How the Processing Power of the IBM® z16TM Magnifies the Need for Better Storage Management

The mainframe is dead. The mainframe is alive and well. The mainframe is dying. The mainframe market is growing at a rate of nearly 4.5% a year and should continue at that pace for the next several years at least. The simple truth is the mainframe isn’t going anywhere any time soon. With the introduction of IBM’s new z16 product, that’s a truth you can bank on.

But with the z16 comes a new set of challenges for system administrators and programmers alike. The ever-increasing processing power of mainframe systems, along with the consolidation of applications onto fewer, smaller mainframes drives a need to use disk space more efficiently and reduce errors. Why? The mainframe is still the most strategic IT asset in the world. And because disk space is cheap per byte but expensive in the aggregate.

Space Recovery System (SRS) From DTS
Never has a product like SRS been more integral to a mainframe software stack. Then again, we could’ve said that 25 years ago and been spot-on. In a nutshell, (SRS) helps eliminate production failures that occur when the available disk storage can’t meet application requirements.

SRS is Always On!
SRS is always working to eliminate out-of-space errors and subsequent reruns (and the high cost associated with them), whether DB2, VSAM, non-VSAM, SMS-managed, disk, tape, or virtual tape. And by improving throughput, SRS eliminates the need for costly production restarts and reruns, especially during peak workloads.

SRS also reduces the potential for human error by removing the need to manually identify problems and find free disk space. It can even allow you to postpone the purchase of additional DASD by providing the highest rates of disk space utilization.

SRS Automated Recovery Capabilities
SRS performs recovery for datasets regardless of whether they are VSAM or non-VSAM, SMS managed or not, and whether they are destined for a specific volume or a group of volumes.  SRS’ mature technology ensures that all possible means of recovery are attempted. For example, multiple retries of primary and secondary space amount values can be performed, rather than just a single fixed-value retry.

SRS will even reduce the requested space to fit within the 4GB limit for non-extended format VSAM files, ensuring you get the full amount of space available. It also eliminates the need for “guaranteed space” and prevents the splitting of primary space across multiple volumes.

Checks and Balances
SRS offers a detailed audit report, which can include user-defined information. The user is offered options and can see summary or detail information in a user-friendly format. Additionally, SRS offers a sophisticated, comprehensive TRACE facility, which makes debugging your rules a snap.

There is also the ability to syntax-check your rules prior to implementation. This is a great option when changes to the rules are made in the morning but will be implemented by non-technical personnel later during the production schedule.

Combatting “New User” Mistakes
As the next generation of mainframers emerges, limited “new user” understanding of dataset space utilization issues, such as how primary and secondary space is obtained, and architectural limits such as extent constraints, is a potentially costly challenge. With SRS, problem solved. The work is done automatically and with unmatched accuracy. Similarly, since many requests are performed automatically by applications, z/OS’ limited ability for users to adjust requested space amounts is a non-issue.

Support From the Original Author Lineage
SRS is supported and actively developed and enhanced by the original authors. It is supported by some of the most experienced storage management professionals in the business. Our support staff members each have decades of experience and expertise in helping customers navigate their way through automated storage management, so when you have an issue, your problem is solved in hours, not days.

Want to Know More About SRS
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DTS Webinar Recap: Understanding IDCAMS – Finding Information and Managing Data

Judging by the consistently high attendance of the DTS Software monthly educational webinar series, CTO Steve Pryor continues to present topics of great interest and import to today’s mainframer community. Our March installment, Understanding IDCAMS, was no different.

In IBM® z/OS®, probably the most common utility for dealing with datasets and the system catalog is IDCAMS (Access Method Services). IDCAMS allows us to process or manipulate datasets, catalog entries, or catalogs.

Newcomers to the mainframe world are often at a loss as to how to go about tasks requiring the manipulation of z/OS datasets – creating, reading, writing, using, and deleting them, especially where “exotic” structures such as VSAM clusters, catalogs, and PDS/PDSEs are involved. An understanding of IDCAMS and its extraordinarily wide range of functions and features is an absolute necessity for mainframe analysts, whether for applications programmers or systems-admin gurus.

What are some of the most common uses for IDCAMS, its features and controls, and how can it best be used to get information and transform data? All this and more was covered in our March webinar.

What Can Be Done With IDCAMS?
IDCAMS has two main functions. First, we can get information (typically about datasets but also about catalog entries and the catalog in which the dataset resides). It also gives us the ability to do something with that information, such as change, copy, delete, or create a new dataset.

With its wide scope of possibilities, we can also merge master or user catalogs, create and operate on aliases, and manage tape tape volume and library entries using IDCAMS. Additionally, you can perform system programming tasks as well as day-to-day dataset access tasks with IDCAMS.

Consistency Across the Board
One of the nice things about IDCAMS is its consistency within z/OS. IDCAMS control statements use the same keywords for all the different commands, so a file parameter in one command means much the same thing as a file parameter in another command.

IDCAMS Control Statements – the How-To
As he does in each of his webinars, examples and how-to guides are where Pryor truly shines. Being a long-time ambassador for all things z/OS, it is important to pass along the knowledge gained over a truly successful career. Pryor spends much of this webinar presenting key information on metadata structures, invoking IDCAMS, control statements, flow of control, and more. He also provides a reference guide, listing several DFSMS manuals such as Access Methods Services Commands, Using Data Sets, Managing Catalogs, and Using New Functions.

Learn More in Our Webinar
“Understanding IDCAMS” is a 60-minute informative and educational look at an important topic in the mainframe space. It includes numerous examples, how-to guides, and references on where to find more information should you need it. If you weren’t able to attend, you can view it on-demand, download a copy of the slide deck, and view examples shared during the presentation by using this link.

DTS Webinar Recap: An Introduction to IBM® z/OS® Sort

In what can only be considered a masterclass series in z/OS storage management best practices, DTS Software’s monthly educational webinar series continues to present topics aimed at giving both seasoned and newer z/OS users and programmers new tools to help you get the job done more efficiently and more effectively. Our February 2022 webinar featuring DTS CTO Steve Pryor gave an Introduction to z/OS Sort, an unrestricted application within z/OS.

Modern z/OS systems are home to enormous volumes of data. But all this data is of little value unless it is properly organized, formatted, and usually, sorted. One of the most important programs for filtering, manipulating, and ordering data is the z/OS sort. Imagine receiving a phone book where the names and numbers aren’t sorted in any way. This is a simple illustration of the importance of z/OS sort.

In our February webinar, Pryor covered topics such as how the z/OS sort works, the most important and useful sort control statements, and best practices such as parsing and record construction. He also demonstrated how the sort can be used to read almost any type of input to produce reports and records useful at both the systems and applications levels.

The Evolution of z/OS Sort

Sometimes thought of as merely an ordinary utility, z/OS sorts have evolved into sophisticated mechanisms that can be surprisingly useful to systems programmers and storage administrators, as well as to application personnel. Beyond being the backbone of production applications, sorts can perform analysis and reporting in a remarkably fast, simple manner.

Pryor has used z/OS sort for over 40 years, and in that time, it has become one of the most powerful tools available. This “go-to” utility can perform many different useful functions, manipulating data in a myriad of ways.

You Don’t Always Need a 3rd Party Report Generator

The primary reason for running a sort is to transform data in more ways than simply ordering the records and correlating sequence. Data can be filtered, allowing you to select only the data you’re interested in. Input records can be selected from multiple sources and altered before it is processed, and outputs can be customized in any way.

Other key benefits of z/OS sort are the ability to summarize the data, combine contents of fields and records, and generate sophisticated reports. You can create almost any report imaginable once you understand the application’s capabilities.

With an understanding of what can be accomplished within z/OS sort, you won’t often need a report generator, third/fourth-generation language, or Java to generate the necessary reports. Later in the webinar, Pryor talked about some of the many sort control statements to accomplish your task.

Internal vs External Sorting
Referencing Donald Knuth’s classic book The Art of Computer Programming, Pryor spoke briefly about sort algorithms and how an ‘internal’ sort, where all the data can be held in memory, differs from the much more complex ‘external’ sort, which requires ‘work’ datasets and is far more commonly encountered in ‘real-world’ environments.

Flow of Control is Key

An understanding of how data flows from input through the sort and then to output is critical. With this understanding, you’ll know which control statements get processed at which time, and therefore which ones to use. Flow of control can be divided into several different phases, each of which Pryor covers in the webinar.

Learn More in our Webinar
“Introduction to z/OS® Sort” is a 60-minute informative and educational look at an important topic in the mainframe space. It includes numerous examples, how-to lessons, and references on where to find more information should you need it. If you weren’t able to attend, you can view it on-demand, download a copy of the slide deck, and view examples shared during the presentation by using this link.