IT Management

The recent global economic crisis has caused companies to more closely examine their priorities and investments. Many IT organizations responded by slowing investments in new applications and in general-purpose mainframe capacity growth.

However, results of BMC Software’s online 2009 Mainframe Survey show that the challenging economic climate has an upside. Responses from more than 1,500 survey participants (BMC customers and z/Journal readers who are knowledgeable about their organization’s mainframe environment and who play a decision-making role in mainframe management or operation) indicate that coping with a struggling economy has motivated IT organizations to focus on:

  • Steadily improving the effectiveness and efficiency of their existing mainframe installations
  • Leveraging the platform for consolidation
  • Positioning their companies for future growth.  

What Matters Most

Survey participants named application modernization, disaster recovery, and efficiency projects (MIPS reduction, server virtualization, and data center consolidation) as their IT top priorities. They reported a significant increase in the adoption of Linux on System z and z/VM, and they’re interested in consolidation and capturing management efficiencies. They seek to reduce operating costs and improve system availability.

Results suggest that survey respondents see the mainframe platform as a powerful ally on the road to economic recovery. Specifically:

  • More than 60 percent of respondents reported continued capacity growth in their general-purpose MIPS, with a 20 percent increase in respondents reporting the use of Linux on System z in production.
  • Larger organizations valued Linux on System z for consolidation, energy reduction, and labor reduction; smaller organizations valued it for deploying new workloads.
  • Growing IT organizations continue to value the mainframe for availability, security, and data centralization.
  • Half of respondents said the mainframe could help reduce energy costs and deliver stronger Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for “full spectrum” workload environments; 42 percent said it could lower labor costs for a given workload.
  • Sixty-two percent of respondents were optimistic about future mainframe growth and expansion. Respondents identified two areas with a high potential for short-term operational savings: automated management techniques, including database management for reducing peak-load CPU consumption, and batch/operations management for reducing the time to identify and resolve delays due to batch problems and the risk of batch errors due to erroneous changes.

The right IT management practices can help IT organizations achieve immediate savings and position the business for future growth. The following sections describe several important areas of potential savings and how organizations can achieve competitive advantage to meet business requirements.

Planning for Disaster Recovery

When IT environments are growing and applications groups struggle to deploy new systems in response to business demands, disaster recovery often falls behind in terms of priorities. As IT groups take advantage of the slowdown in deployments to optimize their operations, disaster recovery is an increasingly critical area of concern and attention.

In today’s heavily regulated climate, in which companies must document that they’ve taken all steps necessary to avoid risk, many businesses use capacity-planning models to test their disaster recovery plans. They model the transfer of all critical production work to the disaster recovery systems and model how well it runs. If there’s not enough capacity, the model shows the extent of the problems that will be created. These models can evaluate and explain risks, and can allow IT to plan enough capacity for proper disaster recovery.

Equally important are robust practices for preventing small problems from becoming business disasters, such as a bad SQL change made by a database administrator that can lead to an outage. Even a local outage can result in the loss of business-critical data. Using modern data recovery tools, mainframe IT staffs can quickly isolate the source of the problem and initiate automated procedures for data recovery based on business rules. The tools can speed Mean-Time-To-Recovery (MTTR) and reduce the amount of processing data that needs to be manipulated.

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