while restricting them from other systems management tasks (prior releases required *JOBCTL authority to use these performance tools). Additionally, new object-list filtering allows you to customize the set of database objects shown in a given list to just what you are interested in.

 

The On Demand Performance Center and Health Center have also been enhanced with new features. These include additional object types in Health Center, progress monitoring for long-running file reorganizes and index builds, new options on Visual Explain, and additional performance information, such as per-object sequential and random read counts and "in memory" settings for tables and indexes.

 

The OmniFind product (5733OMF) now has its own piece of real estate on the V7.1 GUI under the Database task. This no-charge product, first introduced in V6.1 and refreshed in V7.1, is a very powerful text-indexing and -searching tool. OmniFind can search numerous document types (such as PDFs) as well as simple text. Its base-word analysis, dictionary, and synonyms capabilities provide "intended match" searches such as "frosted," "frost," or "frosting" for "frost; "gray" or "grey" for "gray"; and "cats," "kitten," or "kittens" for "cat." Matching documents can even be ordered based on best fit. Use the new GUI interface to simplify setup and deployment of OmniFind for your particular use.

 

Performance Data Investigator

 

Most tasks within Systems Director Navigator have a corresponding interface within the world of 5250, but for some things the only option is the Web console. One of the most powerful of these tasks is PDI, or Performance Data Investigator (Figure 2).

 

041410NavigatorFigure2

Figure 2: This is a sample Performance Data Investigator page. 

 

Introduced in IBM i 6.1, PDI is a powerful, visually pleasing interface for performance reporting and analysis. It's most obvious (though certainly not only) capability is in how it turns collection services data into readily consumable, actionable information.

 

Many PDI enhancements were added in IBM i 7.1, several of which were PTFed back to 6.1. These enhancements include new performance metrics (such as physical system and scaled CPU), new content packages (such as the Performance Explorer perspective and Health Indicators), the ability to export charts and tables, and functionality for sending Workload Estimator data for upgrade sizings. There are also usability enhancements and customization capabilities, including persistent preferences, design mode to create your own views, current collection properties, a new menu bar, a modify SQL option, a metric finder, zoom control improvements, consistent chart coloring, and work management task integration.

 

Journal

 

The journal management task has a noticeable increase in V7.1 to manage journals, remote journals, and journal receivers. The Show Journaled Objects task displays journaled objects, including files, data areas, data queues, libraries, and integrated file system objects. Journal receivers can be controlled and viewed via the Change Receivers and Properties actions. Numerous actions are also available for remote journals, including show properties, add/remove, and activate/deactivate.

 

Set Target System

 

In the initial release of Systems Director Navigator for i, the system you pointed your browser at was the only system you could manage. In 7.1, you can now manage multiple systems from a single Web browser. Using the advanced Set Target System feature (Figure 3), you can manage any IBM i in your environment. Not only can you manage additional IBM i 7.1 systems, you can specify systems at older releases as well! Using Set Target System, you can target both IBM i 6.1 and IBM i 5.4 systems. This feature alone makes moving a partition to IBM i 7.1 a worthwhile endeavor. Once you have specified a new system and signed on, the banner area is updated to include the targeted system.

 

041410NavigatorFigure3

Figure 3: Set Target System allows you to target IBM i V7.1, V6.1, and V5.4.

 

5250 Emulator on the Web

 

While we would like to have everything possible built into the Web-based console, we also realize that is a pretty tall order. There are times when you just need a good old-fashioned command-line interface. In V7.1 a Web-based "green-screen" has been included. Under the System link in the left navigator area, click on 5250 Emulation (Figure 4) to launch a Web-based "green-screen." This helps the Systems Director Navigator interface cover any gaps to being the systems management tool of choice.

 

041410NavigatorFigure4

Figure 4: If you need 5250 emulation, you can get it on the Web.

 

PowerHA

 

The Cluster Resource Services GUI, one of two plug-ins included with the IBM PowerHA SystemMirror for i product, has been enhanced to support new PowerHA functionality. Usability enhancements simplify the management and synchronization of Cluster Administrative Domain monitored-resource entries. A new interface to configure and manage advanced node failure detection is also available. Both PowerHA plug-ins now support any combination of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses for cluster connectivity and data replication.

 

Backup and Recovery Media Services (BRMS) 

 

In V7.1, BRMS added scheduling support to its Web console plug-in. Users can now schedule backups and maintenance tasks as well as archive control groups. These tasks can be scheduled to run once, weekly, or monthly. V7.1 also includes the ability to filter the BRMS log by control group name. Users can specify a backup or archive control group in the BRMS Log - Include panel in order to see the messages associated with the control group. BRMS also added support to mark volumes for duplication. Finally, BRMS enhancements allow you to send messages to multiple email addresses to help distribute information across multiple users.

 

Advanced Job Scheduler

 

The Advanced Job Scheduler product (5770JS1) includes several noticeable enhancements in its Web console presence. While V6.1 introduced a mostly display-only perspective of the job scheduler, V7.1 includes full function interaction. You can now set up schedules and notifications, start and stop scheduling, and look at activity logs. The calendared scheduling page alone is worth the effort to check it out!

 

The only unfortunate thing about Advanced Job Scheduler on the Web console is that it is a hidden jewel; you need to look under Work Management>Show All Work Management Tasks to find it. 

The System Management Tool of Choice

Systems Director Navigator, besides being the strategic interface for IBM i, is also plugged into the multi-platform management tool, Systems Director. This provides continuity of interface, regardless of which direction you come from. Whether you access the Web console directly on your IBM i or navigate to your IBM i "endpoint" in Systems Director, the rich capabilities of the Web console are available to you.

 

IBM has made a number of improvements to correct some of the issues encountered during the process of maturing this Web-based console. IBM continues to update and improve this interface regularly during the normal life of a release. To ensure you have the most recent improvements, you should remain current on these updates. Ensure the Java group SF99562 is at the latest level (note: since Java is now skip ship, the product ID and group are the same as on IBM i 6.1). This also allows you to take advantage of Java improvements along the way. The HTTP server group SF99368 should also be kept current. It contains all the PTFs needed for Systems Director Navigator along with the entire Web infrastructure to ensure the technology runs effectively.

 

With the increased stabilization, the new features, and the new target system support to manage IBM i 5.4 and 6.1 systems from the latest Web interface, Systems Director Navigator is well on its way to becoming the system management tool of choice both now and into the future.

 

Robert Bestgen and Tim Rowe

Rob Bestgen is a Business Architect for IBM i, responsible for development strategy for systems management and external interfaces. He is also chief architect of the DB2 SQL Query Engine for DB2 i.

 

Tim Rowe is a Business Architect for IBM i, responsible for application development. He is also responsible for the integrated Web technologies for IBM i.

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    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.