When the roads and bridges of our nation are left to deteriorate without proper maintenance and improvements, two things will happen and both are bad:
- When larger, heavier trucks need to travel from point A to point B, the neglected bridge may not be able to support the weight of the larger loads these trucks carry. At best, the trucks have to be rerouted to take a longer route to their destination. At worst, the bridge can collapse.
- When the potholes aren’t repaired or cheaper materials are used, the roadbeds wear out faster, but components, such as tires, springs and shock absorbers on the vehicles that travel those roads, will also wear out or break down faster. Such neglect costs a lot more to everyone in the long run.
The IT infrastructure is similar. If neglected, at best, a new application that’s needed by the business may not run as efficiently as it should, or its implementation may have to be delayed until the infrastructure can adequately support it.
Economic cycles affect IT in interesting ways. When corporate spending is tight, companies attempt to cut costs across the board. IT is subject to these cuts as much as any other department—often more so. When the economy is solid, most companies start upgrading their software applications to address the growth needs of the business. However, infrastructure software is often overlooked.
Because infrastructure software is taken for granted, the emphasis on upgrading or adding application software creates a gap between the requirements of the applications and the ability of the infrastructure to support them. In a March 2004 survey by CIO Insight, 51 percent of CIOs said improving the infrastructure is a top IT management priority.
Most people include operating systems, networking, middleware, database, security, storage management, and schedulers as part of their infrastructure. IT still uses schedulers to do the bulk of data processing. Batch jobs on the mainframe are still the bedrock of a company’s data processing that supports the business. Any IT operation that uses a scheduler to schedule their batch operation is, by definition, dependent on the general well-being of their JCL. This makes JCL management software a key component of the infrastructure.
Consider for a moment a batch job failure due to a silly thing such as a missing comma in the JCL. Even though it’s not a monumental task to fix it, it will cause dependent jobs to wait while the failed job is corrected, resulting in a schedule delay. Let’s suppose the JCL error wasn’t due to a missing comma, but one of the Data Set Names (DSNs) being misspelled. Now the task of correcting the error gets more complicated; it requires determining what the correct DSN should be. The result is further delays in the schedule. But we’re not done yet!
What if a step in the job that has already executed has created some output files and cataloged them already? Will those files need to be deleted before the rerun? Can we restart the job? What about Generation Data Groups (GDGs) that need to be reviewed? Suppose you find out the DSN was changed and the JCL in the offending job didn’t get changed. What about other jobs that use this data set? Are they also going to have a problem? How do you find out what those other jobs might be? While all this analysis occurs, perhaps manually or with inadequate tools, the remainder of the dependent jobs are still waiting for the successful completion of the job containing the JCL error.
When the operational infrastructure is equipped with up-to-date JCL management software, great gains can be made in several significant areas:
- Before a job or set of related jobs goes into production, they can be thoroughly checked for syntax and run-time errors in the JCL, and for violations of site-defined standards. Problems can be corrected well before they become a production headache.
- When unavoidable problems do occur in production, fixing the problem job and returning it to production becomes easier, less error-prone, and faster.
- When a change in the computing environment occurs (such as the addition of a new system component that requires a change to application JCL), the tasks of analyzing, identifying and changing the JCL for the affected jobs become significantly more cost-effective. For example, a new version of a frequently used system utility may require an additional Data Definition (DD) statement for more efficient operation. With the proper JCL management product at your disposal, you can find steps that execute the particular utility and automatically insert the appropriate DD statement in the JCL.
- Data center consolidations present an enormous challenge to the IT staff. Typically, the first phase of combining the operation of two separate data centers into one is to physically move the computing environment (libraries, data files, programs, etc.) into a separate Logical Partition (LPAR) in the target data center. However, this accomplishes only the easy part of the move. The more difficult phase is the logical combining of the two computing environments so that, for example, a single scheduling product can manage all jobs. This phase requires significant analysis and changes to the JCL and often never gets completed, resulting in unnecessary cost. With the right set of JCL management tools, this phase can be completed much more effectively.
Reviewing Your Current JCL Environment
Is your IT infrastructure, especially your JCL support software, positioned to meet the requirements of your business? Here are some important considerations:
- What’s the condition of your current JCL? Is it standardized?
- Is your batch operation running error-free?
- Can system resource utilization be improved?
- Do you have a proven, effective JCL management life cycle?
- Is automation applied to the appropriate points of the JCL life cycle?
Look Into the Future
After your initial review of the current JCL environment, ask these additional questions: • Does your company have any plans that would have an impact on the batch process, such as an acquisition, consolidation, or expansion of data center locations? • Do you expect to participate in a standardization initiative? • Are there any conversion projects on the horizon? • Are there any upgrades to the strategic applications that could impact the batch processing environment?
The IT infrastructure is key to the success and value for IT in any company. The products that form the IT infrastructure must be carefully chosen. The processes surrounding JCL need to be reviewed and optimized. Software used to support the JCL life cycle is a key ingredient for success.
Your company’s IT processes will evolve. The key is to be prepared for the changing requirements rather than reacting to them. Will your JCL software support what you’re doing today and in the future? Z Rober Basmaciyan is the senior marketing strategist for Diversified Software JCL products and services. These products include PRO/JCL, PRO/JCL Workstation, JOB/SCAN, INFO/X Enterprise, and DOCU/TEXT.