CCSS Adds System i Battery Monitoring to QSystem Monitor
January 8, 2008 Alex Woodie
System i shops concerned about their servers’ built-in batteries failing, leaving them with an iSeries server with reduced capacity, can rest easy thanks to a new battery-monitoring solution from CCSS that automatically alerts them to failing batteries. The new capability, which was added to QSystem Monitor, makes it considerably easier to check the state of the server’s batteries than using the operating system’s facilities.
There are many aspects to the System i architecture that separate it from so-called “standards-based” servers, including the single level storage architecture that treats disk and memory as a single, virtualized chunk of storage. One of the ways that IBM protects that single level storage is by using lithium ion batteries to power the cache on the I/O cards that move data between memory and disk. The batteries provide another layer of protection against data loss, so that in the event of a crash or a power failure, data that was in memory but hasn’t yet been written to the disk is not lost.
As batteries will do, these disk cache batteries will run down. Therefore, they need to be changed every year or so, a procedure often handled by IBM technicians. Letting the batteries die typically won’t make the disk unusable. But it can slow down data processing. And it will eliminate the level of protection they were designed to provide.
i5/OS is programmed to automatically send out a notification to the QSYSOPR queue when the batteries are getting low, but operators must be aware of the message, which can easily be missed or ignored. Administrators can also use IBM system service tools to check the status of these batteries, but this can be a tedious task, especially considering that each I/O cache adapter on each logical partition has to be checked independently.
CCSS realized it could make checking battery status easier, and in mid-December, it announced that it has added new battery-checking capabilities to its flagship i5/OS systems management tool, QSystem Monitor.
CCSS has actually added a couple of related capabilities. First, it has added battery-life information to QSystem Monitor’s Windows-based client interface, called the Online Monitor. Administrators can now check the status of all cache batteries on all servers in their network from one place, thereby eliminating the time-consuming task of manually checking the status via IBM’s system service tools. A map view also makes it easier to check battery information for large networks.
CCSS has also added real-time messaging for low-battery information in QSystem Monitor, which the company says lessens the chance that an operator will miss the generic, operating system-generated message, or mistake it for something else.
Paul Ratchford, the product manager for CCSS, says the new battery-checking feature will make life easier for QSystem Monitor users. “Cache battery monitoring is not the chore or cause for concern it once was–it can be a simple part of routine network monitoring,” he says. “Now operators can have an immediate view on all batteries on all the I/O adapters on all partitions or systems in a single window that gives them all the relevant details they need.”