CCSS Adds MIMIX Monitoring to i/OS Systems Management Suite
January 26, 2010 Alex Woodie
CCSS last week unveiled the addition of MIMIX monitors to QSystem Monitor (QSM), its systems monitoring and management software for the System i server. With the MIMIX monitors in place, administrators can receive warnings of errors with the high availability software through the QSM product, as opposed to logging onto the high availability product itself to check for problems.
With so many moving parts, high availability systems are notoriously difficult to keep 100 percent shipshape. One of the biggest dangers is that data replication can get out of synch between primary and backup servers, which would compromise the capability to switch to the backup in the event of an outage. But there are many other problems that crop up on a regular basis in these sophisticated, yet delicate, systems.
Developers of high availability software (that which achieves 99.999 percent availability) have been trying for years to simplify the management of their software, and real progress has been made. But we are not quite to the point of “set it and forget it,” and probably never will be, owing to the high complexity of the availability discipline and the low tolerance for failure.
CCSS has long focused on critical System i applications and resources with its line of systems management software. Last year, the company unveiled a BRMS monitor that tells the user when problems crop up on the widely used IBM backup utility. The year before that, it launched an MQSeries monitor that alerts users to problems with the messaging system. Hundreds of other critical links–from DASD usage and long-running jobs to the System i DASD cache batteries–are standard fare for CCSS monitoring.
With the launch of the MIMIX monitor last week, the vendor can claim one more critical notch in its System i armor. The vendor says the new MONCHKMXS command in QSM supports up to 46 different MIMIX monitors, allowing users to tailor the monitoring to their MIMIX environment.
The monitors cover four key aspects of MIMIX operations, including replication, command, monitoring, and auditing, CCSS says. For each of these categories, QSM will display one of the following status conditions: active, disabled, warning, switching, stopped, partial, unknown, or error.
Examples of more detailed MIMIX monitors include: data group status; database source status; object source and target status; object send, retrieve, and apply status; database send, retrieve, and apply status; connector send status; and audit compliance status.
QSM gives users several ways of ingesting the MIMIX status information. For starters, the status of each major category can be continuously displayed in QSM’s Web-based administrative console. If the customer is heavily invested in QSM already, they likely use this console to monitor many other aspects of their System i operations, making it a very convenient place to check on their MIMIX status (if not to control or make changes to their MIMIX environment–they will need to open their Vision Solutions administrative software to do that).
For certain alert statuses, QSM can be configured to flash bright warnings on the screen, or blast audio alerts from the computer’s speakers. Alternatively, users can receive alerts remotely on their mobile phones. This allows administrators to get a quick jump on any problems that compromise the switch-readiness of their critical System i applications.
One early adopter of the MIMIX monitors is the UK arm of Cinram Logistics, the largest distributor of entertainment DVDs and CDs in Europe. The Canadian company, which provides supply chain logistics for content owners, uses Vision Solutions’ MIMIX software to protect the availability of applications running on a pair of System i Model 520s housed in two distribution centers in the UK.
Cinram Logistics uses QSM to monitor several aspects of its MIMIX environment. Specifically, in the replication category, Cinram Logistics keeps a constant eye on the status of replication groups, the remote journal link status, the data apply thresholds, and objects in error, CCSS says.
Having these monitors on the QSM screen allows Cinram Logistics midrange technical specialist, Gary Makel, to keep a close eye on MIMIX, and get an early start on potential problems.
“Should the live system fail whilst MIMIX is showing an error, it could have a serious impact on the running of the HA system,” Makel states in a CCSS press release. “For example, if there are problems with the remote journal links, it is vital that these errors are corrected immediately. Otherwise journal entries will not replicate to the HA machine.”
The new MIMIX monitor was made available to QSM customers last year, and is now available on a market-wide basis. For more information, visit the CCSS Web site at www.ccssltd.com.