Operating Systems

How Technology Can Ease Mainframe Management

Identifying the causes of problems and who should fix them is still a challenge in many data centers. Software can help solve these issues, saving valuable time. Moreover, identifying the problem and necessary threshold can help avoid the next outage. Companies can’t afford even a short outage on critical data, especially considering that customers want continuous access.

Given increased business demands and mainframe skills challenges, IT must leverage technology to intelligently and dynamically establish thresholds for setting alerts and alarms. This technology could present the historic thresholds and help you determine whether thresholds were set correctly.

This capability is revolutionary and helps address the mainframe skills shortage challenge. With the retirement of many experienced mainframe technicians, even the experienced staff may not know how or why an alarm was set or be able to attest to its validity. These new solutions can help staff of all experience levels manage your system. They will let you set alarms at certain time intervals based on the behavior of the business while providing a more business-centric view to performance management.

The new solutions empower IT executives to align their businesses to an enterprisewide view and to business priorities. The solutions should let you set alerts and events in the mainframe from a business perspective and then send those events and alerts to a central repository.

Regarding availability, there’s a balance between performance and costs. With unlimited resources, you could buy full availability. Many vendors will suggest that you simply buy more hardware and increase redundancy. But is that cost-effective?

This is where software can help. Do you really need to replicate an entire environment, or can you use software to increase your availability? Most data center outages are caused by a systems or applications programmer, or another staff member creating a localized problem. If not caught promptly, the localized problem may spread, creating an entire systems outage. Or perhaps a business application that wasn't tested well enough goes online, causing all sorts of problems.

Unlimited redundancy won't fix problems with these kinds of localized causes. The software you use should help you recover from those types of problems and recover right up to the point where the problem occurred, if possible. Recovery and utilities tools can support maintenance while you’re up and running with strategic processing. With recovery software, you can recover from a localized problem so you lose as little strategic processing as possible.

It’s important to have an enterprisewide view of IT. Your monitoring software should help you increase performance and availability while lowering costs. The software should take advantage of the latest technology, using specialty processors to accelerate processing while lowering CPU consumption.

The Road Ahead

The mainframe endures because it’s one of the best repositories for strategic data in terms of security and access. With continued, rapid growth in both mobility and globalization, user demands will continue to grow. To keep up with these changes, IT must constantly revisit how the mainframe is performing in many measures, including availability and its support for current needs.

Looking ahead, we’ll see continued pressure to lower mainframe costs. The biggest challenge is determining how much can be cut before the business is affected. Some companies are even considering whether they can decrease their availability. Can they take an outage here or there and lower IT costs because their need for availability has changed? Such considerations aren’t likely to go anywhere because customer demands for continuous availability will only increase. Look for an approach that will let you run software that uses fewer resources so you can drive more business and pay less to run IT.

To view the sidebar, "Five Tips for Improving Mainframe Performance and Availability" by Nick Pachnos, click here.

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