Mainframe Logs

Mainframe logs offer essential insight into how to manage and adapt your z/OS environment. So why aren’t mainframe managers leveraging logs in their day-to-day IT management? 

Performance data is usually split among several applications and consists of highly technical information that can be difficult and time-consuming to interpret. If you’re like most mainframe managers, chances are you’re not leveraging mainframe operations data to its greatest potential. This isn’t due to negligence, it’s because your professional background hasn’t adequately valued data analytics up to this point.

This needs to change if your IT team is to remain competitive.

In this guide we will break down the types of information mainframe managers can gain from analyzing mainframe logs and how it can be used to manage resources, control the budget, and inform future optimization efforts.

Service delivery

Value: Insight into services

Managers don’t want to get lost in the weeds of mainframe operations analytics. It makes sense — diving into the nitty gritty of performance metrics can be intimidating to the uninitiated. However, mainframe logs offer far more value to managers than you would expect. You just need to know where to look.

Use mainframe logs to gain context into business needs. Know what you are delivering, how much mainframe work actually benefits your customers, the number of transactions your mainframe is processing for user-facing business, etc. Today, the industry has the tools necessary to link technical data with business entities and make analytics applicable to mainframe managers.

One of these tools, for example, is interactive analytics dashboards which help to demystify mainframe data for less-technical users. Backed by AI technology, these dashboards automatically adapt to user preferences and display job-specific information, making the otherwise laborious job of analyzing logs easy and convenient.

Curious how many system resources are allocated to marketing? What about whether or not capacity planning is offering ROI to the accounting department? This type of information is available through interactive data dashboards which illuminate to whom services are being delivered, illustrate which departments require the most resources, and ultimately, uncover the evolution of business needs within the context of mainframe consumption.

Value: Know if you have the mainframe capacity to handle business activities

Backed by data specific to service delivery, mainframe managers gain better insight into which services can and cannot be capped. The last thing you want is an influx of traffic that bottlenecks mainframe MSUs and leaves your services unresponsive.

Transactions that have a direct impact on company revenue need to take priority and, supported by log analysis, mainframe managers can make informed decisions about where resources should be focused. Credit card payments, payments among businesses, and other transactions performed by CICS or IMS that impact end users need to take priority. Log analytics gives you this insight so you can focus your team efforts on the right business needs.

When logs are analyzed holistically within a dynamic dashboard, mainframe analytics gain important, real-world context. Interactive dashboards remove data silos, reveal relationships between mainframe components, and help fill in the mainframe performance picture.

Value: Future capacity planning

Mainframe operations analytics inform actions for current business needs and can also be used as a predictive tool. If you take away one thing from this ebook it should be this: log analysis should be used proactively.

Your mainframe might be running okay, but you can always do better. Consider, for example, the several ways log analysis improves the predictive capability of your IT team.

  • Respect service level agreements: Use log analysis to understand performance bottlenecking and adjust parameters accordingly. This helps adhere to service level agreements and avoid costly infractions.
  • Track quality of service: Employing predictive capabilities within your IT team is a way to improve your service quality. Predict customer needs by recognizing service dips, anticipating performance spikes, and ultimately making adjustments to better serve your customers.
  • Investigate technical stopgaps: Technical logs are full of useful, actionable information, but often sit around gathering dust. Metrics for transaction frequency, consumption vs capacity, response times, parameter insights, activity throughput per component, and much more can be used to diagnose mainframe inefficiencies. Numbers don’t lie, and this information can be leveraged to make a use case argument to executives.

Cost control

Value: Know where your money is going

It is the job of the mainframe manager to balance performance with budget, so you should know where your money is going. While this might seem obvious, it’s very common for IT teams to throw money at problems without any results in return. Mainframes can be a “black box” where understanding performance metrics can be very difficult.

Insight into system performance is an important step for helping mainframe managers make appropriate budget adjustments. Use mainframe analytics software to translate complex metrics into concrete financials. By default, the budget matrix is delivered in terms of MIPs or MSU, but never an actual dollar amount. Log analysis software converts this activity into an actual financial summary of service levels, so the budget can be understood by anyone on the team.

Furthermore, this software offers the level of granularity you need to make actionable adjustments. Gain better understanding into which applications are costing the most through an intuitive, up-to-date cost dashboard. These dashboards inform about expenses down to the level of detail you need. Application usage, department needs, top consumers, and more — log analytics align mainframe activity with business use.

Value: Optimize contract with IBM & ISV

A hastily-signed IBM or ISV contract can be a lasting detriment to the IT budget. These contracts outline MSU consumption parameters for mainframes, and failure to adhere to these measures can have a drastic effect on IT affordability.

This means that whether you use all of your MSU in a given month or come in shy of your target, you will pay the same amount no matter what. And, if you exceed your allotted MSU amount, you are charged extra. The key to mainframe budget management is finding the sweet spot where you aren’t using too much or too little MSU. Closely adhering to the pre-established IBM & ISV contracts can be difficult if you’re not attuned to mainframe analytics.

Stop overpaying on contracts. Use logs to understand your environment prior to signing a contract. This information helps mainframe managers find a balance of the perfect MSU amount that is affordable and still serves your customer base. This way you can go into contract negotiations with an informed idea of your particular contract needs.

Value: Evaluate cost reduction strategies

Log analysis helps ensure cost reduction strategies are actually saving you money. Evaluate soft capping, discover how much MSU was saved, and translate these efforts into actual financial figures. No more abstract spreadsheets of confounding numbers — mainframe analytics software assigns a concrete dollar amount to your cost reduction efforts.

Soft capping that doesn’t deliver savings is doing more harm than good. When you cap your system but receive no savings in return you’re limiting MSU for no reason. Log analysis helps mainframe managers evaluate the cost-versus-benefit of their cost-savings measures and ensures these strategies are delivering the most possible value.

The out-of-the-box mainframe analytics solution

Only one software solution helps mainframe managers leverage mainframe logs for service delivery and cost control: Zetaly.

Zetaly is the all-in-one operational data analytics platform. This software suite adds value to mainframe logs by making their contents understandable, applicable, and actionable. Whether you’re building reports to make sense of mainframe logs, managing MSU consumption to control IT costs, or aligning mainframe activity with business goals, Zetaly is the one-stop mainframe optimization tool.

Jacky Hofbauer is the President & Chief Strategy Officer of zCost Management, the leader in MLC Cost Control. Jacky has been intricately involved with system Z and z/Pricing for over 30 years and is a recognized expert in this space. He continues to share his knowledge and experience through popular white papers and Newsletters about system z and z/Pricing. Jacky is a regular contributor of z/articles to Planet Mainframe.

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