IT Management

 Most of us, at one time or another, solicit the help of advisors in areas ranging from tax preparation to physical fitness. Why? Because they have expertise we don’t have and we can take advantage of that expertise to make more intelligent, better-informed decisions. Advisors gather data about our particular situation, analyze the information, and make recommendations. In some cases, we even entrust advisors to take action for us based on their analysis.

Many IT organizations today face a situation in which they need the advice of experts. Over the past decade, mainframe knowledge and proficiency have been dwindling. IT staffers with many years of mainframe experience are being replaced by more junior people with few, if any, mainframe skills.

At the same time, mainframe applications are becoming more complex. Performance and availability demands on the mainframe are increasing while data volume and transaction rates grow exponentially. As if that weren’t enough, IT is under intense pressure to reduce costs, many of which are related to mainframe use.

The solution? Advisors. Mainframe advisors are built into some of today’s Business Service Management (BSM) solutions. Advisor technology encapsulates a wealth of mainframe expertise into this technology. The management solutions then leverage that expertise to recommend the best course of action and, optionally, take action automatically on your behalf.

For example, managing DB2 storage and buffer pools requires highly specialized expertise. Yet failing to keep DB2 optimized degrades the performance of critical business applications. DB2 management solutions can encapsulate DB2 expertise, gather data about the DB2 environment, analyze that data, and recommend changes in how DB2 storage is allocated. Some solutions can act on those recommendations to remediate problems before they impact application performance or availability.

The results are dramatic. For example, in one IT organization, a systems programmer was sitting at the mainframe console and noticed that DB2 production system status indicators were flashing red. He immediately went into a troubleshooting mode. But, before he could figure out what to do first, the indicators began switching back to green. Soon all indicators were back to normal.

What happened? A problem had occurred in the DB2 system, and the system was dumping data to capture the error. This process was taking storage away from DB2 and triggered alarm conditions. The advisor technology in the DB2 management solution analyzed the situation and responded to the condition automatically by reallocating storage. The application was restored to normal and the required information was captured.

Another example illustrates the value of integration across tools. Many IT shops run DB2 object reorganizations on a regular schedule to keep performance within agreed-upon limits. The right kind of DB2 advisor technology in a reorganization tool can determine, based on analysis of data gathered by a DB2 performance optimization tool, whether DB2 objects really need reorganizing. If performance isn’t degrading, then there’s no reason to run the reorganization.

The IT department in a large department store chain took advantage of this cross-tool capability to eliminate 70 percent of its reorganization jobs with no performance degradation. This resulted in significant savings in CPU consumption.

Beyond solving a problem occurrence, advisors can offer predictive solutions for problems that might be about to occur. IMS faces particular challenges in staffing. IMS advisor technology can mitigate these risks. Advisors can project where performance indicators are headed, advise that the current direction indicates a problem will occur in the future, and suggest corrective action to take in advance. Less experienced IMS staff are able to avoid problems that could severely impact business services and cost significant amounts of money.

Advisor technology can also optimize the performance of DB2 applications. Maintaining indexes is an expensive component of a DB2 table update. However, efficient indexes optimize the performance of applications. As workloads shift and applications evolve, the indexes must evolve as well. By analyzing workloads and SQL statements to recommend the addition or change of indexes, advisors can improve the performance of applications while also optimizing the cost of running the application.

With advisor technology, you can restore mainframe expertise to your IT staff and they can keep the increasingly complex and business-critical mainframe environment running at peak performance in a cost-effective manner.