Customer Story

Day-Brite Automates LPAR Operations With HelpSystems

For more than 60 years, Day-Brite Lighting has been manufacturing lighting products for both the commercial and residential lighting markets. As a subsidiary of Genlyte Group Incorporated, a leading manufacturer of lighting fixtures, controls, and related products, Day-Brite makes products such as fluorescent lights, high intensity discharge (HID) lights for manufacturers' work areas, emergency lights and fixtures, lighting for specialty stores to highlight products, and recessed lights for ceilings. With a product line that includes Day-Brite Fluorescent, Day-Brite HID Indoor, NiteBrites HID Outdoor, and Day-Brite Vandal Resistant lighting, Day-Brite lives its motto, 'Reinventing Lighting Every Day'.

The World Before the Robot Automated Operations Solution

Lynn Key has worked extensively with the IBM® System i,™ and for the past decade he’s been System i Administrator and Communications Manager for Day-Brite in Tupelo, Mississippi. During Lynn’s tenure at Day-Brite, the company has made the transitions to both a partitioned (LPAR) environment and to automated System i operations—no small feat for an operation of their size. As Lynn explains, “We have a System i 550, plus several servers that pull data from the System i. We’ve had an IBM system for years. We’ve upgraded from one model—processor, memory, and disk space—to the next model every few years for the last 15 or 20 years. Now, we have a System i 550 with two logical partitions (LPARs)—Production and Test—and more than 300 users. We have two manufacturing facilities, one in Tupelo, the other in Sparta, Tennessee, with nine distribution centers connecting to the 550 to run their businesses.

“Before logical partitions, our developers did their testing on the production system, which made it difficult to share resources. When partitioning came out, we divided our system and gave developers a place to develop and test programs, without affecting production. When Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), and auditors arrived, the Test partition became a necessity so that the programmers could have their own world for development without access to the production data. Partitioning helps them, and it helps us with our SOPs and our SOX compliance.

“As long as I can remember, our nightly operations had a system operator working 4 to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday, as we ran our nightly jobs and backups. During the night shift, the operator monitored the system. After 11, there was nobody there until 7 the next morning. We noticed that we were adding more jobs that would run during the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. time period. If those jobs didn’t run, the only notification occurred the next morning when a user started looking for a report or an update.”

The World After The Robot Automated Operations Solution

Day-Brite wanted to automate the night shift to reduce the need for an operator and provide automatic notification when there were problems. So, the company decided to try the Robot Automated Operations Solution. As Lynn explains, “We had heard about the Robot products for many years and they offered everything we needed: Robot SCHEDULE to schedule jobs; Robot CONSOLE for message management; Robot SAVE for backups; Robot ALERT for problem notification; Robot NETWORK to manage the two partitions; Robot LPAR to share devices across partitions; Robot CLIENT for cross-platform processing; and Robot REPLAY to automate our interactive MAPICS jobs.”

After Day-Brite installed the suite of Robot products, it didn’t take long before they started seeing a return on their investment (ROI). In fact, according to Lynn, “ROI was quick. Implementing all of the products at once was good because as the schedule grows, your saves, messages, and notifications are all tied together.”

“Robot SCHEDULE and Robot LPAR work together, so the entire process [automated device movement] runs totally unattended—‘lights-out’.”

Robot LPAR—Automated Device Movement Across Partitions

Day-Brite and Lynn faced a challenge: They needed to share their IBM 3576 tape drive between the two partitions. The answer was to move it across partitions using Robot LPAR. As Lynn describes it, “Robot LPAR helps us share devices. First, Robot SCHEDULE runs a Robot SAVE job to back up the Production partition. When it’s done, Robot LPAR works with the IBM Hardware Management Console (HMC) to move the tape drive from the Production partition to the Test partition, and Robot SAVE backs up the Test partition. Afterwards, Robot LPAR moves the tape drive back to the Production partition. We back up the Production and Test partitions every night, automatically, with no operator, using Robot LPAR, Robot SCHEDULE, and Robot SAVE.”

According to Lynn, the timing between Robot LPAR and the HMC is critical. “The HMC takes care of moving the resource. We do build in some time delays using Robot SCHEDULE jobs to allow the tape drive time to get from point A to point B. We use a Robot SCHEDULE job to tell the Production side to vary off the tape drive right after the backup. Next, I use a Robot LPAR PUT command to tell the HMC to move the drive to the Test partition. Usually, the PUT command completes before the HMC finishes moving the resource, so Robot SCHEDULE sends a delay job to give the HMC time to complete the move. After that job completes, Robot SCHEDULE runs other jobs to vary on the tape drive in the Test partition and start the backup.

After the backup completes, a Robot LPAR GET command moves the tape drive back to the Production partition. Robot SCHEDULE and Robot LPAR work together, so the entire process runs totally unattended—‘lights-out’.”

Robot Product Integration: ‘Lights-Out’ In The Data Center

Day-Brite has been running its data center ‘lights-out’ for more than two years without an operator at night. Lynn likes how well the Robot products work together—their integration, their stability, and the easy administration. “I don’t touch Robot LPAR, Robot SAVE, or Robot ALERT anymore, they just run. We make changes to Robot SCHEDULE about once a week, mostly adding jobs. We do change Robot CONSOLE because as you add programs, you get new error messages. So, that’s an ongoing process. I’m the main administrator and two other people get notifications from Robot ALERT. If I’m busy, somebody else gets the message and signs on to look at things. One person administers the [Robot] products and knows how everything ties together.”

The Complete Product Package

Lynn likes the whole Robot package: products, support, documentation, and training. “The manuals are easy to read, well organized, and they have a lot of illustrations to help you understand what’s happening. We learned to blend the Robot products to our strategy using the manuals, an on-site trainer, and telephone support. The products are easy to use because everything runs together well and the support is excellent. I also like the fact that HelpSystems doesn’t make false claims. If a manual says a product’s supposed to do something, it does—the products are definitely not paperware. Our biggest goal is to have the important data available to our users each morning. It’s exciting to know that when I come in each day, our users have the data they want and I don’t have to think about it.”

Happiness Is Lights On And Lights-Out

Lynn sums up Day-Brite’s automation experience with a nice parallel, “Day-Brite is in the lighting business, our world is lights on. HelpSystems is sort of in the opposite world, it makes lights out. That’s kind of cool. Now, we run lights-out, except the one time each night when my cell phone lights up to tell me all of the jobs have completed. That’s a good light—I’m very satisfied.”

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