There are many situations where it is a good practice to check prerequisites ahead of time: when a pilot inspects the aircraft before takeoff, when you apply for a course at a university, when you prepare for climbing a mountain or when you install a new product. The IBM Prerequisite Scanner (IPS) is a fairly new tool that allows you to check for your prereqs ahead of time. In this blog post, I will introduce the IPS and why you want to take a look at it.
Why do you need a separate prerequisite scanner?
Typically one would expect a product to check its needs when you are running the product install. This assumption is correct, and our products do check their prerequisites during an install. But what if you negotiated a maintenance window with your operations team and only find out during the install that you missed a critical patch on the OS that prevents you from installing the product? Wouldn’t it be nice to check the prereqs ahead of time? The same applies to connectivity through firewalls in more secure environments: did the security department set up the firewall rules that you requested for the product to operate?
Customers tend to have some specific requirements that a product may not be aware of. An example could be the connectivity to the corporate LDAP server for user authentication. Another example I frequently come across is the need to have the database department set up the database schema on behalf of the application team. So, you need to check to see if the schema and access control are set up correctly.
How can IPS help?
The IBM Prerequisite Scanner (IPS) has been developed to address these needs. It allows you to check the prerequisite scanner separately from performing the actual install. You can check the system ahead of time, which allows you to take the necessary steps before you run the product install.
IPS uses plug-ins defining the prerequisites for a given product. Examples are operating system (OS) version and patch level, space on the file system, CPU and memory requirements. Many IBM Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure (C&SI) products provide plug-ins for IPS. In addition, these plug-ins can be modified and extended by the customer or field consultant to address specific needs that go beyond the product requirements. You can, by the way, create your own plug-ins to test for your product installs.
A client illustration
We have seen the IPS used by our clients with great results. At one client site, we were able to identify missing OS patches before we deployed 1,700 IBM Tivoli Monitoring agents. This allowed us to request provisioning of these patches by the platform department before the actual agent deployment. Without the IPS, we would not only have experienced failed installs, creating a bad start for the project. We also would have had to wait for the next maintenance window to perform a second attempt of the install. This would have created a delay of more than four weeks in this project.
With this example, I am sure you see the value that the IPS provides. You check the prereqs ahead of time; thus, the scan can enable remediation without impacting the deployment schedule. And it allows you to be more comprehensive in checking additional prereqs to assure a smooth take-off of the IBM product. The IPS package is available to download from Fix Central.
Have you used the IBM Prerequisite Scanner yet? I am curious to hear your feedback. I am especially interested to hear if you have extended the IPS with your own plug-ins. Please leave a comment below.