DTS Webinar Recap: SYS1.PARMLIB: What It Is, What’s Important, and Why?

The PARMLIB dataset is arguably the single most important dataset in a z/OS® enterprise. Controlling everything from system initialization, tailoring, catalog operations, and storage management to security, automation, console functions, and more, the PARMLIB concatenation is critical to z/OS functioning.

In a recent webinar, now available on-demand, DTS CTO Steve Pryor covers the importance of the SYS1.PARMLIB concatenation of datasets. Akin to where you’d find “init files” in the Linux and open-source worlds, but a bit more complicated in z/OS, there is a multitude of PARMLIB members that touch everything throughout the system.

While he couldn’t cover all 80+ members in a single session, Pryor takes a look at some of the most important members that affect system configuration (IEASYSxx, LOADxx,  PROGxx, IEASYMxx, IKJTSOxx) and storage management (ALLOCxx, DEVSUPxx, IGDSMSxx, and IGGCATxx). In addition to discussing the PARMLIB concatenation, Pryor also talks about filtering (to handle multiple systems) and the important console commands related to some of the PARMLIB members.

When you consider that each PARMLIB member can contain anywhere from one to several hundred parameters and statements, you get a sense of the amount of information that can be contained in SYS1.PARMLIB.

Where Does SYS1.PARMLIB Fit in the System?
The LOADxx member (usually LOAD00) starts everything off at IPL and resides within SYS1.PARMLIB or SYS1.IPLPARM. It can refer to as many as 16 partitioned datasets. The LOADxx member will contain the command to point to the SYS1.PARMLIB concatenation, although there is a SET LOAD command which allows you to switch to a different PARMLIB concatenation after the IPL has taken place.

Once the introduction groundwork is laid, Pryor dives into the nuances of SYS1.PARMLIB. He points out that, due to the lengthy history of SYS1.PARMLIB, you’ll often need to refer to the documentation for instruction on things like coding comments, continuations, where the end of the member is, etc. Because they differ from member to member, he also recommends caution when coding about continuation, comments, and about the end of the member.

Teaching by Example
The remainder of the webinar is dedicated to on-screen instruction. Pryor takes a look at LOADxx, IEASYSxx, IEASYMxx, a multitude of System Programming Members, and PROGxx and some of its associated statements. He then moves on to cover the most important Storage Management Members, Message Processing Members, and many more of the most important PARMLIB members.

The depth with which the topic is covered once again proves why Steve is one of the most respected experts in mainframe storage management today.

PARMLIB Reference Resources
If you need to find more reference material on SYS1.PARMLIB, Pryor once again provides information on key reference resources available for those who need it. Steve is also available via email to answer questions about this topic and can be reached at steve@dtssoftware.com.

Learn More in Our Webinar Available On-Demand
As with each of our monthly webinars, “SYS1.PARMLIB: What It Is, What’s Important, and Why?” 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 and download a copy of the slide deck by using this link. Be sure to join us each month for our complimentary webinar series. Go to www.dtssoftware.com/webinars for more information.

Is the Convergence of Enterprise IT Modernization and the Mainframer Skills Gap a Recipe for Disaster?

What do you get when you combine a technology that, on the surface, many wrote off years ago, but that in reality is growing at an accelerated pace, with a complete paradigm shift toward modernizing how the technology is used? Now throw in a well-publicized lack of young talent to carry it forward as the older generation ages out, and you get opportunity on every level.

Cloud computing isn’t growing at a break-neck pace because it’s that latest fad. DevOps hasn’t taken hold because it sounds cool. And automation isn’t the wave of the future because journalists need something to write about. These are just three of the many ways better software is being developed faster. And as more efficient ways to utilize it are emerging, enterprise IT can continually do more with less.

A byproduct of all this progress is the ever-increasing volume of data generated every second of every day. Accessing, using, storing, retrieving, and archiving data is something DTS has been innovating since our inception in 1991. It’s why we’re trusted by the Global 2000 today.

There’s a big difference between building a technology from the ground up and buying someone else’s work and throwing it into your product mix. As pioneers in dynamic disk space recovery and volume pooling technologies, we are best positioned to apply our technology to solve real-world problems, saving our clients precious time, resources, and often a LOT of money.

How a Software Purchase Saved Our Client From an Expensive Mainframe Hardware Upgrade
One such instance was a client with a sprawling IT environment and data housed in large data centers in the Pacific Northwest. 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.

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.

They needed a long-term solution that addressed the lack of expertise in assembler and PL/1 languages and were looking to avoid a costly mainframe hardware upgrade. 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.

In this Case Study, you can read about how DTS engineers were able to formulate a quick, user-friendly solution to rewriting legacy exits, saving the client time, money, and frustration. 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.

When asked about their experience with DTS, the Datacenter Manager for this client said, “Some of these exits were older than our younger programmers and we don’t know who did the original assembler coding, nor do we have the expertise to update it. So, it was great that we found a partner with a solution that reduced the headache associated with updating these exits. DTS’s Easy-Exit utility was easy to install, and their policy rules engine gave us a workaround for the assembler and PL/1 problem we were staring at.”

Automated Storage Management That’s Quick to Deploy and Easy to Learn for Fortune 500 Financial Client
Another recent success story comes from a Fortune 500 client who came to DTS Software 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. You can read more about it in this Case Study.

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.

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. 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.

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.

One of the many ways we saved them time and human resources was to ensure that standards for VSAM RLS (Record-Level Sharing) attributes and other VSAM attributes were valid and consistent for the datasets they were associated with. This sort of logical enforcement of complex standards (as opposed to merely syntax or validity-checking) is something that is only possible with a flexible policy rules language like that provided by ACC Monarch.

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.”

Best-in-Class Products Back by Best-in-Class Customer Service
We take the mainframe support for your business seriously and back it up with a customer service program that 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 Original Storage Management Experts
To put the power of over 30 years of storage management expertise to work for your business. Contact us at info@dtssoftware.com to schedule a demo or start your free one-year trial of any DTS product.  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.

DTS Webinar Recap: How to Properly Back Up and Restore a Dataset in IBM® z/OS®

The handling of datasets as they move up and down the hierarchy is a key focus for any data center manager. When a dataset becomes damaged or inaccessible, being able to recreate it from a backup is paramount.

While data center-wide backups are usually performed by the storage management department, restores are often the responsibility of the user. There are many complexities to creating and maintaining backup systems but restoring is often more straightforward. Understanding the programs, mechanisms, and commands involved with creating and especially locating backups and performing restores is an important skill for the z/OS user.

Taking backups isn’t something to be overlooked or done on occasion. The question is who takes them, why are they taken and where do they fit in the storage management scheme? In a recent webinar, DTS Software CTO Steve Pryor discussed the major backup systems (DFSMShsm, FDR, CA-Disk), their functions and operation, and how to restore backed-up datasets.

Basic but Critical Functions
Backup and restore are basic functions, but they are also critical functions, especially for large data centers when a dataset gets damaged, deleted by accident, or there is a hardware failure. This could also apply to entire volumes or storage groups in a disaster recovery situation.

Data Availability Management vs Space Availability Management
Storage management in z/OS is usually divided into two camps: data availability management and space availability management. What is the difference and what are their goals?

The goals of data availability management are to ensure the datasets that are supposed to be backed up are backed up, that they are backed up as frequently as needed, and that they are available to be restored when needed. The lifecycle of a dataset as it pertains to data availability management is short and often several versions are vaulted.

The purpose of space availability management is to ensure sufficient free space is available to allow the production workload to run. This involves managing the dataset’s movement through the hierarchy from primary disk to compressed disk, tape, or even to the cloud.

With space availability management, datasets are deleted off the disk when a backup is completed (usually referred to as migrates or archives). The dataset’s lifecycle is much longer, generally only one or two copies exist, and a recycle function must be performed as the dataset ages on the archive media.

The Most Frequently Used Backup Types in z/OS
Backup types and the programs most widely used to perform backups in z/OS were the next points of discussion in the webinar. Backups are generally taken by data center management, storage administrator, the operators, or by automatic function.

Full volume backups occur when backing up all the datasets in a particular volume. Dataset backups occur when individual datasets are backed up. And one of the most common backup types is an incremental backup, which is typically done on a volume basis. Incremental backups simply mean that only the datasets that have changed are backed up, and these are usually done daily. Other less-frequently used backup types were also mentioned.

From here, Pryor focused on HSM and FDR, two of the most widely used backup and restore utilities. He then took a deep dive, giving numerous examples and how-to explanations, and offered a “cheat sheet” of terminology with HSM versus FDR, which was included in the presentation slide deck.

You Have the Backup, Now How Do You Restore it?
The remainder of the webinar focused on restoring the data when you need to, whether that be from disk, tape, or the cloud. Pryor once again presented a number of how-to examples and discussed the different approaches depending on the utility you are using.

Backup and Restore Reference Resources
If you need to find more reference material on backing up and restoring in z/OS, Pryor once again provided information on key reference resources available to those who need it. Steve is also available via email to answer questions about this topic. He can be reached at steve@dtssoftware.com.

Learn More in Our Webinar Available On-Demand
As with each of our monthly webinars, “How to Back Up and Restore a Dataset in z/OS” 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 and download a copy of the slide deck by using this link. Be sure to join us each month for our complimentary webinar series. Go to www.dtssoftware.com/webinars for more information.

DTS Webinar Recap: An Introduction to JCL

The goal of the DTS Educational Webinar Series is to educate engineers new to z/OS® on concepts and skills often unique to the z/OS environment and to serve as a refresher to seasoned engineers in need of reviewing skills they may have forgotten along the way. DTS CTO Steve Pryor’s virtual masterclass in storage management continued in July with An Introduction to JCL.

One of the many differences between the mainframe and open systems environments is the mainframe’s Job Control Language, or JCL. In z/OS systems, nothing takes place that doesn’t involve using JCL to define and allocate the datasets, memory, disks, tapes, subsystems, and other resources needed. JCL’s over 50-year history means it’s extraordinarily powerful, complex, and often incomprehensible to users new to the z/OS platform.

In our July webinar, Pryor discussed topics such as: what JCL is and isn’t, JCL’s purposes and importance, as well as the major JCL control statements and their use.

In the Beginning
JCL originated from the 80-character punch card and retains its format of 80-character records still today. JCL was the first facility that allowed an individual user to specify exactly what resources they would need for their work, and to allow the system to parcel out the resources according to what was needed and what was available.

The Basics of JCL
Once you grasp the basic purpose and components of JCL, it’s not difficult to understand. First, what is JCL supposed to do?

  1. Identify a unit of work (typically a batch job)
  2. Specify resources required:
    • Where the job is to run and its priority
    • What programs, procedures, and libraries are needed
    • What datasets are required and how they are used
    • What Disk and tape units are needed
    • SYSOUT and instream datasets and disposition

Next, what are JCL parameters? As Pryor explains in the webinar, there are two types of parameters when dealing with JCL:

  1. Positional Parameters
    • Must occur first when required
    • How to code when the positional parameter is not required and can be omitted
  2. Keyword Parameters
    • Are of the form “keyword=value”
    • Always follow any positional parameters
    • Can appear in any order

Important JCL Statements
While there are far too many JCL Statements to teach in one day, Pryor covers some of the more important ones, paying special attention to those that are either required or are the most utilized, including the Job Statement, Exec Statement, DD Statements, JES2 Control Statements, and JES2 Execution Control Statements. This portion of the webinar includes examples that are available in the PDF download of the presentation.

JCL Statement Reference Resources
One of the great things about Pryor’s approach is the sharing of his in-depth knowledge of where and how to find key reference materials should you need to dig deeper. In the webinar, he once again provides information on the go-to reference guides available that cover JCL.

WEBINAR-JULY-22-400X400-POSTLearn More in our Webinar Available On-Demand

Our July webinar is now available on-demand in the DTS webinar library. As with each of our webinars, “An Introduction to JCL” 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 and download a copy of the slide deck by using this link. Be sure to join us each month for our complimentary webinar series. Go to https://dtssoftware.com/webinars for the latest schedule.

SHARE Columbus a Huge Success for the Organization, Attendees, and Vendors Alike

We hope everyone is back home and settled into their normal routines after a fantastic week at SHARE Columbus 2022.

Our DTS team had a great time attending learning sessions, networking, and meeting with fellow conference attendees. After two years of online only events, it was a welcome change to be socializing in-person with our peers in the mainframe community.

As a vendor-sponsor, we were excited to see such a great turnout of attendees and other vendors, and know it signals good things to come for our industry.

IT modernization proved to be a hot topic at SHARE Columbus, and how the pandemic has accelerated the need for these initiatives. In many ways, the pandemic has made IT professionals’ jobs more demanding, yet with this increased demand comes the opportunity to welcome in new changes to improve mainframe systems industry-wide.

The SHARE Columbus expo floor was packed with vendors showcasing new and innovative products and services, and the continued excitement over the new z16 technology by IBM® made it obvious that not only is the mainframe here to stay, but that it is the platform of the future.

DTS CTO Steve Pryor had a busy conference as well with three speaking sessions throughout the week on z/OS® storage management topics. Steve’s monthly webinar series has been a big hit, and he thrives when given the opportunity to teach what he knows – and he certainly knows a lot.

Even better, at in-person speaking sessions there is the added opportunity to ask questions, ask for clarifications, and engage one-on-one after the presentation is over.

On the expo floor, our team had a great time mingling with other SHARE attendees and vendors, and helping give recommendations on how to improve ACS routine efficiency, reliability, and readability. DTS’s suite of mainframe storage optimization products are great tools for any company looking to modernize their mainframe infrastructure, without adding to IT teams’ workloads, and at an affordable cost. We valued the opportunity to exhibit our solutions to the folks in our target audience.

Furthermore, we valued the opportunity to nurture our client and partner relationships in person at SHARE Columbus, as well as form new ones. In such a tight-knit community, it’s vital to have a positive reputation and we’re lucky to enjoy an excellent relationship with our partners in the industry. We believe events like SHARE are great for expanding our positive reputation in the industry, and making personal connections between our peers, clients, and team members. Not only are our team members technically outstanding, but they are also great people, and we consider this a huge strength when it comes to our attendance at SHARE and other industry conferences.

For conference attendees who weren’t able to attend any of Steve’s presentations, presentation slides for Steve’s sessions, “Reporting with a Tool You Already Own – DCOLLECT”, “SLIP, ZAP, TERSE, XMIT – What’s it All About?”, and “Just What is a Storage Group, Anyway?” are available online via the SHARE Columbus online portal.

For anyone who wasn’t an attendee, but is interested in the slides, email us at support@dtssoftware.com, and we will be happy to send them over.

Thanks again to everyone at SHARE who stopped by our booth and said hi and attended any of Steve’s presentations. We can’t wait to see you in Atlanta for the next SHARE conference!

 

IBM® z/OS® Storage Management Expert and DTS CTO Steve Pryor to Deliver Three Presentations at SHARE Columbus 2022

We hear the phrase “thought leader” bandied about a great deal, but what (or who) exactly is a legit thought leader? Business News Daily describes a thought leader “as a notable expert in a specific company, industry, or society. Someone who offers guidance and insight to those around them. In other words, a thought leader has a positive reputation of helping others with their knowledge and insight.”

Steve Pryor, DTS CTO since the early 2000s, is a prime example of a true thought leader. With a background spanning more than 30 years in z/OS software design, development, and support, Steve brings a wealth of experience and expertise to managing DTS’ development efforts. Over the course of his career, Steve has made important contributions to the mainframe software space, designing and implementing major products and components. Steve is a frequent speaker at many industry conferences and has lectured on z/OS storage management topics both domestically and internationally.

So, what do you do when someone of Steve’s stature makes themselves available to you? You tap into that resource as much as possible.

That’s exactly what’s happening at the upcoming SHARE 2022 conference in Columbus, OH, August 21-26. Over the course of the week, Pryor will be delivering three different presentations on z/OS storage management topics.

Reporting with a Tool You Already Own – DCOLLECT (8/23 @9:15am)
Administrators and analysts are often called on to answer ad-hoc questions such as, “How much disk space do certain applications use? What’s the utilization level of some volume(s) or storage group(s)? Where are the backups for these datasets?”

Collecting the necessary information from multiple different sources – disk and tape volumes, DFSMS constructs, DFSMShsm data, can be a challenge. But there’s an often-underutilized resource already available in every data center that can help. Simple IDCAMS DCOLLECT control statements and a few REXX execs or ICETOOL/SYNCTOOL jobs can provide quick, customizable reports on datasets, volumes, and more.

In this session we’ll take a look at DCOLLECT – how it’s used, its various types of output records, and how DCOLLECT output can be filtered and formatted to produce useful information.

SLIP, ZAP, TERSE, XMIT – What’s it All About? (8/24 @ 1:15pm)
New to the z/OS system programming game? Even experienced administrators in other platforms sometimes struggle to understand how some specialized z/OS systems utilities work, or even what they’re used for.

In this session, we’ll examine some of the most common z/OS debugging and maintenance tools, and their typical use in problem-solving and repair. We’ll step through the process of information gathering (SLIP and DUMP), transmitting data to support personnel (AMATERSE and TSO XMIT/RECEIVE), and examining files and applying fixes (AMASPZAP).

Just What is a Storage Group Anyway? – 8/25 @ 1:15pm
One of the four basic DFSMS constructs, SMS Storage Groups are at the junction of disk volumes, tape libraries, system allocation, and backup and migration functions. The way Storage Groups are defined affects the availability of space, the placement and management of datasets, and the reliability of the system as a whole.

This session will examine the types of Storage Groups, their most (and least) important attributes, their relationship to other z/OS components, and the commands and utilities that can be used to alert, display, report on, change, and manage them.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at SHARE Columbus and hope you can join us for any (or all) of our three presentations. Be sure to stop by booth #404 to say hello and talk z/OS storage management with the experts. While you’re there, receive a free analysis of your DFSMS ACS routines by expert storage management engineers, which will include suggestions on how to improve ACS routine efficiency, reliability, and readability.

For more information on SHARE Columbus visit https://www.share.org/Events/SHARE-Columbus-2022/Schedule-at-a-Glance.