Robot/CONSOLE Keeps an Eye on iSeries Processor Usage
by Alex Woodie
iSeries servers are expensive machines, no doubt about it. While you wouldn't think twice of operating a PC server at 10 percent capacity, the high cost of processor capacity on OS/400 servers is powerful incentive to stretch your CPW dollar as far as you can, without breaking it. A new release of Help/Systems' Robot/Console systems management tool adds new capabilities for helping OS/400 shops keep on top of their iSeries CPU usage, including watching for runaway jobs.
Robot/CONSOLE is a message management utility designed to alleviate the burden of having human eyes filter through the hundreds or thousands of messages generated daily by OS/400 servers. In addition to sorting through messages generated by the QSYSOPR, QSYSMSG, and printer message queues, FTP requests, the security audit journal, and the system history file (QHST), the software also enables users to program automated responses to certain messages, using Help/Systems Operator Assistance Language (OPAL). The software can be used to page or call operators and administrators during off-hours in the event of an emergency when paired with Robot/ALERT. In these respects, Robot/CONSOLE is at the heart of Help/Systems' suite of OS/400 systems management tools.
With Robot/CONSOLE version 4.18, which was recently announced by Help/Systems, the software has gained the capability to monitor two new iSeries processor metrics and be a first-responder to runaway jobs that potentially suck up all your precious CPWs.
First, Help/Systems has added a new SYSCPU (system CPU percentage used) resource type to the list of resource types that can be monitored by Robot/CONSOLE. This allows the product to monitor the total amount of CPU resources used on the box or partition.
Secondly, the company has added CPU as a valid expected status for the JOB resource type, which allows the software to monitor the amount of processing capability used by individual jobs. Together, these two new options enable Robot/CONSOLE to keep an eye on CPU usage, and generate an alert or take action when the expected CPU usage is exceeded.
Help/Systems also changed how Robot/CONSOLE notifies operators when it encounters a resource in an unexpected state. Previously, it would send a message only the first time it encounters this condition. With the new release, the company has enabled users to activate the Force Message parameter to instigate a notification message every time the resource is not in the expected state.
The capability of Robot/CONSOLE to filter through messages and alerts and automatically respond to certain conditions is a key part of Help/Systems' technology foundation for enabling OS/400 shops to manage by exception. According to Tom Huntington, vice president of technical services at Help/Systems, most OS/400 shops can ignore 85 to 90 percent of the messages coming across the queues. "The first phase of management by exception is to reduce the noise by suppressing messages," he writes in a white paper.
The other key products for helping OS/400 shops manage by exception include Robot/NETWORK, for managing multiple iSeries servers and grabbing messages generated by other Help/Systems products; Robot/ALERT, for sending e-mails or pages to operators over the Internet and cell-phone networks; and Robot/TRAPPER, which captures simple network management protocol (SNMP) traps generated by a wide variety of computers, printers, and networking equipment. Help/Systems' job scheduler, Robot/SCHEDULE, also works nicely with Robot/CONSOLE.
Robot/CONSOLE 4.18 is available now. Licenses for the product range from $2,400 to $30,195. For more information, visit www.helpsystems.com.