Obviously, less CPU usage means a more efficient mainframe, but even the most efficient mainframe will require some regular maintenance and upgrades. A second, often overlooked, benefit of an automated AQM solution is that it enables scheduling regular maintenance and upgrades, rather than ad hoc upgrades as part of putting out a fire.
The ability to plan upgrades means you can budget financial and human resources. This future visibility will make everyone happy.
The Human Benefits
With demands on today’s mainframe greater than ever, IT organizations must juggle managing larger, more complex environments, with 24x7 workloads, all while delivering higher resource usage levels. Performance tuning and resource optimization, crucial to maintaining an efficient mainframe environment, have traditionally been highly manual and so labor-intensive that most IT teams defer them—at least until a critical service disruption occurs. This reactive approach often costs significantly more in the long run, as IT organizations divert more resources and time to identify and fix problems than it would take to prevent them.
Implementing a proactive, automated AQM solution eliminates many of the manual tasks that limit mainframe performance specialists from reaching their full potential by automatically tracking an entire production batch and online system, detecting deviations from normal behavior, collecting deep application performance metrics, and highlighting areas requiring further investigation. An automated AQM solution automatically tracks applications across an enterprise-wide z/OS complex so analysts don’t have to exhaust large amounts of time scanning nightly production batch runs looking for problems, configuring stand-alone measurement tools, and reviewing reports.
A problem that may have taken two engineers eight hours to identify and rectify is now quickly and easily identified. Your tuning and management staff is now freed up to put their energy into the fine-tuning that you hired them for.
Another benefit of automated AQM extends to your application designers. They generally build applications in a vacuum, failing to consider the potential impact their creation will have on the entire mainframe, usually because they don’t understand the broader ramifications. By using the reporting tools and knowledge acquired from an automated AQM solution, developers and system tuners can work together to tune applications during development to ensure they perform at peak efficiency rather than having to go back and troubleshoot bugs.
This subject may need to be approached gently to avoid stifling the application designer’s creativity. The tuning professionals will require some “soft skills” to demonstrate that building applications that require less tweaking will let them spend more time building applications and less time fixing them.
In both cases, eliminating or reducing the firefighting aspect of the job will benefit your entire IT staff by letting them put their talents to their best use. In a competitive IT job market, a happy technology professional is an important asset.
The Company Benefits
Besides making you the hero to the bean counters and your employees, an automated AQM solution will endear the IT department to users, too. The optimization process of an automated AQM solution starts in the data center, but isn’t restricted to it. Automated AQM can run through the entire company, from the production stages of application development to the everyday user experience.
Proactive tuning can eradicate problems that could cause costly shutdowns of strategic applications that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. A sales support team that can’t access their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application because it’s down for an avoidable upgrade can experience both an efficiency cost and an opportunity cost as sales may be lost or deferred.
Better system efficiency also means faster application processing times. Users of any mainframe application will benefit from better-performing applications. An often-overlooked benefit of automating your AQM is improved response times.
Assume your users experience an average response time of 0.9 second. Because this meets the Service-Level Agreement (SLA) of less than 1.0 second, it would again fly below your performance radar. But with concurrent requests against the database, response time during periods of peak usage is more realistically 2.0 seconds and more. If you’re running even half of your 150,000 transactions during peak time, you’re looking at just under 23 hours of lost productivity daily (75,000 x 1.1 sec), which means much less productivity.
When you’re optimizing your application management, you also optimize your business processes, and can play a major role in improving enterprisewide efficiency and effectiveness. By measuring, interpreting and subsequently implementing tuning adjustments, small changes can save large amounts of money and greatly improve productivity.
The key benefit of automating your AQM is visibility and foresight into potential problems that it provides. This visibility is crucial to help you identify and remedy system flare-ups before they become raging infernos, burning up CPU, personnel, and fiscal resources.