Halcyon Fills the ‘Missing Link’ with Interactive Job Log Monitoring
June 3, 2014 Alex Woodie
Halcyon Software claims it solved the “missing link” of IBM i message monitoring with a new interactive job log monitoring feature in the latest release of its Systems Operations Suite. The capability to monitor what interactive users do on the system will help administrators close the loop on server monitoring and get a jump on errors that could potentially corrupt data.
The new job log monitor in Systems Operations Suite (SOS) allows administrators to view all application, error, and other messages relating to jobs that are currently running. Normally, this information is transient on the system, hidden from view, and only visible if operators or administrators sit and watch their screens, which is boring and not a particular good use of their time. With SOS on the case, certain interactive job log entries will trigger alerts to flash on the Enterprise Console that’s fed by all Halcyon products.
Paul Ratchford, an IBM i management expert and new product manager at Halcyon, says the interactive job logs were yet to be covered by automated monitoring tools. “As you well know, with other companies we’ve dealt with, everybody does message monitoring, everybody monitors the audit journal, FTP, QHIST, QSYSWRK,” he told IT Jungle recently. “The one thing that’s missing out of all the monitoring tools is the ability to monitor interactive job logs.”
Why is this important and why should you care? According to Ratchford, it depends on the circumstances and what users are doing when they’re interacting with the system and interacting with customers. It’s not necessarily a security risk. But the contents of interactive jobs can provide administrators with a warning sign that something’s not working correctly.
“We had a perfect example of this where interactive users were getting client messages popping up on their screens when the application was failing,” Ratchford said. “They were canceling the job, and redundant data was getting written to invoice files. When they came to end of day or end of week, they couldn’t run it, because the actual data was corrupt. The company was losing money.”
It’s possible to get this type of fine-grained monitoring of interactive jobs in other ways. One way is to configure the system to record this activity in the audit journal. “But do you want to monitor every single command from every user? The overhead of that might be astronomical. So this way I can look for a specific message,” Ratchford said.
In addition to monitoring for certain messages in the interactive and batch job logs, SOS can capture data from job log entries for future review and analysis. This gives administrators another potentially powerful tool for analyzing activity on the system.
“When I joined the company, as soon as I saw it [job log manager], I thought that was a really neat and effective way [of addressing the issue],” he said. “To me it was the missing link, if you like, of message monitoring. It’s the one thing that happens on the system that you don’t necessarily cover with audit journal, QSYSOPR, and QHIST. I think this is an extremely important addition to just closing that entire loop of message monitoring. It’s an area that’s important and often overlooked.”
The new version of SOS also brings an enhanced object manager that allows journal receivers to be managed more efficiently. Predetermined criteria, such as age and date last used, are used to automatically find, check, and delete or move journal receivers to other locations, which saves the IT staff time.
SOS ships with the latest release of Halcyon’s Enterprise Console, the Web-based GUI that works with big and small screens. The new release includes an alert roll-up feature that makes it easier for administrators to see the latest messages. This feature helps to minimize the on-screen message storm syndrome that can impact busy data center environments.
Users can also now open an unlimited number of panels within the Enterprise Console.
“In some situations, like an MSP [managed service provider], they can have five to 50 different customers. Instead of having everybody on a single view, they can now have additional panels and separate them out by different priorities or jobs or customers or specific devices,” says Halcyon vice president of sales Garrett Schut.
“Right now, we’re showing IBM i, AIX, Linux and Windows, all from a single pane of glass. Other times, groups are monitoring their own environments through the Enterprise Console. So if the Windows folks want to have their own windows, you can separate that out as part of the new release.”
Halcyon made the announcement at the recent COMMON conference in beautiful, sunny Orlando, Florida.