REVIEWER: Dave Edwards, senior technical architect for The Canada Life Assurance Company.
BACKGROUND: The Canada Life Assurance Company is one of the largest and most profitable insurance companies in Canada, with total assets in excess of $62 billion. Founded in 1847 and headquartered in Toronto, it is among the top 30 North American insurers. It serves more than 10 million policyholders throughout Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.
PLATFORMS: S/390 parallel sysplex; IBM OS/390 Version 2.8; IBM DB2 for OS/390, V6.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We purchased IBM DB2 Log Analysis Tool as an audit tool to locate changes to data, identify who changed it and when, and selectively reverse any changes as needed. For example, fixing an erroneous insurance rate change is the type of error that can potentially impact our customers and us if not caught early. A change to a table containing insurance rates will cascade quickly to related tables and modify the terms of coverage for any number of policies. DB2 Log Analysis Tool is designed to quickly identify and back out any and all undesired changes, no matter how many tables may be affected. DB2 Log Analysis Tool can also be used to diagnose the causes of database problems, including abends. If a transaction in a database triggers an abend, we will be able to use DB2 Log Analysis Tool to locate the precise transaction, replicate the conditions prior to the abend in a test environment and repeat the event until the cause is diagnosed.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: IBM's DB2 Log Analysis Tool provides seven levels of filters that allow us to focus on our area of interest, even down to the column level. This granularity really helps us. We can view details, change or add filters and even go right to the subset of rows within the table that have a certain column value. If we want to focus on changes on certain policies within a company that buys group insurance, the filters allow us to select by date, time and the group's key. The beauty of this is that it doesn't have to be a key field. It can be any data column in the table; it isn't restricted to key values.
STRENGTHS: IBM DB2 Log Analysis Tool rapidly pinpoints undesired changes to data, including inserts, updates and deletions in complex sets of data, and provides reversal of changes as needed. DB2 Log Analysis Tool also supports all members of our data sharing group in our parallel sysplex. It merges the logs and ensures that all members of the data sharing group affected by a change are included in the operation that reverses that change.
WEAKNESSES: Performance could be improved if the tool could filter on only one data sharing member's activity. If we have a particular CICS transaction running on data sharing member "C," it would be helpful if all we had to do is look on that member's logs to find the changes. It is our understanding that IBM will incorporate this enhancement into DB2 Log Analysis Tool.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We found DB2 Log Analysis Tool to be more cost-effective than competitive offerings. In addition, IBM is quite receptive to product suggestions. We also expect the product to remain completely current with successive versions of DB2.
DELIVERABLES: IBM DB2 Log Analysis Tool provides reports in almost any sequence with very specific selection criteria: URID, time and date, user ID and table name. We can produce a report showing what changed with before and after values. The ability to quickly back out data changes shown in those reports is very important.
SUPPORT: IBM's support has been excellent. As we identified changes we needed, IBM en-gaged in a serious dialog with us. IBM addressed and achieved the changes we deemed to be critical. Support is key for us. We are very happy with the service we've received.
DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is all soft copy; and the tool's message help system for warnings, errors and other messages is very good.
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