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Here’s a common challenge for many IT organizations. There’s a rush to invest in technologies that support the growth in digital engagement. This need is often driven by consumers who increasing rely on their phones to conduct all types of transactions such as depositing checks, looking at balances and statements, making purchases, and managing their portfolios.

 

The mainframe represents such a significant part of the IT budget that many organizations explore cutting costs for the mainframe to help fund business transformation. Keep in mind, however, that mainframes play such a critical role as the back-end for most digital environments. So, can you really have it all – fund transformative digital projects and have the mainframe enable digital business success? Yes. You can – by lowering your mainframe Monthly License Charge (MLC) costs, which can represent up to and more than 30 percent of the overall mainframe budget.

 

Think about it. What if you could cut MLC costs by 20 percent and save thousands or even millions each year, without impacting service delivery? While the capability to reduce MLC costs to this extent and meet budget and service delivery needs might not have been possible a few years ago, recent innovations and new automation have made this option a reality.  You can now meet changing data demands, instantaneous performance expectations, and have the ability to deal with explosive data volume growth. How? The key is to think differently about how to manage MLC costs.

 

Get Your House and MLC Costs in Order
Analyze and Identify contributors to costs
In many ways, cutting MLC is like lowering the costs to maintain your house. If you want to reduce your annual household expenses to save money or invest in other purchases, you first have to analyze and identify what’s contributing to those costs. Is your gas and electric bill too high? Is your sprinkler system inefficient and increasing your water bill? Are you paying too much for subscription services?

 

When you apply this same analytical approach to evaluating mainframe expenses, consider using cost analyzer technology to understand on a daily basis what’s driving MLC costs. This approach can provide a granular view of batch jobs and workloads to manage them more efficiently. You can also model changes to see how they impact your MLC costs. 

Improve efficiencies
When you think of reducing household costs, explore new ways to take action and improve resource efficiencies. For a house, this could include purchasing energy-efficient appliances. With MLC, this involves using the most efficient system management solutions to reduce the ongoing overhead associated with the mainframe. For example, you can enable CICS, IMS, and DB2 to talk to each other without running on the same logical partition (LPAR). This separation can lead to savings without even changing the application.


Explore capping techniques
For your home, you also might also reduce expenses by setting limits to optimize when certain resources are used. For example, you can set your sprinklers to work only during times that are most efficient and have sensors that detect when they are not needed. With the mainframe, you can explore workload capping techniques to optimize capacity and reduce the peak 4-hour rolling average that drives the monthly bill, without risking performance. You can do this by setting up an automated capping strategy to monitor workload activity.  The solution can adjust caps based on your own workload importance policy to ensure that critical workloads are not delayed. With intelligent capping, there will be no increase to MLC costs due to balancing capacity limits across systems.

 

Exploit new options for optimizing licenses
As you continue to look at your household expenses, do you have subscriptions for home-related services that you rarely use? Maybe it’s time to cut them out of your budget, consider less-expensive options or use them more efficiently.
 

With MLC costs, it’s also important to explore new options for optimizing subsystem placement. This can include isolating or reducing subsystem licenses on an LPAR (logical partition). This approach gives you the control and flexibility you need to manage peak Million Service Units (MSUs) for maximum processing and minimum cost. You can balance workloads and control peak usage by selecting alternate systems on which to run the workloads, without modifying the applications. In addition, you can redirect workloads when a subsystem fails, ensuring that the business doesn’t miss a step.

 

Transform Your Business
MLC costs, like household expenses, can take a big chunk out of your IT budget and make it more challenging to pay for investments in digital engagement--unless you get these costs under control.

   

Register now to attend this live webinar hosted by IBM® Systems Magazine on October 6, 2015 at noon CT with BMC mainframe experts Neil Blagrave and Nick Pachnos. Learn how companies worldwide are reducing MLC costs and transforming mainframe management practices to meet the changing data, infrastructure, and cost challenges for business success. 

   

 

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Optimize your IMS environment by adding an Advisor to your team 

By Sudipta Sengupta

 

The adage “the only constant in life is change” is true for database environments. As a DBA, you know that things change all the time – new application requirements, more data to manage, and so on. But some things never change. Meeting performance and availability goals, ensuring data integrity and reducing costs will always be essential. Consider an Advisor - a policy-based database management approach to help accomplish your goals. To implement such an approach, it is important to understand the forces that are driving change in your environment. Most likely, change comes from one or more of the following areas.

 

Growth of data. Today’s business requirements drive larger volumes of data to be generated and retained. This translates to more data that needs to be maintained at optimal performance levels. With wider adoption of partitioned database objects, we have the means to accommodate this larger volume of data – however, it also means that DBAs need to maintain a significantly larger number of database objects.

 

  1. Availability. While 24x7 availability is not a new requirement, the need to keep databases available, combined with the requirement to maintain a large number of database objects, presents a unique challenge. The maintenance window is shrinking, yet the number of database objects that need to be maintained is increasing. Implementing database changes takes longer than ever, because you must factor in change management procedures and coordinate with application groups.

 

Changes in workforce. Senior DBAs are retiring and their replacements are grappling with vast and complex systems for which they have very little knowledge. The technical and business knowledge pools that have been built over past decades are disappearing, along with the workforce that helped create them.

 

How can you provide the service levels needed while dealing with this continuous change? Given the large volume of database objects, it is extremely difficult to manually review statistics from individual databases and ensure their optimal performance. An alternative to consider is a policy-based approach to database management.

 

Take Control. What is policy-based database management? With this approach, you determine the thresholds and boundaries that are acceptable for your environment. You can use a tool, such as BMC MAXM Database Advisor, to help enforce these rules. The tool provides a prioritized work list that factors in the lead time required for remedial actions. Let’s look at the steps required to implement a policy-based approach to database management.

 

Consider the volatility of your environment - this will dictate how frequently data needs to be collected and analyzed. For example, a database object that incurs many updates might need to be monitored much more frequently than a database that contains read-only archive data. Also consider lead time - how long does it take to implement a remedial action? A simple database reorganization might need very little lead time to implement, whereas a database migration dictated by space constraints might require a more involved process. Proactive database monitoring is imperative. It empowers you to easily determine how fast a database object is changing and how much time is available to implement remedial actions that are required.

 

Enforce policies. After setting these variables, determine the policies you want to use to maintain your databases. Typically, these policies will consist of one or more thresholds. Database monitoring thresholds can be broadly classified into database space management, database performance management, and database recovery. For ease of maintenance, consider default policies that apply to a majority of your databases. After defaults are in place, you can customize the policies as needed for a smaller group of databases or a specific database object.

 

Now your thresholds, data collection intervals, and lead time requirements are in place, and your database management tool can automate a large portion of the database management lifecycle. The tool can provide a consolidated list of database objects that are in violation of the thresholds or violate a threshold within the specified lead time. This automation allows you to concentrate on a small fraction of database objects for which you are responsible.

 

When a database object is in violation of a policy, the automation tool should recommend a solution to fix the problem. This recommendation depends on the type of database object and the various database management tools that are available in your environment. With an automated tool, you can implement the recommendation or further analyze the problem and implement a solution of your choice. For certain types of policy violations, consider automating the solution process as well by allowing your tool to run jobs that fix the problem. Of course, the level of automation you choose depends on the level of comfort users have with the tool and the policies in your environment.

 

Go beyond. Policy- based database management goes beyond automating the database management lifecycle. You can extend the same policy-based management to other tasks. For example, balancing data across multiple database objects is a common task in a growing environment. A policy could contain guidelines, such as how many database objects the data should span or how much data should be stored in each database object. After these boundaries are defined, the tool can analyze the data and provide a detailed schema of how the data partitioning should be defined.

 

A tool that helps implement a policy-based database management environment can also help you optimize resource usage. In many IT organizations, database reorganizations are scheduled at pre-defined intervals – daily, weekly, monthly, and so on. Many DBAs do not have time to determine whether database reorganization is necessary, so they reorganize all databases on a schedule – wasting valuable time and CPU resources. A database management tool that has information about all databases in the environment--and more importantly the database objects that are in violation of a policy–can eliminate reorgs for databases that are not in violation of a policy. The advantage of this approach is that you can avoid making changes to the maintenance schedules.

 

Knowledge capture. As senior DBAs retire from the workforce, it is essential to provide a mechanism to help capture the business knowledge and expertise that they have gained. A policy-based database management tool helps do just that. Experienced DBAs can define the policies and capture knowledge in the tool, so less-experienced DBAs can maintain the environment. A tool like BMC MAXM Database Advisor can enable users to accomplish complicated tasks using workflows-- a task that spans multiple days or weeks can be handed from one individual to another. The senior DBA can outline the work, and a junior DBA can then complete it. Knowledge transfer takes place and users can track the progress of a complicated task.

 

Summary

A policy-based database management “advisor” tool is critical in today’s environment. It helps DBAs proactively manage a large number of database objects, save time and resources, accomplish complicated tasks through workflows, capture critical business knowledge, and keep databases available and performing optimally. Find out more about BMC MAXM Database Advisor.