Operating Systems

The new zEnterprise 114 provides several consolidation opportunities for organizations that purchase one of these hybrid computing environments, with staffing being an obvious target. The hardware combines a mainframe and blades for running distributed systems such as Linux, and soon Windows, so it makes sense to combine mainframe and distributed staff into one unified team. Besides saving money on headcount, combining staff offers an excellent opportunity for people who have previously worked in isolation to combine their talents—with huge benefits to the business.

Leveraging the Consolidated Staff to Its Fullest

Of course, consolidating staff is often a euphemism for reducing staff numbers. So what happens the first time there’s a problem? Well, if the mainframe person is available and recognizes the problem, he fixes it. Or, perhaps the Linux person steps up and deals with it. Soon, it could be the Windows SharePoint expert who knows what to do to keep the business running.

But what if none of these folks is available, on call when needed, or is no longer on staff? What if there’s no one who knows? Or, what if the problem is too specialized for the people available? A Google search might yield the answer in the search results. However, the real problem is that inexperienced staff won’t be able to identify which search result is better for solving their particular problem. They may examine page after page until they find an answer that works.

There are also manuals full of useful information somewhere on the mainframe or in the IBM mainframe portal. There may be printed documentation in folders at the back of dark offices. But if no mainframe staff members are available, what can the distributed staff do?

What if the shoe is on the other foot and the mainframe team must make sense of a UNIX message? Failure to rapidly find the correct source of information can quickly impact the service IT is able to offer. Consumers of IT services could complain that IT has just spent a fortune on new hardware, but can’t run their simple job! In fact, Forrester Research suggests that, in a typical resolution cycle, identifying the solution can take as much as 50 percent of the overall issue resolution time.

Requirements for a Solution

Organizations need a way to combine all their information repositories into a single virtual place so, in the event of a problem, no matter how trivial, there would be only one place staff needed to go to find the answer to any problem on any part of their hybrid system. It makes sense for the data in the virtual library to be organized using logical themes. That way, mainframe issues, or perhaps CICS issues, could be logically separated from those dealing with Active Directory or SharePoint, and staff could easily and quickly find what they need to know to solve their problem. It would make sense to start the repository with contents of the appropriate IBM manuals, including those for the new z/OS Version 1.13, which runs on z114s. Next, you would need third-party vendor manuals for the software that’s running, and then other software manuals for other software running on blades.

Even better would be if there was some way this knowledge repository could be supplemented with data from newsgroups and online resources. It’s vital not to lose the wealth of knowledge that experienced staff possess. So it should be possible for your technicians to add content to the knowledge repository.

It could also prove useful if expert users could access the knowledge base. That way, they might be able to solve several issues facing the people around them without having to involve the help desk in resolving the problem.

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