Mainframe system: Making savings and improving control

The robustness and reliability of IBM’s Z-series are beyond doubt. Nevertheless, IBM’s invoicing protocol is a little peculiar, charging, as they do, for contracted processing capacity. If clients pass a specific threshold for a period of time, usually four hours, they are automatically billed at a higher scale.

Due to Mainframe system’ own particular characteristics, they tend to become “islands of information” that slip below the CIO’s radar:

  • They have their own operations and IT development personnel who are a class apart from the rest of the IT department. In the case of staff changes, the resulting drama would imply an extra investment in training and a steep learning curve for new staff.
  • They can’t be integrated with other company control systems, due to their proprietary monitoring system.
  • They have to be budgeted for separately: being proprietary systems it’s practically impossible to negotiate with the supplier.

Due to the above conditions, it’s almost reasonable to think about data retrieved from Mainframe system as being close to faith-based, seeing as getting a second opinion on the data is a non-starter.

Case study: our client, a road-haulage company, presented us with a challenge. Pandora FMS had to be capable of reporting and of alerting when the billing threshold was being exceeded. With this information the CIO would be able to consider all the open processes in execution at that moment and decide if any could be suspended, or, alternatively, reassigned to moments of low system activity.

After three months of collaboration, the results were the following:

  • Our technical staff worked out a system for extracting information on the system’s processing power consumption directly from the Mainframe, related to the processes that triggered said consumption, the users responsible for the processes, and the relation with the rest of the processes.
  • Using this data we were able to establish a new alert system to alert when processing consumption thresholds were under pressure.
  • Pandora FMS can generate reports in various ways that incorporate all the information necessary for different company profiles, delivering them to the relevant people and in the relevant way (more or less technical, with specific information omitted or included, depending on the needs of the person receiving the report). This grading of the information makes it easier for the systems chief to take a decision in the case of billing thresholds being breached, or the for the financial and purchasing departments to be prepared for renewal negotiations regarding the Mainframe; or the CIO for when it comes to taking strategic decisions about whether to continue with the technology currently in place or look for alternatives.

Based on these findings, and Pandora FMS’s capacities, it was simple to integrate the IBM “information island” into the company’s monitoring system and within the broader IT archipelago, achieving significant improvements in terms of resource-related results, basically by incorporating the team previously dedicated solely to the IBM Mainframe environment more fully into the company.

If you enjoyed this article, and would like to read more, why not take a look at our blog, where there are many more IT-related articles. There’s also a YouTube channel featuring tutorials and other Pandora FMS-related videos.