Our guest blogger today is Kathy Tri, a senior software engineer at IBM Rochester who functions as the technical lead and architect for IBM i install, upgrade, license management and Power System upgrades. She shares insights and information about her team’s ongoing efforts to deliver an exceptional client experience. Read it, and then join the conversation on facebook.
A positive out-of-box experience for clients deploying IBM i has been a key point of emphasis from day one, and will continue to be in the future. Much is owed to the integration of the operating system with key functions, such as security and database, and with IBM middleware like WebSphere Application Server. We package and test everything together as a fully integrated stack to ensure the quick and easy deployment of an IBM i system or partition. As technical lead and architect for installs and upgrades, my goal is to ensure an easy migration to a new release with minimal downtime. The key objective for the IBM i operating system and its related products is to enable our customers to run their businesses without having to worry about the computer. A common thread among customers running IBM i systems is that they plug it in and leave it alone. It just runs with minimal intervention. This is what we had in mind when we developed IBM i support for what we call n-2 (n minus two) upgrades. For example, if an IBM i customer is currently on release V5R4, they can directly move to release 7.1 without having to install 6.1. This allows a customer to remain on a release for at least four years before needing to move to a new release. While it would be wonderful if customers could always remain current with operating system releases and technical refreshes, we know this is often not possible.
Since customers may have more than one partition or system, we also support interoperability between systems that are one or two releases apart. In other words, interoperability allows clients to develop applications on a current release and deploy them to a release n-1 or n-2. Another out-of-the-box feature is that most customer data can be moved from any prior release of AS/400 to the current releases of IBM i. For example, just the other day I was asked about moving applications and data from a V4R2 AS/400 to IBM i 7.1 on a new POWER7 system. Indeed, most of the data and applications will move with minimal reconfiguration needed. This is not a typical upgrade, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as an upgrade strategy, but it is an example of how we try to ensure investment protection and ease of moving to current releases and hardware. In this case, the customer will have the applications they love and will be able to gradually take advantage of new functions available.
Today we offer a number of tools to help plan the install or upgrade of an IBM i partition. For example, the IBM Pre-upgrade Verification tool for IBM i ensures that key items have been completed before upgrading the operating system and related products. To allow for remote install and eliminate media errors, we encourage downloading your entitled software and license keys from the Entitled Software Support (ESS) site.
Once the media images have been downloaded, you can use the resulting image to upgrade or install a new partition. In addition, network install allows for remote install from a single media image, which makes it easier to deploy the release. If you want a good reference for this capability, download IBM i Network Install using Network File System. Meanwhile, the IBM i Information Center has complete information about planning and installing a new release of IBM i.
The virtual media, or network install, was very beneficial for an IBM i customer who had a system that was older than five years. They wanted to move to a current release to take advantage of some new application modernization functions. Their dilemma, however, was they didn’t know where the physical box was anymore! No one had needed to do anything with the physical system for a few years and the building they were in had been remodeled. They were wondering if there was any way to upgrade without having to physically load the DVDs into the system. Using the virtual media that was downloaded from the ESS website, they were able to upgrade the system without touching the physical box. They eventually found the system, it had accidently been walled over!
The out-of-box experience has always been key to IBM i customers. Our goal has been to provide them with an exceptional client experience that yields fast time to value. The influence of this “plug it in and go” capability has also rubbed off onto new POWER environments. IBM PureSystems takes it another step and optimizes the complete solution stack, combining advanced IBM hardware and software along with patterns of expertise. The result is an optimized configuration that is fully integrated and simple to deploy. The rapid deployment capabilities of these systems provide a simplified experience. Individual elements of your IT infrastructure need not be separately acquired. As a result, customers can focus on delivering business value. Sound familiar?