Insight On Demand: One-Click IBM i Performance Investigations

October 10, 2016


In a manual monitoring environment, for every issue that arises, a multi-step investigation process often accompanies it. Even in the smallest, single-system set ups, these types of processes take time to sift through what could be hundreds or even thousands of jobs or objects, in an effort to identify the one troublemaker that is making its presence felt in the form of a slow system, rapid disk consumption, or some other problem. For larger networks, the task is not only daunting, but also quite often altogether unfeasible—there simply isn’t the human resource or budget to devote the necessary hours, or perhaps days, to the chore of searching. Even then, once the culprit is identified, it requires swift resolution. The bottom line is that every environment, regardless of scale, must adopt a systems management approach that creates an economy of time management they can afford.

Thankfully there are solutions that tackle the need for both efficient issue identification and fast resolution, and in doing so can ensure the minimum amount of time is spent in dealing with any one problem. Robot Monitor is one such example that combines these two powerful capabilities for speedy problem solving. With a majority of Robot Monitor users running 24/7 environments, the allowance of time for investigation in many areas can be reduced to a single click procedure to meet the acute need for insight on demand. The feature responsible for this lightening fast response is called “Show Details” and unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what to expect to see when using it!

Let’s look at one example of how best to employ Robot Monitor’s “Show Details” feature in a typical IBM i environment.

Cache battery is one element of the system that, if left unchecked, can result in a range of unfortunate consequences for unprepared administrators. In the course of normal processing, data is stored in the cache before being written to disk. The cache is supported by specialist batteries that have a finite lifespan. These cache batteries require changing before they run out completely. Ordinarily, the system issues a message to inform operators the battery is nearing the end of its lifespan but these are easy to miss in a busy environment. If that should happen and a battery were to run down completely, the system could be forced to write data directly to disk, which in itself would impact resources, degrade system performance, and ultimately could even result in a downtime event.

Similarly, if a downtime event coincided with the cache battery running out, there's potential for critical data to be corrupted and lost completely. As each battery notification operates independently, administrators who respond to a warning message and arrange an appointment for an IBM engineer to visit the system to change the battery must do so on an individual battery-by-battery basis, which is incredibly inefficient. The manual process for checking each battery is one of the multiple-step investigations that can be avoided with Robot Monitor.

By running a dedicated cache battery monitor, administrators have a visual representation of the remaining lifespan for all the cache batteries in the network, (as shown in Figure 1.) While this is extremely helpful to account for an overview, operators need a fast means of accessing more detailed information for each battery, especially if that is shown to be running low.

The “Show Details” feature provides exactly this level of granular detail without the associated investigation. From the Online Monitor, operators simply right-click on the “Show Details” option and they are immediately given a further screen containing all the additional information they could need for every battery including: Days On, Adjusted Days On, Days to Warn, and Days to Error.

The “Show Details” functionality is not limited to cache battery monitoring but can also be used for objects, libraries, and jobs. In the case of objects, an administrator can right-click on a questionably high performance bar in the online monitor for example, and through the “Show Details” feature, generate a granular breakdown of all the objects in their size order contributing to that high level. No searching, no additional knowledge of where or what might be the cause, just immediate insight in a one-click action. The same one-click process applies to searching for the largest library and maximum job run-time. It’s one of the most powerful shortcuts to achieving insight on demand.

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