Nowadays, in every industry, people are making more and more use of IP networks to communicate between suppliers and manufacturers and downstream sales organizations. And every part of the life-cycle of a product or service requires information to be passed over an IP network. As a consequence, IP networks are critical to the success of the companies involved and the products they are creating and selling.
So, as IP networks become more-and-more business critical to an organization, it becomes even more important to ensure that those companies have some way of knowing what’s going on, and controlling the network. What they don’t want to happen is that the network gets busier and busier and slows right down. They don’t want potential customer and organizations they work with to find the modern GUI (Graphical Use Interface) screens they are using to access data stored in DB2 on a mainframe run so slowly that they become unusable. No-one wants to lose a customer or upset a supplier or distributor company.
Anyone trying to resolve the problem of a slow network in such a situation is going to find it difficult working their way through the multiple layers of devices that can be involved. Networking specialists will be familiar with running traces and pinging devices to find where the drop in performance is occurring. The whole process is notoriously labor-intensive and a thankless task that can take a considerable amount of time before any useful results are achieved.
One solution to the problem for mainframe organizations is to use software – such as VitalSigns for IP™ (VIP) on z/OS from Software Diversified Services (SDS) USA. This, along with much else, provides a graphical network monitoring tool. VIP (now at Version 8) allows users to quickly detect, diagnose, resolve, and prevent TCP/IP problems on z/OS networks. The product can report on the status of applications and who is using them. In the event that there is a problem on the network, VIP can alert networking staff automatically. And when the software starts, it can identify any changes anywhere in the network – even a change on a remote system with no VIP agent running.
Many users run VIP on a dedicated Windows server and use VIP agents in each LPAR (Logical PARtition) of their z/OS mainframe. This gives them a single focal viewpoint of all their monitored systems. Because VIP displays the information graphically, it means that users can get a good picture of the entire network very quickly and see exactly what’s going on. And so, it’s very easy to see where there’s heavy traffic and identify why the traffic is so heavy. This can really speed up network troubleshooting. The ‘alert’ feature sends a designated network operative an e-mail if something changes on the network. That way, the network team can start fixing any problems before users even notice – certainly before those users start to complain about poor performance. The visual reporting tool can be very useful for creating reports that allow others to see what’s been going on and to plan for future growth of the network.
Mainframe shops used to be based on SNA (Systems Network Architecture), but that hasn’t been the whole story for a very long time now. The growth of IP networks has added another layer of complexity to the role of the network administrator. With networks being so critical to the success of organizations using mainframes, it becomes vitally important that those organizations are making use of appropriate software to ensure the network is performing optimally. Running VitalSigns for IP (VIP) on z/OS from Software Diversified Services (SDS) USA is one way that those organizations can get a grip on their network.