IT Management

z/IPMon From illustro Systems International

TCP/IP has become the keystone for communications for all operating systems, and for more than a decade, VSE users have been deploying their networks using this open, standards-based network architecture. Networks that interconnect with other platforms, files exchanged via FTP, and even remote printing have all become commonplace requirements for VSE shops building complex networks. Since networking directly links users real-time to resources on the system, availability, performance and reliability are critical. But because of the vast array of capabilities within the TCP/IP systems, the stack software running on the VSE mainframe is very complex and often difficult to debug when troubleshooting or tuning is necessary. While VSE shops have used many types of performance and problem management products for VSE, CICS, SQL and others for years, there has never been anything to help with TCP/IP challenges.

That’s where z/IPMon™ comes to the rescue. z/IPMon from illustro Systems is the first comprehensive performance and trouble management product for all VSE TCP/IP stacks. VSE shops can now monitor current TCP/IP activity on all network interfaces, including OSA, HiperSockets, Ethernet, and more. Data is available in “Live Mode,” showing all current activity, or you can review recorded data from a past time period. By using z/IPMon, VSE shops can spot activity that may slow down their network, look at specific data traffic to scrutinize activity, or even be proactively alerted of a specific event when it occurs.

One Screen Tells You Everything

The heart of the z/IPMon system is the Dashboard View (see Figure 1). From this one screen you see virtually everything happening across your VSE TCP/IP network. Important statistics are displayed for your active network interfaces, including Total Bytes, Total Frames and Bytes per Second, and are itemized across specific application types, such as Telnet, FTP, LPR, and HTTP. Information is displayed for both the current interval, and across a userdefinable “shift,” in order to look at cumulative activity. Click on any of the network interfaces, and the data below changes to show deeper detail for each of the applications, connections, protocols, and top hosts in the system. Clicking on any of the fields will drill down deeper into a greater level of detail to see exactly what is happening. Most of the views are available in either table view or chart view, where bar charts give a graphical representation of activity in your system. Hindsight Is Definitely 20/20

By default, the z/IPMon Dashboard view is in Live Mode, meaning current data is being displayed. But what if someone asks you about a system problem that occured yesterday or last week? With z/IPMon’s innovative Retrospect™ feature, all you have to do is change the date and time at the top of the Dashboard, click “Go,” and you can relive the past performance of your TCP/IP system. This can be invaluable when you’re trying to understand a network slowdown or other performance problem after the issue has passed. z/IPMon will completely re-create the status as it existed at the time you request, and also will load data both before and after the specified interval. This allows you to page back and forth and effectively replay the data as it occurred.

Keep Alert

z/IPMon is invaluable just for the on-demand Dashboard data. But sometimes you need to be notified ahead of a problem, or precisely when it is occurring. With z/IPMon’s integrated Alert Feature, you can establish a number of triggers based on network activity, which then displays a visual alert on the Dashboard View, or optionally sends an email to an address you set up. For example, one user with strict response time concerns wanted to know any time an FTP job (which wasn’t supposed to happen) started up during the online shift. This allowed him to immediately react and stop the job before it could impact network performance.

Tracing Your Steps

Sometimes you need to look at the actual data flowing through your network in order to troubleshoot a specific problem. In these cases, a packet trace is the essential tool. z/IPMon makes that very simple. From the toolbar you can stop, start, and view a formatted packet trace from within the z/IPMon software. The output from the trace (see Figure 2) is fully formatted to make it simple to understand. The bits in the packet headers are interpreted, removing the need to look through cryptic data. The data portion of the packets can be displayed in either ASCII or EBCDIC, since both formats often flow through VSE systems. The traffic is even color-coded according to protocol, including TCP, UDP and ICMP, making it easy to visually follow the flow. There also is a filtering/search capability that allows you to narrow a trace down to a particular interface, IP address, or port number. If you need a printed copy of the trace, just issue a command to z/IPMon and the formatted trace will go to the POWER queue for printing.

TCP/IP Command Interface

One of the design philosophies behind z/IPMon is to deliver one place to do anything you need to manage your TCP/IP environment. That’s why you’ll find a command interface just a single click away. This opens up a TCP/IP console where you can enter commands to any of the stack partitions and receive the response directly on the z/IPMon console. You also can scroll back and forth to see the history of commands and responses.

Mainframe Industry’s First Product to Offer Web/AJAX Interface

z/IPMon installs in less than one hour, runs directly on the mainframe in any VSE partition, and fully supports all VSE TCP/IP stacks whether licensed from IBM, Barnard Software or Connectivity Systems, or any combination. Using data spaces for storage and other VSE advanced capabilities means efficient operation with a minimal impact on your VSE operation. Even more important, z/IPMon delivers the mainframe industry’s first Web browser-based interface using AJAX technology. Google and other early adopters have led the way with Web interfaces using AJAX, which offer Windows-like functionality, including dynamic updates with no screen refresh, drag-and drop capabilities, window resizing, and more. For example, you can leave the z/IPMon Dashboard View open continuously and refreshed data will continue to be displayed. And because the entire interface is driven from a Web browser, there’s no software to install on any client PC. Just enter the URL of the z/IPMon system on your mainframe and the Web/AJAX client environment is established. In addition, since the user interface is Webbased and uses intuitive standards, even non-mainframe personnel (e.g., network administrators) will be able to use it without instruction.

Uses Standard Security Interfaces

If an External Security Manager (ESM) such as CA-Top Secret or BIM-Alert is installed, z/IPMon interfaces with standard RACROUTE calls so you can use your security policies in place for full audit capabilities. If no ESM is installed, a basic security interface with userid, password, and capability levels ships with z/IPMon and can be configured to require authentication before accessing the system.

Open the Eyes on Your TCP/IP System

z/IPMon solves one of the most pressing problems VSE shops around the world face: keeping their mission-critical TCP/IP systems available and performing to meet the needs of the business. After so many years of stumbling in the dark, z/IPMon lets you See What You’ve Been Missing. Z