Unified, enterprisewide management tools—also referred to as cross-platform tools—are helping IT organizations finally cross the chasm in managing isolated technology areas. This abyss exists not only between mainframe and open systems, but also between silos and open systems and the IBM System z environment. The shift to cross-platform tools helps break down the silos in IT and improve efficiency by letting primary business and IT processes flow across the enterprise.
Cross-platform tools are having the most significant impact in several key areas, including event management, application performance management, transaction monitoring, capacity management, and workload automation.
According to BMC Software’s 2011 survey of mainframe customers, having unified management tools for event management is a top priority. Exceptions, events, and alerts can arise from anywhere in the enterprise. The challenge is in relating exceptions to specific business services, processes, and applications. A cross-platform tool must be able to bring exceptions into a central location, where they can be tagged, analyzed, correlated, and collated with the applications that use them.
Application performance management and transaction monitoring are some of the other areas that can benefit from cross-platform tools. Business processes flow across platforms and the technology stacks and silos that exist in many enterprises. That’s why it's important to understand how transactions flow, how the business processes around those transactions function, and how these processes can impact revenue. Cross-platform tools are also important for capacity management to help IT understand the impact of business growth as measured by transactions or application flows.
Finally, workload automation is also critical for managing asynchronous and synchronous processes throughout the enterprise from a single place where IT operations can go to help manage those applications. With enterprise workload automation, IT can have the visibility to understand that they have related processes running on System z and z/OS, Linux on System z, Windows, UNIX, and Linux distributed, and on various other applications and open platforms. Enterprise workload automation can present that platform-agnostic view of workflows.
Improving Efficiency and Reducing Costs
These cross-platform tools can dramatically improve efficiency at the subject-matter expertise level to the extent they’re able to help associate specific IT problems with business problems. It doesn’t help much at the enterprise level if disparate tools report or discover problems in their own silos. The user needs to know: What are we evaluating? What do these performance and availability problems relate to?
Cross-platform tools by themselves have zero value unless they lower costs. Without those platform tools that can help isolate problems or issues across the enterprise and tie them into the business, you can spend an inordinate amount of time and energy on problem determination. The cross-platform tools can accelerate identification of the problem at the application and enterprise level. Small problems can appear to be huge without the appropriate optics in place. With the appropriate optics, small problems remain small because they can be isolated and identified as irrelevant to the business or a specific application.
Here’s an example of how enterprise workload automation can make a real difference in a seemingly small problem. An airline had several problems occur during some of the nightly runs. Some of these happened when a batch reporting job didn't work well while the UNIX server simultaneously had an outage. The large problem, from one perspective, was the UNIX server being out. IT operations spent considerable time trying to get it back online, repaired, and set up. But because the job appeared to be just a batch job doing batch reporting, the function wasn’t considered to be important.