Friday, 14 January 2011 16:19

CA Mainframe Chorus for DB2 puts new generation face on mainframe management


CA aims to make mainframe management more accessible to a new generation of employees with its new Mainframe Chorus software.

CA Mainframe Chorus is part of the company's Mainframe 2.0 strategy. Its purpose is to provide role-based systems management facilities with a modern GUI.

Savio Saldanha, director of solution sales for mainframes at CA Technologies Australia and New Zealand told iTWire that the product was designed after consulting the company's mainframe advisory councils, which comprise some of "the world's best mainframe users".

"They are the people that defined the scope of CA Mainframe Chorus," he said.

And rather than trying to design the GUI internally, CA turned to frog design, which worked alongside mainframe users to find out what they actually do in order to modernise the user interface to make it accessible to a new generation of IT workers.

Once the design and functionality was in place, the project was turned over to CA's development labs - including the one in Australia - for implementation.

What's the first Mainframe Chorus component to ship? Find out on page 2.

Saldanha stressed that Mainframe Chorus isn't merely a front end but a role-based approach to management. The first part of the product to be released is Mainframe Chorus for DB2 Database Management.

The software has been beta tested by members of CA's mainframe advisory councils, a process that stress-tested the product and generated feedback that led to some changes in certain aspects.

Mainframe Chorus is intended to help customers keep costs under control, sustain critical skills, and increase agility.

While Jonathan Adams, vice president of mainframe service management R&D at BMC Software, recently told iTWire that "Australian mainframe skills seem vibrant," Saldanha noted that at a recent meeting of people working in a particular mainframe speciality, 18 out of 20 expected to retire within five years, and one would like to do so but thought she would be unable to do so for financial reasons. So he suggests there is a need for tools that support mentoring and skills transfer, and that reduce the need for deep experience before someone can be productive.

Functions include the ability to capture the work of an expert DB2 DBA as a "cookbook" for less experienced staff, and helping to optimise performance by monitoring the system and predicting trends from historical data. The Australian contribution was the development of the time series and graphics components.

"There's no one else doing this sort of stuff," claimed Saldanha, noting that the technology was showcased in a keynote at the SHARE conference for enterprise IT professionals.

What's ahead for Mainframe Chorus? Please read on.

He said in terms of the user interface, Mainframe Chorus was "more like an iPhone than a 3270 screen" yet it runs on the mainframe itself. "It is not a clumsy n-tier [implementation]," he said.

For economy, the software offloads some tasks to the zIIP and zAAP processors rather than the main z-Series CPU.

Future Mainframe Chorus components will address security, storage, workload and performance management, and IMS operations. The product "integrates the silos of software" from an operational perspective, Saldanha told iTWire.



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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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