Object Replication at the Touch of a Button
January 20, 2016 Alex Woodie
IBM i professionals who struggle to distribute objects across multiple IBM i systems for patching, testing, or other purposes may be interested in a new product from Shield Advanced Solutions. The software, dubbed RE4i, can automatically distribute practically any type of IBM i object to one or more remote systems with the press of a button, thereby saving time and reducing hassle for programmers and administrators alike.
Most midrange administrators use a combination of FTP and save/restore commands to distribute and apply objects–such as PTFs or application changes–to remote IBM i servers. The admins probably don’t view the manual work as a negative thing. It’s simply part of the job description, and a common task that needs to be performed on a daily basis.
But like so many other things administrators do, this, too, is subject to the powers of automation. Shield’s new RE4i is not the first product to automate object distribution in multi-system environments, but at $500 per license, it’s likely the least expensive.
According to Shield president Chris Hird, RE4i can work with practically any IBM i object. (He sent a comprehensive list of several dozen types of objects, but we won’t bore you with all the gory acronyms.) As Hird explains, Shield developed RE4i to simplify the object distribution processes in support of its software testing practices for high availability and disaster recovery products.
“We use RE4i internally to manage all of our test systems,” Hird tells IT Jungle. “When we generate new objects, we need to transfer them to the test systems for product testing. We have different HA/DR products running on pairs of systems so the developer has to distribute objects to at least two remote systems each time we generate test objects.
“Until now,” Hird continues, “we had used a process of saving the objects to a save file, FTP the save file to the remote system and then restore the object to the required library. Now we have an option defined in PDM [Program Development Manager], which will automatically distribute the object to the remote system in a single request. This is saving us hours of effort during the test phase.”
RE4i simplifies both the object replication and restoration tasks. The product uses a replication method that’s similar to Shield’s high availability and disaster recovery products, HA4i and DR4i. Shield also created a remote command processor that allows commands to be sent to a remote system and executed, without requiring the administrator to sign on to the remote system. “This allows us to automate a number of actions required to implement changes,” Hird says.
At the end of the day, the product enables administrators to initiate an object replication and restoration task with a single command. “If you are tired of spending time saving to Save Files then FTPing the Save Files to remote systems before restoring the content, then RE4i is for you,” Hird says.