Our Latest Client Success Story Shows How ACC Monarch Can Speed Up IT Modernization

Recently, a Fortune 500 client came to DTS Software looking for help in their IT modernization initiatives. Their legacy systems were governed by JCL older than many of their system administrators themselves, and they needed software that could help them update code without taking up much of their systems administrators’ time and effort.

In our latest client case study, we give an overview of DTS’s ACC (Allocation Control Center) Monarch solution which helped this financial services client run more reliable jobs on IBM® z/OS® with fewer failures while enforcing SMS standards and preventing unwanted time and resource-consuming disk allocation and space errors.

This Fortune 500 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.

Freeing Up Resources for More Strategic Initiatives

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. With ACC Monarch, the financial services company was able to automate much of their workflow so that their programmers no longer had to manage dataset policy through a series of emails and memos.

As one of the largest financial services organizations in the world operating in a heavily regulated industry, disruptions, downtime, and noncompliance were unacceptable. The solution to help them automate their storage management tasks needed to be easy to learn, quick to deploy, and with a competitive total cost of ownership.

ACC Monarch was an ideal fit, as it is a system-level product that can examine each file selected for use to ensure consistent standards across the client’s vast computing landscape. Additionally, ACC Monarch gives users flexible control to easily examine, override and record JCL control statements and warn of incorrect usage, and manage datasets with easy-to-understand policy rules.

There’s no need for a complex ISPF interface to keep track of multiple sets of rules and policies, nor is there a need for hiring new personnel with JCL subject-matter expertise (an increasingly difficult specialty to hire for).

To learn more about how DTS’s superior customer service and expertise as a long-time z/OS solutions provider helped this Fortune 500 enterprise streamline their data storage and management and speed up IT modernization efforts, read our latest case study on DTS’s website.

READ CASE STUDY:

How One of the Largest Financial Services Companies in the World Took Back Control of its Storage Management Systems

DTS Webinar Recap: Introduction to z/OS® Tape Management Systems

Tape storage management on z/OS has a long and interesting history. While most z/OS installations use disk storage (DASD) as the medium of choice for day-to-day production applications, for long-term storage, backup, archiving, and data integrity, including ransomware protection, tape datasets and tape drives can play an important role. But the management of tape files and volumes is quite different from that for disk and the difference can be confusing to programmers new to z/OS.

In our April 2022 webinar, now available on-demand, DTS CTO Steve Pryor looks at the history of tape systems, the unique challenges of SMS and non-SMS managed tape, and discusses the similarities and differences among the major z/OS tape management systems.

The Evolution of Tape Management
Dating back to the 1960s, tape replaced punched cards and the sometimes acres of physical storage space required to house them. Tape also made it possible for applications to store and process far more data than could be held on the limited capacity of disk volumes. But as storage capacity needs continued to grow, so did the need for more efficient tape and a better way to manage it.

What was the impetus for tape management systems? Since tapes were mounted manually, human error was a real possibility. And bad things happened when the wrong tape was mounted by the operator, which happened far too often. The wrong tape volume might be mounted for input, leading to application errors, or worse, the wrong tape volume mounted for output, causing data to be destroyed.

The original tape management systems kept track of which tapes were in use and which were not, as well as which tapes held data and which were scratch tapes available for writing. But the “systems” consisted mostly of a set of three-ring binders.

Modern Day “Virtual Tape”
Robotic tape management emerged in the 1990s, giving way after a short time to hybrid virtual tape systems and eventually the all-disk virtual tape systems. But, especially in industries where regulations call for off-site storage with long shelf life, tape is still very much in use today.

Why call it “tape”? In order to reference both physical and virtual tape systems, the tape management system must make the virtual tape volumes, which are simply files on Linux boxes, appear as if they are stored on physical tape. And the difference must be indistinguishable to z/OS.

How-to Examples for Modern Tape Management Systems on z/OS
Virtual tape systems provide as many tape volumes and tape drives on which to mount them as-needed with much faster mounts. And while the requirements of the modern tape management systems are functionally the same, the process of handling the data is a bit different than that of DASD.

With this in mind, Pryor presents a number of how-to examples of modern tape management systems. He includes several illustrations and on-screen demos, giving attendees a first-hand look at what to expect when dealing with tape management systems.

Learn More in our Webinar Available On-Demand
As with each of our webinars, “Introduction to z/OS Tape Management Systems” 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 or would like to review the material presented, you can view it on-demand, download a copy of the slide deck, and view the examples shared during the presentation by using this link. And be sure to join us each month for our complimentary webinar series.

How Attendance at a DTS Software Educational Webinar Led to an Exit Source Review and Software Purchase, Delivering Quick and Substantial ROI for a Fortune 1000 Communications Client

Like so many things in life, there are three givens working in expansive IT environments. Problems will arise. Solutions will be implemented. The problems will be solved.

In our most recent Case Study, DTS Software steps into a sprawling IT environment with data housed in large data centers in the Pacific Northwest. The client on the IBM® z/OS® platform, 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.

Like many mainframe shops of today, this client 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.

After attending a DTS Software Monthly Educational Webinar Series event, the 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. They needed a long-term solution that addressed the lack of expertise on assembler and PL/1 languages and were looking to avoid a costly mainframe hardware upgrade.

Solutions That Paid Off. Quickly.
When it comes to storage management tools and solutions expertise, you simply won’t find a more experienced, qualified staff of professionals than those of us at DTS Software. This proves out time and time again, as it did for this client.

The team of DTS engineers were able to formulate a quick, user-friendly solution to rewriting legacy exits, saving the client time, money, and frustration. What’s more, the client was able to continue operating within their existing z/OS environment, avoiding a costly mainframe hardware upgrade with services.

In most cases, the mainframe systems in place today have been the backbone of the client’s core business functions for more than 50 years. To try and replace or update all the poorly performing exits would be a massive endeavor. And even if large enterprises wanted to, the dearth of solutions expertise for these exits would be prohibitive.

Easy/Exit from DTS Software makes it – well – easy. And with a team of seasoned storage management experts behind it, you know Easy/Exit is built and backed by the best.

Best-in-Class Customer Service
We take the mainframe support for your business seriously and back it up with a customer service program that we believe is second to none. We consistently receive the highest marks in response time and quality of service from phones manned by actual humans with in-depth knowledge of our products. You won’t realize it until you need us, but that’s when we’ll shine!

The Proof is in the Performance
To read more about how this Fortune 1000 communications company benefitted from a DTS Software solution, read our case study here. And be sure to join us each month as we present complimentary educational webinars on topics of great interest and import to today’s mainframer community.

A Quick Look Back as We Move Forward With Optimism and Announce the Coming of New Features for ACC Monarch in 2022

Aside from the obvious “big picture” issues, 2021 served up two headline-worthy topics of potential concern to DTS clients. In July, IBM® announced the release of z/OS® 2.5, describing it as the next-generation operating system designed to accelerate client adoption of hybrid cloud and AI, and drive application modernization projects. DTS Software welcomed the innovation, as all our products are “built with the IT system interoperability and solution flexibility to facilitate day-one support for IBM, every release,” according to Steve Pryor, DTS Software CTO.

Then, in November the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced that it was tracking and responding to a new widespread remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) affecting Apache Log4j software library versions 2.0-beta9 to 2.14.1. Unlike some of our competitors, DTS’s software products do not make use of Apache, other internet servers, Java code, or the Log4j framework, so none of our product installations were exposed to the CVE-2021-44228 (Log4j) vulnerability.

2022 Will be an Exciting Year for Users of ACC Monarch

Current initiatives across all of IT, regardless of platform, center on modernization and where applicable, leveraging automation to help keep costs down. An integral component of modernization is storage management and your ability to move and allocate storage for data and applications; if you can apply automation here it’s a huge win for your data center. As hybrid cloud environments proliferate, the enforcement of storage policy has never been more critical.

The standards enforcement built into ACC Monarch delivers the normalization and categorization that allows for efficient storage administration and provisions for datasets to reside where they belong, whether on disk, tape, or cloud. And above all, ACC Monarch provides centralized, visible policy enforcement that eliminates beyond on-off email chains to solve this problem.

ACC Monarch has very unique abilities to perform standards enforcement, not just at allocation time (as done in a more limited manner by the SMS ACS routines), but also at OPEN/CLOSE, EXTEND and DELETE. ACC does more than just identify standards violations – it can alert administrators, write SMF records for later analysis, and even override JCL and IDCAMS parameters to enforce standards (including those for DSKEYLBL, the encryption key labels mentioned here).

On our roadmap and scheduled for a summer 2022 release, DTS Software will introduce Encryption Key Assignment Management and Reporting as a critical component of ACC Monarch. This new feature allows the ACC rules to help determine which encryption key labels are applied when a dataset is created, and identify and alert key label use that violates standards. Additionally, ACC Monarch will control RENAMing of encrypted datasets, and report on which encryption key labels are in use, which are unused, most frequently and least frequently used, and so on.

DTS Archived Webinars and their benefits

In the spirit of “paying it forward,” DTS is happy to continue our complimentary monthly educational webinar series. Whether you are a seasoned mainframer or relatively new to z/OS, a review of best practices and how-to information is never a bad thing. Our goal with each webinar is simply to provide useful insight and knowledge to help you avoid problems before they arise. 

Now is a great time to revisit our past webinar recordings and presentation slides in PDF format. All are available for you to view whenever you like, as many times as you’d like. Visit our on-demand library here.

We’ll see you at SHARE in Columbus– and Beyond!

SHARE in Dallas was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. In January, organizers were unsure of attendance and we saw overwhelming support for the event and it was great to see the mainframe community come together in person. We couldn’t be more excited about returning to the marketplace in person at SHARE in Columbus! While we appreciate the benefits of (and continuity provided by) virtual conferences, the positive experience of personal interaction cannot be denied. We treasure the one-on-one conversations with our clients and industry colleagues and rely on them to help learn about what the market needs and to shape our product roadmap. On to Columbus!

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
Visit https://www.dtssoftware.com/products/srs for a complete look, including datasheet, webinars, and customer testimonials.

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.