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Weaving WebSphere: An Internet Christmas

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"This is my family. I found it all on my own. It is small, and broken, but still good. Yeah. Still good."
--Stitch

For this yuletide column, I've decided to put together a little Christmas basket for you, with lots of goodies that I've found during my research. First, some breaking news on the IBM front. Then, I'll introduce you to a bunch of mostly cool things on the IBM Web site, followed by a few non-IBM sites with really neat gizmos and gadgets. Next, I'll answer some often-asked questions about the various WebSphere products. Finally, in the spirit of the season, I'll wrap up the column with a couple of free gifts from me to you.

Breaking News: Merry Christmas from IBM!

This just in, excerpted from the MIDRANGE-L mailing list:

Just heard from IBM that beginning on Sunday, December 5, IBM will launch an eServer i5 television ad in the U.S. on ABC primetime national programming, including the hot new show, LOST. Using the current IBM campaign format, the commercial humorously depicts Server Consolidation and introduces the eServer i5 system.

Ads of course can change their time slot without warning, but this is the proposed schedule:

The Five People You Meet In Heaven
Sun. 12/05/2004
8 - 11 p.m.
LOST
Wed. 12/15/2004
8 - 10 p.m.
Remember The Titans
Sat. 12/18/2004
8 - 10 p.m.
Boston Legal
Sun. 12/19/2004
10 - 11 p.m.
LOST
Wed. 12/22/2004
9 - 10 p.m.
Boston Legal
Sun. 12/26/2004
10 - 11 p.m.

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas, i5! Combine this with the rumor that IBM is getting out of the PC business, and this could bode well for the beginning of a new focus for IBM.

IBM.com--The Only Constant Is Change

There have been a lot of interesting rumors out and about, as well as changes in the products and in IBM as a whole. One place where change is the norm is the IBM Web site. Sometimes, things are just changed to a new name; sometimes, they're removed completely. Lately, the site has been more stable, but a couple of recent changes have me thinking once again that the IBM Webmasters have a little too much time on their hands. Let's review a couple of recent changes, just for fun. The first one is actually a bit of sad news, so I'll get that out of the way quickly, and then we can focus on the good stuff.

Fred Is Dead, Long Live Fitz!

Fred was our pet nickname for the underused but still appreciated Feature Request Database, or FRD. We were supposed to use Fred to report our ideas for enhancements. And while it probably never got quite the response IBM hoped for, lots of people did use it to request features. More important, I think, was the ability to be able to vote for features, which gave some of us the idea (however misguided it might have been) that we actually had some input to the development team.

Well, IBM has unceremoniously dumped Fred and replaced it with something called the Fully Integrated Tool Set system, or FITS (Fitz, get it?). But nobody I know of has heard of FITS; in fact, it seems that the only way to actually enter anything into FITS is through an IBM "account team." This may be difficult, especially for those of us who don't have our own IBM account team. In any case, we in the trenches now have one less way to communicate our concerns. I guess somebody thought we were bad and put coal in our stockings.

FactFind

A wonderful little tool that I've used for years, FactFind shows the current base prices for various models of iSeries processors. It's not really a configuration tool, since it just shows the base models, but it was a great way to look at the various models and also to see how much the interactive features really cost. Then, one day recently, FactFind suddenly disappeared! As it turns out, it just relocated like so many other IBM Web pages tend to do. It's now here, in all its original splendor. Think of it as a little stocking stuffer....

Redbooks and Redpapers

For our first real present, though, may I present IBM's incredible online resource, the Redbooks. This repository is packed full of outstanding technical documentation for just about every subject you could imagine related to IBM products, hardware, and software. I mean it; this thing is huge. The library is so large that it's divided into a variety of different "domains," depending on the subject. For instance, you can find the iSeries-specific books here.

The Redbooks are full publications roughly equivalent to a standard technical reference book, typically several hundred pages long. They tend to cover a range of topics associated with a single general subject. One of the most popular of these has been Who Knew You Could Do That With RPG IV? A Sorcerer's Guide to System Access and More. This Redbook, even though it was first published back in 2000, contains a wealth of information about using RPG IV, from writing subprocedures to calling APIs. If you haven't seen this Redbook, do yourself the favor.

Next are the Redpapers. These shorter pieces, usually under 100 pages in length, deal with a specific technical subject. One of my favorites is the system capacities document. Typically about 20 pages long, it lists the maximum values of--well, of just about anything in OS/400. For example, the latest one, the V5R2 version, says that the maximum number of user profiles is about 340,000. That might give you pause if you wanted to provide a profile for every visitor to your Web site! Another Redpaper tells you all about new models and their hardware compatibility. Unfortunately, both publications are for V5R2. For Christmas, I'd like IBM to update both of these fine publications to V5R3 as soon as possible. Just to give you an idea of the breadth of these papers, here's one that shows how to run PHP (a very popular Web scripting language) on the iSeries.

And finally, there are even smaller focused articles called Technotes. For example, I had no idea that I could display performance data graphically, but this Technote shows you just how to do it using iSeries Navigator. Another technote shows you how to add zip and unzip capabilities to QShell.

All in all, the Redbooks resource is a very good one. There is even a section listing upcoming workshops if you can get some hands-on experience.

Some More Stocking Stuffers

For those of you with a historical bent, there is the IBM Online Library, specifically for versions of OS/400 prior to V5R1. If you're still partial to the old online format, you can find them here.

And while the Redbooks and Redpapers are certainly in keeping with the color scheme of the season, the color white, as in White Papers, is just as appropriate, and IBM has a ton of them.

For WDSC users, particularly those playing with WebFacing, there is a collection of user hints available on one of those "funky" IBM Web sites. By funky, I mean not quite as straightlaced as the typical site. In this case, the name is Larry's Hot Tips, and it's a great site for WebFacers.

Finally, if you're even thinking about dipping your toe into the world of RPG-CGI, you have to go to the Easy400 Web site.

Works--For a Price

The developerWorks site is a bit of a mystery to me. I'm still not sure what happened; at one point, I had access to just about everything I needed as a member of PartnerWorld for Developers, and then suddenly I had to subscribe to developerWorks. Not only that, but as I review what exactly is offered in developerWorks, it seems tightly integrated to WebSphere Studio. Buy a starter subscription, get WebSphere Studio Site Developer. Buy a professional subscription, get WebSphere Studio Application Developer. Enterprise subscription, Enterprise Developer. Included as you go along are more IBM middleware components, such as Rational and Tivoli products.

Not that it's all bad, mind you. The forums at developerWorks are sometimes pretty helpful, and they also have a page devoted to WebSphere Studio plug-ins. But as far as I can tell, developerWorks is all about selling tools for developing platform-neutral applications using IBM components.

The same seems to be happening to alphaWorks. Once upon a time, alphaWorks was the place to go to download cool new Java code, and the site still is a place where coders like to code, and talk about code, and show off their code, and share their code. Unfortunately, it seems that alphaWorks is becoming commercialized, with more and more of it being devoted to for-fee packages. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case whenever the open source world and the corporate world collide: Profit wins.

Outside IBM

Despite the "stealth" nature of the iSeries (or whatever IBM calls it this week), there are quite a few great sites out there devoted to the box. This site, of course, is one of the stalwarts, as is www.midrange.com. A few others are also relatively well-known, but their names shall not be uttered here. ;-) But there are others, sites with great attendees and sites with smaller but perhaps even more-devoted followings.

One of the best is the iSeries toolkit, run by David Morris. While a lot of us have paid lip service to the concept of open source, David has gone out and done it. He has created a serious Sourceforge project devoted to iSeries developers. You're really cheating yourself if you haven't taken a look at this. (Note to self: See about submitting that text conversion API wrapper to the project.)

Next on my personal favorites list is Per Gummedal's iSeries Python Web site. Per is as devoted to Python as anyone I've seen, and he shows it by continuing to update his iSeries Python project. In fact, the current version is at 2.3.3, which is high enough to (theoretically) run Zope and Plone, which means I may have a new spare time project. If I can get Zope and Plone running, I can move the IAAI Web site to the iSeries, where it belongs.

Then there's www.freeas400software.com, which is a fairly self-explanatory Web address. It's actually run by a UK software house, but it's nice of them to try to keep up a list of free iSeries software. From that list, you can branch out to quite a few more good places.

Sadly, one you will not see on the list is my old java400.net site. Unfortunately, java400 is currently on indefinite sabbatical, at least until we get a little better handle on the whole situation. The biggest problem at the moment is the fact that, while Java and the iSeries are great in the right mix, too many people seem to have the wrong recipe, and that results in disaster for the box. I don't want to bring too much gloom into this holiday issue, but let me relate a story very briefly. A few years back, IBM decided to take one of its big customers down the pure Java road. They did so quite effectively--so effectively, in fact, that the same company has just dumped OS/400 and DB2 in favor of Linux and Oracle, and only time separates them from dumping IBM completely for generic hardware.

Herein lies the danger of the platform-independence mantra. Platform independence means code that is not optimized for the platform. If code is not optimized for the platform, then every machine is fundamentally equal. If every machine is equal, you go for the cheapest CPU cycles available. iSeries CPU cycles are not cheap. Thus, platform independence implies not using the iSeries. Is this too tough to follow?

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/041203%20-%20An%20Internet%20ChristmasV200.jpg

Figure 1: Why doesn't anybody understand this?

Some Questions Answered

OK, it's time to answer a few questions. Certain questions come up over and over on various mailing lists and forums. I thought I'd address one or two here.

Q: Do I need WebSphere Application Server (WAS) to use WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSc)?

A: No! While WDSc is a great product for developing Web-based applications that run on WAS, it serves equally as well in the role of primary development tool for green-screen developers. In fact, WDSc in conjunction with CODE Designer is arguably more productive than SEU and SDA.

Q: Can I use Update Manager to upgrade WDSc to Version 5.1.2?

A: Unfortunately, the answer here is also no. So much of the code has changed between releases that the only way to update your code is to get a new copy of the media. Contact your Business Partner and ask for a refresh of WDSc (feature code 2656). More information can be found here.

Q: I'm running WDSc 5.1, and it stopped asking for a workspace. How do I get it to ask again?

A: You need to update the registry. The key is Software>IBM>WebSphere Studio>Workspace under HKEY_CURRENT_USER. For Version 5.1.0, you can copy the following line into a file with a .reg extension and run it:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareIBMWebsphere StudioWorkspace] 

"wdsc510"="" "wdsc510_status"="Enable"

The line above must be a single line. The digits "510" change depending upon your current version of WDSc.

Q: I've made a new perspective, and I'd like to change the icon. How do I do that?

A: Unfortunately, you can't. There is no way to define an icon for a user-defined perspective. The closest thing to a workaround is to create a new perspective with your own icon and then customize it.

My Christmas Present

I said I'd include a Christmas present. Here are a couple of commands with the corresponding CL code to start and stop a WAS instance. They work fine with WAS Express (5722-IWE), but I haven't tried them with either the base or network deployment (ND) editions. If you try either of those editions, please let us know what happens by posting to the forums.

STRWASSVR starts a WebSphere server instance. It assumes that the server name is the same as the WAS instance name. The ENDWASSVR command ends a server, and assumes the same thing. If your instance name and server name are different, you will have to add a second parameter to the commands and the CL programs.

And Finally, Christmas Wishes

This is the last "Weaving WebSphere" column for the year and my last column of any type before Christmas, so I think it's time to wish you all a peaceful and joyous holiday season. The last few years have been tough, and the last year in particular has been stressful. And it's not just in our little soap opera of IBM and the iSeries. Employment in general isn't what we'd like it to be, our society seems to be getting less civil every day, and our youngsters are off across the world in harm's way. Sometimes, it's hard to put a good face on things.

But you're still here. You're still reading this column, which I hope means you're still working on making the iSeries the best platform it can be. And if you can find time to worry about WebSphere and the iSeries, then life isn't all bad, is it? And if you're still down in the dumps, rent one (or more!) of the following:

  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • The Family Man (a modern equivalent in reverse, sort of )
  • Lilo and Stitch (my all-time favorite!)
  • Michael
  • Galaxy Quest
  • The Rookie
  • About a Boy

If you can, hug someone and tell them you love them. If you can't find someone to hug, go help someone. This is the time of year when volunteer organizations need lots of help. Most cities have Santa programs, where you can register to give an underprivileged kid Christmas gifts. Get out of yourself and into the world!

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season, and in the immortal words of Dave Allen, "May your God go with you."

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been working in the field since the late 1970s and has made a career of extending the IBM midrange, starting back in the days of the IBM System/3. Joe has used WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. Joe is also the author of E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step and WDSc: Step by Step. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at joepluta@plutabrothers.com.


MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
List Price $39.95

Now On Sale

WDSC: Step by Step WDSC: Step by Step
Discover incredibly powerful WDSC with this easy-to-understand yet thorough introduction.
List Price $74.95

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Eclipse: Step by Step Eclipse: Step by Step
Quickly get up to speed and productivity using Eclipse.
List Price $59.00

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    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericMany business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation.Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying? It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, see how HelpSystems data automation software will help you stop re-keying data.

     

  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_GenericWhen it comes to IBM Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"

     

  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericToo much paper is wasted. Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets.And distributing documents is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

     

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days

     

  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have 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. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using NodeRun.com 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.

     

     

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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.