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Configuration Management for Dummies


Many IT shops do not have a good understanding of what equipment is installed in either the raised floor (computer room) or elsewhere in the working environment. All platforms have this issue but, for the purposes of this article, I'll deal only with that with which I have experience: the z/OS (MVS, etc.) operating environment.

As a capacity analyst, one should be aware of what is installed-and its usage characteristics-so as to properly plan for it. Even though hardware is becoming less expensive on a per unit basis, we tend to buy much larger configurations so the costs continue to increase. This is compounded for processors since software vendors charge by some capacity-based metric (MIPS, MSUs, etc.).

So, if you don't know what you have, how can you manage it? Once, I was preparing an inventory of what we had for an out-sourcing bid. I went to the mid-tier support department and asked them how much DASD they had on the floor. They didn't know. They had set the environment up so that if any system ran out of space, it was automatically taken from a spare pool. Not only did they not know what was installed and active, they didn't even know how large the spare environment was! They asked me if I knew how much mainframe disk was installed, and I knew down to the gigabyte. Not from memory, but from documentation.

I'm not going to deal with specific tools, either as repositories or discovery tools. Rather, Ill focus on what you should you be tracking and why. A special tool that graphically depicts your entire operating environment or a simple EXCEL spreadsheet will do the job, as long as you ask it to do the correct one.

There are many details that you could store in the repository, but I would recommend the following as a minimum:

  • Equipment type (disk, CPU, printer, etc.)
  • Make, model and manufacturer (e.g. EMC, SYMETRIC, 8450, generated as 3390)
  • Capacity (MIPS, MSUs, GB, pages per minute, etc)
  • Usage information (75% busy at peak, 80% space in use, etc.)
  • Growth information (i.e. how much larger can we make it before we have to by a new frame - performance or raw capacity)
  • Projected growth in usage (optional: but does help capacity planning)
  • Applications supported (IMS, accounting, storage group, etc.)
  • Warranty provisions (i.e. when do you have to start paying maintenance)
  • Contract details (cost, install date, termination date, amortization schedule)
  • Support information (vender contact, site contact)
  • Available documentation (just a pointer, not the actual manuals)

Ted MacNeil is a capacity/performance analyst with more than 25 years in the IBM mainframe environment. Ted can be reached at tedmacneil@alumni.uwaterloo.ca.



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