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New Years resolutions -- January 2006

Now entering 2006, what are you going to do to be LAZY for another year! Well --first off -- let's go over resolutions for the New Year! Now don't worry – you can keep eating those doughnuts – (well I can't but that's another story!)

Now entering 2006, what are you going to do to be LAZY for another year! Well --first off -- let's go over resolutions for the New Year! Now don't worry – you can keep eating those doughnuts – (well I can't but that's another story!)

First off -- RESOLUTION – I solemnly promise to keep up on my PTF'S – why?

Is your company doing Web work with the your iSeries? If you do ANY of the following work -- YOU will need to keep your systems going with preventative maintenance.

  • Run a Web site on the iSeries that is on the World Wide Web
  • Run an Intranet site within your company
  • Exchange files with companies using FTP
  • Communicate with PC's
  • Use TCP/IP

    WOW -- looks like a pretty thorough list -- why? Web sites on the Web are subject to security holes left there because of the intricacies of the communications, TCP/IP. With openness, comes many security holes. These holes are patched almost as regularly as patches for a regular PC. Intranets have the same security holes -- although less obvious because the Web sites are serving employees. However, if you look at IBM's table of threats to computing, one of them with a high rate happens to be internal users, not the Web. If you're exchanging files, same threats -- all through TCP/IP. The bottom line is if you use TCP/IP -- apply PTF's for qumes, and whatever specific software you may use, such as iSeries Access and the Apache server.

    How is this the LAZY approach you ask – simple -- by preventing problems for the future. I don't want the late night phone call. Anyway, frankly if there are problems, and you need to call IBM support line, the first question they ask is "what is your latest PTF's." Will something come out of the Batman Utility belt, well -- maybe -- but it saves a ton of time when trying to diagnose problems. Saying "It couldn't be PTF's -- we applied all of them last month" starts a whole new level of investigation for the IBM folks.

    More Information

    Secondly -- I WILL keep my eye open for changes in the operating system!

    Yes, V5R3 will not be around forever. Ask yourselves the following questions:

  • What will be the new features I may need out of the next version?
  • How many bug fixes will be worked into the next release?
  • When is the release currently loaded on my system going to "lose" support from IBM?
  • Will the software I'm using require me to go to the next level for future releases of their products?
  • Every release IBM offers makes their operating system more efficient. Will I get a speed increase with this new OS level?
  • What's the earliest operating system inside your office?

    Look hard at this list, and consider the pros & cons with going to the new level. Also, consider that you may have multiple iSeries systems to upgrade. If you're in doubt of functionality – of your existing systems, upgrade a test or Development system and test away. Now the LAST consideration, "what is the earliest operating system within your office" – I ask that because if you have ANY AS/400's still using V4 levels, V5R3 doesn't allow saves to operating systems before V5R1.

    Thirdly – I WILL update or create my corporate disaster plan!

    You know, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma all taught us too many lessons. For me, I'm never going to skimp on preparedness. We all thought that because it would be blowing from the opposite side of the state, by the time it reached us, the storm would have dissipated. We started our hurricane preparations 10 years ago when we built our house with hurricane building codes strictly enforced. We have full Hurricane shutters, and recently bought a well-made Generator. With all this, we also had a lot of water and a lot of canned goods – however, we needed more. Our area was hit so hard that we were placed under a curfew, which meant no traveling at night. Also, no electricity means no supermarkets. 95% of our county was without power. No power means no gas. Hey, why no gas? Well, gas stations pump their gas using electricity. Gas stations are now required to have a functioning generator backup in order to keep cars moving. So now that I told you my personal woes (and keep in mind, I was one of the 5% with electricity) my gas in my tank was precious. The water coming out of my tap was on a boil order -- so no bathing or drinking. Now remember, this was just me. Offices had no power for weeks. Generators were a commodity. They still need gas to run them.

    Getting to the point, the planning for this sort of disaster starts much earlier then now. Computers require people to use them. Phones require people to use them. In short, how can you survive this? I ask the following:

  • Do you have a secure method of accessing your systems externally if you can't physically be near your systems? (VPN for instance)
  • Do you have a Voice Over IP or VOIP-based phone system? This will ease your spreading out of employees into areas reachable by their computers. A computer in a hotel room becomes a new office.
  • Do you have employees in high-risk areas that you need to mandate evacuations for during this time of crisis?
  • Do THEY have enough resources, water and food rations?
  • When you evacuate the computer data, are you evacuating some of your key people and their families?

    Ask these questions now. Consider the fact that hurricane season ended, and Tropical Storm Zeta was in the gulf recently. I'd say there are more seasons like this years looming in our future. I never thought last years season could be topped, but Katrina, and Wilma actually upstaged all storms in my opinion.

    My three resolutions boil down to PLAN NOW! This way your time reacting to these situations are well thought out, and well approached. And you can go back to lazing around the office, making sure everything is running well for this new year!

    About the author: Andrew Borts is webmaster at United Auto Insurance Group in North Miami, Fla. He is often a frequent speaker at COMMON and is past president of The Southern National Users Group, an iSeries-AS/400 user group based in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

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