Posts Tagged ‘Compuware Strobe’

Compuware Continues Mainframe Software Renaissance

January 19, 2017

While IBM focuses on its strategic imperatives, especially cognitive computing (which are doing quite well according to the latest statement that came out today–will take up next week), Compuware is fueling a mainframe software renaissance on its own. It’s latest two announcements brings Java-like unit testing to COBOL code via its Topaz product set and automate and intelligently optimize the processing of batch jobs through its acquisition of MVS Solutions. Both modernize and simplify the processes around legacy mainframe coding thus the reference to mainframe software renaissance.

compuware-total-test-graphic-process-flow-diagram

Let’s start with Compuware’s Topaz set of graphical tools. Since they are GUI-based even novice developers can immediately validate and troubleshoot whatever changes, either intended or inadvertent, they made to the existing COBOL applications.  Compuware’s aim for Topaz for Total Test is to eliminate any notion that such applications are legacy code and therefore cannot be updated as frequently and with the same confidence as other types of applications. Basically, mainframe DevOps.

By bringing fast, developer-friendly unit testing to COBOL applications, the new test tool also enables enterprises to deliver better customer experiences—since to create those experiences, IT needs its Agile/DevOps processes to encompass all platforms, from the mainframe to the cloud.  As a result z shops can gain increased digital agility along with higher quality, lower costs, and dramatically reduced dependency on the specialized knowledge of mainframe veterans aging out of the active IT workforce. In fact, the design of the Topaz tools enables z data centers to rapidly introduce the z to novice mainframe staff, which become productive virtually from the start—another cost saver.

Today in 2017 does management still need to be reminded of the importance of the mainframe. Probably, even though many organizations—among them the world’s largest banks, insurance companies, retailers and airlines—continue run their business on mainframe applications, and recent surveys clearly indicate that situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. However, as Compuware points out, the ability of enterprises to quickly update those applications in response to ever-changing business imperatives is daily being hampered by manual, antiquated development and testing processes; the ongoing loss of specialized COBOL programming knowledge; and the risk and associated fear of introducing even the slightest defect into core mainframe systems of record. The entire Topaz design approach from the very first tool, was to make mainframe code accessible to novices. That has continued every quarter for the past two years.

This is not just a DancingDinosaur rant. IT analyst Rich Ptak from Ptak Associates also noted: “By eliminating a long-standing constraint to COBOL Compuware provides enterprise IT the ability to deliver more digital capabilities to the business at greater speed and with less risk.”

Gartner in its latest Predicts 2017, chimes in with its DevOps equivalent of your mother’s reminder to brush your teeth after each meal: Application leaders in IT organizations should adopt a continuous quality culture that includes practices to manage technical debt and automate tests focused on unit and API testing. It should also automate test lab operations to provide access to production-like environments, and enable testing of deployment through the use of DevOps pipeline tools.” OK mom; everybody got the message.

The acquisition of MVS Solutions, Compuware’s fourth in the last year, adds to the company’s collection of mainframe software tools that promise agile, DevOps and millennial-friendly management of the IBM z platform—a continuation of its efforts to make the mainframe accessible to novices. DancingDinosaur covered these acquisition in early December here.

Batch processing accounts for the majority of peak mainframe workloads at large enterprises, providing essential back-end digital capabilities for customer-, employee- and partner-facing mobile, cloud, and web applications. As demands on these back-end mainframe batch processes intensify in terms of scale and performance, enterprises are under increasing pressure to ensure compliance with SLAs and control costs.

These challenges are exacerbated by the fact that responsibility for batch management is rapidly being shifted from platform veterans with decades of experience in mainframe operations to millennial ops staff who are unfamiliar with batch management. They also find native IBM z Systems management tools arcane and impractical, which increases the risk of critical batch operations being delayed or even failing. Run incorrectly, the batch workloads risk generating excessive peak utilization costs.

The solution, notes Compuware, lies in its new ThruPut Manager, which promises automatic, intelligent optimized batch processing. In the process it:

  • Provides immediate, intuitive insight into batch processing that even inexperienced operators can readily understand
  • Makes it easy to prioritize batch processing based on business policies and goals
  • Ensures proper batch execution by verifying that jobs have all the resources they need and proactively managing resource contention between jobs
  • Reduces the organizations’ IBM Monthly Licensing Charges (MLC) by minimizing rolling four-hour average (R4HA) processing peaks while avoiding counter-productive soft capping

Run in conjunction with Strobe, Compuware’s mainframe application performance management tool, ThruPut Manager also makes it easier to optimize batch workload and application performance as part of everyday mainframe DevOps tasks. ThruPut promises to lead to more efficiency and greater throughput resulting in a shorter batch workload and reduced processing capacity. These benefits also support better cross-platform DevOps, since distributed and cloud applications often depend on back-end mainframe batch processing.

Now, go out an hire some millenials and bring fresh blood into the mainframe. (Watch for DancingDinosaur’s upcoming post on why the mainframe is cool again.)

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

 

Compuware and BMC Aim to Lower Mainframe Cost

July 9, 2015

Last February, Compuware and BMC announced a joint initiative to coordinate the use of their respective tools, BMC Cost Analyzer, BMC MainView, and Compuware Strobe, to reduce mainframe software licensing cost. DancingDinosaur wrote about it here. The announcement made this week confirms that the necessary integration between the various tools has been completed and is working as promised. Compuware this month also introduced the latest rev of its Topaz graphical management toolset for the z.

compuware topaz screen

Compuware Topaz visual management screen (click to enlarge)

The tight integration between the BMC and Compuware tools enables mainframe staff to quickly and easily identify tuning opportunities that will have the greatest impact on their monthly software licensing costs. They do this by applying BMC Cost Analyzer’s visual mapping to the detailed batch and transaction information provided by Compuware Strobe. The cost savings result from moving workloads to non-peak periods, running IBM subsystems on fewer LPARs, and capping LPAR utilization.

Driving the need for this is the continuing growth of mainframe workloads, which are being pushed today by mobile workloads and, down the road, by new IoT workloads. These workloads already are driving up the Monthly License Charge (MLC) for IBM mainframe software, which led IBM to initiate z/OS discounts for mobile workloads on the z as well as introduce its new ICAP and country multiplex pricing. Compuware estimates that the integrated tools alone can reduce an organization’s mainframe software licensing costs by 10% or more.

“Mainframe cost conservation is an imperative for public- and private-sector IT organizations attempting to fulfill customers’ escalating digital expectations within ever-limited budget constraints,” said Karen Robinson, a former CIO and now a consultant. “The work BMC and Compuware are doing together is a perfect fit for this universal imperative.”

Besides discounting mobile workloads, IBM also has been actively working to help organizations drive down mainframe costs in other ways. Moving workloads to z assist processors is a top choice. Another is to take advantage of a variety of IBM discounts; DancingDinosaur’s favorite is the Solution Edition program, which offers the deepest discounts if you can live with the constraints it imposes. And, of course using tools like those from Compuware and BMC can save money every month. At a time when mainframe workloads are growing—Did someone say the mainframe was going away?—this is a sure path to relief.

Compuware made a second announcement impacting the mainframe this month. This involved adding capabilities to Topaz, its set of graphical z management tools aimed at millennial workers. The new capabilities address Java on the z, which is a key way to cash in on the savings available by shifting workloads to z assist processors, specifically the zIIP. The announcement is here. Again, DancingDinosaur initially wrote about Topaz earlier this year here.

As Compuware describes it, Topaz for Java Performance delivers comprehensive visibility into the performance and behavior of Java batch programs and WebSphere transactions running on the mainframe—including peak CPU utilization of specific Java methods and classes; garbage collection issues such as memory leaks and excessively long collection intervals; and threads that are blocked or not actually doing useful work.

According to Tonya Robison, VP Legacy Integrations, Conversion, De-commission at Alfa Insurance:  “Topaz is enabling us for a multi-channel, multi-platform future. Its functionality will allow us to work with mainframe and non-mainframe data in a common, visual, and intuitive manner, providing our next-gen developers the same agility and speed as our seasoned IT pros.” Robison is convinced that “products like Topaz will protect our current investments and enable the next generation of application developers.” These are the millennials everyone is trying to attract to the mainframe.

The new release of Topaz, the third this year alone, delivers two capabilities that enhance customers’ ability to maximize value from their mainframe:

  1. Topaz for Program Analysis gives developers intuitive, accurate visibility into the flow of data within their COBOL or PL/l applications—including how data gets into a field; how that field is used to set other fields; and how that field is used in comparisons. This promises to be especially useful for Millennials who may not have a wealth of experience with IBM z Systems.
  1. Topaz for Enterprise Data brings high-speed, compression-enabled host-to-host data copying that exploits IBM z Systems zIIP processors, thus reducing the burden on its general processors. This fast, efficient copying enables developers to complete their work more quickly and at less cost.

Efforts of Compuware, BMC, and others are rapidly changing the mainframe into an agile platform that can rival distributed platforms. Let’s hope the Millennials notice.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing on Technologywriter.com and here.

BMC and Compuware to Drive Down Mainframe Costs

February 20, 2015

This year jumped off to an active start for the mainframe community. The introduction of the z13 in January got things going. Now Compuware and BMC are partnering to integrate offerings of some their mainframe tools to deliver cost-aware workload and performance management. The combined tools promise to reduce mainframe OPEX even as z systems shops try to leverage their high-value mainframe applications, data, and processing capacity to meet rapidly evolving business challenges.

 compuware bmc logos hi res

Not that things had been quiet before, especially if you consider IBM scrambling to reverse successive quarters on poor financial performance with a slew of initiatives. During that time Compuware went private last fall; about a year earlier BMC went private. Now you have two companies collaborating to deliver tools that will help mainframe shops reduce their software costs. DancingDinosaur has covered previous cost-saving and efficiency initiatives from each of these companies here and here.

Driving this collaboration is the incessant growth of new mainframe workloads, which will likely accelerate with the new z13. Such workload growth is continually driving up the Monthly License Charge (MLC) for IBM mainframe software, which for sub-capacity environments are generally impacted by the highest rolling four-hour average (R4HA) of mainframe utilization for all applications on each LPAR, as measured in MSUs. IBM is helping with discounts for mobile workloads and its new ICAP and country multi-plex pricing, which DancingDinosaur covered here, but more is needed.

The trick requires continually managing those workloads. In effect, IT can most effectively reduce its sizable IBM z Systems software costs by both 1) tuning each application to minimize its individual consumption of mainframe resources and 2) orchestrating application workloads to minimize the LPAR utilization peaks they generate collectively at any given time.  Good idea but not easy to implement in practice. You need automated tools.

According to Frank DeSalvo, former research director at Gartner: “The partnership between BMC and Compuware launches an integrated opportunity for mainframe customers to manage workload inefficiencies in a manner that has not been achievable to-date.”   This partnership, however, “helps organizations leverage their IT budgets by enabling them to continuously optimize their mainframe workloads, resulting in cost effective decisions for both current and future spending.,” as DeSalvo was quoted in the initial announcement.

Specifically, the Compuware-BMC collaboration brings together three products: BMC Cost Analyzer, BMC MainView, and Compuware Strobe.

  • BMC Cost Analyzer for zEnterprise brings a financially intelligent workload management tool that enables z data centers to identify MLC cost drivers and take appropriate measures to reduce those costs.
  • BMC MainView provides real-time identification of application performance issues, enabling customers to quickly eliminate wasteful MSU consumption.
  • Compuware Strobe delivers deep, granular and highly actionable insight into the behavior of application code in the z systems environment.

The partners integrated the products so they actually work together. One integration, for instance, allows BMC Cost Analyzer to call Compuware Strobe for a detailed analysis of the specific application component for peak MLC periods, enabling customers to proactively tune applications that have the greatest impact on their monthly software licensing costs. A second integration with BMC MainView allows customers to either automatically or manually invoke Strobe performance analysis—empowering mainframe staffs to more quickly, efficiently, and consistently when performing cost-saving tuning tasks.

compuware bmc screen shot Courtesy of Compuware, click to enlarge

BTW, at the same time Compuware introduced the latest version of Strobe, v 5.2. It promises deep insight into how application code—including DB2, COBOL 5.1, IMS and MQ processes—consume resources in z environments. By providing these insights while making it easy for multi-discipline mainframe ops teams to collaborate around these insights Strobe 5.2 enables IT to further drive down mainframe costs. At the same time it improves application responsiveness.

Besides the software licensing savings that can result the organization also benefits from performance gains for these applications. These too can be valuable since they positively impact end-user productivity and, more importantly, customer experience.

DancingDinosaur feels that any technology you can use to automate and streamline your systems operations will benefit you because people are always more expensive and less efficient than technology.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur. Follow this blog on Twitter, @mainframeblog. View my other IT writing at Technologywriter.com and here.


%d bloggers like this: