IBM Mobile OpenAdmin Tool for Informix

Monitoring your IBM Informix database servers on the go

Have you ever wanted to monitor your IBM® Informix® database servers on the go from your mobile device? This article introduces the IBM Mobile OpenAdmin Tool for Informix (OAT) application. It explains how you can use this new app to check the status and performance of one or more Informix database server instances quickly and easily from the palm of your hand. It describes how to set up Mobile OAT and how to connect it to your regular OpenAdmin Tool for Informix installation. This article also outlines some recommended security best practices when using Mobile OAT.

Erika Von Bargen (vonbarg@us.ibm.com), Team Lead, OpenAdmin Tool for Informix, IBM

Erika Von Bargen photoErika Von Bargen has been a part of the IBM Informix development organization since 2004. She is currently the team lead for the OpenAdmin Tool for Informix product and one of its primary software developers. She is based in the IBM Lenexa lab.



04 April 2013

Also available in Chinese

Introduction

The wait is over if you've ever wanted to monitor your IBM Informix database servers on the go from your mobile device. IBM Mobile OpenAdmin Tool for Informix is now available for free for Apple iOS and Android devices. Mobile OAT gives you the power to monitor the status and performance of all of your Informix database instances from the palm of your hand, anywhere you go.

Mobile OAT is a monitoring tool, not an administration tool. It is not an alternative to the full, web-based OpenAdmin Tool for Informix. However, Mobile OAT is a useful application to quickly check your database servers. It can also help with problem determination if there is an issue on the database server. Mobile OAT allows the DBA to check on their database servers quickly and easily without needing to sit in front of a desktop or laptop. Users would still need access to the web-based OpenAdmin Tool (OAT) to take actions that are based on information that is provided by Mobile OAT.

You can use the IBM Mobile OpenAdmin Tool for Informix to monitor a single Informix server or a group of Informix servers. For example, you can view alerts and the online log as well as information about users, such as commits, connection duration, and rows processed. You can find out which tables have the most inserts, updates, deletes, and scans. You can monitor a server's free memory, CPU usage, space usage, I/O activity, the number of sessions, and more.

Mobile OAT is available on the iOS and Android platforms. You can download Mobile OAT from the Apple iTunes App store or from the Google Play store.

To use Mobile OAT, you must have OAT version 3.11 installed on a web server and an Internet connection. However, you can monitor Informix versions 11.10 and later from this single app.


Setup and configuration

After you download Mobile OAT to your mobile device, the first thing you must do is configure the OAT address, which is the URL to your regular web-based OpenAdmin Tool installation (version 3.11 or later). Mobile OAT requires an OAT URL because it uses web services that are part of the regular OAT installation to communicate with your Informix database servers. Therefore, you cannot use Mobile OAT without OAT installed on a web server that is accessible from your mobile device.

Note that because your mobile device must have access to your OAT web server, you should take some time to consider aspects of security before you use Mobile OAT. See the Security Considerations section at the end of this article for some tips and suggestions on how to ensure that your OAT web server and the access to your Informix database server instances are secure.

Configure the OAT URL on the Settings > OAT Address Settings page of Mobile OAT, as shown in Figure 1. Click the Validate button to confirm that your mobile device can communicate with your OAT installation.

Figure 1. OAT Address Settings page
Screen shot of OAT Address Settings page

The address to your regular OAT installation is the only required setting that you must configure before you can use Mobile OAT. However, the Settings page, which is shown in Figure 2, has some additional optional settings, some of which allow you to control how much data is brought back and displayed on your mobile device. The other Settings options are:

  • Language: Set the user interface language. Besides English, Mobile OAT supports Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, and both Traditional and Simplified Chinese.
  • Alerts: Control how many alerts that are displayed in Mobile OAT. You can choose to display all alerts or a certain number. If you limit the number of alerts that are shown, Mobile OAT shows only the most recent alerts. Also, control the severity (red, yellow, or green) and the type (informational, warning, or error) of alerts that are displayed. Figure 3 shows the Alert Settings page.
  • Online log: Control how many lines of the online log file that are displayed. Only the most recent lines of the online log file are displayed.
  • Storage: Control how many spaces that are displayed. You can choose to display all spaces or a certain number. If you limit the number of spaces that are shown, Mobile OAT shows the spaces ordered by those with the lowest percentage of free space.
  • Timeout: Control the timeout, in seconds, that Mobile OAT waits for a response from the database server.
Figure 2. Settings page
Settings page
Figure 3. Alert Settings page
Screen showing alert settings page

Logging in to Mobile OAT

There are two ways to log in to Mobile OAT, which mirror the two ways of logging in to OAT. You can log in to Mobile OAT using an OAT group or you can log in by providing the login credentials for a single server.

Logging in to an OAT group

If you are a current OAT user, you are already familiar with OAT groups. Basically, an OAT group is a collection of one or more Informix database servers. OAT groups provide a convenient way to monitor multiple Informix instances. By logging in to OAT with a group, you can monitor all servers in the group simultaneously from the OAT Dashboard > Group Summary page. You can also easily switch between database servers in the group without having to log in again. OAT groups provide this same convenience in Mobile OAT.

Because Mobile OAT requires you to be connected to an OAT installation, Mobile OAT lets you piggyback on the groups that are already defined in your OAT installation. On the Group Login page of Mobile OAT, you can choose from the list of existing OAT groups. Managing your OAT groups cannot be done from Mobile OAT. Adding, deleting, or changing the servers within an OAT group must be done from the Admin page of the web-based OAT. But after they are defined, OAT groups provide the same convenience for monitoring the status of multiple database server instances in Mobile OAT as they do in OAT itself.

To log in to Mobile OAT with an OAT group, go to the Group Login tab, select an OAT group from the drop-down menu, enter the group password, and click Log In. Figure 4 shows the Group Login page.

Figure 4. Group Login page
Screen shot showing group and login fields

When you log in with an OAT group, you will be taken to the Group Summary page, as shown in Figure 5. The Group Summary page provides a single page for monitoring the high-level status of all database server instances that are defined within the group. The Group Summary page shows the status of each server (online or offline) as indicated by the green or red icon next to each server name. Furthermore, for each online server, you see a few metrics about that server's status: free memory percentage, CPU usage, and the current number of sessions. This Group Summary page gives you a quick look at the status of all the servers in a group from a single page. It is the ideal way to quickly check up on all of your database server instances while on the go.

Figure 5. Group Summary page
screen showing the servers and the statistics for that server

From the Group Summary page, you can drill down to see details about any of the servers by tapping the server name.

Logging in to a single server

Besides logging in to an OAT group, you can also log in to a single server by providing the server's login credentials on the Server Login page, as shown in Figure 6. For your convenience, you can use the checkboxes on this page to cache the connection details and password so you do not have to retype them each time that you log in.

Figure 6. Server Login page
Server Login page with fields to complete.

Monitoring server status

Mobile OAT has four tabs along the bottom of the screen for monitoring the status of a single Informix database server: Health, Performance, Users, and Server Details. You get to these tabs by logging in to Mobile OAT for a single server or by logging in with an OAT group and then drilling down on one of the servers in the group.

Health tab

The Health tab lets you view the alerts and the online activity log for your database server.

The Alerts page in Figure 7 shows the alerts on the database server as stored in the ph_alerts table in the sysadmin database. These alerts are marked by severity (red, yellow, or green) and by type (error, warning, or informational). You can control which severity and types of alarms are displayed on the Settings page. You can also control the number of alarms so that you see only the most recent alarms.

Figure 7. Health tab > Alerts page
Alerts page

The Logs page shows the most recent lines from the online activity log. Use this page to read the messages that were recently written to the database server's log file. Lines that relate to errors or failures are highlighted in Mobile OAT with the error icon, as shown in Figure 8, to immediately grab your attention. You can control how many lines of the online activity log that are displayed on your mobile device on the Settings page.

Figure 8. Health tab > Online Log page
Online Log page

Performance tab

The Performance tab is divided into four pages: Memory, Space, I/O, and Tables.

Figure 9 shows the Memory page, which can be used to identify memory issues on the database server. This page graphs the amount of used memory at both the operating system level and at the database server level. If used memory for either the operating system or the database server exceeds 90%, the bar graph turns to red to alert you that memory usage should be examined. The percentage and amount of remaining free memory are listed to the side and underneath the graph.

This page also shows the number of currently connected sessions, as well as the average and maximum amount of memory that is used per session.

Figure 9. Performance tab > Memory page
Memory page

Similarly, you can use the Space page to identify low space problems. This page lists the dbspaces, sbspaces, blobspaces, and temp spaces on the database server, ordered by those with the lowest percentage of free spaces. Again, if any space exceeds 90% used, its graph turn reds to grab your attention. You can control the number of spaces that are shown on this page on the Settings page. This is useful if you have a large number of spaces on your database server and you only want to see those spaces with the lowest amount of free space on your mobile device.

Figure 10. Performance tab > Space page
Space page

The I/O page shows I/O activity by chunk, including the number of I/O operations, the total I/O time in seconds, and the number of I/O operations per second. This page allows you to monitor I/O activity remotely.

Figure 11. Performance tab > I/O page
I/O page

The Tables page, which is shown in Figure 12, lets you monitor table activity. This page lists the top 25 tables with the most inserts, updates, deletes, or scans. Use the drop-down menu at the top of this page to choose how you want to sort the information. This page allows you to monitor which tables are currently the most active. You can drill down on any table in this list to see details about the table including the database name, the owner name, the number of rows, the number of extents, the page size, and whether the table is compressed.

Figure 12. Performance tab > Tables page
Tables page

Users tab

The Users tab, which is shown in Figure 13, is a scrollable list of the user sessions that are currently connected to the database server. It shows the user name and host machine, how long the user has been connected, the number of rows processed, and the number of commits run by that user. This page gives you a summary of who is connected and a feel for the current level activity on the database server. It also allows you to identify if there are any long-running sessions or any sessions that are processing a large amount of data.

Figure 13. Users tab
Users page

Server Details tab

The Server Details tab, which is shown in Figure 14, shows information about your Informix database server, including the server type, the server version, the most recent boot time, the server uptime, the number of currently connected sessions, and the maximum number of concurrent sessions. This page also shows a few basic statistics about the underlying operating system that are relevant to the performance of your database server, including operating system total memory, operating system free memory, and the number of CPUs.

Figure 14. Server Details tab
Server Details page

Security considerations

It is beyond the scope of this article to provide a how-to for all of the options available for securing your web server environment. Furthermore, because every business has unique security needs, this article does not presume to tell you exactly what you should or should not do. The intention of this section is just to present some aspects that are related to security for your consideration. You should work with your business' IT security officer to ensure that your OAT web server environment is secure and that it complies with the security requirements as determined by your organization. That being said, the following paragraphs provide some tips and suggestions for things you should consider when thinking about securing your OAT web server while making it accessible from your mobile device.

The best practice is to keep your OAT installation within your company's network and firewall. Therefore, I recommend that you connect your mobile device to your company's network using a virtual private network (VPN). This lets you keep the OAT web server inside your company's network, and, therefore, not expose OAT to the outside Internet. If you must expose the OAT URL to the outside Internet, consider setting up a proxy server to control access to your web server.

Another recommendation is that you set up HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) to secure communication between the web server that hosts OAT and the client. You can use HTTPS to protect your OAT web server from eavesdropping, tampering, and message forgery. When HTTPS is enabled, messages from OAT clients are encrypted before they are sent to the OAT web server. Encryption prevents hackers from listening over the line and stealing sensitive information. When HTTPS is enabled, OAT clients can also authenticate with the OAT host so that hackers cannot deceive OAT clients with fake OAT web servers. The OAT web server installation is not configured for HTTPS out of the box, but it is easy to set up HTTPS to ensure encrypted communication with the web server.

While HTTPS encrypts communication between the client and the web server, it does not cover the communication from the web server to your Informix database server. When doing remote database administration, it is a good practice to encrypt the communication between the OAT web server and the Informix database server by using SSL and the onsocssl connection protocol.

You will find links to instructions and articles about setting up HTTPS for OAT, setting up SSL for your database server, and configuring your mobile devices to connect to a VPN in Resources.


Conclusion

IBM Mobile OpenAdmin Tool for Informix is a free and easy-to-use tool for monitoring one or more Informix database server instances. Never has it been easier to check in on your database servers and make sure that they are functioning smoothly. And you can do it all on the go, from the palm of your hand. Download Mobile OAT today from the Apple iTunes App store or from the Google Play store.

Resources

Learn

  • Find out all about OpenAdmin Tool for Informix, including release details, screenshots, demos, and download links on the OpenAdmin Tool website.
  • Read about OAT in the IBM Informix Information Center.
  • To secure the OpenAdmin Tool for Informix web server with HTTPS, follow the step-by-step instructions that are provided in the IBM Informix Information center for Linux® or for Windows™.
  • Learn how to set up SSL support in Informix (developerWorks, March 2010) to encrypt the communication between Informix and the OAT web server.
  • Find instructions for connecting your Android or iOS device to a VPN.
  • Watch OAT demos on the OAT YouTube Channel.

Get products and technologies

  • Download the Informix Client SDK, which includes the web-based OpenAdmin Tool for Informix. OAT is included in the Linux x86 (32-bit), Linux x86-64 (64-bit), Windows x86 (32-bit only), and Mac OS X x64 (64-bit only) Informix Client SDK downloads.
  • Find download links to Mobile OAT in the Google Play store and the Apple iTunes App store.

Discuss

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