Mainframe Blog

For Mainframes, a Monitor is a Monitor is a Monitor – Or is it? – Part 2

Jay Lipovich
2 minute read
Jay Lipovich

Five tests to qualify value versus commodity – #3 Heterogeneity

In long-ago days (decades), real-time monitors for IBM® mainframes were chosen by technicians based on what they liked. Over time, technicians became comfortable with their chosen monitor and resisted any arguments for changing. But as mainframes became prime targets for IT cost-cutting, management developed a held belief that “a monitor is a monitor” and essentially a commodity item, so they could select the one with the lowest price.

A strange thing has happened to this approach to mainframe monitoring: mainframe sites are learning that there are differentiations between monitors, and that the choice of the right systems management solution can have quantifiable financial and business benefits. In this series of blogs, I’ll share five tests you could use to determine whether your monitor is a business value provider, or…is just a monitor. This blog shares test number 3.

Heterogeneity. Mainframe system management practices in most organizations have created technical silos within the platform, with specialists for z/OS®, databases (DB2® and IMS™), transactional systems (CICS and IMS/TM), and so on. In today’s mainframe environment, these silos create barriers to rapid and efficient problem resolution while requiring specialization in each silo and its monitoring tools.

A differentiated monitor does away with silos and walls, providing a single view to all systems, LPARs, applications and technology stacks. Seamless transitions from one technology monitor to another reduce MTTR and increase productivity. At the same time, such a monitor will also support the ability to drill from the higher-level view into technical detail for any of the technologies being monitored – without leaving the single-pane monitoring environment.

There are some technologies that benefit significantly from cross-platform monitoring and administration, such as MQ. A monitor is differentiated if it can provide the cross-platform monitoring and management for such a technology.

Where do you stand? So, to reiterate: is a monitor a monitor? Is mainframe monitoring a commodity? How do your monitoring tools stack up to test 3, and to the other tests? Is it possible you might improve availability and performance, reduce costs and make the mainframe more secure by evaluating a differentiated monitor as an alternative?

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About the author

Jay Lipovich

Jay Lipovich

G. Jay Lipovich is a Principal Product Manager for mainframe systems management and cost optimization at BMC Software. He has many years’ experience in the design and development of strategies and solutions for infrastructure and data management. This includes design strategy and performance evaluation for a mainframe hardware vendor; infrastructure performance consulting for industry and US government agencies; and design and development of strategies and solutions for infrastructure management solutions. He has published numerous articles in trade journals defining approaches to infrastructure performance management and cost optimization. Mr. Lipovich is ITIL Foundation and CDE certified.