Informing the IBM Community

A screen a story – collateral benefits


In today’s world when reading about IBM i it is hard to avoid articles dealing with application modernization. Being a system administrator, I use applications too. What about them, do they need modernization too? Well, let us have a look at the two screens shown below:

The first screenshot is taken from the Job scheduler part of the base operating system, which has been around for ages. At least that is how it feels. It has not been enhanced much, although recently a DB2 for i service called SYS2.SCHEDULED_JOB_INFO was introduced. Doing some research I learned that was back in 2015. Six years ago! For me the biggest setback is that it lacks a GUI.

The second screen is from the Advanced Job Scheduler (AJS) a billable licensed program (5770-JS1). Also around for ages, but the good thing is that what you miss in the default job scheduler, in most cases, is available in AJS. The screen shows an example of a job running 24/7 every hour of the day, just to name one.

As mentioned in the title of this article, having a better more advanced job scheduler is not all AJS offers, below a list of some of the “collateral benefits”:

  • sending spool files in PDF format as email attachment;
  • sending the job log if the job ends abnormal at the end of the job;
  • integrating AJS jobs in the QSTRUPPGM program;
  • integrating AJS jobs in Exit Point programs, like the pre-powerdown;
  • easy checking scheduled jobs history, which job ended abnormaly, the runtime;
  • kick off a command on another LPAR.

Below another application we use as system administrators, the backup. Again two screen shots:

The biggest advantage of the backup software part of the base operating system is that it has a GUI which was already available in iSeries Navigator. Again the same story, it has not been enhanced for quite a while. Does it still make backups? Yes it does. It does however lack functionality, for a full system save you have to switch to a 5250 emulator solution only. The “SAVE” menu. The good news here is that IBM recently added functionality: Improvement to Restricted State Processing for GO SAVE and GO RESTORE. That does not change the fact that the Backup, Recover and Media Services (BRMS) license program (5770-BR1) is the better choice for making backups. Having meta data about your backups is the big winner here.

Again below a list of some of the “collateral benefits” of BRMS we can put to good use:

  • follow the process of an unattended full system save;
  • using email to report issues in the backup;
  • tape volume management;
  • detect jobs having objects in use;
  • execute commands during the backup, which require applications to be down;
  • detect new applications and data use;
  • keeping track of backup history;
  • distribute system recovery reports on a daily basis;
  • make backup meta data available to other LPARs.

In order to understand how BRMS is able to detect new applications or data use I do think this needs some extra explanation.
Any backup has problems when objects are in use. When setting up a BRMS backup it is good practice to only use the option save-while-active when needed. So if a new application shows up on your system the result will be: new objects in use. The BRMS backup will report that is did not compete successfully and after research you will be able to tell which objects were in use by a job. In the past we have seen new HTTP servers and BI applications being introduced resulting in BRMS errors. I can tell you from experience that not in every case was the IBM i application manager aware of these new servers/applications. Being Dutch myself I do understand the reluctancy to purchase these two extra licensed programs, they do cost money. Please trust me on this, once you purchase them you will wonder how you ever managed without them. The good thing about the purchase of these products is a one time fee. For maintenance they are already covered by the software maintenance agreement (SWMA).

Join the modernization wave and do not let the system administration applications be an exception. 

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