When DancingDinosaur looked at the cost per workload based on comparative workload analysis by IBM’s John Shedletsky the zEnterprise came out very well in most cases. It wasn’t, however, the zEnterprise’s better price performance that necessarily made the difference. As Shedletsky noted, it was the lower cost of labor due to the more efficient management capabilities of the z, much of it resulting from the efficiency enabled by the Unified Resource Manager, which comes with the zEnterprise.
CA Technologies latched onto the idea that companies could lower their cost of mainframe computing by simplifying management tasks through a GUI and automation of routine tasks. To that end it launched the Mainframe 2.0 initiative a couple of years ago and has been steadily revamping its mainframe management tools for simplicity and efficiency. Back in May 2009, DancingDinosaur first looked at the CA initiative.
That, in fact, is what brought El Al, the Israeli airline, to CA Mainframe Chorus. “Cutbacks in budget and manpower make it hard for us to manage our growing processing power and cope with the intensifying complexity of our computing environment,” according to Arieh Berger, Operation System and Information Security Manager at EL AL. Like almost every other IT shop, the El Al system group is under pressure to do more with less.
For example, El Al deploys most of its core systems—ticket sales, reservations, the cargo system, financials, and more—on DB2 v8 running on a pair of z 10 machines, each with a zIIP. The company plans to upgrade to DB2 10 in six months, noted Ita Israeli, El Al’s DB2 administrator. A long-time El Al database manager, Israeli was trained by her predecessor over a considerable period of time. With Chorus’ new GUI and the information it makes easily available, such a lengthy orientation to the job won’t be necessary, even if the replacement is a mainframe newcomer.
“CA Chorus sits above all the other CA products we have and gathers information from them. It keeps a history in a way I couldn’t do before, at least not without a lot of extra work,” Israeli explained. Without Chorus, the DBA administrator would have to search through each of the products, culling the information she wanted. “Now I can see it all in one screen through a browser. We don’t even have to install any code,” she added.
According to CA, EL AL has improved its IT operations by leveraging CA Mainframe Chorus’ enhanced reporting tools, more efficient handling of z/OS events, and more flexible automated monitoring of storage levels. The airline also has also taken advantage of faster problem detection and trouble-shooting, which is accelerated and simplified through a graphical display of complex business data, automated analysis of historical trends, and the generation of comparative diagrams to aid problem-solving.
“Now I would like our developers to start using it. For example, they will be able to see everything that connects to a table they are working on—all the rules—without having to navigate through a lot of screens,” Israeli said. The airline has only had Chorus for a few months so uptake is just starting. At this point only Israeli and another work with the tool daily.
Although the tool enables the DBA team to function more efficiently every day it may deliver its biggest payback when veteran DBAs like Israeli retire in a few years. “It makes it very easy for people who don’t know the mainframe, who don’t know green screen, to see what’s going on,” she noted.
As the zEnterprise delivers increasingly better price/performance the cost of labor for ongoing operations and management becomes a bigger and more noticeable concern. Labor costs steadily increase, and the only way to rein in the cost is through automated, simplified tools that make possible greater efficiency and higher productivity.