REVIEWER: Oliver Schenk, systems programmer and capacity planner of Postbank Systems AG.

BACKGROUND: With more than 14.6 million customers, approximately 22,000 employees and total assets in the amount of a190 billion, the Postbank Group ranks among Germany’s largest private customer banks. As a wholly owned Postbank subsidiary, Postbank Systems AG is responsible for the planning, development, implementation and control of the operation of all of the Postbank Group’s IT resources.

PLATFORMS: z/OS V1.8, DB2 V8, CICS TS 3.1. Postbank Systems is running four sysplex clusters for development, test, preproduction and production.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Before we licensed BMC Performance Assurance for Mainframes, a solution that provides performance reporting and predictive capabilities, we used a set of self-written programs and jobs that created our performance reports. This was very maintenance intensive and time-consuming, and the results were often not available in the morning. With BMC Performance Assurance Suite for Mainframes, and especially Visualizer, a component that provides an extensive list of out-of-the-box reports, and Perceiver, which provides Web access to performance information, we get a complete picture of what our systems are doing and who is consuming the resources. We now have a more complete understanding of what our main application running on DB2, which is connected to SAP Application Servers, is doing. By using Visualizer and Perceiver, we have saved an enormous amount of resources and time.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We use BMC Performance Assurance Suite for Mainframes to process SMF and RMF data every six hours. In the morning, this data gives us a quick and immediate overview of how our nightly batch performed and whether the batch windows were large enough. Our nightly batch does all the booking, reporting and printing for our customers, so it is critical that the batch runs complete in the time available. In the evening, this gives us a complete picture about our online transaction workloads during prime shift. The information provided by BMC Performance Assurance Suite for Mainframes helps our IT planning department and IT management control the batch and online workloads to be prepared for month-end business.

STRENGTHS: During the trial several years ago, we started with our development sysplex. After just two hours, we were able to obtain the first performance report, and we were impressed. We immediately moved the product to our production sysplex clusters, and after just one day, we obtained the information we were looking for - very fast, without programming and just using intuitive graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

WEAKNESSES: We are not satisfied with the current functionality of the interface as it should provide more flexibility to use external data defined by the customer. It is our understanding that this interface may be enhanced in a future release of the product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The criteria were easy implementation, just a little customization, fast results, complete information, front ends (GUIs) that handle mainframe and distributed systems data, resides on a PC (which everybody has) and small resource consumption on all platforms.

DELIVERABLES: At the moment, we publish a few reports showing the overall system behavior on our intranet. Most of the internal users use the products/GUIs to create presentations (e.g., Microsoft PowerPoint) for management decisions or Microsoft Word documents for reports, which help us better inform our management team. With the new version 1.7.00, we can now predict what benefit our applications and users can expect when we install zIIP processors.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The pre-implementation and trial phase was fast and well supported by the vendor. Most questions could be answered immediately. With the help of BMC’s product support team, the rest of the questions and small problems were solved in only a couple of days. In-house workshops that were conducted by BMC also broadened the interest and knowledge of our internal users.

DOCUMENTATION: To run the product for the first time, a short introduction was enough, so the documentation was not touched very often at the beginning. Later, when we included more and more information, we found that the documentation was a great help to get the instruction that we needed.

BMC Performance Assurance Suite for Mainframes
BMC Software, Inc.
2101 CityWest Blvd.
Houston, TX 77042
(713) 918-8800
http://www.bmc.com/

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