iSeries Navigator Performance Advisor, At Your Service
August 23, 2006 Jeff Waldbillig
It was a dark night on a network that knew how to keep its secrets. All my clusters were up, and you’d think I’d be happy doing nothing but waltzing through page after page of discount electronics auctions. But I wasn’t happy. I was being outbid on an older MP3 player by BlondScream544, and I knew, somehow, that I’d lose the machine, and it would live out the rest of its miserable, electronic life, pumping out the sounds of junk boy-bands known only to teen-aged girls, and those who wished they still were.
I was considering raising the bid when the phone on my desk quietly chirped. Normally, I’d let the machine answer so I could think over the bid a little bit longer, but something in the way the phone insisted on my attention made me reach out and grab the receiver.
“Chuck Temple, Private Eye.” Okay, I wasn’t really an investigator. I wasn’t even, strictly speaking, very private. But when your network’s down, and the end users are screaming for their applications, when you can’t connect, and a deadline’s coming due, when your customers are demanding a copy of their receipts for the last 17 months and you’re still trying to figure out your authority problems, that’s when you call me.
“Um…isn’t this the help desk?” She had a low, husky voice. It was a voice that made me wish that whole video phone thing had gotten off the ground. I figured my luck might be changing, so I went ahead and raised my bid on that MP3 player.
“Yes, this is the help desk. You can call me Chuck. What’s the problem, Miss…” I left it hanging right there. I wanted a name to link to that perfect, lovely sound.
“Janice. Mrs. Janice Degree,” she said. “And I have a rather serious performance concern using Management Central in iSeries Navigator. It all started this morning, when…Oh, darn! Could you wait just a second? I’m bidding on an MP3 player for my daughter. . . There. Now where was I?”
“Your performance problem, Mrs. Degree. You were telling me about your performance problem.” On my display, the bid for the machine bumped up again. Really, her voice wasn’t all that attractive. I think it would quickly get on my nerves–the way road construction will get to you and make perfectly sane individuals pick up five pound ball-peen hammers to redecorate their neighbor’s vehicle. I raised my bid again.
“Of course. Right. This morning I was using iSeries Navigator to retrieve the list of fixes on my systems. We’d just installed the latest cumulative package last night, and now it feels like iSeries Navigator has slowed to a crawl.”
I thought for a moment about talking her through all the various settings on her PC, network, and systems that could affect the performance she was seeing. I thought about it–but only for a moment as I saw the price of that player move again.
“I’ll tell you what, Mrs. Degree. What you need is someone who can provide you with personal service. Someone who can take a look at your systems and network and give you some tips on how to speed things up. Your own personal advisor. As it happens, I have just the tool. You’ll need iSeries Navigator to make use of it. . . .”
I waited a moment as she started iSeries Navigator, and then spoke. “Mrs. Degree, the iSeries Navigator Advisor is a tool that is integrated into iSeries Navigator with V5R4.”
She interrupted me then with a question. “Darn! What if I don’t have V5R4 installed yet?”
“For V5R3, the iSeries Navigator Advisor is a plug-in that becomes part of iSeries Navigator. You can get the plug-in by going to the iSeries Navigator site at www-1.ibm.com/servers/eserver/iseries/navigator and downloading it.” A moment later she was busy saving the file to her PC.
“For either release, you can start the tool by launching iSeries Navigator, and then right-clicking on a system you have defined in your active environment–that is, a system under My Connections. You can also start it by right-clicking on My Connections itself or on Management Central. Either way, when the menu is displayed, you simply choose the new Diagnostics menu item, and from that, select Analyze Performance to show the iSeries Navigator Advisor–Welcome panel. This first panel gives you an overview of what will be checked by the Advisor. It lets you know that the Advisor won’t make any changes to your systems or network, and it won’t send any information to IBM or any other location.”
On the phone, I could hear her clicking a few times. A moment later, she told me “Okay, I’ve got the plug-in installed. That was fast! Now I just start Navigator, and right-click…oh, there it is. I’ve got the Welcome panel.”
“Good, Mrs. Degree. When you click Next from the Welcome panel, the Advisor asks you to point out areas you have concerns about regarding the performance of your iSeries Navigator environment. The areas you select will affect which things the Advisor examines. You can select the PC check box to have the Advisor take a look at the hardware and settings on your PC. If you have concerns about your network, the Advisor will look at things like response time and throughput to see if any obvious problems exist. Selecting iSeries Systems on this panel directs the Advisor to look at a variety of settings on your iSeries that could have an impact on the performance you experience. The details button you see can be used to see a short explanation about each selection.
“Now, if you indicated you wanted the Advisor to examine your network or iSeries systems on that last panel, you’ll be prompted to identify which systems you want to have checked. This panel will be primed with whatever systems you launched the Advisor from. You can use the browse button to add any other systems to the list that you want the Advisor to look over.
“And that’s really all the information the Advisor needs to begin examining your iSeries Navigator environment,” I explained. “The Advisor Summary panel is displayed to show you the choices you made. You can press Finish now, Mrs. Degree, to let the Advisor get to work. You should see a progress dialog showing you details of what is currently being analyzed. Remember, though–if you are doing other iSeries Navigator work on your PC while the Advisor is working, you could skew the results you see. Also, some of the analysis the Advisor performs can take a while to run. Of course, you can stop the analysis at any time, and the Advisor will show you what it’s been able to determine up to that point.”
I heard another few clicks, and knew the Advisor was beginning the analysis. I could hear her humming quietly to herself. The ditty sounded vaguely like something from Boyz in the Sync or some such thing. To quiet the sound, I started talking.
“Do you see the progress bar, Mrs. Degree? It should indicate it’s examining the various settings on your PC. Then it’ll go on to looking at your network, and each system you selected.”
“Okay,” she said. “It’s done, and I can see the results. I see some icons that look like light bulbs. And some triangles. What do I do now?”
“The details in the results you see correspond to the choices you made going through the Advisor,” I said. “Any problems the Advisor found will be listed in those results. Tips are indicated by a light bulb in the results. Tips are those suggestions that you can implement that have the potential to help your performance. Making changes based on tips may or may not have a big impact on things. Warnings are indicated by yellow triangles, and show you those things that can really affect your performance. Finally, if the advisor was not able to analyze a particular setting, then you’ll see red triangles to show that a failure occurred. A failure only means the Advisor couldn’t do the work you told it to do–it doesn’t necessarily mean the setting being checked needs to be changed.
Now that I set Mrs. Degree in motion, I needed to apply a few brakes. I’d given her a powerful tool, but if she misused it, there could be some pretty unhappy users tomorrow morning.
“Mrs. Degree, the Advisor has probably given you several suggestions on what you could do to speed things up,” I said. “But I want to warn you to make sure you completely understand all the ramifications of making the recommended changes. There may be a very good reason for the way your systems are set up–so make sure you know what you’re doing if you tweak some of the settings identified. You may inadvertently boost your performance using iSeries Navigator at the expense of your end users!”
“Oh, I understand. I won’t make any changes until I clear them with our network administrator. But you’ve given me a lot to look over,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to read why a setting should be set in that particular way. For example, I never knew the Dynamic Parity Adjustment system value could have an impact on my iSeries Navigator performance. And who knew that the prestart job threshold. . . .”
As her voice droned on and on, I slowly tuned her out, and went back to my computer. Yeah, I’d lost that MP3 player, just as I had known I would. But that was alright. The night was young, and there’d be other auctions for me, and other opportunities. Because I was Chuck Temple. Private Eye.
Jeff Waldbillig is a staff software engineer at IBM’s Rochester, Minnesota labs. He has held positions as a technical writer, host programmer, and has written client software for iSeries Navigator. He can be reached at email@example.com