i can

August 26, 2014

IBM i 7.2 - Batch Model

In the IBM i 7.2 release, there is a new function called “Batch Model”; the 7.2 announcement stated: “The Batch Model has been added, providing the ability to change environment variables, modeling how those changes would impact the batch window.” Batch Model is a utility that can help you understand your batch workloads and can assist in predicting the performance result of hardware changes (processors or disk) or an increasing workload on your batch window.

You will find Batch Model under Sizing within the Performance tasks in Navigator, as the following image shows. You must have the IBM i Performance Tools licensed program product (5770-PT1, option 1) installed in order for these tasks to be available.

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Batch model runs over Collection Services data; you identify the timeframe that represents your batch application when creating the batch model. Once the model is created, you may need to calibrate the model; this is needed if the system didn’t create the model as you require. For example, your batch application may consist of several jobs and you must ensure those jobs and linkages (parent/child relationship) are correct.

Once your batch model has been correctly calibrated, you then use the Change Batch Model function to change various configuration components of your batch application. You can change the system model (processor) configuration, the disk configuration and the workload job characteristics (move, copy, delete jobs from the model. Once these changes are made, you analyze your batch model to get the results. Once the analysis is complete, you can investigate the results with the Performance Data Investigator. The Performance Data Investigator has a few ways to look at your modeled results, comparing the measured workload you started with to the results of the modeled workload.

One example is the resource utilization overview, as the following image shows:

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You can use Batch Model on Collection Services data from the 6.1 or 7.1 releases. You do need to have a 7.2 partition to access the Navigator interface for Batch Model, but you can save your Collection Services data from 6.1 or 7.1 onto that 7.2 partition and select that older performance data when creating your batch model. This is very handy for sizing exercises if you are planning a HW or SW upgrade. Note: Support for the POWER8 hardware models is not yet available but will be coming soon in a PTF.

The development team that worked on creating Batch Model has provided an article, “How to use the Batch Model performance tool” on developerWorks, where you can find a more in-depth review of this tool.

Some of you may be familiar a tool called Batch/400. Batch/400 was a utility written many years ago as an as-is tool to help predict the impact of changes on a batch application; it had a command called BCHMDL. While I was writing this article, I thought perhaps I might be able to find some historical references for the Batch/400 utility. It turned out to be a bit difficult to find much documentation about it. An Internet search on “Batch/400” revealed “Batch 400 American Stout brewed by Swamp Head Brewery.” An Internet search on “BCHMDL” told me about the British Columbia Hockey League … with a couple results more along the line of what I was really looking for.


August 19, 2014

New IBM i 7.2 TCP/IP Configuration Information Commands

Two new commands have been provided in IBM i 7.2 to assist clients with handling TCP/IP configuration information.

The new Retrieve TCP/IP Information (RTVTCPINF) command will gather related TCP/IP configuration items (DB files, data areas, validation lists, environment variables, IFS files, etc.) for the systems TCP/IP processing as well as supported TCP/IP servers. 

A full system backup of this information is still recommended by using the Save System (SAVSYS) command. The RTVTCPINF command will take a snapshot that ensures all related TCP/IP configuration items are saved together as a single “working set.” This helps to avoid problems where items that must be processed together as a single unit get out of sync, something that can easily happen when related items reside in multiple places on the system. The RTVTCPINF command is automatically run and saved into the QUSRSYS library before the QUSRSYS library is saved, similar to the Save System Information (SAVSYSINF) command.

The Update TCP/IP Information (UPDTCPINF) command is available to restore the selected type of TCP/IP configuration information. This can be used to recover from problems that are reported against some TCP/IP configuration item, or to quickly back out a TCP/IP configuration change to a last known working configuration. It can also be useful to transport a working TCP/IP configuration to another system.

For more details, read the article, “New TCP/IP Configuration Recovery Enhancements.” 


August 06, 2014

About Writing “i Can”

This week marks the 5th year of “i Can” - five years already?! When I review the long list of blogs that have been published, only a small number have content that’s dated – most of the blogs are as applicable as when they were first written. New readers of this blog might want to review the older articles.

My biggest challenge with the blogs is “What am I going to write about this week?” I still have a long list of topics to write about, particularly now that 7.2 is available … but there’s also the time factor that comes into play. This blog is an extra piece of work I do each week and is not really part of my regular job. Some weeks it’s not a problem to spend a few hours writing, but some weeks I can hardly find a few minutes to spare. Some weeks a guest author is immensely appreciated! Often the topics I pick are simply based upon how much time I have to write. I try hard to write something each week; occasionally I miss a week, but not too often.

This week, I’m going to diverge from the usual technical topics to share a little about my writing (and speaking) background. My English skills were rather poor in high school – both written and verbal. I attribute it to growing up in a meager, rural environment. I’m old enough (although I don’t like to admit it!) that there were no computers at the time. My high school writing projects were always done in long hand (I didn’t even have a typewriter until I went to college); I didn’t know how to think through my sentences prior to writing them down and rewriting was tedious. C’s were a typical grade on written papers. Although my English skills were poor, I was a wiz at math and went to college for a degree in Mathematics and picked up a degree in Computer Science as well.

Then two things happened – I got a job at IBM where I was surrounded by really smart people all the time, and I had access to computers. Being around really smart people helped my English skills improve dramatically – although some people were so smart I couldn’t understand what they were talking about! Although my English skills improved, my speaking and writing style remained somewhat basic – but this has been to my advantage as I’ve often been told that my style makes me easy to understand. Using a computer for writing is a huge benefit – I can easily cut/paste/copy/edit/rewrite – and rewrite I do! I rarely write a sentence correctly the first time.

The experience of going from poor language skills to writing a blog and public speaking has been unexpected, but very exciting. When I was 17, if someone would have told me that I would write often and be comfortable speaking in front of an audience, I would never have believed it. You can overcome handicaps and even let them work to your advantage.


July 30, 2014

Navigator Favorites

Last week, I wrote about the search feature that has been added to Navigator and mentioned another new feature—favorites. With all the capability now in Navigator, searching can be helpful to find tasks when you don’t know where they’re located in the navigation. Once you’ve found the task, you may want to start building your set of favorite tasks to make them easy to access. You do this by saving your tasks as Favorites.

There are two different ways that tasks can be saved as favorites; which you will see depends upon the type of task you are using.

  • • Actions drop-down menu
    For tasks that present information in tables, you’ll find the Save as Favorite option in the actions drop-down menu.
    SaveAsFavoriteAction DawnMay

  • • Save as favorite button
    There are many tasks that present information in ways other than tables. On a few of these (System Status, Investigate Data), you’ll find a button for saving the task as a favorite.
    SaveAsFavoriteButton DawnMay

    Note that the “save as favorite” button may not appear on every panel you might expect. In fact, the IBM i development team is looking for feedback. My colleagues want to know what commonly used tasks involving information not presented in table form should have the “save as favorite” button. We look forward to hearing from our users.

Commonly accessed tasks are good candidates for favorites; saving them as favorites can make accessing those tasks just a few clicks away.

Favorites are useful for those tasks that are accessed by lengthy navigation. For example, one of my favorite perspectives in the Performance Data Investigator is Disk I/O Rates Overview - Detailed. (I wrote about this in the Measure Disk Response Times blog). To navigate to this chart, you need to follow Performance>Investigate Data>Collection Services>Disk>Disk Response Time>Detailed>Disk I/O Rates Overview – Detailed. That’s a pretty deep navigation path. With the navigation in 7.2, you can drill down to Disk I/O Rates Overview – Detailed in the left-frame, and when that task opens in the right frame, you will find the “Save as Favorite” button. Once you’ve saved this as a favorite, you can simply go to your favorites and quickly navigate to the saved chart. When you open that link, the Investigate Data task is launched and you’re taken directly to the interface to select the desired collection you want to use when you display that chart.

When you save a task as a favorite, you give it a name of your choice (it’s probably a good idea to name it the same or very similar to the actual task name so you know exactly what it is!) as well as a category.

SaveAsFavoriteExample DawnMay

The category is your way of organizing your favorites. You can specify new categories when saving the favorite; you can also edit your favorites to change their organization and modify the categories you’ve created.

Note: I discovered a bug when testing favorites for this blog. When you add a favorite and want to store it in an existing category, you’ll find the list of existing categories only has one entry – Empty. This is a known defect and will be fixed in the next update to Navigator.

You manage your favorites by clicking on the Favorites task in the navigation frame. This will bring up the Favorites task where you can remove tasks, change the order of tasks in the lists, and edit them, which allows you to change the name you used for the favorite as well as the category selected. Favorites are saved by system and user profile; if you have several IBM i partitions you manage with Navigator, you’ll need to establish your favorites for each partition.

After working with your favorites, you may need to refresh the favorites to see your modifications. In the navigation frame, there’s a small icon that will show up when you put your cursor over the “Favorites” link—this icon is the reload icon. You can click on this icon to refresh your favorites folder. (You’ll find the reload icon in various other places in the navigation frame as well).

Reload Icon DawnMay

July 22, 2014

Navigator Search

Search and favorites are two of the new features added to Navigator in IBM i 7.2. You will find the search feature in the upper portion of the left-frame navigation area. The Favorites section is not far away – an expandable list near the top of the left-frame navigation area.

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Navigator has a lot of new functionality with the 7.2 release (we can probably anticipate that some of these new features will eventually find their way back to the 7.1 release), but finding the task you want may be difficult if you are not sure where it’s located in the navigation tree. In addition, I know many of you are very comfortable with your green-screen interfaces and may not know the equivalent function in the GUI. The search feature helps with both of these scenarios.

For example, you many know that IBM provided support for PTF tasks in Navigator with the 7.2 release, but you don’t know where to find those tasks. If you type in PTF in the search box, you will be shown the PTF tasks:

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If you know exactly where to navigate in Navigator, you’d find these PTF tasks under Configuration and Service:

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You may also know your green-screen command, but don’t know the equivalent task in Navigator. You can type the command name in the search box and the results will provide a link to the GUI task. Let’s say you’re used to using Work with Active Jobs (WRKACTJOB) - simply type in the command and the search results will come up. Clicking on the results will take you directly to the task.

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Now let’s assume you want to find all tasks associated with something – for example, all the job tasks; if you type in job in the search box, you will get a list of the job tasks, but in the case of jobs, the list is long and you will find a “more….” link at the bottom of the list. If you click on that “more…” link, a new tab will open in the Navigator browser with the complete list of tasks. In the case of “job” tasks, there are a lot of them. This approach can be useful if you want to quickly find out all the tasks you can do for that something you are interested in.

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As with any search feature, you may need to play around with the search string to get the results you’re looking for.

After you have found the task(s) you have been searching for, Favorites can help you easily find them again. In next week’s blog, I’ll write more about favorites.