AS400 Operations Navigator to the Rescue

By: John Andersen

There is a large misconception running about the user community these days that the AS/400 and iSeries platform are old antiquated machine as scarce as the dinosaurs and just as hard to use with its crummy looking text only interface commonly known as the green screen. This is a major sticking point for business looking to buy an AS/400 and especially for some system administrators that have been groomed on a Windows based environment with point and click ease of use and a built in wizard to do just about everything.

But there is really good news for those people who absolutely hate the old fashioned green-screens that the AS/400 and iSeries platform is known for… there has been a tool available to make maintenance and administration tasks easier. That cool graphical user interface tool is called Operations Navigator, it comes along with your regular licenses so it doesn’t cost any additional money and it has been available now for many years.

That’s right I said that the operations navigator utility is a GUI you can use with your AS/400 and iSeries systems. With it you can maintain users, catalogue system patches and program temporary fixes, watch jobs, administer printer output queues and more. You want to run an SQL query to delete some data sets or run a quick and dirty report and export the results into Excel? Operations navigator has you covered. Want to copy files from your computer over to the integrated file system on the AS/400? Operations navigator can do that too.

If you are into keeping a watchful eye on the health and performance data of your system, once configured, operations navigator will spit out great looking charts and graphs of important performance metrics. Did you know that you can also download your reports as text or pdf files from your AS/400 or iSeries with operations navigator, this very feature alone can replace you dependency for expensive third party software packages you may currently be using.

One of the greatest features not otherwise available until operations navigator came around is the ability to diagnose SQL statements and present them in a graphical diagram with each of the steps the system used to execute it in very thorough detail. There is also a whole feature set available that will collect performance data on your programs and files and record how often temporary indexes are built, you then simply go back and review this data after running a collection and it will recommend indexes to build that will improve the performance of your reports and queries dramatically.

Eventually you may find yourself having to perform some tasks in the command line environment, but as time moves on more and more of features are being built natively into operations navigator with each new release slowly removing the dependency on the green-screen. Who knows though, you may even become a convert like some of us old 400 folks and start to use the command line interface instead of the GUI. Nonetheless oprations navigator has such a rich set of tools and its ease of use make it an excellent tool to administering your AS/400 and iSeries systems so it is definitely here to stay.