In addition to our publications and services, Watson & Walker also offer specialized consulting services. All of the consultants at Watson & Walker have 30 plus years of mainframe experience and are known and respected internationally for their expertise, integrity, and independence. Only the largest corporations can afford to have their own experts in every field. Watson & Walker will work closely with your staff to provide infrequently-used skills. And for clients both large and small, we provide an industry-wide perspective based on our work with other customers and with IBM. We do not rely on advertising, so we can offer completely unbiased advice and recommendations. Our objective in every consulting engagement is to deliver more than the client expects.
Mainframe Strategic Outsourcing – Cost reduction reviews
Increasing numbers of companies are using outsourcing of their mainframe services as a way to achieve cost reductions and to help address the issue around maintaining mainframe skills in their organization.
A very significant part of any mainframe outsourcing deal will be related to software license costs, usually in excess of 50%, and Watson & Walker has extensive experience in mainframe software pricing and reduction strategies. Applying this experience when a company is negotiating or renewing a mainframe outsourcing deal can result in considerable cost reductions.
In addition to software pricing, agreeing on the appropriate charging metrics for a mainframe service is absolutely key to being able to achieve cost reductions and efficiencies during the life of the agreement. A bad choice of charging metrics can tie a company’s hands when it comes to future exploitation of new technologies that drive cost reductions.
For companies in existing mainframe outsourcing agreements where all asset ownership (software license and hardware assets) have been transferred to the outsourcer, there is often considerable scope to achieve cost reductions by exploiting mainframe technologies that can reduce or flatten MSU growth. In many cases the outsourcer has no incentive to drive adoption of these technologies as they will result in revenue reduction.
Watson & Walker has consultants with extensive and recent experience in mainframe outsourcing pricing and delivery and mainframe cost reduction in an outsourced environment.
Our mainframe outsourcing cost reduction reviews are tailored to each customer’s circumstances but typically address:
- How to structure mainframe outsourcing contracts and charging metrics so as to allow you to exploit the many cost reduction strategies (software licensing and technical tuning) available in a mainframe environment.
- How to analyze existing mainframe outsourcing agreements and work out cost reduction strategies within the limits allowed for by your existing contracts and charging metrics. Our experience is that many strategic outsourcing vendors lack these high end skills given the relentless pressure on cost reductions in the industry.
Sysplex Health Check
z Systems customers use sysplex for many reasons – increased scalability, continuous application availability, and to benefit from Parallel Sysplex License Charging. Regardless of why you use the sysplex capability, the fact is that sysplex-related system services (XCF, XES, System Logger, and the Coupling Facility) play a vital role in the performance and availability of the applications running in that environment.
Our sysplex health check is based on years of experience working with the IBM sysplex development groups and IBM’s largest and most complex customers around the world. The health check includes items such as:
- Coupling Facility performance, new function exploitation, and configuring for availability.
- Sysplex messaging services (XCF) configuration, signaling paths, buffers, top exploiters, and automating for optimum availability.
- Tuning Sysplex Failure Management to your configuration, application topology, workload volumes, and availability objectives.
- Configuring System Logger to minimize overhead, maximize availability, and exploit the latest Logger enhancements.
Every engagement is tailored to the specific needs of the client. A typical study consists of two weeks of remote data analysis followed by two weeks on-site conducting interviews, providing feedback, and assisting in the creation of action plans.
Software Contracts and Audits
It is common to see mainframe customers with software products that they have had for 20 or more years. This is often a positive thing: the product might be a perfect fit for your needs, you may have an excellent relationship with the vendor that has been built up over the years, and the users of the product know it well enough to get the optimum value from it.
It is also not uncommon to find that the contract covering the use of the product has not been significantly reviewed since the product was first installed. However, over that time, technology has changed significantly. Was it possible to logically divide a mainframe into LPARs when the contract was written? Were there special purpose engines (zIIPs and zAAPs) back then? Or sub-capacity pricing based on rolling 4-Hour averages? How about more recent enhancements such as Mobile Workload Pricing, Country Multiplex Pricing, or Tailored Fit Pricing (TFP)?
All of these things can become potential issues in case of a software audit. If the contract refers to a ‘system’, does that mean a z/OS image or an entire processor? Is the contract completely unambiguous about the metric that is used to determine how many MIPS or MSUs were used? How can you prove which systems a product was or was not run in?
These are just a small sample of the issues that can arise. Cheryl Watson is famous in the mainframe arena not only for her knowledge and experience, but also for her integrity and fairness. We can perform an audit of your contracts and help you address exposures that could potentially cost you millions in charges and legal costs. Software audits are becoming more common and are viewed as a way to make a quick financial killing by some companies. Don’t leave yourself exposed – a small investment in a contract review now could pay for itself many times over when the auditors and lawyers come knocking on your door.