Mainframe Performance and Digital Business: A Perfect Storm


Mainframe Performance & Digital Business: A Perfect StormBy now, you’re quite aware that today’s customers are sophisticated, tech-savvy, and have very high expectations when it comes to performance and access. Consumers expect everything to be connected, everything to have voice control, and everything to be available—now. Every product and service is moving towards becoming digital, creating massive volumes of valuable data; and the storm is only going to strengthen.

As many as 50 billion devices will likely be accessing the internet by the year 2020. Compare that with the nine billion or so “connected things” in use today.

How are you going to stay in touch with that many new consumers? What disruptive technology are you going to adopt to manage that level of activity? Keeping in mind the breadth of this impact on social media, the Internet of Things, mobile apps, analytics, cloud, big data, automation, mainframe…that’s quite a job to tackle in just five years. And finding insights in that data poses another challenge. It’s a hidden fact that some analytics applications, can generate eight to ten times more data than the original data set. How will you manage this new digital business infrastructure? How will you service your customers with the information they need in a timely manner?

Mainframe is at the heart of digital business. According to a survey of 350 CIOs, 91 percent said that new customer-facing applications will reach into their mainframe. As you develop your plan to manage a potential 600 percent increase in access to your mainframe, another critical question to address is, “How will you optimize your mainframe for digital business while keeping costs under control?”

In order to survive the digital business era, today’s mainframe performance management solutions must include essential performance monitoring and management capabilities such as optimizing performance, availability, capacity, and overall health of infrastructure and workloads. In addition, there are three performance management tools must-haves:

1. Single system image displays

Digital business demands have increase the complexity of monitoring your mainframe environments, with multiple LPARs and syslexes and combine with the increase in the number of users and transactions on the mainframe. Mainframe IT must be armed with modern day solutions to provide them a one stop shopping to view across their mainframe, such as single system image (SSI). An SSI removes the complexity of mainframe monitoring by removing the noise and allowing the mainframe IT staff to view all the right information from a single window. Additionally, SSI combines multiple-like instances of data from separate source, multiple system and subsystem into a consolidated single view, providing mainframe IT staff a single-point-of-control.

2. Proactive monitoring

Mainframe is the foundation of digital business infrastructure and it is a fundamental component of most mission critical applications. It’s also where the vast majority of your businesses data resides. To keep your mainframe optimally tuned and running at peak performance, today’s performance monitors must provide advanced capability to proactively monitor mainframe. IT staff no longer has the luxury of time, they need a solution to monitor and take action before performance issues impact the business. Two key advanced capabilities beyond the normal alerts and automation are self learning and dynamic thresholds and capping.

Self-learning and dynamic thresholds

Take the guess work out of trying to set and manually manage your thresholds. As we all know, workloads are dynamic (rarely static). Even though mainframes process hundreds of thousands of transaction, those technological savvy consumers who are always on, always connected, and always demand service can cause the perfect storm and create chaos on your system. IT must-have a performance monitoring solution that provides recommendations to set thresholds based on the needs of the business. Then, as your business cycle changes, these thresholds must be updated dynamically and automatically without relying on human intervention.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to customers and their monitoring dashboards look like a Christmas tree—all lit up and beautiful—with lots of red and yellow lights. I always ask the mainframe IT staff, “Aren’t you going to do something about that red light on your dashboard?” Unfortunately, it’s always same old sad story or broken record. They tell me, “The light is always on and each of the pretty red lights are set for a certain workload, which only runs for a short period of time, and we don’t have the manpower or skills to set thresholds for each workload.”

Would you want your company’s mission critical workload running on a system whose monitoring dashboard too often looks like a Christmas tree?

Smart capping

Trying to implement capping before digital business era was a long, daunting, and tedious task. Manually capping is very complex and time-consuming, often resulting in little benefit. And if it’s setup incorrectly, it does more harm than good, costing your company money and negatively impact business by unintentionally delaying critical applications workloads.

Smart capping, which dynamically adjusts the capacity setting across LPAS and WLM groups to maximize usage while increasing system availability and performance and optimizing your mainframe, is a must-have for digital business. It optimizes your mainframe by identifying opportunities to lower caps, reclaiming unused capacity across LPARs to offset increases based on the needs of the business, and allowing mission critical workloads to run. A side benefit is that smart capping can generate significant savings on your monthly license charge (MLC), up to 10 percent or more, while also minimizing business risk.

3. Cost effective benefits

Mainframes must remain cost-effective as they are always under attack and we know that reducing mainframe costs are the number one concern. Balancing your digital business requirements and cost can be a tedius task. Having the right performance monitor that can significantly reduce the monitoring footprint is a must-have.

To have a lightweight footprint mainframe monitors must include:

As you chew on the idea of 50 billion devices trying to access your mainframe in five years, please share your thoughts below about how your company plans to manage this digital storm.

Delhaize Group, one of Europe’s largest food retailers with $28.8 billion annual sales, chose MainView to power mainframe monitoring, automation, and proactive problem resolution for their databases and applications. Read more.

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

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Alice Ma

Alice Ma

Alice Ma has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, working with customers and IBM's Business Partners to architect solutions, develop, test, provide advanced support, and more. Her areas of expertise include problem determination, performance/tuning, recovery, data governance, auditing, encryption, and so on for DB2. Alice has contributed her technical knowledge to the development of IBM Watson and DB2 10.5 Certification. She has authored a Performance and Tuning Redbooks publication, guides, tech notes, and white papers.