IBM Bolsters Availability, Backup with Latest TRs
October 19, 2022 Alex Woodie
Nobody wants downtime or data loss, but companies’ appetite for both are on the decline as customers increasingly demand 24/7 service. IBM i shops have a lot of solutions to choose from when it comes to ensuring uptime and avoiding data loss, both of which have been enhanced with the latest round of Tech Refreshes (TRs) from IBM.
IBM unveiled updates to its two flagship availability offerings for IBM i with the October 11 announcement of IBM i 7.5 TR1 and 7.4 TR7, including Db2 Mirror and PowerHA SystemMirror for IBM i. It also brought new features to Backup and Recovery Media Services (BRMS), its backup utility for IBM i.
Let’s start with PowerHA, the high-end continuous availability solution that’s popular among larger IBM i shops that are looking to avoid all types of downtime, including planned and unplanned. IBM made three notable changes or improvements with Db2 Mirror for 7.5 TR1 and 7.4 TR7.
The first item is the addition of a new job tracker that will make it easier to keep IBM i jobs straight as they’re moved from one server to the other. With previous releases, there was no way to track the state of submitted jobs that were moved from one node of the Db2 Mirror cluster to the other node (the software provides two-way database mirroring across special high-speed network connections, you will recall).
With the new submitted job tracker facility in 7.5 TR1 and 7.4 TR7, Db2 Mirror will automatically track the state of the submitted job in a table on the primary node, and replicate that table to the other node in the cluster. In the event of unexpected downtime, that replicate job status table can be used to resubmit jobs on the second node, IBM says.
“In Db2 Mirror, when you submitted a job and the system goes down, it would be nice to know if it has finished or not,” says Alison Butterill, IBM i product manager. “So that’s what the job tracker does. It sends you back more information about what actually finished and what didn’t and what database changes were replicated and what wasn’t.”
Many of the IBM i shops that have been investigating Db2 Mirror as a possible availability solution in their organizations had questions about the status of jobs during a failover event. “That’s one of the things they requested the most,” Butterill says.
IBM also added a GUI to handle the setup for IFS replication under Db2 Mirror. Replication of data stored in the IFS is still handled outside of the product – namely, through geographic mirroring, one of the hardware-based mirroring options provided through PowerHA.
But with 7.5 TR1 and 7.4 TR7, IBM has introduced a GUI-based wizard that guides users through the process of defining the independent auxiliary storage pool (iASP), moving the IFS to the iASP, and then creating the “symbolic links” between them.
“When selected, if the iASP is configured in a cluster resource group, it is added to Db2 Mirror directly,” it says on the IFS replication wizard screen. “Otherwise, the wizard helps to configure geographic mirroring.”
Finally, IBM is supporting a new RoCE adapter for Db2 Mirror. It has added a new PCIe4 2-port 100GbE RoCE x16 adapter.
On the PowerHA front, IBM has added several new features, available in both IBM i 7.5 TR1 and 7.4 TR7. First and foremost, PowerHA users will get a brand-spanking new GUI with which to monitor the product.
“Previously, most monitoring and management for PowerHA was done either through the green screen command-line interface, SQL services, or through the PowerHA Web interface built into the heritage Navigator for i,” IBM says in its announcement letter. “This update provides the first installment of a new modern web interface for PowerHA, giving at-a-glance health information from a Web browser.”
When it comes to IBM’s FlashCopy functionality, Big Blue is automating some of the tasks that previously had to be done manually in IBM FlashSystems and Spectrum Virtualize IASP-based FlashCopy environment. For instance, user can now run an exit program as part of their FlashCopy operation. They can also now suspend and resume FlashCopy sessions.
PowerHA admins tasked with keeping user access and security up-to-date across multiple servers will appreciate the new object synchronization feature in the new releases for IBM i 7.5 TR1 and 7.4 TR7. Any changes to user profiles on one node are now automatically synchronized with the other nodes, IBM says.
Specifically, the new synch supports synchronization of user auditing (CHGUSRAUD), including the object auditing value (OBJAUD) and user action auditing (AUDLVL) attributes, IBM says. It also brings support for synchronizing the new user-level maximum sign-on attempts (MAXSIGN) attribute on user profiles.
BRMS, the time-tested backup utility trusted by tens of thousands of organizations, is moving into the modern SQL world. That’s right: BRMS is getting SQL Services.
With IBM i 7.5 TR1 and 7.6 TR7, IBM has introduced dozens of SQL Services for BRMS, which will give users new ways to view, order, and subset BRMS information.
For example, if a user were to issue the QUSRBRM.MEDIA_INFO command, she would get information back similar to if she had issued the Work with Media using BRM (WRKMEDBRM) command. And if she submitted the QUSRBRM.MEDIA_SET_INFO table function, in return she would get information about serial media sets under BRMS’ control.
IBM has issued about 35 new SQL Services for BRMS. You can view all of the new services issued in the September release here.