Mainframe Executive visited with Milt Whitham, vice president of Software Engineering for CA Technologies. Milt has spent much of his career in mainframe technology through its many ups and downs. He is intimately aware of the importance of continuously monitoring and reducing costs as are most mainframe professionals. In this interview, Whitham gives us some insight into ways costs can be controlled.
Mainframe Executive: What do you find is the most significant initiative when talking to mainframe customers?
Milt Whitham: At an event in February 2011, CA Technologies surveyed its mainframe customers and found that 75 percent indicated that lowering costs and doing more with less was their number one priority for 2011. This is clearly the priority of the customers I speak to directly as well.
ME: What are some of the ways that mainframe customers can reduce costs?
Whitham: There are three main ways today, and I’ll talk about each of them.
1) Exploit Specialty Processors: If you have zIIPs, zAAPs or IFLs, then exploit them. Identify the best fit workloads for these processors and utilize them to their fullest capacity. Look for vendors that leverage the specialty processors in their products.
At CA Technologies, we've been developing the capabilities to implement zIIP broadly across our portfolio. Considering that the fully loaded cost of using a General Purpose Processor can be high, starting with technologies our clients use extensively, such as CA Datacom, CA IDMS and CA NetMaster, we’ve implemented this technology as a way to reduce GPP utilization to help reduce the total cost of ownership. And, we didn't stop there. We have zIIP/zAAP enabled more than 20 of our products to date and plan to continue to exploit this capability in more and more of our products.
We've also embraced Java in two of the products that are key to our strategy of helping customers reduce costs, simplify management and improve operational efficiency—CA Mainframe Software Manager (CA MSM) and CA Mainframe Chorus—enabling them to offload the bulk of their processing to specialty engines. By doing this, we are both delivering new functionality, which streamlines management, and executing those functions on lower cost capacity without incremental MIPS growth.
2) Release Latent Value from Existing Product Investments: Many customers have been running the same solutions and utilizing the same functionality for decades. Yet over the years, vendors have added new features and functionality to their solutions that you might not be aware of and may not be leveraging. For example, there are capabilities available that can increase productivity or help build on existing integration capabilities. Or, in many cases, you can eliminate duplicate functionality in other products or automate manually intensive tasks by utilizing these new features.
An important way CA Technologies helps its customers unlock the latent value of its solutions is by offering a free Mainframe Value Program (MVP) assessment. During this assessment, our subject matter experts will help the customer understand and recommend potential unused functionality, help them verify their solution is optimally configured, and ensure it is delivering value to their organization. We have already provided this service to more than 520 of our customers.
In addition, CA products make extensive use of the Health Checker for z/OS. We provide more than 200 health checks across 36 products that examine each customer environment to ensure the software is configured properly and running in optimal condition. Like the MVP, health checks are provided to our customers at no additional cost to help maximize the investment they’ve already made in CA solutions.
3) Standardized Operational Stack: Over the years, many sites inherit or acquire duplicate functionality with similar product sets from different vendors. This can be very costly and difficult to maintain. A best practice is to standardize on a single set of solutions and stick to it, ensuring that the standardized operation stack of solutions is tightly integrated to further reduce costs.
ME: You mentioned a “standardized operational stack,” can you please elaborate on this some more?
Whitham: Having duplicate software solutions from multiple vendors can be very costly to maintain and manage in several ways. First, licensing can be costly, particularly without any real leverage for discounting. Second, the costs of training, maintenance, and administration of multiple solutions can be very significant. Third, many of these disparate solutions are not integrated and drive up costs and, more importantly, complexity across your infrastructure through years of extensive manual integration or limited automation.
Vendor consolidation and software rationalization into a standardized operational stack is a way to lower costs, as long as risk is identified and mitigated, and important management functionality is not lost. Many customers are choosing CA Technologies as their primary software vendor because of our expansive portfolio, integrated solutions and experience in the enterprise market, and because of the migration tools and management functionality we put in place to help mitigate risk and provide equal or greater functionality.
ME: Vendor consolidation and software rationalization can be risky. How does CA mitigate these without putting its customers’ businesses at risk?
Whitham: We offer customers our Mainframe Software Rationalization Program which provides a comprehensive nine-step methodology to analyze the customer’s current portfolio, identify potential business and technical risks, migrate from multiple ISV solutions to CA solutions, and guarantee project migration success.
We feature a proven methodology, an experienced staff, and a suite of mainframe software analysis and migration tools:
Discovery & Analysis Tools: Our discovery and analysis tools provide transparency into our customers’ environments and help identify product usage, determine how widely deployed the products are, and what features and functions are being used.
Once we have the results from the analysis tools, we can use this data to provide an objective approach as opposed to a subjective approach to assess the level of difficulty and risk. In fact, in some cases we will come back to the customer and recommend that they don’t migrate based on level of risk.
Migration Tools: We offer a suite of migration tools that provide an automated, repeatable process for migrating existing mainframe software products to CA Technologies’ solutions. By using software instead of manual efforts, the risk of keying errors is reduced and the time to value can be accelerated.
Audit Tools: At the end of the project, our software auditing tools give us visibility into the current status of our customers’ environments. We use the results of the auditing software jobs to confirm that the migration work is complete.
ME: Where can customers go to learn more about CA Technologies’ programs?
Whitham: They can visit our Website at www.ca.com/msrp and they can find additional information about CA Technologies’ programs and products at www.ca.com/mainframe…