Robot Best Practices

June 27, 2016

For this discussion about best practices for Robot systems management solutions, we’ll make two initial assumptions: first, that you’re managing more than one IBM i partition, and secondly, that you’re interested in achieving lights-out automation.

  1. You should use Robot NETWORK to manage exceptions from a single console. It provides a topology map of your network and a central spot to monitor network statuses. Robot NETWORK allows you to administer your scheduling and monitoring rules from a central location. Use its Product Masters to create rules for scheduling batch processes or automating message events centrally. You just create rules on the host system and distribute them automatically to the node systems.
  2. Be sure to use Robot SCHEDULE reactive jobs and group jobs to handle dependencies. And, use reserved command variables to dynamically pass parameters like dates, job environments, and application names. This helps with work management values and for sorting jobs. The Robot SCHEDULE command entry area is where you put the programs you want to call. You also can use this area to execute commands like CHGJOB or OVRPRTF to control jobs.
  3. To automate message traffic management, Robot CONSOLE message sets are a must. Message sets let you suppress messages, change message text and color, determine who can reply to a message, and execute programs based on a message. Use Robot CONSOLE message tables, message groups, and OPerator Assistance Language (OPAL) to automate further. For example, message tables are handy for creating rules to automate multiple events. Robot CONSOLE resource monitoring is especially useful for automatically monitoring critical resources that can impact Service Level Agreements.
  4. Always keep in mind that automation is key in Robot products. I still find customers who run manual backups. With Robot SAVE, the computer should start all of your backups. It can even run restricted state saves, like SAVSYS and SAVLIB *NONSYS, with its Restricted State Utility (RSU).

    If you have multiple partitions, run a centralized scratch pool and centralized reporting for tape integrity and consolidated reporting. The Robot SAVE Data Center Management System (DCMS) makes this easy. Robot SAVE also works with automated media loading devices—AML, ATL, Silo, virtual tape libraries, and more—to mount tapes unattended. It can load the next tape in the silo, skip volumes with active files, and catalog volumes as they’re used.
  5. It’s a really bad practice to leave spooled data (reports) on output queues as your online report data access strategy—it impacts performance, there’s a lack of security, and there’s no retention strategy. You can back up and archive output queue data many different ways, but most solutions don’t offer the archive strategy that Robot REPORTS provides.

    Why print an entire report when the end user only wants the last page? Robot REPORTS makes it easy to deliver parts of a report. You can segment reports by logical page breaks and other criteria. Robot REPORTS even has a bursting table that lets you segment by two different criteria on each page. You can distribute the results in multiple formats, including PDF, TXT, CSV, print, and online.

    Robot REPORTS OPerator Assistance Language (OPAL) is very powerful. Use it to make electronic decisions about values on the report. For example, if you need to look at a report for errors or results, Robot REPORTS can make those decisions for you automatically.
  6. With Robot SPACE, it’s easy to monitor QTEMP and temporary storage at the job level. Many customers are caught off guard when a job starts to consume excess amounts of disk space and they don’t know it’s happening. Everyone forgets about the IFS and claim that they’re not using it. What they fail to realize is that many application vendors are using it. Robot SPACE’s storage audit can “age” the IFS by selecting objects to remove based on the last used date of the object.

    Collect a full system of detail from your server at least once a week, including objects, libraries, and the IFS. It’s a great benchmark for troubleshooting future areas of concern and gives you the detail you need to manage disk space growth and predict trends.

Remember, Robot products are built to automate. Each product has rules that you can tailor to handle most situations. Occasionally, if you can’t just fill in the blank to automate, you might need to write a CL program (a script) to help automate a process. The key is to have an eye toward automation and always ask the question “Can we run this automatically?”

Plus, Robot systems management solutions are not just for the operations team. With automation, your developers have fewer interruptions and your system administrators spend less time babysitting systems. Request a free trial of any Robot product today!