New Nav Makes Progress, But Still Not Caught Up with Old Nav
October 26, 2022 Alex Woodie
The Technology Refreshes have brought IBM closer to completing the transition to the new Navigator from the old Navigator product, which is susceptible to the Log4j security vulnerability. While the advances in IBM i 7.5 TR1 and 7.4 TR7 will help customers, the new Navigator product will still not be at feature parity with old Nav when the plug is pulled on the heritage product at the end of the year.
IBM has been encouraging its IBM i customer base to accelerate its adoption of the new Navigator, which debuted just over a year ago with the introduction of IBM i 7.4 TR5 and 7.3 TR11. The encouragement became more vocal earlier this year, when it became evident that IBM would not be issuing a patch to protect the old Nav product from the Log4j vulnerability, an extremely critical security vulnerability discovered in late 2021 that could allow a cybercriminal to take full control of an impacted system.
Besides not being a conduit through which hackers could hijack your system, steal your data, corrupt your applications, and ruin your business, the new Nav has a lot of other good things going for it.
But the enhancements in new Nav (IBM has stopped using “old” and “new” and now just refers to a single “Navigator” product) go beneath the surface. Instead of using traditional IBM i APIs to accomplish tasks like monitoring and managing LPARs (as the older version of Navigator did), the newer Navigator product offers a full embrace of the SQL-based IBM i services that IBM has been adding to the operating system for the past few years. The ability to monitor multiple IBM i systems from a single dashboard is another top-line improvement.
IBMers have good reason to be proud of newer Nav, which appears to offer a much more modern and intuitive way to work with IBM i components. In addition to the pre-canned metrics from IBM, the newer Nav lets users create their own custom dashboards by dragging and dropping icons on the screen. Users can also filter the results and drill down into them to explore potential causes. All in all, the newer Navigator is a big improvement over the old Navigator product.
The Navigator story gets better with IBM i 7.5 TR1 and 7.4 TR7, with a number of enhancements that bring more of the IBM i environment into Navigator’s realm.
For starters, Navigator users can now see information about IASPs for each monitored system on their Navigator homepage and in Work Management tables and panels. IBM also adds that “a selected IASP can be used in addition to *SYSBAS for the IBM i connection for Navigator queries.” On the file system front, IFS tree views and tree tables are now supported.
Integration with Performance Data Investigator (PDI) improves with this release. IBM says all license checks have been removed and that “there is no longer a requirement to have 5770-PT1 options installed to see all perspective packages (including Job Watcher, Disk Watcher, Database, and PEX).”
The System Monitor Visualization panel from older Navigator has been recreated in the newer Navigator. This “allows viewing of all the metrics monitored by one monitor on a single panel,” IBM says. A new authority management panel has also been added that will enable administrators to allow users with the appropriate authority to view event logs associated with message monitors as well as those associated with system monitors.
On the security front, there is a new audit configuration screen that lets a user see different auditing actions available and whether it’s enabled or disabled. Navigator will also automatically let the user know if it detects that auditing is turned off. Users can also now open the weekly and detail view screens in new tabs, and there are other various enhancements to graphs, detail views, and charts.
IBM also added intrusion detection capability with newer Navigator, which is another feature that was available with the older Nav. This release also brings support for “GUI node single sign-on” with Kerberos, IBM says.
Navigator gets better network monitoring and management capabilities with this release, including the ability to list IP policy packet rules and take actions on them. Users can also manage LDAP instances. For more information on what’s new with Navigator, check out this IBM Support page as well as this IBM support page.
There are still some major areas of IBM i operating system that have yet to be supported in Navigator, including Advanced Job Scheduler, BRMS, PowerHA, and AFP functions. IBM contracts out development of the Advanced Job Scheduler and BRMS to Pinnacle Business Systems and HelpSystems, respectively, and is working with those companies to develop hooks for those products in Navigator, says IBM i Product Manager Alison Butterill.
“We have some things to integrate in, like the Advanced Job Scheduler functions and so on,” Butterill says. “We still are working on those. At the moment you can do it by command line. But getting to where it’s more interfaced from the Navigator, it’s going to just take a little time.”
IBM figured it would have more time to bring the newer Navigator up to feature parity with the older Navigator, but reality–namely the nasty little bugger known as Log4j–intervened. IBM will not have newer Navigator fully integrated with those operating system features and options by the end of the year, when the older Navigator officially goes to end of life and IBM stops providing support for it.
“It’s just taking a little more time to get everything put together,” Butterill says. “We are trying to get everybody to move to the new Navigator, and we’re moving more of the functionality to new Navigator. It’s a little faster than we anticipated, but that’s what Log4j did for us.”
And when feature parity does arrive, don’t expect to find one-to-one replacements for everything. Because the newer Navigator is such a different product (with its use of IBM i services, for example), support for various components of the IBM i system will take different forms.
“In some cases, the old Nav was the old way of doing things, so we’re going to have new ways of doing things,” Butterill says. “Going down the list and checking off one for one is difficult to do. We will have similar functions. They’ll just be implemented differently.”
The new Navigator functions are available now. They were delivered in September with the latest HTTP PTF. For more information, see the IBM Support webpage at www.ibm.com/support/pages/node/6520030.