LongEx Mainframe Quarterly - May 2009
In this article, we look at the difficulties in creating comprehensive, up-to-date Mainframe configuration information, what this means to your organisation, and some tools that can help.
So it's no surprise that most organisations don't have a comprehensive, complete, up-to-date picture of their Mainframe configuration. But is this important? And if it is, how do you create one?
The Difficulty in Painting your Mainframe Picture
It's a lot more complicated isn't it? Different IMS region types, Websphere MQ, IMS Connect, DB2 and the IMSPlex infrastructure all complicate your picture. Mainframes also have a different problem to smaller distributed platforms - the number of resources. For example, DB2 subsystems can have hundreds of thousands of tables, views, tablespaces and indexes.
Finding out all this information for all of your Mainframe systems (not just IMS) is a Herculean task. You may already have some, but is it complete, or up-to-date? Many different groups in your organisation may have some of the picture, but not all of it, and not all the detail you need.
But what is even harder is the task of determining the relationships between them. What applications use a particular DB2 table? Do any CICS transactions call IMS transactions?
Do You Need a Mainframe Picture?
So is it such a big deal if you don't have this information? In a word - yes. Configuration information is critical for:
Your Mainframe CanvasSo you're about to start accumulating data about your Mainframe configuration. In other words, you're going to create a Configuration Management Database (CMDB). This needs:
For Mainframe users, these may appear more attractive to other CMDB products as they are able to connect to other Mainframe products to automatically receive configuration data.
Painting Your Mainframe PictureNow we get down to your biggest problem - how to get your configuration data, and keep it up-to-date. The good new is that there are tools on the market to make your job easier. We've already talked about how CMDB products can obtain configuration data from other products. For example:
These products will automatically discovery most of your z/OS components. They also provide some (but not all) of your relationship information, like which DB2 databases belong to which DB2 subsystems. Using these products regularly ensures you have up-to-date information.
However these tools won't give you everything. You're not going to get away from the fact that a lot of your information needs to be entered and updated manually, and often. Convincing your staff to do this is going to be as hard as getting your teenage children to cleanup their rooms.
One interesting software product that may help here is Novell's myCMDB product. This uses social networking technology similar to Facebook to make it easier (and more fun) for teams to maintain configuration information.
Managing Mainframe infrastructure is a complex task. This isn't going to get any easier as Mainframe applications talk more with other applications - both on and off the Mainframe. Having accurate, comprehensive, up-to-date information on your Mainframe configuration is a big step to keeping this under control. CMDBs and other associated tools go a long way to making this happen.