Managing IBM i by Exception: Entering a World of Help
June 17, 2014 Alex Woodie
How are IT services managed in your organization? If you work at a smaller company, you might be able to get away with running a single layer of management software, according to a recent white paper by HelpSystems. But if you work at a larger outfit, you’ll need multiple levels of software to manage services. Stitching those levels of service together is not always easy.
In an April whitepaper titled “ITSM by Exception–It’s Just the Ticket!,” HelpSystems lays down the basics for managing the gaps between various levels of management tools. According to the 11-page paper, large companies rely on business services management (BSM) software to translate IT concepts into business concepts.
Beneath the high-level BSM software sits the IT service management (ITSM) layer, which focuses on the quality of IT services across IT domains. The ITSM layer provides more IT-centric views of services, with the goal of ensuring that IT supports business services. The BSM and ITSM layers are sometimes combined, according to the white paper, and often work within the concept of simple network management protocol (SNMP)-based tickets.
Beneath the BSM and ITSM layers are the actual systems management tools that manage each domain. In most large companies, the IBM i platform is considered a specific domain. While the BSM and ITSM layers concern themselves with managing and resolving tickets, the low-level systems management tools do the dirty work of managing the systems so that tickets aren’t generated in the first place. When they fail at this, tickets trickle up the ladder.
HelpSystems developed its Robot line of products specifically to monitor and manage the IBM i server. The company identified 12 areas of the IBM i server that are unique to the platform and must be managed. They include: messages; resources; logs; batch job schedules; agents; multi-system environments; resource-heavy interactive jobs; storage; backup and recovery; spooled output; performance; and SNMP traps. Robot (recently split off as a separate company by HelpSytsems) provides coverage and SNMP-trap generation in all these areas.
However, just generating SNMP traps isn’t good enough anymore; the volume of SNMP traps threatens to overwhelm large businesses, HelpSystems says. In response, companies are turning to more advanced ITSM and BSM software that can spot potential problems without human intervention.
“Adaptive analytics uses advanced probability algorithms combined with natural language processing techniques to infer the existence of business-impacting problems by analyzing tickets,” HelpSystems says in its white paper. “Adaptive analytics uses natural language searches to link tickets together across different silos and identify which tickets are related and which business areas are going to be impacted.”
While the adaptive analytics can help, they don’t replace the need to have low-level management software on the IBM i, HelpSystems says. While the Robot software may be generating SNMP tickets, relying on those tickets to be trickled up before a solution is put in place is an invitation to trouble.
In particular, HelpSystems seems to take issue with the agent approach to monitoring IBM i. The delay introduced by a batch-oriented agent approach to exception management can result in things getting out of control. Better to get a handle on the problem with dedicated tooling, HelpSytsems says.
You can view the white paper by registering on HelpSystems website or by clicking here.