IT Management

At Arcati, we recently completed our annual survey of mainframe users. As usual, we’re trying to find out exactly what’s going on in those heterogeneous data centers. We spoke to 92 users in sites across the world and asked them how fast their zSeries systems are growing and what they are using them for. 

One thing is clear from our research: The mainframe has a long-term future within the enterprise, with the vast majority of respondents expecting their mainframe apps to remain firmly in place (well, that’s a relief but hardly unexpected!). Nearly half said their legacy applications would continue to be actively enhanced and integrated with new apps over the next few years; more than 60 percent said their zSeries systems participate wholly or partly in Web Services; and 40 percent said that four-fifths or more of their enterprise data resides on the mainframe. You can read the complete analysis in our new Mainframe Yearbook at http://www.arcati.com/yearbook. 

Migrating to a New Vendor  

One area we explored in this year’s research was the relationship between customers and vendors, and the reasons for changing from one Independent Software Vendor (ISV) (or product) to another. So many of the packages, tools and utilities in place in mainframe data centers have been doing their job very successfully (and earning their suppliers handsome maintenance revenues) for a considerable number of years, and the decision to replace them isn’t one to be taken lightly. Nevertheless, users need to regularly examine their software portfolio as the benefits of migrating to a more cost-effective or functionally superior toolset can be considerable. (One user we talked to recently had replaced his mainframe DB2 tools and utilities with a competitive offering, and as a result had saved $1.2 million in the first year alone. Further, the migration allowed him to introduce change management improvements that have halved the number of calls for support received by the DB2 technical team.) 

We asked our survey respondents whether they periodically considered replacing their software packages and tools and, if so, what were the main reasons for replacement. Cost reduction was the main issue (reported by 75 percent of respondents), followed by new function (33 percent). Reducing the number of vendors supported and getting better service from the ISV were lesser considerations (24 percent and 23 percent, respectively), but a significant 15 percent of users said they rarely, if ever, replaced mainframe software. 

zIIP Gets Off to a Strong Start

IBM’s new Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) has been well-received. This latest “specialty engine” is designed to provide low-cost processing power for data- intensive applications such as Business Intelligence (BI) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and is aimed initially at new DB2 V8-based workloads. The larger ISVs, such as CA and BMC, have pledged day-one support, and we’ve detected a great deal of enthusiasm among users who want to develop new applications on the mainframe but need a little help with the cost justification. In our survey, 85 percent of respondents said the IBM co- processors—not just zIIP but also zAAP for Java workloads and Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL)—would help them reduce costs and encourage new development. One customer recently told us his company expects to save more than $3 million over two years by implementing two zAAPs, not just through lower workload costs but because the offloaded code allows it to delay a major upgrade (see http://www.arcati.com/isofinal.pdf). 

Vendor News  

Mainstar announced Version 2.01 of MS/VCR, its tool for accessing data sets on cloned or replicated volumes. The new release, written to IBM’s specification, brings a high level of automation to the process of re-naming and cataloguing data so customers can build workable DB2 clones in minutes rather than hours or days. 

NewEra Software added a graphical Compliance Monitor Dashboard to its reporting capabilities in the z/OS Integrity Suite. The Dashboard, which offers a graphical display of 16 processes monitored by Image FOCUS, Image SENTRY and the Image FOCUS Control Editor, provides users with a day-at-a-glance view in 24-hour increments. 

AttachmateWRQ announced NetWizard 6.0, a desktop management system for IT managers and desktop administrators. Designed for complex, geographically distributed organizations, NetWizard is intended to provide stable, centralized desktop management control. Attachmate also announced the completion of its acquisition of OnDemand Software, the software distribution specialist. 

AES announced Version 8 of its CleverView for TCP/IP monitor for z/OS environments, a comprehensive tool for providing detailed analysis of network performance.