Mainframe Blog

Five Essentials for Proactive Automated Mainframe Operations

Bronna Shapiro
by Bronna Shapiro

Ingredients matter, whether it’s related to pizza or automated operations. I know that pizza and automated operations don’t sound like they go together, but read on and you’ll discover the connection in this relationship and the importance of having the right ingredients for a successful experience – whether it pertains to food or to mainframe systems management.

This concept became evident when a friend of mine volunteered to bring pizza over for dinner and I discovered that the pizza was topped with corn instead of cheese, pesto instead of marinara, figs instead of pepperoni, and crust that tasted like old cardboard. Some people may like these funky toppings, but for me the meal was ruined because it didn’t have the ingredients I had expected. Next time I’ll be more proactive and insist on bringing the pizza.

Proactive mainframe automation operations

This experience got me thinking about the importance of always having the right ingredients for success and how this concept applies to achieving proactive automated mainframe operations in the digital world. Having the right mix is critical. Transaction volumes are growing and you must manage them more effectively than ever before in an environment with an increasing number of non-revenue transactions, faster application changes, and greater volatility. To complicate matters, IT is also being asked to reduce costs and experienced mainframe experts are retiring.

It is important to capture and retain knowledge and pass it on to a new generation of mainframe professionals. This requires tools that are part of a solution with a centralized architecture for automating problem resolution and delivering the following capabilities:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Persistence and smart alarms
  3. Dynamic thresholds
  4. Quick ROI and improved productivity with codeless automation
  5. Best practices that support a closed-loop approach to automation

Let’s take a closer look at these “ingredients,” which are all incorporated into MainView to provide intelligent proactive automation that is codeless and rules based. Dynamic triggers invoke appropriate actions, thresholds can be based on business cycles, and smart alarms raise only real problems.

What are the top 5 Ingredients?

  1. Intelligent proactive automation. This essential ingredient uses analytics to proactively find and fix issues before they occur. Being able to use fill-in-the-blank automation is based on rules that reduce manual efforts and increase efficiency and accuracy.
  2. Persistence and smart alarms. Persistence should be built into alarm components to avoid false alarms based on spikes in performance.
    • For example, you could add an alarm and define it in a way that the severity will be major if it were true 5 out of 10 times, but would be considered a critical severity if it’s true 7 out of 10 times. MainView Alarm Manager will take samples and test the alarms over time to determine if the severity should be adjusted, such as being changed from normal to major or from major to critical.
  3. Dynamic thresholds. With dynamic thresholds, you know what is the usual CPU usage for a specific time of day and will be notified when a slight increase has occurred. This allows you to catch a problem and fix it while it is still small. Static thresholds are often set high to accommodate a variety of conditions and notify you when a number you have chosen has been met. For example, a static threshold for CPU usage might be set to 80. But a dynamic threshold knows that the usual usage is 30 at particular time of day so you will be alerted when that number is exceeded.
  4. Quick ROI and improved productivity with code-less automation. An efficient, easy-to-use rules-based engine makes it possible for 80% of the automation to be done without writing code. Our customers tell us that one rule is typically about 1/10th the overhead of a REXX routine and easy for new mainframe professionals to use.
  5. Best practices that support a closed-loop approach to automation. Intelligent proactive automation is a critical component of a closed-loop automation process for systems management. This includes integrating analytics with proactive operations and intelligent capping and modeling to keep up with the demands of digital business and do so much more. (You’ll learn more about analytics and intelligent capping and modeling in the next two blogs in this series).

To get more details about how proactive automation can help your organization delight your customers, increase availability, improve staff productivity, reduce costs, and meet business demands, watch a demo that you can customize. And then enjoy a slice of pizza made to your specifications.

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

About the author

Bronna Shapiro

Bronna Shapiro

Bronna Shapiro has been involved in a variety of roles in the software industry ranging from systems programming to product and solutions marketing. At Candle Corporation (now a part of IBM) Bronna was in charge of product management for the operating system and subsystems solutions. At PROS, in Houston, TX, Bronna was the industry solution manager for high tech and led a team to determine the top pricing solutions that would benefit high tech manufacturing. Bronna graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Today, Bronna is the Lead Solutions Marketing Manager for MainView Systems Management at BMC Software.