Bug Busters Adds ‘Self-Awareness’ Feature to HA Software
October 5, 2010 Alex Woodie
The new release of Bug Busters Software Engineering‘s high availability software for IBM i features new “self-awareness” features that could come in handy. For example, the software can automatically respond to a problem with data replication by alerting IT managers with e-mails. This may lack the pizzazz of, say, Skynet becoming self-aware, but then again, nobody has to worry about the IBM i server launching missile attacks on people, either.
OK, so the Skynet computer featured in the hit movie “Terminator” is a work of science fiction that has remained science fiction. While the U.S. military has invested heavily in drone aircraft and missile shields, presumably it still relies on humans to make tactical decisions. By contrast, IBM i refers to a line of real-life servers that does the grunt work of recording billions of human society’s commercial transactions every day. (If it ever did achieve true self-awareness, we might expect the first thing it says to be “You call me what now?”)
But aside from geeky ruminations on nearly 30-year-old films, the field of autonomics does have relevance here. In the commercial computing world, allowing critical business applications to detect errors and then take steps to fix themselves has real value: By reducing the babysitting that typically accompanies a high availability implementation, it allows administrators to devote their time and attention elsewhere.
With the launch of Remote Software Facility (RSF) and RSF-HA Release 8.6, Bug Busters jokes about the IBM i becoming self-aware (“Can an IBM i attain consciousness?” the company asks. “Maybe not.”) But the reality is that the features Bug Busters has added will add real value to the HA implementations that its product enables.
The self-awareness part of RSF and RSF-HA 8.6 stems from a new concept in the product called “conditions.” A condition could be an error with data or object replication, a particular job log showing up on an output queue, or CPU utilization exceeding a given threshold.
If any of these conditions occur on the system, RSF and RSF-HA can be configured to automatically send an e-mail or text message to one or more recipients using the new Send Email (SNDEMLRSF) command that Bug Busters has added with this release. In addition to working with the new condition feature in the product, users can access the e-mail feature from any screen or command line in the product. Commands for mailing IBM i libraries, objects, and IFS files have also been added.
Bug Busters included several pre-defined conditions with Release 8.6 that automatically watch the history log, message queue, spooled file queue, and CPU and disk utilization. If the synchronization of journals lags a given threshold, or if the status of the replication changes, the product will automatically trigger the condition.
A third major new feature will help to optimize journal receivers. The product can be configured to automatically change the high availability journal receivers every day, at certain synchronization intervals, or at some other threshold. Also, users can specify the number of days RSF-HA should retain journal receivers that are no longer needed for replication, thereby keeping the receivers as small as possible.
RSF-HA is the high availability version of RSF, an IBM i file and object distribution utility that the Seattle, Washington, company has been developing for many years. On top of the data and object replication core that RSF provides, RSF-HA adds HA features such as support for replicating user profiles and IFS directories, and the capability to perform a role swap.
License fees for RSF-HA typically start at about $10,000 for a two-server setup. For more information on RSF-HA or its 8.6 release, see the company’s Web site at www.bugbusters.net.