IT Management

Enterprise Executive recently talked with Kris Manery, senior vice president of Compuware Mainframe Solutions. In his 27 years at Compuware, Manery has been involved in nearly every launch of Compuware’s mainframe products. He discussed how application performance requirements in “hybrid” data center environments were creating new challenges for enterprises, and how Compuware’s new Application Performance Management (APM) for Mainframe solution helps enterprises address these issues.

Enterprise Executive: Can you tell us about the new Compuware APM for Mainframe technology recently announced?

Kris Manery: Visibility of applications for purposes of performance monitoring and also troubleshooting is becoming more complex for enterprises as they move applications into hybrid environments where both distributed and mainframe platforms are crossed by these applications.

One major challenge for enterprise IT is understanding the impact that mobile computing and Web-facing applications have on mainframe resources that are also called into service, such as CICS. The purpose of Compuware APM for Mainframe is to provide deep transaction management that’s able to trace a transaction from the edge of the Internet all the way through to the mainframe. We believe this is the first such solution in the industry—and that APM for Mainframe is going to give [the IT department] the end-to-end visibility it’s seeking for these hybrid transactions.

We built the APM for Mainframe solution by combining two Compuware technologies—dynaTrace’s PurePath technology, which monitors transactions 24x7, from the edge of the Internet into the mainframe for both CICS and Java in the z/OS environment, and Strobe, which provides a deep analysis of application code and logic to quickly identify and resolve poorly performing transactions. The end-to-end transaction visibility provided by APM for Mainframe gets everyone on the same page in terms of pinpointing where the problem is happening across the application delivery chain. This common view of the performance problem—enabled by the shared use of the same sets of tools and dashboards—allows the distributed computing and mainframe IT teams to work together more effectively to solve the issue. Compuware APM for Mainframe also contributes to the overall IT value proposition because it can potentially reduce the use of CPU MIPS by optimizing transaction requests and improving transaction performance efficiency. These economies can potentially delay or eliminate expensive system upgrades.

EE: Why did Compuware develop this new solution? What needs did you see in the marketplace? 

Manery: Mobile and Web-based application development in enterprises is exploding, but most enterprises also run mainframes for the mission-critical systems that sustain their companies. As these mobile and Web-facing applications are deployed, they often depend on transaction and data content from the enterprise mainframe. Mixed distributed and mainframe workloads are a difficult combination to manage; previously, enterprises didn’t have visibility of transactions from their initiation on a mobile device through the IT infrastructure and into the mainframe and back. It’s very hard to assess or to model the performance impact of these mobile and Web-facing applications when they use mainframe resources such as CICS. Consequently, when performance problems occur in the production environment, the distributed computing and mainframe support teams are often at odds with one another. This can result in lengthy “war room” discussions. Meanwhile, a critical system is “down” or impaired for the business. Compuware APM for Mainframe helps solve these war room impasses, because it delivers end-to-end visibility of hybrid transactions and everyone in the data center is working with the same information and reports, and coming through a single dashboard that can also be customized by the data center if it desires.

EE: Why has it become so difficult to manage mainframe applications and what’s the business impact of poor performing applications?

Manery: When applications become complex and hybridized, it inhibits IT’s ability to troubleshoot transactions for performance. An end user checking his bank balance on his iPhone is a good example. There’s a mix of mobile, Web and mainframe work that’s done to support transactions, but in such a blend of platforms, it’s difficult for IT to see just what’s generating the impact when the transaction’s performance is impaired. Meanwhile, IT teams will attempt quick fixes since they don’t have end-to-end visibility of the transaction, but this doesn’t solve the overall problem, nor prevent the problem from happening again. This can become a “brand” and a business problem for the enterprise, which is expected by its customers to be available and highly performing 24x7.

The Compuware APM for Mainframe solution provides the transaction visibility and tracing from the initial customer click to the mainframe. The end-to-end transaction visibility allows the IT team to get to the data they need to resolve the issue. It makes a difference. The CIO of one enterprise I spoke with said he believed that end-to-end visibility and tracing of hybrid transactions could reduce IT’s time to resolve a problem from hours and sometimes even days, down to minutes.

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