DTS Webinar Recap: ISMF for Non-Storage Administrators

As the Agile Manifesto approaches adulthood (it turns 21 this year) it is interesting to note its proliferation into so many facets of life. What started during a meeting of the minds at a resort in Utah is now used by groups ranging from Boy Scout troops to software developers, from marketers to manufacturers. And like most everything, it has evolved over the years.

One of the key principles of the Agile Manifesto is simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done. This, however, flies in the face of the current trend of “doing more with less.”

News of IT layoffs (big and small) are all too frequent. But the amount of work to be done steadily increases. As IT teams shrink, more of us are wearing a multitude of hats to make sure the job is done.

In the storage management corner of the enterprise software space, it can mean giving non-storage administrators the knowledge to perform tasks that storage administrators might typically be asked to handle. A recent DTS Educational Webinar focused on that very thing.

ISMF for Non-Storage Administrators
ISMF is usually thought of as the “storage administrator’s tool” used to maintain SMS constructs and ACS routines. But there is another, lesser-known side to ISMF available to end users – the Data Set and Volume functions that allow ordinary users to create filtered lists of data sets and volumes for reporting or for commands and CLISTs, along with batch reports based on saved ISMF lists or DCOLLECT output.

In this webinar, presented by DTS CTO Steve Pryor, we provided an overview of these functions along with a practical demonstration of how you can use them in your installation.

What is the Interactive Storage Management Facility?
Simply put, it’s an ISPF application that’s not too difficult to use. Yes, it is mostly used by storage administrators, but as an end-user, there is a lot you can do with ISMF.

End-users can work with datasets, volumes, and SMS constructs to view, list, filter, and extract lists of information from them. The lists, then, can be used in many ways, including saving, reusing, printing, and deleting them. This includes individual datasets, volumes, or everything in the list.

It’s important to note that an end-user can’t alter them, that is the job of the storage administrator, so having access as an end-user is not high-risk.

Examining Datasets and Volumes via ISMF
Examining datasets with ISMF can answer a number of questions, including the names and kinds of datasets on a volume, plus a long list of other criteria, which Pryor introduces during the webinar.

Where does the data come from? Typically, the Catalog, but it can also come from the VTOC, which is where you’d find allocated space, used space, the number of extents and any other information kept in the VTOC but not in the catalog.

Pryor demonstrates how to create or access saved lists in an easy-to-understand way.

Saving Lists
A nice feature of ISMF is the ability to save lists for future reference or use in creating a new list. Lists are saved in the ISMF table. Pryor demonstrates this as well.

How-to Examples and Additional Resources
Like the previous DTS webinars, Pryor includes hands-on examples of ISMF usage for end-users. He also includes information on key reference resources available for those who need it.

Steve makes himself available as an additional resource as well and can be reached at steve@dtssoftware.com.

Learn More in Our Webinar Available On-Demand
“ISMF for Non-Storage Administrators?” is a 60-minute informative and educational look at an important topic in the mainframe space. If you weren’t able to attend or would like to review the material presented, you can view it on-demand and download a copy of the slide deck to keep as reference material. Be sure to join us each month for our complimentary webinar series. Go to www.dtssoftware.com/webinars for more information.

One Trend We’re Not Excited to See In 2023

The new year is often a time for reflection, and as 2022 fades into the rearview, we’re certainly grateful for the great year we’ve had.

In 2022 we saw a return to in-person conferences, and we were able to finally reconvene with our friends in the mainframe industry at events like SHARE and IDUG across the US and internationally. We also saw many encouraging trends in the industry, most notably the release of the IBM® z16™ mainframe, the first quantum-safe system and the first mainframe to use real-time AI for transaction processing at scale, among other notable capabilities.

We also saw encouraging statistics unveiled in Rocket Software’s State of the Mainframe report, which indicates 67% of Fortune 100 companies rely on mainframes for critical business operations.

There’s a renewed energy from business leaders to include the platform in existing modernization initiatives, and we’re happy to play our part in the efforts to make sure that not only do these important platforms keep running, but that they are utilized to their full potential.

One trend we found discouraging however, was the lack of care many of our vendor peers in the mainframe software industry show when it comes to client relations. We’ve heard that upon renewal, some of our competitors are passing increases onto their customers – you! – by as much as 40%!

And year after year, we hear from our friends in the industry that getting support for mission-critical software products grows more difficult, with so many vendors opting to go the cheaper route by outsourcing developers and customer service reps overseas. This divestment in mainframe talent from inside the big-name vendors in the space, while concurrently raising rates by (sometimes) exorbitant amounts depicts a worrying trend for our industry.

DTS Software has been in business for more than 30 years, and we know that the mainframe is still the #1 platform for processing the world’s most important data. We exclusively manufacture mainframe solutions, and our founders were pioneering innovators in the field. We’re all in on the mainframe. And though we are ultimately in the business of making money, we know that treating our customers well is the best way to do that sustainably. We are continually looking for success stories to tell, and our customers are the driving force behind that.

We do this with a 100% in-house development team, accompanied by our 100% in-house customer service team. When you call DTS, you will get a qualified mainframe professional on the other end of the line, and often times it’s one of the same people who built the product you’re looking for help with.

Though we’ll confidently stack up any of our products against our big-name competitors, we’re proud to be a small vendor in the industry, still able to provide the customized customer experience that we think is necessary when it comes to the mainframe.

And though unfortunately it’s become fashionable in the corporate world to treat your customers like they’re expendable, we’re happy to go against the grain, and our customer testimonials are proof of that.

DTS will never price gouge, nor will we ever outsource our development because we know when our customers succeed, so do we.

Looking to switch to a vendor who cares about your success with the mainframe? We’ve got a suite of products to replace many popular solutions from our big-name competitors.

Check out our Competitive Solution Replacement page today!

A Healthy IT Ecosystem Works Together to Survive and Thrive, Especially in Difficult Times

As in all aspects of life, when it comes to the mainframe ecosystem there are givers and there are takers. Sure, rule number one is we’re all in business to make money for the company. But a side note to that is we’re all fighting the same battle against a general lack of knowledge and acceptance of the mainframe outside the confines of the mainframe ecosystem. If we had a dollar for every time we heard, “the mainframe is dead,” we could all go on vacation!

A Year to Rebound
A bright, shining light in the mainframe space in 2022 was a successfully completed schedule of face-to-face conferences and trade shows held around the globe. DTS was a proud sponsor of several key events, our CTO Steve Pryor was once again a sought-after speaker, and our team was thrilled to be able to attend them in person.

But one thing we heard over and over is that it is becoming harder and harder to generate revenue from new mainframe software sales. So, what did one of the larger vendors in the space do? They raised their rates as much as 40%. Will it work? Time will tell.

It’s up to all of us to be advocates for the IBM Z® space – and even for our competitors to some degree – to keep the mainframe industry strong and relevant across all of IT. So, when we hear about business practices outside what is considered the “accepted norm,” we think it’s cause for alarm.

At DTS, our goal has never been to be the biggest software vendor. Just the best. This means, among other things, keeping our rates at a fair level and NEVER jacking them up exponentially once a customer becomes dependent on our products.

Complimentary Webinar Series Pays It Forward, Paves the Way for Efficiency
Another way DTS stands out from the field is our Complimentary Monthly Educational Webinar Series. We talk a lot about the importance of the transfer of knowledge to the next generation of mainframers. This is one of the many ways we contribute to the collective knowledge base of the industry, and we’re thrilled when the knowledge gained results in real savings and operational efficiencies for our customers.

Case in point, after attending one of our free webinars, an existing client was convinced we could provide the solution they’d been looking for, both in problem-solving assistance and upgrading legacy code without learning less-utilized coding languages.

The client is one of the largest international communications companies in the world, supporting hundreds of thousands of users, and the data and applications those users consume. But like many mainframe shops of today, they lacked extensive knowledge of assembler and PL/1 languages.

They had many obsolete, highly customized installation exits from decades past and were having a specific problem involving emergency logons to TSO. You can read more about how DTS engineers were able to formulate a quick, user-friendly solution to rewriting legacy exits, saving the client time, money, and frustration in this Case Study.

With our Easy/Exit product and a team of seasoned storage management experts behind it, the client was able to continue operating within their existing z/OS® environment, avoiding a costly mainframe hardware upgrade with services.

More Efficiency with Automated Storage Management for Fortune 500 Financial Client
Another recent success story is from a Fortune 500 client who came to us looking for help in their IT modernization initiatives. Their legacy systems were governed by JCL dating back decades, and they needed software that could help them update code without taking up much of their systems administrators’ time and effort.

This client has been in business for nearly half a century and has a vast IT environment with a dozen production systems and many more test LPARs in several data centers across the US, along with hundreds of analysts and tens of thousands of end-users. As one of the largest financial services organizations in the world operating in a heavily regulated industry, disruptions, downtime, and noncompliance were unacceptable.

They needed help implementing automation for their repeatable storage management tasks, which freed up human resources so they could focus on other more valuable modernization initiatives. The solution needed to be easy to learn, quick to deploy, and come with a competitive total cost of ownership.

Our ACC (Allocation Control Center) Monarch solution was deployed to enable them to run more reliable jobs with fewer failures while enforcing SMS standards and preventing unwanted time and resource-consuming disk allocation and space errors. With ACC Monarch, the financial services company was able to automate much of its workflow so that its programmers no longer had to manage dataset policy through a series of emails and memos.

According to their Datacenter Manager, “DTS helped us standardize and automate some modernization initiatives we had taken on. Their policy rules engine was simple and pretty straightforward, enough so that our less-experienced storage admins could manage batch jobs without interrupting more seasoned programmers who had the JCL experience.” You can read more about it in this Case Study.

Better Products. Better Pricing. Better Vendor.
DTS Software has been a leader in storage management for over 30 years. We know that to be around for another 30 years, we have to do business with integrity with an eye on much more than just our bottom line. Contact us at info@dtssoftware.com to schedule a demo or start your free one-year trial of any DTS product.