IBM recently announced that their product, Application Runtime Expert (ARE) for IBM I, is now free of charge, along with a host of other products. The IBM announcement can be found here if you are interested.
ARE is a licensed program, 5733ARE, which will work on any IBM i Version 6 or above. It was first introduced in 2010 after being used by developers to assist with problem determination.
ARE is a web based browser application running on our IBM i.
What Does It Do?
Luckily, I attended IBMs Jyoti Dodhia excellent ARE session at the UK i-UG International i Power conference in June 2016 so had a sound idea what it could do.
ARE assists with system administration. It includes:
- File & Directory attributes
- Library & Object attributes
- Verifying the contents of configuration files
- System management
- Application logging & changes
- PTF management, including groups
- Log SQL statements
- Logs & joblogs
- System Values & Network attributes
- Comparing one IBM i to another
And much, much more, and if that’s not enough, you can create your own plugin.
So, if we have an application, we can use ARE to give us a snapshot of the application, which libraries, IFS directories, etc. that the application needs. We can then use this template to check our other systems to ensure they are correctly configured for our application.
ARE is also ideal where the system administrators have a daily check list to ensure the systems are ready for business.
So where can you get ARE? My first port of call was my IBM software at the ESS site, and guess what, not there, so I opened a PMR with IBM who swiftly provided me with a download link to one of their websites where the .ISO image was located.
Once the image is downloaded and placed in an image catalogue, restore the licensed program 5733ARE.
After you have installed ARE, make sure you install the latest PTFs for ARE, and re-install the latest cume PTF package. If you do not, the cume group Cumulative Ptf Package, will show a status of Not Installed.
To start, and use ARE, we start the TCP/IP server – Strtcpsvr Server(*Http) Httpsvr(Ibmare)
To check this server is running we need to check the HTTP sub-system – Wrkactjob Sbs(Qhttpsvr)
The Apache instance IBMARE shows that ARE is running on TC/IP port number 12401. You could also check the TCP/IP network status command – Netstat *Cnn which will show port 12401 as active.
To start the ARE console, point your browser to that port number – Http://Galatea:12401/Are/ where Galatea is our IBM i server running 7.3
When signing into ARE, your profile must have *ALLOBJ authority to create a template. Any profile can be used to run a template.
Beware of using Chrome as a browser, I had numerous problems using Chrome, the same sort of problems using Chrome with the HMC browser interface. For these examples I have been using Firefox version 49.
Before we start using ARE, we need to be aware of some of the terminology used.
- Templates – Templates are a set of attributes and environment settings.
- Collections – A logical group of attributes, for example, groups of libraries to check
- Deployment – A deployment is a collection of attributes and environments. These attributes can include RPG programs, system information, directories etc.
- Plug In – Used to check and verify an application or system attribute
In this example, I will explain how we ensure a user profile is on all of our boxes. We will be monitoring for the profile f_User, ensuring that it exists on all our servers, and it is not disabled.
The first step we have to complete is to create a new template.
Click Create, give the template a name, then press Create, which will advance us to the Plugin Selection.
Do not use any spaces in your template name, ARE will not like that!
Expand the System Environment > User IDs.
Here we can see all the user profile attributes we can check, select the status to move it over to the right hand panel. This will check the status is *Enabled.
Our first template has been built!
Running the Template
After we have selected all our servers we want to run this check on, click on the Verify Systems button.
We can now see the results, our server Despina failed, while Galatea was successful.
To see the errors found on Despina, click on the Result, where it gives us the option of either a summary or detailed report.
Ah, we now know that user F_User does not exist on Despina and the profile is disabled on Galatea.
On our other server, we can see that the F_User profile is *Disabled. ARE can also change the profile to *Enabled by hitting the Fix action button.
Instead of specifying User and Password each time, you can set default values by selecting Runtime properties.
Here we can input user details and also get ARE to send an alert email.
Well that was any easy one to start with, let us get a bit more complex now and get ARE to perform some daily checks for our servers.
The daily checks template will perform the following on all our systems:
- Check TCP/IP ports 80 (Intranet) & 10081 (Zend Administration) are open
- All PTF groups are up to date
- Check all licensed programs are in a healthy state
- Check user profile F_User exists and is not *Disabled
- Check the owner of application F_Ftp is FormaServe
- Check directory F_Ftp exists
- The performance adjuster System Value QPFRADJ is set to 2
- Are there any damaged objects?
- Check our applications RPG programs are using the FSS activation group
Once all the above are selected into our Daily_Checks template, we can review it on the template summary, shown below.
After the template is built, we select the boxes we wish to run it on.
Once our Daily_Check template has been created we can easily modify it when the business decides.
Ah, just checking the results of our Daily_Checks, seems you can’t get the staff these days !
We can also get ARE to schedule checks, just click the schedule button and away we go.
Hopefully this article has given you an insight into what ARE has been about and how easy it is to incorporate into your environments; it makes a great support tool. Now it’s now free, it is well worth a look, give it a try, what have you got to loose!
This product is ideal not only if your organisation has to perform daily system checks, but a wealth of other configuration items and checks.
Further information about ARE can be found on IBMs ARE product website, which can be found here.
If you have any questions concerning ARE please get in touch, I’m sure we can help.
Andy Youens is an IBM i consultant/instructor at Milton Keynes, UK-based FormaServe Systems.