1. 2014 DVDs Mailed on April 14
2. Meaning of PDSE(1) in Last Tuning Letter
3. COBOL Binary Optimizer Managed Beta Program
4. RMF SMF Record Version Numbers
5. z/OS Software Pricing Strategies Class
6. Class in Germany
7. zUniversity Conference in Dublin May 18-22
1. About Cheryl Watson’s Tuning Letter 2015 No. 1
The 101-page 2015 No. 1 Tuning Letter was emailed to paid subscribers on April 10, 2015. You may visit our website at www.watsonwalker.com to obtain subscription information and the table of contents. The following is our Management Summary from that issue, talking about just some of the contents of that Tuning Letter:
Little and Large
This issue has an eclectic mix of topics. One of the articles started as a one-paragraph answer to a customer question and ended up as a 19-page deep dive into the relationship between COBOL Version 5, the MVS Library Lookaside Assist (LLA) function, and PDSE Hiperspaces. The amount of interest that we have received from customers regarding this article reminded me that something doesn’t have to be headline-grabbing and cost millions to be of interest to our readers. Something as seemingly trivial as loading a program is important when it happens tens or hundreds of thousands of times a day. It also provided an excellent example of how closely managed typical z/OS systems are – I’m not sure that a difference of a fraction of a second in load time would have been noticed on other platforms. But when that occurs tens of thousands of times a day, it adds up.
Optimizing Your Resources
I don’t know any z/OS site that is not understaffed. In fact, we discuss staffing in this issue’s Frank’s Viewpoint. But regardless of the reason for this situation, it drives home the message that you need to be getting the best value from your mainframe technicians. One good example is that customer that encountered the performance issue with COBOL V5 in the previous paragraph. Using their skills and experience to detect and then address this issue delivered tangible benefits to their company. So in future issues we are going to be looking at more ways that your technicians can work smarter, spending more time on tasks that deliver value and cost savings, and less time on tasks that can be done in a more cost-effective manner.
A good start to this series is Neil Shah’s article about automating parts of the software maintenance process. There should be no debate about the importance of keeping your software up to date – this avoids problems that other customers have encountered, it delivers valuable (and cost-saving) new functions, and it positions you to be more agile so you can react much faster to business requirements. However, it can also be a tedious, time-consuming, and mind-numbing activity. Neil’s article shows how you can exploit enhancements in SMP/E and in IBM’s service processes to automate large portions of this activity. It takes a small time investment to set up the infrastructure, but once it is in place, it can free up many hours of your technicians’ time for more valuable work and it helps you stay abreast of critical fixes and new functions.
The Importance of Keeping Abreast of Developments
Cheryl and I attended the recent SHARE conference in Seattle. I have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding SHAREs that I have attended in a long time. One of the hot topics of the week was security. There were a number of sessions describing real-life cases of mainframes being hacked into. It was enough to make any CIO go pale. The interesting thing was that many of the cases were process problems rather than technical problems (bugs). And that reinforced something that a number of us have been discussing recently – that z/OS is not automatically the most secure platform. It is, in the words of a recent Redbooks security paper, ‘the most securable platform’. In other words, standard z/OS cannot protect you from things like users that set their passwords to be the same as their userids. However it does give you the tools to stop people from doing this – but you have to exploit those tools.
And that brings me to the topic of protecting residual data. Residual data is the data that is left on a disk after the data set has been deleted. This means that another user could come along, allocate a data set on top of the previous data set and, without huge difficulty, read the residual data. z/OS provides the ability to erase that data (it is called Erase-On-Scratch (EoS)), but it does not happen by default. When this capability was first delivered, over 20 years ago, the performance was dreadful, and as a result, few customers implemented it. However there have been numerous improvements to EoS over the years, most recently in z/OS 2.1. The effect of these enhancements is that the cost of enabling EoS today is really trivial, especially when you consider the cost of data theft. And yet when we asked a room of 70 attendees at SHARE how many were using EoS, no one raised their hands. I can only assume that the reason most people don’t use it is because they are unaware of the recent improvements. To address this situation, we have an article about EoS in this issue, together with some performance measurements. Hopefully they will convince you to enable EoS, at least for your most sensitive data sets, if not for all of them. We also hope that this example illustrates the importance of staying abreast of hardware and software enhancements beyond just the headline items in the announcement letters.
Get on the VSAM RLS Express
Another function that took some time to get traction was VSAM Record Level Sharing
(RLS). There were various reasons for that in its early days, but RLS has now matured and IBM has put its full weight behind it by basing future catalog performance on the use of VSAM RLS.
There are already some very large VSAM RLS customers, but in order to help the next wave, this issue carries the first of a series of articles by Roy Farren and his colleagues at H&W Computer Systems. This first article provides important level-set information about how VSAM worked prior to VSAM RLS, and the challenges that RLS is intended to address. In coming issues, Roy will deliver valuable information about planning for, implementing, and managing VSAM RLS. Roy and his colleagues are experts on VSAM and deal with clients around the world that use their SYSB II product, so they are ideally positioned to help you make the move to VSAM RLS. Once you get there, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.
Help Us to Help You
Finally, we are looking for your help in helping us help you. Traditionally, we have emailed the Tuning Letter to one contact in each of our customers. And that contact then passes on the Tuning Letter to colleagues in any data centers that are covered by your subscription.
When everyone worked together in the same location, this mechanism served us well. But time moves on, and the way you run your businesses has changed. It is now common for the individuals in a single department to be dispersed all over the country. I know many people that have never had a face to face meeting with their manager or their colleagues.
There is also the issue of workload. For the person that receives the Tuning Letter, they have to pass it on to their colleagues. If they are busy or away from the office or on vacation, the Tuning Letter doesn’t get passed on. So their colleagues suffer because they don’t see the Tuning Letter. And the person that receives it has the additional chore of maintaining an up to date list of people that should receive it – not always easy in these days of constantly changing workforces.
It also gives us in Watson & Walker the challenge that if our contact leaves the company, we don’t know who to send the Tuning Letter to. Even worse, if that person’s email ID is not deleted, we could continue sending the Tuning Letter to that email ID, unaware that no one is monitoring it and passing the Tuning Letters along.
To address all these issues, we are kicking off a program to get all our customers to give us an email ID that will automatically forward the Tuning Letter to everyone that is eligible to receive it – for example, zOS_Engineers@mycompany.com. We are also asking you to let us know if we should use a different contact for billing purposes. And we are asking for a second technical contact. We will then email the Tuning Letter to the group email ID and the second contact. Hopefully between these two, all your colleagues will receive the Tuning Letter in a timely manner.
Consulting and Classes
As you hopefully know, Cheryl and I are very enthusiastic about growing the education and consulting side of Watson and Walker. We love interacting with our customers, and what better way than working side by side with them. We have completed a number of classes now, with another one coming up next month in New York City. [Ed note: Already completed; see item #6 below.] This one is on the burning issue of the day – how to reduce your mainframe software costs. We are also looking at holding some classes in Europe this summer. For information about all future classes, please see our website at http://www.watsonwalker.com/education.html for more information.
Because many people are currently restricting travel for education, consider letting us bring a class to you. We can modify the class materials to specifically address your installation. One example of a class that can quickly and tangibly pay for itself is our z/OS Software Pricing Strategies class.
We also completed a very interesting consulting engagement – it was a project to convert a single-site base sysplex into a multi-site Parallel Sysplex without a sysplex IPL. That was a challenging project, but we got to work with the nicest group of techies one could wish to meet. And we are now discussing a number of other engagements, all in Europe. If you think that Cheryl or I could contribute to a project that you have in plan, please come and talk to us. We only take on projects when we feel we can make a real difference.
If you would like to talk to us about some classes or consulting work, please send us an email (email@example.com). We are always delighted to hear from our readers.
2. 2014 DVDs Mailed on April 14
This has been a busy time. Not only were we busy on the first 2015 Tuning Letter, but we also mailed the 2014 DVDs to all Tuning Letter subscribers. The DVD contains all of Tuning Letters, presentations, CPU Charts, and articles since 1991. We even included the January 2015 CPU Chart. We strongly encourage our readers to download the DVD to a LAN drive so that all the mainframe techies in your site have access to it. You will find that it contains a wealth of information for experts and newbies alike, along with a powerful search capability.
If you are a Tuning Letter subscriber and have not received your DVD yet, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Meaning of PDSE(1) in Last Tuning Letter
We received emails from a number of readers saying that they received an INVALID COMMAND message when they entered one of our suggested commands. Mea Culpa – that was my fault. Many of the SETSMS PDSE commands have an equivalent command for the SMSPDSE1 address space (SETSMS PDSE1). So when I said SETSMS PDSE(1), what I actually meant is that you could use either the SETSMS PDSE or SETSMS PDSE1 commands, but I neglected to explain that. My apologies to those of you that got reacquainted with the System Commands manual due to my lapse.
4. COBOL Binary Optimizer Managed Beta Program
In Tuning Letter 2015 No. 1 we had a short article about an interesting prototype program that IBM has quietly made available via its Developerworks website. Briefly, the COBOL Optimizer takes load modules created with COBOL V3 or V4 and optimizes them to use the instructions available on more recent CPCs. (“More recent”, in COBOL V3 terms, is anything since 1985!). Since we published the Tuning Letter, we attended the IBM Technical Disclosure Meeting for ISVs in Poughkeepsie, at which we learned that IBM is running a managed Beta program to get early customer experiences of this very interesting new technology.
Customers can access the on-line Nomination Form by using their IBM userid and password here : https://www–304.ibm.com/software/support/trial/cst/forms/nomination.wss?id=6246. For more information about this program, please contact the manager for this program: Shereen Ghobrial (email@example.com). Note that with the commencement of the managed beta program, the prototype that was available via Developerworks is no longer being updated. If you are interested in working with IBM to validate this technology, we highly recommend trying to join the beta program rather than using the Developerworks version.
5. RMF SMF Record Version Numbers
If you use RMF and run in a multi-system environment, you have probably seen a message similar to ERB257I RECORDS WITH VERSION NUMBER N.N.N-X WERE FOUND IN THE INPUT DATA SET. THE EXPECTED VERSION NUMBER IS M.M.M-Y. This message is basically telling you that the SMF records you have passed to RMF were created by a level of RMF that is higher than the one reading the records. Your reaction was probably similar to mine – find which of your systems is at the highest service level and run the job over there.
However, we recently received some RMF data from a system that was at a higher service level than our system, so running it on another system was not an option. After some hunting around, I found INFO APAR II05299. This APAR provides a mapping of SMF record version numbers to RMF APARs that delivered that version. I’m ashamed to say that after all these years of working with z/OS, and RMF in particular, that this is the first time I have seen this INFO APAR. So, if you are the RMF go-to person in your installation, make sure to save that APAR number away somewhere so that you can wow your colleagues with your mastery of RMF trivia.
6. z/OS Software Pricing Strategies Class
We recently had the first run of our z/OS Software Pricing Strategies class in New York City. As it turned out, this international city was a very fitting location because we had students from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, and even New Jersey. It was a 2-day class, but Cheryl and I, being the perpetual over-achievers, had enough material to last at least 3 days. Nevertheless, the feedback was very positive, and we thoroughly enjoyed the discussions and interaction with all the class members. And we were delighted to see this comment from one of our students “From the two day class I have at least 6 great follow up actions. One has already yielded financial gain.”
7. Class in Germany
Based on our experience with that class, we are currently hoping to run the class in Europe in October, probably somewhere in Germany. We also have a variation on this class that includes an on-site review of your technical and software licensing configuration in addition to the (now) 3-day class. We know that many of you have limited or non-existent travel budgets, so we are happy to do the traveling instead. If you would like to participate in a future class or are interested in bringing Cheryl and me to your site, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prospective customers from Hawaii and Monte Carlo will naturally be given first preference. J
While we’re in Germany in October, we’d also like to explore the possibility of running our one-day SYS1.PARMLIB class and our 3-day Exploiting z/OS classes. Please see the class descriptions at www.watsonwalker.com/education.html, and let us know if you’d be interested in any of the classes we offer. We aren’t asking for a commitment to attend, but we’d like to get an idea whether there is enough interest to give the class.
8. zUniversity in Dublin, May 18-22
This year’s European IBM System z Technical University will be held in Dublin, Ireland, on May 18-22. Dublin. System z. In May. What more can I say? I am very fortunate that I will be there and will be presenting the following three sessions:
Wed. 09:00 zMB2445 MWP (Mobile Workload Pricing) In The Real World
Thurs. 09:00 zBA2444 Multi-site sysplex considerations
Fri. 09:00 zSM2188 Dynamic LPAR Capping – Controlling Software Costs
304.ibm.com/services/learning/ites.wss/zz/en?pageType=page&c=Q549350A81365Q2 1 – I think you will find that it really is a smorgasbord of information about System z. I hope that I will see you there, and that you will enjoy both Dublin and the conference itself. Please drop by one of my sessions to say hello.
That’s all for this Cheryl’s List. Don’t forget that we love to hear from our readers, so if you have any interesting (or harrowing!) experiences, or any good Irish jokes, please let us know. You can contact us on email@example.com.