ME: Last December, you delivered the CA Mainframe Chorus workspace and the first role for DB2 Database Management. What progress have you made?
Mark Combs: Just 11 months later, we are greatly extending the product line. At CA World, we announced the availability of three new Chorus releases: the second release of the DB2 Database Management role, a Security and Compliance role, and a Storage Management role—all designed to simplify mainframe management through technology developed hand in hand with key customers. Our Chorus product line greatly simplifies the management of z/OS and enables IT organizations to hire and train the next generation of workers that will keep the mainframe running for the next 40 years.
ME: For readers who aren't familiar with Chorus, can you tell them a little bit about it?
Combs: The first step toward building CA Mainframe Chorus was the success of CA Mainframe Software Manager (CA MSM). CA MSM was adopted by more than 400 of our mainframe customers because it offers what we believe is the easiest, fastest, most error-free way to acquire, install, deploy, and configure CA software on the mainframe. These customers have reported up to 99.4 percent productivity gains with CA MSM. With Chorus, we took on a broader challenge—how to move mainframe administration away from the green screen, making it more modern, easier, and faster. Accomplishing this challenge would enable experienced staff to save a lot of time performing system administration tasks. A solution to this challenge would also free staff for other activities strategic to the business while permitting new staff to quickly ramp-up so they can be very productive. As impressive as the results are with CA MSM, we wanted to provide the same benefits for all the daily management tasks. That's why we built CA Mainframe Chorus.
To create Chorus, we first engaged in deeply immersed research with our customers. From this research, we designed and built a very modern, graphical workspace targeted to dramatically simplify complex mainframe tasks and to appeal to a new generation of administrators as well as existing, experienced staff. When we delivered CA Mainframe Chorus, CA Technologies became the first vendor to deliver a new paradigm for the next generation of mainframe management that shifts the emphasis from product-centric delivery to a solution-centered model. This demonstrates our commitment to helping our customers extract even greater value from their mainframe investments by both enhancing their mainframe's capabilities and reducing their mainframe Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
ME: What are some of the key attributes of the Chorus platform?
Combs: First, it increases the productivity of the current workforce through a solution-based user experience. It also enables knowledge management through work path and note-taking features. With its modern, object-oriented workspace and user interface, and its in-context tools, it opens up the mainframe to the next generation of technologists. It also enables collaboration between current and future mainframe IT staff with predefined and custom process capture capabilities. Most important, it is designed to drive dramatic productivity gains for experienced mainframe professionals, freeing up cycles they can use to mentor less-experienced staff, innovate, and do more to support the organization. Ultimately, it helps all existing and new staff manage the mainframe more efficiently, helping reduce the complexity of managing mission-critical mainframe workloads, and reducing the risk of a decline in quality of service due to retirement of key staff.
ME: Other vendors have products that try to simplify mainframe management. How is CA Mainframe Chorus different?
Combs: No other products are in the same zone with CA Mainframe Chorus. Some products simplify management by "screen scraping" or putting a lightweight user interface in front of traditional green screens; this is helpful, but not nearly as much as a completely new management workspace that integrates features across multiple products and disciplines, provides rich visualization, facilitates collaboration and knowledge sharing between expert and novice mainframe staff, and has an intuitive ease-of-use not found in other IT platforms. Comparing the other products to CA Mainframe Chorus is like comparing a sports car to a race car. The sports car is sleeker and performs better than a sedan, but it doesn't come close to the speed, performance, or handling of a race car.
ME: Speaking of managing across multiple disciplines, can you tell us about the new CA Mainframe Chorus deliveries?