In February We Launched ACC Monarch: Here’s How Our Customers Are Leveraging The 3 Most Common Uses

It’s been four months since we released our latest version of Allocation Control Center or ACC, and with that release came a new name, “ACC Monarch.” At its core, ACC Monarch is about preventing the incorrect use of storage resources that are needed in order for your critical applications to function as intended. It ensures resources like production dataset names, production log streams and production volumes get used on the production system while test resources remain relegated to the testing systems. It can also impose restrictions on resource usage on certain dates or at specific times.

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We all know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but in situations where resources are allocated incorrectly because of overlooked policy management, ACC Monarch can automate control of DEFINE, OPEN, ALTER, or DELETE, examine and override users’ JCL or IDCAMS control statements. It can also set detailed attributes for SMS and non-SMS datasets, and provide tracing, SMF recording, logging, and extensive debugging capabilities to provide vital dataset audit trails.

ACC Monarch’s is flexible enough to let users perform a wide variety of useful tasks, but it most importantly ups your storage allocation policy game in a systematic approach.

  1. Enforce Policies and Standards
    Standards are implicit in the rules that you define using ACC, and they can be enforced for jobs, datasets, or even individual devices. For example, we could say a job or a step or a dataset can or can’t use a specific device at a particular time, offering granular control over your computing resources. ACC enables you to alter attributes through a dataset’s lifecycle at creation time, when the dataset is OPENed, and when it’s DELETEd.
  1. Avoid JCL Changes
    The control ACC allows is particularly useful in avoiding the sorts of mass JCL changes that might be required when standards change, a migration is necessary from an old program or from disk or tape units, or when you’re implementing new technologies such as EAV or virtual tape. Mass JCL changes are dreaded because they’re virtually guaranteed to introduce problems, but ACC can accomplish the same effect just by implementing a rule.
  1. Analyze and Prepare for Changes
    Policy rules can accomplish many things, but they’re commonly used to help users prepare for upcoming changes. ACC can issue messages that warn users about these updates, create SMF records, and assess the kind of impact that changes will have — before they’ve been put into place. With ACC Monarch, changes have never been easier or smoother.

ACC Monarch was DTS Software’s first product, and it continues to be one of our most widely deployed. For more in-depth information about ACC Monarch and a walkthrough of customer-specific use cases, download a recording of our Avoiding Downtime with ACC/SRS and Standards Enforcement webinar or view all of our resources on-demand at https://www.dtssoftware.com/resources/. Think ACC Monarch could be the right product for your needs? Request a demo today.

If Your Data Center Is Running Into Reliability Issues, You Need Effective Standards Enforcement

As a data center manager, you know that reliability is everything. After all, it’s your reputation on the line when something goes wrong. In a 2019 survey by the Uptime Institute, 60% of respondents reported that their most recent downtime incident was preventable with better management — a figure that grew to 74% when the outage cost more than $1 million.

There are lots of factors that can lead to issues with outages and downtime, but at DTS Software, we believe that storage is one of the most fundamental pillars of application integrity. When storage is unavailable or difficult for an app to procure, the best possible case is throttled performance, but a more likely scenario is an ABEND that could jeopardize critical business services.

Taking Back Control

To improve reliability and provide a set of centrally managed policies enforcing storage allocation standards, one of the first products DTS Software created was Allocation Control Center (ACC) Monarch. ACC Monarch is somewhat analogous to ACS Routines in that it allows you to control a dataset based on a series of variables, but with greater granularity and improved capability to change dataset attributes. Whether you’re looking at the DCB characteristics of the dataset, other characteristics for VSAM datasets, or anything you might code on IDCAMS such as free percentage or log stream ID, ACC Monarch allows you to decide how that dataset will be treated based on that information.

These policies are carried out by a policy rules engine running under the Dynamic Install Facility (DIF) Started Task, which loads code into storage.  As a result, any time a job starts, a step starts, or a dataset is created, opened, or deleted, ACC Monarch offers you detailed control over that dataset based on almost any of its attributes. This control enables the creation and systemwide enforcement of a robust set of standards, and because they don’t require the alteration of JCL, they can easily be altered via START, STOP and REFRESH commands.

Besides examining and setting attributes of datasets and jobs, policy rules can also write an SMF record, issue a WTO to the system programmer, write to system logs or TSO users and more. This functionality creates a valuable means of communication, in addition to the many other capabilities available to users of ACC Monarch.

DTS Software began offering specialized z/OS Storage Management and Systems Software in 1991, and ACC Monarch has been one of our flagship products since. Like the rest of our products, developing ACC Monarch in-house using a policy rules engine allows our software to perform tailored actions with the capacity for central management.

For more information about how ACC Monarch can improve the efficiency and reliability of your production workloads through effective standards enforcement, watch our in-depth webinar or download our related whitepaper today. Reach out for a demo or to request a free trial of any of our products. Whatever you need — we’re here to help.

DTS Webinar Recap: Mysteries of the Management Class

In Mysteries of the Management Class, DTS Software CTO Steve Pryor offered viewers an in-depth look at the Management Class construct. Management Class determines the lifecycle of a dataset, but its construct has some mysteriousness about it that warrants a deeper dive.

In contrast to other constructs, Management Class comes into play after datasets are allocated so there is still some configuration you’ll want to do at times with this class. The eight pages of Management Class attributes describe where and how long a dataset “lives,” and are closely related to other storage management components, including OAM, disk storage products such as FDRABR and DFSMShsm, and DFSMSrmm tape management.

The growing number of attributes that can be specified in the Management Class determines what backups are needed, how many backups are needed and if/when the dataset can be migrated, and includes both availability management and space management parameters. Space and availability management functions aren’t performed by the operating system itself, but by the DASD manager. Because these space management functions ensure there is sufficient free space in the system you need to have the understanding of management class configurations to effectively run the production workload, including dataset migration, recall and even deletion.

Watch “Mysteries of the Management Class” on Demand
If you weren’t able to attend Mysteries of the Management Class, you can view it on demand using this link. You’ll also find many other informative and educational on-demand webinars from DTS here.

June 2021 Webinar: “Mysteries of the SMS Storage Group”
Don’t miss the fourth part of our SMS Mysteries Series: Mysteries of the SMS Storage Group on Tuesday, June 29th at 11:00am ET. Of the four major SMS constructs, the Storage Group is one of the most important, and at the same time one of the most misunderstood. The Storage Group sits at the boundary between datasets, volumes, and storage managers such as DFSMShsm and FDRABR, critically affecting the use of each. There are seven different types of storage groups, each having different attributes and each appropriate for different types of data. The storage group definitions have an important impact on reliability, including on the availability of free space in the system and the placement of datasets on volumes. The June webinar will explain the role that Storage Groups play in DFSMS and the best practices for defining and using them. You can register here.

 


On Wednesday, July 14th at 1:00pm EDT, we’ll be back with an event presented by TechChannel and hosted by Pryor along with guest and IBM Champion Reg Harbeck. Aggregation without Aggravation: When Putting More Log Data in Your SIEM is a Good Thing will focus on storage event awareness and why the data from it is a great addition to your SIEM events for better security and compliance visibility. You can register here. We look forward to seeing you at these presentations!

DTS Webinar Recap: Mysteries of the Storage Class

In Mysteries of the Storage Class, DTS Software CTO Steve Pryor offered viewers a more thorough understanding of the Storage Class construct, which lies at the heart of System-Managed Storage and specifies whether a dataset is SMS-managed. The two dozen or so attributes that can be specified in the Storage Class indicate what a dataset needs in terms of performance and availability and directly influences the volume selection.

Since 1989 when DFSMS was introduced, advances in disk technology have rendered some Storage Class attributes obsolete except in very specific circumstances. In the Performance Objectives Category, for example Direct Millisecond Response and Sequential Millisecond Response were formerly important for choosing volumes that were behind a cached controller; today, however, all controllers are cached. As a result, Millisecond Response and Bias are typically used only in class transition, VSAM system-managed buffering, or for PDSE caching. Initial Access Response Seconds isn’t used either, except for OAM datasets or object datasets. Sustained Data Rate (SDR), on the other hand, decides whether or not a dataset will be striped, or grouped across multiple volumes and written in parallel. Provided the dataset in question is an Extended Format (EF) dataset, the number of stripes is simply the value in SDR divided by four.

Watch “Mysteries of the Storage Class” on Demand, Plus Next Week’s Webinar on Management Class

If you weren’t able to attend Mysteries of the Storage Class, you can view it on-demand using this link to hear Pryor go in depth about all the other Storage Class attributes. In DTS Software’s next program, Mysteries of the Management Class and the Dataset Life Cycle, we’ll discuss the Management Class and its unique place in the DFSMS storage management universe controlling the backup, recovery, and availability needs of a dataset. The eight pages of Management Class attributes describe where and how long a dataset “lives,” and are closely related to other storage management components including OAM, disk storage products such as FDRABR and DFSMShsm, and DFSMSrmm tape management. We’ll discuss all of this and more on Tuesday, May 25th at 11:00am ET. You can register here.


 

On Wednesday, July 14th at 1:00pm EDT, we’ll be back with an event presented by TechChannel and hosted by Pryor along with guest and IBM Champion Reg Harbeck. Aggregation without Aggravation: When Putting More Log Data in Your SIEM is a Good Thing will focus on storage event awareness and why the data from it is a great addition to your SIEM events for better security and compliance visibility. You can register here. We look forward to seeing you at these presentations!

DTS Webinar Recap: Introduction to ISMF Test

In Introduction to ISMF Test, DTS Software CTO Steve Pryor discussed IBM’s Interactive Storage Management Facility (ISMF), including the Naviquest feature (ISMF Option 11) and its advantages and disadvantages. The presentation began with an introduction to the ISMF Test component, which allows you to simulate the creation of datasets and execution of SMS ACS routines. This simulation helps predict what Data Class, Storage Class, or Management Class you’re going to get when a dataset is created, ensuring that ACS Routine changes will perform as expected.

Pryor then addressed the two types of users accessing the ISPF interface of ISMF, pointing out that the End User uses the facility to obtain SMS information, information about datasets and volumes, and work with lists, while the Storage Administrator is responsible for maintaining the configuration of the SMS constructs, Data Class, Management Class, Storage Class, and updating ACS Routines. The Storage Administrator can also define and alter tape libraries, storage groups, and test cases.

If you’d like to get into the meat of the presentation, it can be viewed any time at this link, but here are Pryor’s main recommendations to take away from the webinar.

  • Limit the size and complexity of ACS routines and clean up things that aren’t used.
  • Log updates you make to ACS routines because they’ll be executed for every dataset in the system. Use SAVEACDS and SAVESCDS parameters to copy ACS routines so you can fallback to a prior version if necessary.
  • Use WRITE statements to show values of ACS read-only variables when debugging.
  • Maintain some sort of testcase library to ensure that ACS routine changes effect only what you intend.

Pryor also dove into DTS Software’s SMS/Debug and Audit product, which extends the function of ISMF Test with the goal of improving utility and reliability. SMS/Debug and Audit provides a way to generate and execute ACS tests with an ISPF interface, but it also offers ACS routine logic tracing to look at the logic of data class and storage class routines as they execute in both a live allocation and a test-based allocation. This software can also compare constructs in one Source Control Data Set (SCDS) to another.

Another DTS product, Allocation Control Center Monarch (ACC Monarch), offers rules-based standards management to allow more granular control over datasets than you can achieve using just ACS routines. ACC Monarch can manage dataset creation, deletion, the ERASE function, and many more functionalities.

DTS Software Kicks Off 2021 Webinar Series with Customer Event

Why? We want to provide some IBM storage management intel as well as get your input on your customer experience.

The release of IBM® z/OS® V2R4 brought enhancements to SMS and DFSMS that will affect both storage administrators and end users. January’s Customer Forum webinar will begin with an overview of some of the most important changes, including encryption improvements, IDCAMS upgrades, new ACS Read-only variables, and more, followed by a brief dive into some relevant DTS Software product updates.

In most of our webinars, we share information about our products and how best to use them, or perhaps look into some of the trends that will impact enterprise storage and your own organization in the years to come. This time around, we’d like to switch things up and offer you, our customers and partners, a chance to take the mic.

We want to answer your questions, solve your problems, and exchange ideas, but we also want to hear about the products and features you most want to see in 2021. Innovation is a two-way street, and we’re fortunate to partner with some of the most innovative and forward-thinking organizations in the world, all with highly demanding storage needs. Some of our most successful products and features have started out with a little marketplace need intel fueled by simple customer requests, and we hope to continue giving our customers the chance to pinpoint some of our efforts and expand our product ecosystem even further.

We hope you’ll join us on January 26, noon ET, to discuss z/OS® V2R4 and share ideas for an exciting future. If you haven’t registered yet, click here to register.

Customer Feedback Survey

We also have a survey that will help us put on a great Customer Forum next week. If you haven’t given us your feedback yet, please click here and give us your feedback and we’ll finish the conversation next week.