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Much has been written the last little while about the aging of the mainframe workforce and the shortage of skills. Pundits and industry analysts are calling for a drastic overhaul and modernization of the environment. At BMC, we don’t believe the situation is that dire although we do recognize that the landscape has changed somewhat and hence the subtitle for this short article. While it’s true that the mainframe workforce is declining and that perhaps the newer entrants lack the knowledge and experience, it’s really the complexity of today’s environment that is creating the biggest challenge in being able to effectively manage the mainframe and all it’s moving parts. I’ve been working with DB2 on zOS for a long time now, so writing this article was somewhat nostalgic for me. I’m not sure if that isn’t a sign of old age setting in though.

 

 

So, back in the days writing DB2 applications was relatively easy. You had some vague idea of what the users wanted or needed, you had your trusty SQL reference and developers guide and access to a TSO terminal. You wrote the SQL, tested it with the rest of the code, most likely COBOL, depending on change control and testing procedures, users may or may not have been involved with testing to any significant degree. Ultimately the code found its way to the production environment and the user community had their results. Life was good. Pretty simple stuff some would say.

 

We also had some rules that were developed to keep things simple and manageable. These were all based on what we knew back then, but probably more importantly, what was available at that time.

 

Keep SQL simple , the optimizer was no where near as sophisticated as it is now, so the thinking at the time was to keep SQL simple and handle a lot of the business logic and rules in the application code and not in the database or SQL request.

 

Minimum number of rows….CPU was very expensive and not as fast. Same for the number of columns.

 

Join predicates, common sense, but a Cartesian product could have taken days to generate back then, so the result of that operation was a lot less forgiving.

 

Table space scans were to be avoided at all costs, but could actually be a good thing as we learned a little later.

 

Sadly, the  “good old days” are long since gone as the technology has gotten a lot more sophisticated and the choices more varied. The flip side of that is that applications can now be developed much quicker and able to handle complex business logic allowing business to react to changes in less time and go to market sooner with new services and offerings.

 

The other good news is that there is help out there to assist  you with navigating  through this maze and we at BMC believe we
have or developing all the tools necessary to restore that sense of simplicity we had way back then.

  

For example, iIt gives us great pleasure to announce that the next release of BMC’s CHANGE MANAGER for DB2 will have full support for External and Native Stored Procedures. ALL Change Manager Functionality will be available for Stored Procedures. Anything you can do to any object type, you can now do to Stored Procedures and  packages are rebound when necessary.

For example, if you alter a table which has a  stored procedure  dependentant on it, Change Manager will rebind the stored procedure package.  If you modify a stored procedure, Change Manager will rebind the packages which are dependent on the procedures.

 

 

And we have plenty more new tricks in store, such as performance advisors for DB2, dynamic threshold management, and a quick and
very efficient copy migration feature for managing test data environments.

 

 

But perhaps our biggest news is the “old tricks” for the new pups in the mainframe space. And that is our Workbench tool for DB2 on z/OS. These old tricks for new dogs will be be released at the same time as the newest version of our DB2 solutions as well, but will be delivered with the specific purpose of addressing the mainframe workforce dilemma. That is how to make people that are experienced with the mainframe even more productive, and also address the issues of making it easier for those people that have no clue of what TSO and ISPF are immediately productive in that environment.

 

This new browser based interface will make it easier for everyone to communicate, share information and accomplish complex tasks in shorter time. The "workspace" is a new concept in the workbench and is the key to this sharing and reuse of information. It’s what allows the user to start an activity, and as we all know how many times we get interrupted during our hectic day, facilitates the suspension of that task, put out the fire at hand, and then return to what you had started without missing a beat.

 

The product is intuitive to use and guides you along the way for the novice user. You can start with a blank slate, or workspace to use the new terminology,  or open an existing one that you may have started and now need to get back to before you were interrupted. The workbench will allow you to query the DB2 catalog, take actions, analyse and excute SQL, submit jobs, view the job output, edit z/OS datasets, etc… In short, just a about everything you can do in a TSO session, but now with the power of a GUI interface.

 

Words alone cannot do justice to the workbench so I highly encourage you to get in touch with your  BMC DB2 Software consultant or
account manager to take a test drive of the workbench and discuss licesning options. You’ll probably never go back to TSO !!