Robot/CONSOLE Gets IASP Support, Is Now Ready for PowerHA
October 22, 2013 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops that use Help/Systems‘ Robot/CONSOLE to keep an eye on their server’s messages can feel a little safer that the software will function normally during a failover. That’s because the vendor has added support for individual auxiliary storage pools (IASPs) with last week’s release of Robot/CONSLE version 5.25, which allows it to work when it’s failed over to a backup storage server as part of an IBM PowerHA for IBM i environment.
While IASPs have been around for a decade, it’s only been in the last five years or so that software vendors have really come under the gun to support IASPs with their products. The big driver for IASP support is PowerHA, the hardware-based high availability solution from IBM that uses IASP. PowerHA has been getting lots of traction, particularly among the bigger IBM i shops and the Large User Group (LUG), for its ability to minimize the monitoring and management issues that are still common in logical replication environments.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the LUG has been pushing for third-party software vendors to support IASPs, which usually requires making some changes to their software. Typically it’s not a big change, and can be as simple as moving their program objects into the IASP. In any event, it’s not something made transparent by the IBM i OS, and there are some caveats to the process, as was discussed in a 2011 The Four Hundred article on the topic.
As the largest provider of systems management, monitoring, and security tools for IBM i, Help/Systems has many of the LUG members as clients, so it has been under pressure to support IASP. The company already supported IASP with Robot/SCHEDULE, but no other members of the suite. Help/Systems software development manager Jody Dahl explains what the company had to do to make it happen in Robot/CONSOLE, which, next to Robot/SCHEDULE, is probably the second most critical component of the Help/Systems suite.
“Robot/CONSOLE has worked with IASP since version 5 shipped. The biggest advantage to version 5.25 is that Robot/CONSOLE can now be installed into an IASP and moved from system to system without save and restore,” Dahl says in a press release. “We’ve also added the ability to have multiple licenses installed so hot site testing will be seamless.”
Robot/CONSOLE users can be confident that the software–along with any data and scripts–will travel with the IASP it lives in when that IASP is moved to a new physical IBM i server as part of a PowerHA failover. As Dahl notes, a user will no longer have to do a save and restore to get it to work, which is a deal-breaker in a HA, always-on environment. Help/Systems adds that Robot/CONSOLE users can also take advantage of a second installation in *SYSBAS to continue monitoring QSYSOPR and other resources while the IASP is offline.
Version 5.25 also brings an improvement to the product update tool, which allows users to send save files only, so they can finish updates at their convenience. “Users can take advantage of network activity to get the save files in place, then run the updates during planned downtime,” Dahl says.
Robot/CONSOLE automates the task of looking through thousands of messages generated daily by IBM i servers. The software filters through messages generated by various queues and logs–including QSYSOPR, QSYSMSG, QAUDJRN, QHST, printer message queues, media issues, FTP requests, and others–and automatically responds to them, escalates them to a human, or just ignores them. It’s integrated with other members of the Robot suite, and makes extensive use of Help/Systems’ OPerator Assistance Language (OPAL) to automate responses to events as they occur in IBM i production systems.