Ensuring that your IBM i isn’t Vulnerable to Attacks

data_breachIf you believe your IBM i is 100% secure from attacks both inside and outside the firewall, then you are probably at risk. Many companies are under a false sense of security that their data is safe just because it resides on IBM i. A good IBM i administrator should be able to demonstrate that their systems are being proactively assessed and interrogated to minimize the risk of security vulnerabilities. Regardless of architecture, no system is 100% secure. However, when security is viewed as an operating strategy rather than a goal the chances of a breach with data loss is reduced substantially.

[Get 5 Tips to Improving Your IBM i Security]

Where is your system vulnerable?

The IBM i is probably the most securable system available, but it doesn’t come that way.  You have to know how to configure the system properly to make it secure.  This requires knowledge about proper security levels, password levels, authorities and more. Even a well-managed system may still be exposed, without you realizing it. Having your IBM i assessed by an IBM i Security expert can help ensure that your system is as protected as it can be.

Poorly implemented password policies are one of the most prevalent risks faced by IBM i shops. Limiting password lengths to only 10 characters is extremely risky.  It makes it easier for someone to hack into your system, therefore putting your data and business at risk. In addition to not requiring strong enough passwords, too many shops still have users with default passwords.  If you still have users with default passwords, you really should take the time to change them.  You’re not the only one who knows what the default passwords are, it’s like leaving your front door wide open.  Anyone can get it and harm your system.

Almost every system has users with elevated authorities, but the question is do they need that level of authority to perform their job on a day to day basis?  If the answer is no, then you should really reset their authority to the most appropriately level.  Too many users’ with *ALLOBJ authority or *SECADM rights expose your system to harm or loss.  Do you know how many users have elevated authorities on your system?

IBM i applications are notorious for having more authority granted to their objects than what is really necessary to execute the application functions.  Sometimes when trouble shooting a problem, the solution is to decrease the object level security and sometimes people forget to go back and reset it to the higher level. Excessive object level authorities really expose your system to threats.  It’s important to assess your object level security and set it to the lowest level possible in order to protect your business.

Another potential threat is due to the fact that the IFS is not secure out of the box.  It is up to you to ensure that your IFS directory is secure from external and internal threats. Defining access rights properly is crucial to protecting your companies IFS data.  Not only is your data exposed to loss, your IFS is exposed to infected files.  While it’s true that the IBM i can’t get infected by a virus, the IFS can carry a virus which can spread. It’s important to secure your IFS properly, so that you’re not at risk of losing critical company data or spreading a virus.  

These are just a few of the things you need to check in order to assess your system for security vulnerabilities.  There are others you need to consider such as, the version of Java you are running, whether or not your ciphers are current, is TELNET unencrypted and are you logging FTP access.

iTech Solutions offers a Security Assessment that will check these things and more. We can help you to determine which items put you at the most risk, so you can mitigate your vulnerabilities quickly.

Security is not set it and forget it

Companies often set their IBM I security and forget about it, thinking their job is done. The truth is you should be reviewing your security on a regular basis to ensure that things haven’t changed.  An administrator can change a system value or provide a user with elevated authorities to solve a problem and may not go back and clean up. Having a second set of eyes reviewing the state of your system security and providing you with a detailed report and in depth review, will improve your security and protect your data.

Download iTech’s “Five Tips for Improving your IBM i Security for some tips on how to improve your security.

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How to Conquer the Challenge of IBM i Staffing


The use of Managed Services are predicted to continue to increase in 2017. Companies are realizing that focusing on what they do best can provide them with a competitive edge. This is especially true in IT. Whether you want to supplement your staff, become more proactive with your system maintenance or shorten your problem resolution time, Managed Services can help.

Supplementing your existing staff with an IBM i Certified Systems Administrator will allow your team to focus on core business strategies and innovation.

Often small companies don’t have a dedicated system administrator, instead a programmer has to pull double duty. This isn’t good for business because you’re getting the bare minimum for administration and that time is taken away from development activities. Focusing your existing resources where they have the biggest impact on your business, will help you to get the most out of your team.

Since the IBM i is so reliable and just seems to run, companies have been lax in replacing staff in some cases.  Whether someone retires or they leave the company for a new opportunity, some of those people are not replaced. Eventually, shops have no one who is actively managing the IBM i, instead they are just reacting to problems. Problem resolution times are increased when you wait for the users to report problems, which can have a negative effect on your business.

This leads to another issue; putting all your eggs in one basket. When you have one resource who has the knowledge and the skills to maintain your IBM i, you are at risk. If that person leaves for any reason, you have to try to transfer the knowledge to another resource, if that is even possible. With Managed Services you have a team of people who are familiar with your environment and you never have to worry about someone leaving.

Without a real time monitoring solution, your staff has to either react to user complaints or spend their time manually looking through logs to ensure that everything is working as expected. Sometimes, not even finding the problems. None of these options are good.  With Managed Services companies you gain the benefit of having proactive monitoring, without the cost of licensing and maintaining a monitoring solution.

Proactive monitoring notifies the Provider when a problem occurs and allows them to take action or notify the right person. 

With a Certified IBM i Administrator receiving the alerts, you also gain the benefit of the experience the provider has from solving problems for other customers. Both of these benefits allow for faster problem resolution, increasing system performance and availability.

System Maintenance tasks like IBM i OS upgrades and PTF Maintenance are things that usually have to be done after hours, and they require tons of planning. When you are already short staffed, or you have your programmer doing system maintenance, it seems like updates get further and further apart.  If at all. Having a regular maintenance schedule performed by a Managed Services provider helps ensure that your system remains healthy, optimized, and secure.

If you are in one of these situations, you’re not alone. That’s why Managed Services will continue to grow this year. The good news is that iTech Solutions can help you.

Learn more about our MSP services by getting a copy of the MSP benefit guide


7.3 Items to Be Aware of When Upgrading to IBM i 7.3 – Part 4

This is part 4 of a 4 part series on the new IBM i 7.3 Upgrade. See the first posts in this series below:

know the minimum releases to run on IBM i 7.37. Supported Versions

There are certainly Licensed Program Products (LPPs) which will need to have minimum releases to run on IBM i 7.3, and some releases are no longer supported on IBM i 7.3.  In either case, how did you think I was going to provide 7.3 items to consider? This next item is the seventh item, Supported Versions, and I have 3 points under this last highlight.

  1. Java.  IBM Developer Kit for Java 5770-JV1 will be removing IBM Technology for Java 6.0 (options 11 and 12) on IBM i 7.3.  Therefore, before upgrading use the WRKJVMJOB command to ensure that all your jobs are using a newer version of a JVM.  By the way, the default JVM for IBM i 7.3 is Java 8.0 32bit, which is option 16.
  2. Domino.  For 7.3 the minimum release of Domino has yet to be published by IBM, we know the minimum release for IBM i 7.2 is Domino 9.0.1.  Most of the time the compatibility is related to the dependent release of Java.  If you are below version 9.0.1, you will need to be looking at an upgrade, and we are waiting for IBM to update the website. (Collaboration and Social(Lotus) Software for IBM i Compatibility Guide)
  3. IBM WebSphere Application Server.  Versions 8.0 and earlier versions are not supported and will not function on IBM i 7.3.  You will need to be on version 8.5 or later of WebSphere Application server, with fix pack You must upgrade to a supported version before upgrading to 7.3.

This isn’t the actual upgrade guide, but some of the issues that people may run into during an upgrade which they have to address prior to the upgrade in their planning process.  There are other issues like with iSCSI, WebSphere MQ minimum releases, IBM Content OnDemand minimum releases, and changes to Universal Connection hostnames.

In any upgrade, planning is one of the most important steps and should never be rushed or glossed over.  If you need help, would like iTech to do the upgrade for you, or just want to have peace of mind knowing that a company that does more upgrades in a week than you will do in a decade is working for you, then contact sales@itechsol.com to enlist our help.

Don’t forget to grab your copy of The IBM i State of the Union, Pete’s Predictions for 2016.

Have questions about your next upgrade? Schedule an Upgrade Assessment with the iTech Solutions team.


7.3 Items to Be Aware of When Upgrading to IBM i 7.3 – Part 3

This is part 3 of a 4 part series on the new IBM i 7.3 Upgrade. Links to the rest of the series are listed a the bottom of this article.

5. IBM i NetServer Shared Printer Changes

be prepared for the IBM i 7.3 upgradeNetServer Shared Printers will behave differently after upgrading to IBM i 7.3. There is a new version of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. Version 2 (SMB2) has been added and is now the default that is negotiated with IBM i NetServer clients. The new protocol handles printing differently and printer functions will no longer work as they did in prior releases. Documents can still be printed to shared printer queues from Windows clients, but additional steps are required to configure the printer.

SMB2 support can be disabled on the system if the printing limitations are incompatible with existing network printer use.

6. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) Changes

It may seem that you have issues every day on your PC when using Java and your browser, especially when it comes to SSL and TLS. There are so many vulnerabilities that what we thought was once secure, just is no longer.  So, for IBM i 7.3, only cipher suites considered secure are included.

The system value QSSLCSL cipher specification list generated when system value QSSLCSLCTL is *OPSYS has changed from the previous release. The IBM i 7.3 list contains only cipher suites considered okay for use by security compliance definitions at the time 7.3 was released. It is impossible for an application using System SSL/TLS to use a cipher suite not listed in QSSLCSL. Administrators can control the ciphers supported by System SSL/TLS via the system value QSSLCSL when QSSLCSLCTL is set to *USRDFN.(Learn more about SSL/TLS changes for IBM i 7.3 here.)

List change highlights:

  • The Rivest Cipher 4 (RC4) 128-bit ciphers are removed.
  • The Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) ciphers are now listed first, which makes them preferred over the Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) ciphers.
  • All ciphers with less than 128-bit are removed.


This was Part 3 of a four part series. See the following posts below:

7.3 Items to Be Aware of When Upgrading to IBM i 7.3 – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on the new IBM i 7.3 Upgrade. Links to the rest of the series are listed a the bottom of this article.

things to know before you upgrade to IBM i 7.33. Increase the Licensed Internal Code space

If you are upgrading from 7.1 to 7.3 you need to increase the Licensed Internal Code space on the load source disk.  All server models with IBM i 7.1 or earlier releases require more reserved storage before IBM i 7.2 or 7.3 can be installed. Your upgrade will stop during the installation if you do not allocate the additional space.

You can do this by issuing the GO LICPGM on the command line, selecting option 5 on the menu to Prepare for upgrade, and then selecting the option to increase License Internal Code space.  Remember, your load source will need to be at least 70GB for a physical disk drive and 35GB for a virtual disk drive.

4. Required PTFs

While I think it goes without saying that you should always get to the latest PTFs on the release you are upgrading from before starting your upgrade, this release of IBM i 7.3 is no different.  As you plan for your IBM 7.3 installation or upgrade ensure that you review the “Required PTFs for upgrading to IBM 7.3″ topic within the IBM i and Related Software section of the IBM developerWorks® wiki.

To review the “Required PTFs for upgrading to IBM i 7.3″, go to this wiki and select Updates and PTFs.

If you are upgrading from IBM i 7.1 for example, you need to load and apply certain PTFs to be able to accept online software agreements. If you are using image catalogs to upgrade from either IBM i 7.1 or IBM i 7.2 certain PTFs are required. Both of these preparation steps are included in the Installing, Upgrading, or Deleting IBM i Guide. You always want all the IBM i fixes that have resolved known problems installed before you start the upgrade.

This was Part 2 of a four part series. See the following posts below:


7.3 Items to Be Aware of When Upgrading to IBM i 7.3 – Part 1

Four part series on Upgrading to IBM i 7.3As with any upgrade, the success is in the preparation. Reading the IBM i Memo to Users and the upgrade guide will help ensure you are on the right path to a successful upgrade. We want to bring to your attention a few items and pre-requisites that you need to consider before you start your upgrade to 7.3. While IBM i 7.3 contains many cool new features and functions, the upgrade has several points that you need to be aware of. These are a few of the items that I want to bring to your attention, and certainly not all the concerns that must be examined before an upgrade.  Every company’s IBM i environment is unique, and careful consideration and planning must be done for each upgrade to ensure there is no interruption to the business.

1. Power6

IBM i 7.3 is not supported on Power6 systems.  This includes Power 520, 550, 560, 570, 595, M15, M25, E4A, E4S, M50, E8A, EMA, MMA, or FHA Machines.  In addition, Power6 BladeCenter models JS12, JS22, JS23, and JS43 machines can’t run 7.3.  Also, IBM i 7.3 isn’t supported on the IBM Flex System p260 and p460 Compute nodes for POWER7 or POWER7+ (Make sure you understand this is just IBM Flex Systems), nor Blades PS700, PS701, PS702, PS703, or PS704.  While we are on the subject of hardware, if you are using iSCSI IBM i 7.3 will not support iSCSI connected System x hardware, as that product has been stabilized.

2. LAN Console

It has always been the recommendation that administrators upgrade the LAN Console software on the PC being used as the console prior to upgrading the OS.  This release is no different but you need to go another step.  You must upgrade to the new Java based Access Client Solutions product before upgrading to 7.3.

Note: The LAN console feature in the IBM i Access for Windows client will work for a D-mode install because SSL ciphers aren’t used during the D-mode IPL but on the following A-mode IPL the IBM i Access for Windows LAN console will fail to connect. The IBM i Access for Windows client doesn’t need to be removed from the PC but be aware the IBM i Access for Windows console will not continue working if the system is upgraded to 7.3. If you are upgrading to 7.3 and you want to replace an existing console with a LAN attached Operations Console, upgrade the system before you migrate the console. This prevents any conflict between the existing console and the Operations Console.

Your choice since 7.2 has been one of two consoles, HMC or LAN Console.  You need to ensure that you have the latest version of the JAVA based IBM i Access Client Solutions product on your PC before starting the upgrade to 7.3.

This was Part 1 of a four part series. See the following posts below:


Migrating to IBM i Access Client Solutions

Last month, we discussed how to find and download IBM i Access Client Solutions, the new Java-based client software that is intended to replace the older platform-specific IBM i Access family offerings. Now that you’ve solved the maze IBM wants you to navigate in order to download the product, let’s talk about what’s next.

Note: This assumes you are on a Windows PC and are moving from IBM i Access for Windows, but most of these concepts work the same on other platforms.

Client Solutions comes as a single .zip file from the ESS website. As a Java-based program, installation is as simple as extracting the contents of the archive. You can place the software anywhere you like, but extractfor a single-PC installation the easiest option is to place it into a new folder on your C: drive.

The best way to start Client Solutions is to use one of the startup programs IBM has supplied in the download package. These programs make sure that Java starts with the right options to support the software and they provide a target for file associations, which we will discuss later. Open the location where you extracted the .zip file earlier and look inside the Start_Programs folder for the one that matches your system (use Windows 32-bit if you’re not sure). These programs need to stay where they are to work properly, but you can create a shortcut to the correct one to make it easier to start Client Solutions.

The main screen for Client Solutions provides a drop-down box to select a system to work with and a list of actions and tools you can launch. Hovering over each link will cause a brief description of that tool to appear in the right-hand panel. You’ll need to tell Client Solutions about a system before you can connect to it. copyconnectionsFortunately, a connection migration utility is included to copy your existing Access for Windows connections over into Client Solutions in one easy step. To access it, select “Copy Connections” from the File menu. Client Solutions will display a list of your Access for Windows environments and the systems defined within them. Use the arrow buttons in the middle to copy connection profiles back and forth between the two products. Once your connections are migrated and you are back on the main screen, starting your first 5250 session is as simple as selecting the target system from the drop-down and clicking the “5250 Emulator” link.

selectextensionsClient Solutions has its own session profile format (.hod), which it will use to save emulator sessions. It can also read the .ws format which Access for Windows uses (but keep in mind that AfW cannot open .hod files). If you used the Windows startup program earlier to start Client Solutions, then you will find a “File Associations” link on the Tools menu which you can use to associate these file types with Client Solutions. Setting the associations will allow you to start a 5250 emulator session directly by double-clicking a profile, bypassing the main menu.

As a relatively new product, Client Solutions is still growing. While it does provide a complete replacement for all of the core Access for Windows functionality, you may find a few places where you need to re-learn how to do things. For example, the Excel plug-in has been replaced with an option in Data Transfer to import directly into the active Excel sheet, so anyone using this feature will now need to open Excel, switch over to Client Solutions to perform the transfer, and then switch back to Excel. Another change is the lack of System i Navigatordatatransfer, which has been dropped in favor of Navigator for i (although Client Solutions does provide a link to Navigator for you). While no one likes change very much, it seems IBM is determined to force this one upon us since Access for Windows will not be supported past Windows 8.

By now you’ve probably noticed that there is a lot more in the download package than just the Java program and a few launchers; IBM provides quite a bit of documentation as well as other bits and pieces which come in handy if you’re interested in deploying the program across a network or customizing your installation. The team here at iTech has been using Client Solutions since it was available as a technology preview back in 2012, so we can tell you from experience that green screen is just scratching the surface of what it can do! If you would like us to help you with the migration, please send us an email.

IBM i 7.2 OS Upgrades

IBM_i_OS_UpgradeIf an upgrade to your current IBM i (OS/400 or i5/OS) operating system is something you’ve been putting off for quite some time, then the time has certainly come.

With IBM’s latest release of IBM i version 7.2, this release is packed with some really cool things. How long can you afford to keep waiting?  First, let me say that we have been a beta site for IBM i 7.2 over the last 3 to 4 months, and this release has been rock solid.  Very impressive when you see on announcement day the really cool features that IBM has added to this release.

Upgrades, updates, PTFs, enhancements are nothing new to the IBM i community.  IBM has heavily invested in what was OS/400 up to what we now call IBM i during the last 26 years. While they have certainly changed the methodology of delivering new features and functions in 7.1 with Technology Refreshes, the new enhancements were what we needed.

Technology Refreshes have been coming out every 6 months over the last 4 years for 7.1, and you should have been taken advantage of these to quickly and easily get the new enhancements.  Of course, if you weren’t on 7.1 you couldn’t take advantage of these as 6.1 didn’t have them, and V5R4 is ancient.

IBM i 7.2 is overflowing with enhancements.

Some of the changes are major and provide some DB2 security functionality that has quite honestly been missing is now here.  One of the few short comings of IBM i has been in order to give security to another user, you had to have rights to the object you were giving security on.

A great example is the System Administrator who has to have all rights to the payroll master file in order to give the payroll users access to this file.  This has been enhanced with 7.2, so that the System Administrator doesn’t need to have access to give access, and you can prevent someone with *ALLOBJ authority from viewing the contents of a file.  One of the many cool new features and functions of IBM i 7.2.

If you are still on V5R4 you need to get serious about upgrading. 

The features of V5R4 when compared to 7.2, is like the features of 1972 Ford Pinto, compared to a fully loaded 2014 Lamborghini.  Once you have upgraded past V5R4 to either 6.1 or 7.1, then the upgrade to 7.2 is rather easy.  Like any upgrade, there are changes that you must be aware of in the new release, there are PTFs that must be installed on the current release for a smooth upgrade, and there are pre-requisites that must be checked before the upgrade.

If you want to take advantage of the new Power8 machines, IBM has already stated these machines will only run 7.1 or 7.2.  I think that is certainly fair, as IBM i 7.1 has been released now for over 4 years, and it is an extremely mature and stable operating system.

Each month our iTech Solutions newsletters have tips and techniques about new features and functions that have been incorporated into either a Technology Refresh or a new release of IBM i.  You can be assured that we will be uncovering more and more 7.2 goodies over the next few months. Click here to sign-up for our newsletter.  

The new Power8 machines, while they are only on the low end will provide amazing performance for many customers. 

While IBM has yet to roll out the entire line, or discuss external card draws, what they have announced will run circles around most system in the market place.  I really like this new S814 machine, as it has amazing power, great amount of disk space internally in the CEC, and a machine that can truly perform lots of I/O Operations per second with the beefy disk controllers.

I will be presenting a how to successfully perform upgrades to IBM I 7.2 at COMMON next week, but a few items that you might want to start reviewing.

  • If you are still on V5R4 then upgrading directly to 7.1 is the way to go, as you won’t be able to upgrade directly to 7.2 from V5R4.
  • Missing out on the next generation of hardware, as IBM has already stated that Power8 will require 7.1 or 7.2 of IBM i, so time to start the process.
  • Your load source drive needs to be 70GB before upgrading to IBM i 7.2.
  • If the IBM i partition is using disks with 512-byte sectors, for example a partition hosted by IBM i or IBM i on storage that is attached by Virtual SCSI, the storage that is allocated for the load source needs to be approximately 80 GB to allow the IBM i partition to see the required 70 GB.
  • Before upgrading your system to IBM i 7.2, additional space needs to be allocated on your load source for the licensed internal code.
  • If you are using Java, Java 1.4.2 (option 13) and Java 5.0 (option 8 and 9) are no longer supported, you will need to upgrade your applications beforehand.
  • If you are running WebSphere Application Server, then before upgrading to IBM i 7.2, make sure you are at the minimum required level: for V8.0 need to be on and for V8.5 need to  be at
  • If you are running Power5 generation hardware, then you won’t be able to upgrade to 7.2.  Contact iTech Solutions to help with your hardware upgrade as well.

The good news is that both 6.1 and 7.1 upgrades are primed and ready.

IBM is certainly nudging IBM i users in that direction with their latest Technology Refresh. In addition, 7.2 has been an extremely stable release during beta testing, and we will be recommending to our customers to upgrade and take advantage of all the cool new things that it has to offer.

More good news: iTech Solutions can handle your system upgrade without putting a major dent in your budget or workflow.

Our plan will enable you to upgrade to 6.1, 7.1, or 7.2 seamlessly, affordably, and painlessly. Moreover, we can handle the entire upgrade process—from investigation, planning, and implementation—within the six month timeframe. In addition, if you would like to run your applications on another machine at 6.1, 7.1, or 7.2 to further test before your actual upgrade, we can provide you with a machine in the cloud or a loaner machine.

IBM i 7.2 is ready for Production, now it’s your turn to get your OS upgraded. Schedule a complimentary Technology Assessment with one of our experts. 

How to Eliminate Downtime and Keep Business Flowing

According to a study done by Emerson Network Power, 71% of senior-level managers believe that their datacenter is crucial to their company’s success. CEO’s and IT Directors can agree that downtime is a major detriment to business performance, as well as a drain on company budgets. In the same study, Emerson predicted that companies lose an average of $505,500.00 per every 90 minutes of downtime, and sometimes as much as $5,600.00 per minute.

Downtime negatively affects almost every aspect of a business, but for many IT Departments, especially those lacking the needed resources and expert knowledge, maintaining stable system performance can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.

There is a way, however, that IT Departments can essentially eliminate downtime all together, and that’s by implementing high availability and disaster recovery (HADR) solutions. With the ability to keep the essential parts of an infrastructure functioning, such as servers, business-critical applications, and storage systems, businesses can now reap the rewards of uninterrupted business service.

Beyond seamless service capabilities, HADR solutions also offer companies flexible growth and system-wide scalability. Unlike older server environments and disaster recovery systems, HADR supports heavy application workloads while simultaneously maintaining critical data, thus ensuring a company’s sustained productivity.

Paired with cloud and virtual servers, HADR solutions can also help companies recover faster from downtime by having a replicated system already in place.  When a system or server fails, for instance, pre-defined procedures can be laid out and executed to role-swap to servers in the cloud – servers that already have your data fully replicated.

Overall, as companies rely more and more on their IT infrastructures to drive performance, as well as business-wide growth, additional plans and technologies need to be put into place to guarantee the long-term operation and productivity of the entire organization. HADR solutions answer this need with flying colors and a great option for companies looking to alleviate costly downtime.

If you’re interested in discovering how HADR solutions can drive the performance and productivity of your company, reach out to our iTech Solutions experts for a complimentary DRHA assessment!

A New Era of IBM i Starts Now

the new era of IBM iIBM i and its predecessor the AS/400 have always been known for reliability, integration, dependability, ease of use, and of course full functionality. To this end, most of the systems even today are sold with internal storage.  It’s just another piece of the IBM i integration puzzle.  From the setup, to the administration, to the day to day use of the storage is so easy with internal disk.  Yet, the industry is changing.  External storage and specifically Storage Area Networks (SANs) are one of the hottest topics in IT today.  Why, I believe part of it has to do with virtualization, and the other part is cost.

If every server (Power, Windows, Linux, etc.) or partition has its own independent storage, then I have to manage all the storage independently.  This increases our administrative costs, as well as the skills required to manage our storage. In addition, if one system is using 20% of its storage, and another system is using 98% of its storage, it is usually not possible to move the storage from one server to the other.   This is where virtualization plays a key part to drive down our administrative costs and acquisition costs, but can increase the skills required to manage the new virtualization.  On the IBM Power platform, we have VIO Server (You might hear this called VIOS or Virtual I/O Server) to help with storage virtualization.  VIO Server is extremely powerful when it comes to virtualizing storage and networking, but it does require some additional skills that most IBM i shops don’t have, since VIO Server is a subset of IBM’s AIX operating system.  VIO Server can connect to almost any external storage.  This is probably its biggest virtualization benefit.  So, you may be wondering why IBM i can’t connect to everything.  IBM i uses 520 byte sectors for disk, and the industry uses 512 byte disk sectors.  Most SANs use 512 byte sectors, which provides difficulty for IBM i to connect to.  Although, you can connect VIO Server to the storage, and then let VIO Server virtualize the storage to IBM i.  This works great, but again you have to have VIO Server skills.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an IBM i like Storage Area Network. One that was easy to use, easy to administer, competitively priced, had a great GUI front end, and connected to IBM i directly.  Well, up until last week I would have said that the IBM Storwize V7000 was all that, except you had to have VIO Server host the storage to IBM i.  As of today, the IBM i can directly attach to the IBM Storwize V7000 and its lower priced brother the Storwize V3700, and this is great news for IBM i.  It’s the best of two worlds coming together.

The V7000 is enterprise class storage at an affordable price that is ease to use and manage.  It has a remarkably easy to use GUI interface that is intuitive and almost self-guiding.  Each time I have used the GUI I am just amazed at the graphics.  The V7000 uses the same code that you will find in many of the IBM SANs, such as the SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and includes so many enterprise class options enabled.  By the way, if you have ever looked at PureFlex system, it also comes with an integrated V7000 for storage.  Some of the features includes with the Storwize V7000 are:

  • Thin Provisioning – storage is not allocated until data is written
  • Full Copy of volumes and space efficient snapshot offloads CPU resources from Hypervisor hosts
  • Easy Tier™ – automated tiering between SSD and HDD storage
  • Real-Time Compression – Automatically compress data with no performance impact.
  • Remote Mirroring – with Global and Metro Mirror.
  • Non-Disruptive data migration within and between internal and external storage

The Storwize V7000 Unified allows you to use this storage for both your block (IBM i & AIX) and file (Windows) capabilities. It has support for NFS/CIFS/FTP/HTTPS/SCP file protocols in addition to existing block protocols (iSCSI and FCP). There is file replication and snapshots for business continuity and disaster recovery in addition to existing block functions.

I believe we will see a new era starting right now in midrange disk with the ability of IBM i to directly attach to the IBM Storwize V7000 & V3700.  IBM i will be able to connect via a Fibre Channel Adapter over Fabric (via a Fibre Switch) or directly using a Fibre card. I see many new Power Systems running IBM i having a V7000 or V3700 to handle the needs of its storage, and the storage for the rest of the enterprise. I know this is what many of iTech Solutions customers will be requiring over the next few years as we work together to drive down their costs of storage acquisition, and allow for easier storage management all from a single interface.

Click here to visit the iTech Solutions homepage.