Improving IT Delivery Incrementally
Because many data centers draw their organizational lines in the same way as we’ve drawn the platform and application lines, there are natural tensions in the system when failures occur and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) aren’t met. Each of these organizations has its own mission that drives its agenda. Each likely uses a set of platform-oriented tools for operational control and performance; the application group typically uses business service management tools that move “horizontally” across the environment.
The varying and often inconsistent views of data from “vertical” platform tiers, “horizontal” application tiers, and the network are difficult to resolve. Problem determination and remediation often comes down to a small number of experts who have an understanding of the overall architecture. Similar issues apply when trying to implement automation that truly spans the multiple tiers in the environment.
Multi-platform management software vendors have been trying, with varying degrees of success, to solve this problem. The critical issue is the number of different hardware management technologies a software solution must bridge to be able to provide such support. Managing the topology of the environment is difficult without a comprehensive single source for what’s provisioned, running, failed, starting, etc. and a single source for policy. If you add the complication of multiple virtualization platforms, operating systems, and having to support multiple versions of each, the complexity quickly spirals out of control.
zEnterprise is a foundation for solving the management problem for specific workloads (multi-tier business services that have a tight affinity to z/OS application and/or database serving) by logically collapsing the management environment, pushing these issues down into the platform, under a set of common APIs and events to deal with the environment.
Again, this might sound revolutionary, but it would not be a good thing if it was. Telling a customer they’re going to have to retool their systems management infrastructure would surely be a loser in today’s data center.
Managing in the zEnterprise Era
What’s needed is a bridge from today’s systems management architecture to the zEnterprise-enabled structure of tomorrow. Customers expect that IBM will provide “investment protection” as they migrate forward on the next turn of the evolutionary crank. Customers should expect that a transition to zEnterprise will let them maintain the monitoring and automation infrastructure they have built and tested over the last 40 years to run virtually unchanged. In addition, they should anticipate being able to extend that bulletproof operations infrastructure “outward” to provide integrated automation and monitoring of resources not only on z/OS, but also on Linux on System z, AIX on System p, Linux and Windows on System x and any appliance blades. By necessity, this management infrastructure also must enable monitoring and automation from a business service perspective, helping ensure SLAs are met in a way that aligns with business priorities.
Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are responsible for enabling customers to manage the zEnterprise Ensemble in a holistic way; they can leverage the underlying fabric of the zManager to integrate z/OS-based operational capabilities with the corresponding capabilities in distributed operational tools.
For example, today’s z/OS automation tools enable a customer to describe the different parts that comprise a working part of a business service—application regions, database regions, and communication paths—so they can manage the service as a whole or use automation to maintain availability of the service, perhaps by restarting a region after it fails. This capability should be naturally extended to parts of the business service running on Linux on System z or on blades in the zBX. This will improve the integrity of the availability management plan; the systems management infrastructure won’t be making decisions in different places, on different platforms, with different views of the business service.
In a similar way, system and application monitoring should also leverage the topological knowledge and management capabilities provided to simplify the implementation of infrastructure monitoring. Monitors should be able to query the infrastructure, determine the system, virtual system, and application layout across those systems to automatically provide valuable information with little to no human interaction (see Figure 4).
The goal is to provide IT with improved systems and applications management capabilities. The solid foundation of the zEnterprise with the zManager, combined with the industrial strength of z/OS-based management tools, will set the stage for greater availability with less complexity and effort.