Bridging the Chasm: From Collision to Connection Between the Mainframe and the Distributed World

By Daniel Kaar (Profile)
Tuesday, November 6th 2012

If you are an IT manager, application owner, architect or developer in a corporation leveraging a mainframe, then today is a revolutionary day: Application Performance Management is now available end-to-end for the mainframe. Read about how this will drastically change the way we manage developing, refining, testing and bug-fixing applications involving a mainframe.

The Pain

Are you a mainframe developer that spent hours optimizing mainframe code and still receive complaints about bad mainframe performance from the distributed guys? Or are you a Java or .NET developer calling mainframe transactions and not satisfied with their performance? Stop playing the blame-game. APM extended its end-to-end scope and can now follow every single transaction into the mainframe, 24x7:

End-to-end visibility for the mainframe has arrived.

Developers and architects are now able to assess if they use the mainframe’s resources such as CICS transactions appropriately or—the other way round—if the implementation on the mainframe fits the needs of the distributed part of the application.

Architects and application owners can now identify where the mainframe load is coming from. In other words, it is now possible to analyze what application, what feature of an application or even which tenant or user consumes how many mainframe cycles. This is the basis for optimization on an application level; beyond optimizing on the mainframe in isolation.

Monitoring what’s driving our mainframe cycles. This example dashboard shows mainframe CPU duration per tenant.

Also, we are now able to measure the contribution of the mainframe to the response time for a particular application or even for a particular transaction, e.g. ‘click on purchase’.

The figure shows an API breakdown of an application using a mainframe. Only 8ms are spent in CICS, 2.5ms in DB2.

Why does that matter? In many enterprises, the mainframe plays a significant role in their IT infrastructure landscape. It is still running many backend legacy applications critical to the business. But at the same time organizations are also developing mainframe applications and investing in young specialized personnel. As the mainframe was acknowledged as the business machine back in the 1950s, it is still the central data repository for many corporations.

What’s Happening

The sequence diagram helps us to understand the flow of the application.

End-to-end does not just end at the call to the mainframe, it continues into the CICS region all the way to the database. Thus, we have complete mainframe transaction visibility. We know exactly what’s calling what, and in what context! For example if a certain value that’s passed on to the mainframe routine, needs error handling, we identify a different flow on the mainframe than for usual values.