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Rob McNelly on the IBM Support Technical Support Appliance

IBM Champion Rob McNelly on practical uses for the IBM Support Technical Support Appliance (TSA), how to set it up, report information and more

Rob McNelly looks at the Technical Support Appliance (TSA) from IBM support. 

Transcript

As I crossed the finish line after swimming 425 yards, biking 15 miles, and running 5 kilometers in the sprint triathlon I recently completed, I realized that I had not talked about the TSA lately.

If you are an American you are probably thinking that I mean the transportation security administration when I say TSA, but in this context I am talking about the Technical Support Appliance from IBM support. 

I briefly mentioned the TSA in passing in an article in 2017, but I neglected to get into the details as to why you would want to run it in your environment and how you can get started installing it.

As much as we all love using hmcscanner in order to document our POWER systems and get vital information, the reports you can get from TSA will have a different set of information that is just as important. It does not just show you oslevel information, it will also tell you whether your Operating system, VIO, and firmware levels are up to date, it will tell you when your IBM contracts will expire, etc. There are color codes available that quickly highlight which machines might need immediate attention.

This sample file I am looking at now is available for you to download at a link on the TSA website, you can download it yourself open it up in Excel, and take a look around as well. Each tab shows information such as the devices it has discovered, the contracts that IBM knows about, the firmware recommendations, IBM i recommendations, Linux recommendations, system firmware, and adapter firmware.

Although looking at an example can be helpful, it can be more powerful to imagine what you might discover in your own environment with a report like this.

Any customer who has some sort of active maintenance contract with IBM support can download and use TSA. Since TSA collects information and transmits it to IBM, and since customers sign on to the IBM website to get the resulting reports, I do not imagine it would be very useful to a customer that didn't have any type of IBM support. 

TSA can be set up as a hardware appliance or a virtual appliance, but in most instances I would expect you to run the virtual appliance. It would be easier for POWER system admins to run it on POWER hardware, but it is currently deployed as an .ovf file to run in your VMware x86 environment which is how I ran it, although you can also run it in Microsoft Hyper-V if you have that running in your environment. If you are not the Windows admin in your environment, it may be time to go play nice with your teammates in order to help get it installed.

You can get more information, get the install image, get the setup guide, get the configuration guide, and you can watch tutorials if you visit the TSAdemo site at the handy shortened URL: ibm.biz/TSAdemo

It will take you step by step through what you need to do.

Step 1: you download the image from fix central.

Step 2: you install TSA on the virtual machine. Read the setup guide and watch the tutorial for more information.

Step 3: configure TSA to discover devices on your network and set up the discovery schedule. Read the configuration guide and watch the configuration tutorial for more information

Step 4: configure TSA to transmit the information to IBM.

Step 5: after 48 hours, you can log into the IBM client insights portal and download your reports.

Be sure to set include your IBM ID when you configure TSA so that IBM support knows to connect this TSA appliance to your IBM ID. This way when you log into the portal you will be able to download your reports.

Ongoing maintenance will include making sure that you update any credentials in TSA that might change in your environment in the future.

Once you get in the habit of reviewing these reports, planning for system updates will be that much easier.

Thank you for your time and I will talk to you soon.
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