Mar 1 ’06

KBC Group: Splitting ICF Catalogs and Solving Recovery Challenges

by Editor in z/Journal

Online IMS/DB2 databases that support critical business systems require high availability and resiliency—and because data in a z/OS environment can be accessed only through ICF catalogs, avoiding catalog outages and failures is crucial. The databases at KBC Group in Brussels, Belgium, support online international banking systems, so KBC decided to improve the ICF catalog environment to ensure data access and continuity. 

“But these requirements were only a portion of what KBC Group needed,” says storage manager and system specialist Koen Leeten. Because KBC is a merger of Kredietbank, CERA Bank and ABB Insurance, they needed to bring three environments together and restructure the ICF catalog entries to meet new standards of separation for development, acceptance testing, and production environments. “The merger substantially increased our volume of data, and it was important to standardize and separate environments so there was no impact on production,” Leeten explains. 

Seeking a Solution  

An analysis of existing procedures revealed that personnel dedicated substantial time to ICF catalog management and backup with IBM’s IDCAMS and ICFRU utility programs. Additionally, unacceptable data loss was possible if a forward recovery of a catalog was ever required. Index structural errors are the most common problems with ICF catalogs, and careful attention to return codes is needed to identify errors at the time of backup: “If an error is undetected, a subsequent forward recovery with ICFRU will be useless,” explains Leeten. “Plus, the processes to set up and run ICFRU typically required half a day to complete, which was unacceptable for online systems that must be up and running quickly.” 

KBC found a solution: Catalog RecoveryPlus (CR+) from Mainstar Software Corp. in Bellevue, WA. “CR+ is fast, and easy to use and understand,” says Leeten. Its newer technologies, such as REORG While Open, enable KBC to achieve 24x7 access to data by reorganizing and repairing structural errors within a catalog, without disrupting batch and online applications. 

For catalog maintenance, IDCAMS diagnostic routines produce only an error report, so analysts must research each error code and create the necessary IDCAMS statement to correct the error. CR+ diagnostic features provide automated error correction capabilities. “With CR+, we just run a job for each error class,” Leeten explains, “and CR+ automatically generates statements to correct the faults, with a clear description of the fault.” KBC replaced a time- consuming IDCAMS-based weekly diagnosis procedure with an automated CR+ procedure that performs diagnosis and correction. 

Splitting and Integrating ICF Catalogs  

CR+ proved its “heavy-lifting” capabilities when it came time to split and re-integrate multiple ICF catalogs across three environments: development, acceptance, and production. “Tools such as HSM and ABARS were used to perform backups and restores,” Leeten explains. “With the CR+ MERGECAT command we were able to easily split out the catalogs and aliases, and with CR+ DIAGNOSE we accomplished the methodology we designed for this process. Can you imagine the time it would have taken if we had to do this manually for more than 30,000 entries?” 

Eliminating Homegrown Rexx Procedures  

Over the years, many Rexx processes had been developed for ICF catalog maintenance. With CR+, KBC expedites and fine-tunes catalog management. For example, when Rexx was used to generate the catalog backup jobs, the process was prone to hidden errors that could result in loss of backups for one or more catalogs. With extensive use of catalog name masking in CR+, and its unique command simulation capability, KBC eliminated these potential errors, assuring clean and complete backups of all catalogs.