Butch Rambish 060000TMQ8 firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  zos monitoring tivoli omegamon management system performance 1 Comment 921 Visits
In today's challenging economic times, everybody is looking for ways to cut costs. One way that many IT shops have been able to do this is through more efficient ways to monitor and trouble shoot performance problems. A poorly performing system can cause significant performance problems and user disatisfaction but perhaps even more important, it leads to waste and if not solved, can lead to premature acquisition of more capacity. This short video is a great start to better understand how the Omegamon products can help to drive greater efficiency for your z/OS environment.
Butch Rambish 060000TMQ8 email@example.com Tags:  others tivoli helping zos 3 Comments 1,130 Visits
I hope you'll indulge me a bit but I want to take a break from writing about software and software careers. Today I want to write about something much different. I want to talk about an opportunity I had to help other people. I'm not here to imply that others need to do this to grow up but I do feel this is something that is a result of me growing up a bit. My motto has always been “Growing older is mandatory; growing up is optional”. This was a bit of my optional growing up.
Last week I had the privilege of going to Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a group of people to help people rebuild their homes after last years disastrous floods. Where the Iowa river is about 100 yards wide in downtown Cedar Rapids, we were told that it was as much as 2 miles wide at the crest of the flood. Needless to say, the results were disastrous for many people. You need only to drive through the neighborhoods to see home after home that is vacant because the people cannot afford to rebuild. More than a year later you don't hear about it but the devastation is still there and help is really needed.
We did a lot of different things to help. We had people from 12 years old to 56 years old with a variety of skills. Actually, I should say we were largely an unskilled crew relative to the skills required to rebuild a house. However, we were willing to work and while a few of us know enough to be able to install a few windows, doors and trim, and others could paint, many of them just helped clean up from the flood so that homes would be ready to be rebuilt.
This is the 4th year I've been able to do this. The first 3 years I went to the Gulf Coast to help after Katrina. I don't go into this to receive kudos. I only bring this up to say that this is an opportunity that is available to many people because the recovery from these disasters takes years and just because it may be old news you need only to ask and you will find out there is more to do.
Can't go for a whole week? How about a weekend in your hometown? I know of a friend that took a group of people he works with and worked with Habitat for Humanity in our town and helped to build a home for a family that would not otherwise ever be able to have their own home. There is need for help of all kinds for people in your own town. You could get a group of buddies together and contact Habitat for Humanity or many other charitable service organizations to help others who need work done around their home but cannot afford nor are they able to do the work themselves.
I hope that many that read this will consider how they might be able to help their neighbors.
Butch Rambish 060000TMQ8 firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  management tivoli system zos 4 Comments 2,134 Visits
This is the second installment discussing observations over my 30 years in the business. Early in my career I was a System Programmer for 5 different companies, each in different industries. What was true early in my career is that what I did and how the companies used the computer systems were virtually identical. This is less about my experience with the z platform and can be applied more generally to all platforms.
Each of these organizations, primarily, used the mainframe computer to deal with back office application such as payroll, accounting, Human Resources and other equally exciting applications. While important to the survival of the business and clearly a valuable asset to the company, the computing systems and staff, for the most part, did not deal directly with the “real” activities of the business.
Now, there were some exceptions to this but I am speaking in very general terms. From industry to industry there were a few exceptions to this observation but at a macro point of view the vast majority of the hardware, software and personnel assets were not dedicated to revenue generating activities. In addition, for most businesses, the customers would never know if the computer was up or down.
Now I'm sure that the next thing I'm going to say is going to be one of those duh statements. Your general reaction might be to say that I'm stating the obvious and that it is not a new idea or very profound. However, that being said, I'll say it anyway. Over time we have seen the use of computing systems continue to be more and more aligned with the actual business activities of the company. Again, as mentioned above, the degree that this has happened varied greatly by industry.
The kind of interaction I'm trying to describe is not just revenue generating activities but activities where the customer interacts with the technology directly. Thirty years ago banks had computer systems and the tellers used those systems. So, you would say the computer system was used in generating revenue. However, the kind of interaction I'm referring to is where it is the customer that is using the computer system directly. In the case of banking we would be talking of online banking through the internet or use of the ATM network just to name a couple of examples. If you consider retail, in many stores today, the customer is the one who executes a credit card or debit card transaction. Many stores even have self-checkout registers where the customer completes the entire purchase without the aid of an employee.
These are examples of how the use of computing technologies has changed from back office type work to customer facing activities. Where as the interface our customers were used to 30 years ago was the smiling face of an employee, it's not uncommon for customers to be interacting only with the computing systems.
At a recent conference I attempted to describe this change graphically. If you think of the computing systems and customer interactions with the business each as a circle that is part of a Venn diagram. In 1978 when I started my career as an application programmer, these two circles would have overlapped very little if at all. The amount of overlap would have varied by industry just as it does today.
(I apologize for the missing graphic. I will upload the graphic as soon as my technical problem is resolved.)
This is a very rudimentary graphic but I think it demonstrates why it's important that companies change the way they look at their computing systems and personnel. This is a very aggregated view of IT and within this view there are myriad hardware, software platforms and applications. It's important that companies find a way to make the customer interaction with their company just as delightful as it was when they interacted with professional and smiling employees. If companies fail to manage the intersection of these two areas properly they will struggle to meet their customers' demands.
In my humble opinion, companies need to make organizational and management changes to manage their critical IT resources in a cohesive manner that addresses the needs of their customers. Managing their IT resources as islands of technology will fail to address these needs because the customer facing applications are ahead of the organizations and are being deployed across the various islands of technology. Until we learn to manage the applications in the same way they are used, that is from the customer's perspective, we will continue to struggle with the reputation of IT as being a stumbling block to business instead of a driver of business.
Comments welcome. I'd love to hear from you. Did you find this helpful?
Growing up z
Can it really be 30 years since I began my career fresh out of college as a COBOL programmer? After a short stint as an applications programmer I moved into the Systems Programming field in the early days of MVS (for you newbies that was several generations before z/OS). I saw the revolution that was MVS/XA and then MVS/ESA and the large scale changes to the computing environment brought about by the improvements in each of these new releases of the operating system.
This blog isn't as much about the improvements in technology. While that is very interesting and probably warrants coverage in a future blog, this entry is largely about my musings about the last 30 years. No, I'm not going to give year by year coverage. I'd bore myself to tears writing it and I'm sure readers would not expend the effort to read it. However, it is interesting to me to consider the skills that were required of me and my peers and to wonder are those skills that are still being taught.
Will there be a next generation of Sysprogs? Will skills like REXX, SMP/E and my all time favorite Assembler programming diminish in the work place and just go away. If they don't go away, will the younger folks find these skills as fun and challenging or are they more enamored with web GUI'S and other such pretty innovations? Will sub second response for things like TSO and CICS be in demand or pretty pictures and 5-10 second response from a web console?
Better yet, will there be a demand for old guys like me? Maybe I can retire and then double dip and do some free lance Assembler programming!! I'd be interested to hear from other Sysprogs, both younger and older. How do you see the field shaping up in the future?