Bytware Adds Disk Monitoring to MessengerPlus
by Alex Woodie
In the grand scheme of things, there are minor crimes people commit against iSeries servers, and there are major felonies. Most administrators commit the occasional misdemeanor, such as skipping a nightly backup or a PTF, without causing great harm. But when it comes to major offenses that have serious repercussions, such as running out of disk space, there are lots of excuses, but no good reasons. A new disk monitoring feature in Bytware's MessengerPlus utility can help administrators avoid this unpleasant and unnecessary situation.
Most administrators have better things to do than watching the message queues on an OS/400 server, waiting for something bad to happen. These people aren't lazy or bad--they're just overworked in this age of labor efficiency, and frankly, they're paid too much to spend all their time babysitting the server. There are many fine OS/400 systems management tools on the market, such as MessengerPlus, that can take the grunt work out of analyzing the thousands of messages an OS/400 server can generate every day, some of which are important, but most of which aren't.
MessengerPlus improves the lives of administrators (and the people around them) by applying filters to a variety of OS/400 message queues, logs, and journals, and automatically calling or paging the human IT overlord when important messages hit certain queues, and by running scripts or CL program in response to certain events.
There are many different situations where MessengerPlus could be a lifesaver. If a critical off-hours job--such as sending daily sales data from a branch office to headquarters--did not start when it was supposed to, MessengerPlus could automatically restart the job. Likewise, if a firewall or other network security device suddenly went down at 3 a.m., it could page the systems administrator about the problem.
With the arrival of MessengerPlus 5.6 last month, you can add one more potentially devastating situation to that list: impending DASD failures. The use of abnormally large amounts of disk is often the result of other problems--such as a runaway job, extensive logging, or the installation of a new program without the addition of more storage to accommodate it. Running out of DASD also happens when the purchase of additional storage has been put off due to budgetary reasons--iSeries disk from IBM is very expensive, although you can save a little bit if you buy internal storage from eStorage.
Whatever the cause, the result is never good: Running out of disk space is a serious felony on iSeries systems. The rule of thumb is that if you're nearing 80 percent capacity on an iSeries system, you had best have a plan in place, or your hardware reseller on speed dial.
The new disk monitor capability in MessengerPlus 5.6 checks the growth of storage on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis. When certain usage thresholds are reached, the software triggers an alert that tells the administrators of the impending disk disaster.
Another new feature added to MessengerPlus enables the software to automatically download PTFs and update itself over the network. Bytware says it debuted auto updating in another product, its OS/400 antivirus scanner, StandGuard Anti-Virus for iSeries, where it has been well received, the company says. Users will want to enable auto updating because there are numerous enhancements in the works for MessengerPlus and MessengerConsole, the company says. MessengerConsole is a multi-server version of the product that centralizes the monitoring and control for multiple iSeries servers.
MessengerPlus can monitor many different message queues used in OS/400 systems, including messages sent to the QSYSOPR and QSYSMSG queues, the System History Log (QHST), Work with Active Jobs (WRKACTJOB) queues, Total CPU Usage (WRKSYSSTS), Job queues (WRKJOBQ), the System Audit Journal (QAUDJRN), output queues (WRKOUTQ), mail and network files (WRKNETF), and various lines, controllers, devices, and other systems via the WRKCFGSTS queue. It can also monitor Windows NT event logs, and any device that sends simple network management protocol (SNMP) traps.
MessengerPlus 5.6 is available now. Pricing starts at $3,000 for a single server license. The company is currently having a competitive replacement promotion that will reduce license fees by 30 percent. For more information and trial downloads, visit www.bytware.com.