iCluster Monitoring and Management Goes Mobile
October 7, 2014 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops that use Rocket Software‘s iCluster can now monitor and manage their high availability setup remotely from the comfort of a smartphone. The new HTML5 interface delivered last week with iCluster version 7.1 TR2 is the first dedicated smartphone interface from Rocket, which plans to add new functions in the months and years to come.
The new mobile interface, which Rocket calls Mobile Monitor, lets users monitor and manage their iCluster environments without needing a PC or a 5250 console, says Mike Warkentin, the senior manager of engineering for the iCluster product. “Now customers can use an HTML5-enabled browser on a smartphone or a tablet to monitor the product and perform some operations,” he says.
In addition to monitoring the status of replication and the switch-readiness of the cluster, Mobile Monitor gives users the capability to issue commands to start or stop replication groups or to switch replication groups, Warkentin tells IT Jungle. But that is just the start.
“We’re going to keep adding to the mobile interface,” the longtime iCluster product manager says. “But we’d like to start simple, and just show what customers have been asking for, which is the ability to see whether the group is up or not, and to start it or stop it if required.”
Mobile Monitor is the third UI for iCluster, but it could quickly become more popular than the Java-based GUI client that Rocket and previous iCluster owners–IBM and DataMirror–have offered over the years. It may not put a dent in the interactions of the hardcore group of 5250 devotees, who will probably IPL before letting anybody pry the green screen from their cold, dead hands.
“Let’s face it–customers still want the green screen and will never get rid of it,” Warkentin says. “A lot of our consultants use the green screen. It’s very easy to configure the iCluster process and integrate it into your own business process for running backups and that sort of thing. So I think customers will always continue to use the green screen. Some things you can only do in green screen, some of the more complex functions. The GUI is functional and the Mobile Monitor will eventually get there too.”
In addition to the HTML5 interface, iCluster version 7.1 TR2 brings several enhancements to the 5250 green screen, including a full cluster monitor that lets the administrator monitor–from a single location–all replication involving the primary and the backup servers. Previously, administrators had to log on separately, but now they can do it from a single 5250 console.
The new release also makes it easier for administrators to determine if the product is ready to failover. The new “switch-ready” indicator will be included in the Mobile Monitor as well as the green-screen interface. It wasn’t difficult for administrators to gather that information themselves, but it did require them to look in two or three different places.
“Currently in the green screen, you don’t see any indicators that the product is ready for a switch. You’ll see that in TR2,” Warkentin says. “So now it’s all in one place, right on the monitors, where the operators are going to be looking anyway.”
Rocket has also centralized access to reports, such as the synch check reports and others that tell them how their high availability setup is functioning. “Customers were telling us they want them all in one place instead of having to go use different commands,” Warkentin says. “So we decided to build a new reports menu with all the reports in one location.”
The last major new feature involved collaborating with HelpSystems to ensure that the vendor’s IBM i management and monitoring products worked as advertised in a high availability environment. As a result of the work the vendors did, customers can rest assured that HelpSystems products like Robot/SCHEDULE and Robot/CONSOLE will continue to function following an iCluster-induced switchover from the primary to the backup server.
Version 7.1 TR2 represents the third iCluster release from Rocket since it acquired the product and the business from IBM on the last day of 2011. The company says it has a strong roadmap for the product, and has a number of new releases in the pipeline. The next major release is slated for the third quarter of 2015. For more info, see www.rocketsoftware.com/products/rocket-icluster.