A Checklist For Moving System i Boxes
February 6, 2008 Joe Hertvik
For any number of reasons, you may sometime have to move a System i, iSeries, or AS/400 from one physical location to another. The move may be caused by a company sale or spin-off, or you may have a high availability machine that needs to be hosted off site. Whatever the reason, this week I’ll present a practical checklist of items to address when moving a System i box.
My checklist is short and simple. It can be divided into the following three categories that cover the majority of moving issues that you’ll run into:
Once these items are considered, you can be fairly confident that you’ve prepared the box for a successful move and residency in its new home. For the remainder of this article, I’ll perform a detailed breakdown on each of these items. At the end of the article, I’ll present all the items together in a checklist that you can use the next time you are preparing to move a system.
Step 1: Physically Moving the Box
Moving the box can be fairly expensive but your best bet is to contract out with IBM to perform the move. If IBM moves your box, they will detach the cables, contract with the moving company to physically move the box, pack up the system, reassemble the box at the new location, and make sure that it’s still working. In addition, you can contract with IBM to insure the box and to be responsible for any mishaps that may occur during the move. In my humble opinion, I consider IBM to be the best option when moving a machine that can cost several thousand dollars.
If you do find someone else to move the machine or you decide to move it yourself, there could be problems if the machine doesn’t work when it gets to the new location. It also may be difficult to find someone with the expertise to move your machine. From my own experience, I once tried to contract with someone else to move a System i and the vendor told me that they couldn’t compete with IBM on their prices or the service. They even recommended that I contract with IBM to move the box instead of using them. So if you’re going to move the box, you best bet may be to stay with Big Blue.
Step 2: Internal Changes
This part of the checklist deals with any possible configuration changes that you’ll have to make in order to move the System i to a new location. These changes include the following critical items:
• Changing the IP address on the box–If you’re moving the box to a different location that resides on a different subnet, you’ll probably need to change or create a new IP address for the system. If necessary, retrieve the new address from your system administrator and add another IP interface to your communications line.
On the green screen, you can add another interface by entering the “Configure TCP/IP” menu (GO CFGTCP), and selecting option 1, “Work with TCP/IP Interfaces”. On the “Work with Interfaces” screen, enter “option 5=Display” in front of the existing IP interface that you want to copy as the basis for your new interface. Print out all the options contained under that interface. Then go back to the “Work with TCP/IP Interfaces” screen, enter “option 1=Add”, and create a new interface by using the machine’s new IP address and the parameters that were in force for the old interface. Make sure that you set the autostart parameter (AUTOSTART) for the new interface to *NO before the move, and then reset the parameter to *YES after the move (AUTOSTART tells i5/OS whether or not to start the interface when starting the system). For the existing interface that you are changing, go into the interface description and make sure that the AUTOSTART parameter is set to *YES before the move, and then reset it to *NO after the move. By doing this, you can automatically start your old interface while the machine is in its old location and then activate the new interface after the machine moves to its new location.
If you want to add the new interface and change the existing interface under iSeries Navigator (OpsNav), right-click on the Network→TCP/IP Configuration→IPv4→Interfaces node under your server. To add a new interface, select New Interface→Local Area Network off the pop-up menu that appears. This will bring up the “New IPv4 Interface” wizard, which will guide you through the ins and outs of creating a new IP interface.
To change the “Start interface when TCP/IP is started” parameter for an existing interface (the equivalent of the AUTOSTART parameter on the green screen), locate the interface in the right-hand pane that appears when you select Network→TCP/IP Configuration→IPv4→Interfaces in OpsNav. Right-click on the interface and select “Properties” from the pop-up menu that appears. This will bring up the “Interface- Properties” screen for that interface. You can find the “Start Interface when TCP/IP is started” check box under the “Advanced” tab on this screen.
• Change the DNS setting for your System i, if necessary–If this server will reside on a subnet where it needs to use different DNS servers than it used on its old subnet, be sure to change those DNS IP addresses through the green screen or through OpsNav. You can find and change your System i’s DNS setting by entering the “Change TCP/IP Domain” command (CHGTCPDMN). These settings can be changed in OpsNav by right-clicking on the Network→TCP/IP Configuration node under your server and selecting “Properties” on the pop-up menu.
Step 3: Changes Outside the Box
Before you move the box, you’ll need to consider what peripheral items the system needs in order to keep functioning at its current levels. These items may include the following.
• What media drive will the machine use for backup? If the machine is currently sharing a tape drive, you may need to make adjustments in your backup routine and cabling so that it points to the new physical drive that will be used during backup. If the new backup drive uses different backup media type, make sure to order enough of the proper media in advance of the move.
• What cables will the machine use for connectivity? When reconnecting the machine after moving, will you be using the same cables that were connected to the machine in its old location? You may or may not be able to use all the cables for reconnection. Some of the existing cables may be too long for the new location or the cables may be difficult to remove from the current setup. You may discover that it is easier to buy new cables for running the System i at its new location, rather than to try and salvage the existing cables. Make sure you have enough media cables (fiber optic or SCSI), Ethernet cables, phone line cables, and any other cables to completely reassemble the machine after its move.
• Does the existing machine have an entry in the current or new environment’s DNS servers? If an external DNS server entry needs to be modified to point to the server’s new IP address, make the modification as soon as possible after beginning to move your System i. You should quickly perform this function because DNS entry changes may take a while to ripple through your system, and if a companion server relies on DNS to access your System i, the server may have trouble reaching the box at its new location until the changes are complete.
• What non-System i servers are communicating with your box? If there are Windows, Linux, or other non-System i servers collaborating with your box at the moved location, make sure that they are using new DNS entries to reach your box at its new IP address after the move. If the server’s IP address is hard-coded into the collaborating server’s application software, make sure that you change the IP address in the software.
• What other System i, iSeries, or AS/400 servers are communicating with the moved server? After the server moves, make sure that any companion i5/OS or OS/400 servers are still able to reach the moved box at its new IP address. Check the following places on your System i-based servers to locate and change any references to the moved server’s old IP address:
1. The server’s host table–On the green screen, check out and change any of the server’s host table entries by using option 10 off the GO CFGTCP menu, “Work with TCP/IP Host Table Entries”. Delete and re-enter any entries that refer to the old IP address. To use OpsNav to modify or add entries to the Host Table, right-click on Network→TCP/IP Configuration under your server and select Host Table off the pop-up menu that appears.
2. The Work with Relational Database Entries Command (WRKRDBDIRE)–This command shows all the entries in the relational database directory for an i5/OS or OS/400 server. If any entry is pointing to the old Ethernet address of your moved machine, change the entry to point to the new IP address.
3. Any devices or remote output queues that point to the old IP address–Check to make sure that there aren’t any printers or devices that are using the old IP address. Otherwise, these devices will stop working after the move.
• Will you need security? If you’re moving your System i to an external hosting center, the vendor may require you to implement cabinet security on your box. If required, you would need to put locking doors on the cabinet frame and you may also elect to put in locking slide bars on the side cabinet walls to prevent unauthorized entry from that direction. Depending on who you contract with, installing locking doors may be a system requirement for running the box at the new location.
While I just finished describing the various check-off items in detail, here’s a summarized checklist that you can use to go through each item and make sure that it’s done before and during your move.