Epsilon is a marketing solutions provider (MSP). Armed with unrivaled marketing experience, deep understanding of customer behavior and high-level analytics, Epsilon integrates best-of-breed applications to drive customer acquisition, retention and value enhancement. Epsilon's services span marketing objective setting and planning, database design and management, data mining, Web site design and deployment, online and offline campaign management, and direct response and marketing communication strategic counsel.

The Challenge

The Managed Services Group of Epsilon needed to send large mainframe-based files to a remote office with a computing environment that was strictly NT. The original solution was to download the mainframe files to a local server, compress the files and then delete the uncompressed files. However, downloading the uncompressed files would often take a few hours, and the server would not have enough space due to the large size of the uncompressed files. Not everyone knew how to compress files using the PC commands, so they were spending hours learning how to operate the software.

Because of these challenges, Epsilon wanted a compression solution that would work directly on the mainframe, eliminating the need to compress and decompress on a PC. Epsilon tested a few shareware compression products and found that these utilities unzipped compressed data quite well. However, these products made it too difficult to compress data on an MVS system due to file name restrictions or the fact that the product was written for an NT/UNIX system. Epsilon then tested PKZIP MVS from Ascent Solutions Inc. (ASi). The product was easy to use, and users soon found that it could easily compress data using a batch job on an MVS system.

At first, PKZIP was very, very slow. After some tuning and assistance from ASi's support team, the product performed quicker than compression software on the PC.

The Solution

PKZIP MVS allows zipped data received by e-mail or downloaded from an NT site to be quickly uploaded to the mainframe and processed there. This enables Epsilon's PC to OS/390 connection through TSO to be free for further processing instead of transferring a larger flat file. Additionally, the file never has to be unzipped in the PC environment, saving valuable hard drive space.

Epsilon's transfers of data from the PC environment to the mainframe are much quicker because the data can remain zipped. This has cut the time needed for data transfer and reduces the likelihood of a dropped connection or a timeout error.

The software certainly helped streamline Epsilon's process of creating mainframe files that will be used on an NT box. With PKZIP MVS, Epsilon has found that:

  • Downloading of files from the mainframe to a local server is faster, saving hours.
  • The server is not constantly running out of space. Compressed files still need to be deleted on a regular basis (every month or so), but previously the uncompressed files would need to be deleted immediately in order to make room for more files.
  • Knowledge of the PC-based compression software is no longer required. Epsilon has set up a standard PKZIP and FTP shell for the analysts. The only change required is the input and output dataset name.

With the help of PKZIP MVS, the production analysts can submit a batch job that will zip a file and FTP the zipped file to the host all in one job. Also, the servers do not fill up quickly because someone forgot to delete the uncompressed files after running the PC-based compression software. In addition, eliminating the need for manual intervention after an FTP and compression saved on labor costs.

Input File Notes
Size: 985 megabytes
Record Format: FB (fixed blocked, fixed length records)
Record Length: 204 bytes
Data Type: Text
Data Description: Client list (client ID, name, street address, city, state, ZIP code, etc.)

Method
Maximum
Normal*
Fast
Superfast
Compression
Maximum
Good
Good
Least
Speed
Slowest
Reasonable
Faster than normal
Fastest
Deflation %
85
84
83
81
CPU Minutes
72
34
24
18
Elapsed Minutes
148
63
38
29
* Normal is the PKZIP default

PKZIP ­ Comparison of Compression Methods

 

PKZIP MVS cuts file size and transmission costs up to 90 percent. PKZIP MVS zips MVS files of up to 4GB of uncompressed data and creates a single, compressed archive. Cross-compatibility enables users to transfer the zip files across platforms. PKZIP MVS converts between EBCDIC/ASCII and record-oriented/stream-oriented data.

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