Feb 7 ’13

Compuware’s Kris Manery Talks About Application Performance Management for the Mainframe

by Mary E. Shacklett in Enterprise Executive

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.

EE: How did the development of this technology come about?

Manery: We acquired Gomez in 2009 and then dynaTrace in 2011. This propelled our APM leadership position. Shortly after this, the dynaTrace and Strobe teams began working collaboratively to extend dynaTrace’s PurePath technology into the mainframe. We’re now working with enterprises in the financial and insurance industries that are telling us they’re estimating between a 50 and 85 percent time savings in problem resolution because of the new capabilities our technology delivers to them in the areas of end-to-end transaction visibility and monitoring.

EE: Why does Compuware continue to invest in the mainframe when others seem to be reducing their investments?

Manery: Compuware has worked on cutting-edge solutions for the mainframe for 40 years. We’ve been a pioneer and a leader in the delivery of highly sophisticated products and solutions that have met the needs of the industry. We recognize and believe in the enormous value of the mainframe in enterprises, as evidenced by the world’s largest banks, insurance companies, and others that continue to rely on mainframe resources for their mission-critical applications. We also understand that the emergence of mobile and Web-facing applications has placed an additional load on the mainframe, which must now engage and integrate with new, hybridized transaction flows. This new hybrid application and transaction environment in turn creates new problems in areas of visibility and performance tuning that traditional systems tools don’t address. These new needs are major drivers behind why we developed PurePath for z/OS and integrated it with Strobe to create Compuware APM for Mainframe and “light up the mainframe” with expanded, deep dive visibility into hybrid transactions.

EE: How do you see this technology transforming the market?

Manery: We see the technology benefitting enterprises in a number of ways. The first benefit, which I touched on previously, is that APM for Mainframe enables deep transaction visibility from the edge of the Internet to the mainframe and back. Visibility of the total picture of what’s transpiring with transactions gives sites faster times to problem resolution. It also enables them to fine-tune these hybrid transactions, which in many cases enables them to postpone costly system upgrades.

APM for Mainframe with the visibility it affords also accelerates problem-solving and performance tuning to where there’s faster time-to-market for the end results of these efforts. Central to this issue are the war room discussions and finger-pointing that often occur between mainframe and distributed staff. These discussions are dramatically reduced when everyone is working with the same toolset and is looking at the same information on the dashboard.

APM for Mainframe also helps out enterprises in the areas of skills. Over the next decade, many mainframe professionals will be retiring from the workforce, and there will be a knowledge gap in the mainframe area. Solutions such as Compuware APM for Mainframe enable newer IT staff to quickly identify performance problems and tuning opportunities with a toolset that’s more intuitive and also more closely aligned to their experiences. New capabilities, for instance, automatically generate performance improvement recommendations for applications that staff can choose to apply. APM for Mainframe is intuitive and will report back to a dashboard what the main problems and resource issues are for a given application or transaction. It will eliminate the in-depth mainframe knowledge requirements for new IT staff that more experienced mainframe professionals were required to have. These tools are run as a rich client on a desktop, and aren’t “green screen” tools. This makes the user interface consistent with what one would find in the distributed computing world, and easier for new IT staff to adjust to—although they still will require some mainframe knowledge.

EE: How do you balance your mainframe heritage with your growing focus on Application Performance Management?

Manery: Over the years, we’ve continually worked to deliver mainframe solutions that enable our customers to increase their Return on Investment [ROI]. We’ve done a lot of this through product integration. The overall goal is to produce state-of-the-art technology that will help our customers’ businesses grow. We have also been engaged on other product fronts. One example is the extensive work we’ve invested in our Developer Productivity Solutions. This includes the Compuware Workbench, which uses the open-source Eclipse development environment. The end result is a user interface that’s more GUI-oriented and easier to work with. We’re looking continuously for new ways to improve our tools and products for today’s enterprise IT market. We’ve been recognized by Gartner for our leadership. Recognizing our ability to execute and completeness of vision, they’ve placed us in the Gartner APM Magic Quadrant (see Gartner, Inc.: “Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring,” by Jonah Kowall, Will Cappelli, Aug. 16, 2012). We’ve recognized the mainframe’s value to the enterprise and have developed the APM for Mainframe product. APM delivers end-to-end transaction visibility and allows a diversity of IT staff to work on mainframe-related issues.