Q: Will VNAC run on z/OS 2.1 and 2.2?
A: For z/OS 2.1+, use VNAC 4.0.5 or later.
Q: I use NetMaster® to assist me when I IPL and shut down systems. Can VNAC be started under the Master Scheduler and perform the same functionality?
A: Yes. The VNAC Agent can be started under the Master Scheduler. Automation routines can be invoked prior to and after JES is initialized. The VNAC sample library has some excellent samples that can be tailored to suit customer startup and shutdown requirements.
Q: I make extensive use of the Automation Table in NetMaster to trap network and system messages, which is critical to the smooth operation of my network. How does VNAC handle message automation? Can I import my NetMaster Automation Table to VNAC?
A: The message automation on VNAC is almost identical to that on NetMaster. VNAC uses a message rule table where users can code automation tasks to be invoked in response to system and network messages. VNAC’s console listener listens for system and network messages. Messages can be trapped using various filters, such as job names and wildcards.
Converting the NetMaster message automation table to the VNAC message rule table is very simple. The message rule table provides users with a number of configuration options, like the automatic logging or suppression of messages to the VNAC database and options to automatically respond to system messages.
Q: Does VNAC run as a VTAM application program?
A: No it does not. VNAC is not a 3270 VTAM application. VNAC is a 3-tier application consisting of a Web Server, Agent and browser-based Client. The VNAC Web Server provides the front end for users: the interface to issue network and system commands, view logs, see real-time messages, and view session awareness information. VNAC Agents connect to VNAC Servers via TCP connections. Any one VNAC Agent can communicate with multiple VNAC Servers simultaneously for resilience purposes. Agents are responsible for automation, and they can be started under the Master Scheduler. Users access the VNAC Web Server with a standard browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox to consult the data stored in the VNAC Database.
Q: Does VNAC provide session awareness information?
A: Yes, VNAC does provide session awareness information similar to that shown on NLDM/NetMaster. VNAC makes use of the CNM (communication network management interface) to harvest VTAM session information. Users can view session information in a number of different formats, e.g. sessions started, sessions that ended in error, and sessions active. VNAC allows for online referencing of VTAM sense codes, error messages, and session failure codes by accessing the IBM Bookshelf. All of the session information is contained on one screen. There is no need to view multiple screens to access session detail. The VNAC user interface can be customized to suit individual user requirements, and it allows for rearranging columns and content displayed on the interface.
Q: I have timers scheduled for a number of different automation routines. Does VNAC support timer commands?
A: Timer commands are supported on VNAC. Timers can be scheduled using the VNAC timer panel or using the VNAC schedule command. The AT, EVERYT and AFTER commands are all supported.
Q: My NetMaster log contains very important information on the health of my network. Every night, I spin these logs off to my archive product on z/OS. What database does VNAC use, and how long can I store the log information on VNAC?
A: VNAC does not use VSAM technology for the storing of log data. It uses the Apache Derby database, an open source relational database implemented in Java. From the VNAC user interface, users can configure how long data will be retained in the VNAC database, and how often it will be purged. If customers elect to store their information in archival products on z/OS, VNAC allows for log datasets to be placed on the JES Spool at configurable intervals.
Q: Are global variables supported on VNAC, and if so, where are they stored?
A: Yes, global variables are supported. VNAC Agent global variables are stored in VSAM files and persist across Agent startup and shutdown. While a VNAC Agent is running, global variables are read and updated from memory, providing for superior performance.
Q: Can I limit the scope of commands that users are allowed to enter on VNAC?
A: Yes. Using SAF control measures (RACF, ACF2, Top Secret are all supported), a VNAC administrator can restrict commands and components that users are allowed to access.
Q: What is the benefit to running the VNAC Server on a Windows platform?
A: If you want to conserve CPU cycles on your z/OS mainframe, then running the VNAC Server on Windows might be a good fit for you. The VNAC Server can also be deployed on Linux and/or UNIX platforms. Installing the Server on Windows is very simple. Upgrading and installing new Windows Server software is a quick task to perform. There is no performance impact to deploying the VNAC Server on Windows. Customers in a constrained z/OS CPU environment may consider this option to be viable. On the z/OS platform, VNAC does support the use of zIIP and zAAP engines to offload VNAC Server cycles.
Q: I use system automation on NetMaster. Does VNAC support system automation?
A: It depends on how you are using system automation in your environment. We have had customers migrate from NetMaster SA and replace their automation routines with VNAC. If you are using system automation with parent-child relationships for the startup and shutdown of started tasks, then VNAC may not be a good fit for your site. We recommend having a technical conversation with the SDS team to evaluate whether VNAC will meet your SA requirements.
Q: When failures occur on my network, I notify my network team via email. Can VNAC send email messages to users, and can it place messages on the system console?
A: Yes. VNAC can send email to users about events on the network, and VNAC can post messages to the system console.
Q: I have developed a few user panels on NetMaster and my network operators use them to monitor the status of the network. Can I enable these user panels on VNAC to provide similar functionality?
A: Yes, you can. VNAC supports panels that were developed on NetMaster.
Q: Is GDPS supported on VNAC?
A: No, it is not. We suggest having a conversation with the SDS technical team to find out if there are different alternatives to GDPS for your site.
Q: What changes do I need to make to my NetMaster CLISTs to enable them to run on VNAC?
A: ISPF REXX is supported on NetMaster. Migration of NetMaster execs to VNAC is very simple. One thing to note is that VNAC does not support the NetMaster PIPE operand. Plans are underway to provide PIPE support in a future version of VNAC. In the interim, users need to remove the PIPE operand from their scripts and replace it with the VNAC GETMSG command. GETMSG has many different operands and also supports multi-line messages. SDS works with customers in the initial stages of product evaluation and will perform the conversion of some REXX routines to run on VNAC. This provides customers with a good feel for what is entailed in migrating routines to VNAC.
Q: Describe the steps required to install VNAC. How long does it take to install the Server and Agent on z/OS?
A: Installing VNAC on z/OS requires the installer to execute an ISPF panel program that guides the user through the install process. The installer is prompted for information like high-level qualifiers, IP addresses, and port numbers to install the VNAC Server and Agent. Once the installer has completed the install dialogue, two batch jobs must be executed to build the Server and Agent environment on z/OS. The entire install process can take one to two hours, assuming that the person performing the install has the necessary authority and that someone has implemented the security rules documented in the VNAC security manual. If installers encounter problems, the SDS Support team works with them using WebEx meetings to get VNAC up and running as soon as possible.
Q: Can NetMaster and VNAC run side-by-side during the migration phase?
A: Yes they can. During the migration phase, this can be extremely helpful. The only technical issue that users need to be aware of is that VNAC and NetMaster both harvest session awareness data via the same interface: CNM, the communication network interface. So only one of them can harvest session awareness data at any one time. To allow VNAC to use the CNM interface, NLDM needs to be stopped on NetMaster. To allow NetMaster to use CNM, the SAWSTOP command needs to be issued on VNAC.
Q: Where in VNAC does automation take place, and how does it affect users if the VNAC Server is unavailable?
A: Automation tasks run under the control of VNAC Agents. If the VNAC Server is unavailable, automation routines will continue to run regardless. The lack of a Server means users will not be able to issue commands or view information stored in the VNAC Database.
Q: Can I run more than one VNAC Server for resilience purposes?
A: Yes you can run multiple VNAC Servers. In large customer environments, more than one VNAC Server can be run for resilience and fail-safe purposes. VNAC Agents can communicate with multiple VNAC Servers. There are various ways to switch from primary to hot standby VNAC Servers. For example, users can point browsers to a backup VNAC Server, or VNAC can use a VIPA (virtual IP address).
Q: Does VNAC support the routing of commands between LPARs?
A: Yes, VNAC can route commands between LPARs. Users can route commands to multiple VNAC Agents on multiple LPARs from the VNAC command interface or within REXX scripts on VNAC.
Q: My help desk operators are familiar with the syntax of the current NetMaster commands. Does VNAC support the short form of VTAM commands, like DIS, INACT, RECYCLE, etc.?
A: Yes. VNAC does support the short version of NetMaster VTAM commands.
Q: How much training is required to get my users up to speed on VNAC?
A: VNAC has a very similar look and feel to NetMaster. The only real difference is that users log on to VNAC using a browser as opposed to a 3270 green-screen interface. In our experience there is not much user training required to get users up to speed on VNAC.
Q: Can I execute packet traces from VNAC?
A: Yes, it is possible to execute packet traces from VNAC. If a customer has VIP (VitalSigns for IP™, our IP monitor) installed, users can access all of the VIP diagnostic tools, including the real-time packet trace. Hyperlinks are also available on VNAC for users to access the different VIP dashboards.
Q: I do not have the resources to take on a NetMaster-to-VNAC conversion. Does SDS offer migration assistance?
A: Yes, SDS can provide migration assistance if required. This will have to be negotiated with SDS, as it could be a billable item. Generally, the migration is not too difficult. SDS performs a few of the initial REXX script conversions to VNAC. This gives customers a good feel for the conversion effort. Thereafter, it is a matter of identifying what routines need to be converted to VNAC from NetMaster. SDS can assist with identifying these routines.
Q: How does VNAC perform in a production environment? Do you have any benchmark information on the product?
A: Existing VNAC customers have conducted their own independent benchmark tests and reported that in like-for-like testing of NetMaster and VNAC, VNAC consumes one-third less resources than NetMaster. These are unofficial figures, as these tests were not conducted by SDS. SDS believes customers are much better served by more realistic tests performed on customers’ own hardware, in customers’ working environments, and designed to address specific needs. Please contact SDS if you would like more information on SDS’s official standpoint on benchmarks.
Q: Do you have any recommendations on how to calculate the space required for the VNAC database?
A: The VNAC installation manual provides a sample calculation for disk and storage estimates. SDS can also assist customers in determining an appropriate database size.
Q: I use NetMaster to execute commands on CICS. Does VNAC have an OPCTL interface or something similar?
A: VNAC does not support the OPCTL and TAF interfaces as these are 3270 functions. VNAC provides sample programs and REXX scripts in the VNAC sample library that enable the use of the CICS CEDA interface, allowing for the routing of commands to CICS.
Q: How much money can I save if I replace NetMaster with VNAC?
A: Typical annual cost savings are 40-50% when a customer replaces NetMaster with VNAC. Use our NetMaster Replacement Savings Calculator to determine your potential savings.
Q: Is there a requirement to have the VNAC Server and Agent(s) running concurrently? Do I need to shut down the VNAC Agent(s) when I stop the VNAC Server?
A: No, the VNAC Server and Agent run independently of each other.
Q: How do you price VNAC? By MIPS? By enterprise? By something else?
A: VNAC is priced on either MIPS or an enterprise license, and pricing is based on how much the customer pays annually for NetMaster. Our guarantee is to provide significant annual cost savings compared to NetMaster. Read more about our VNAC value proposition.
Q: Do you offer an annual and/or one-time fee for VNAC?
A: Most customers want to compare apples to apples, so in most cases VNAC is licensed as an annual subscription. If you’d prefer a one-time purchase fee, SDS is happy to accommodate you.
Q: Do you offer a free trial, and how long is it?
A: Yes, we do offer free trials of VNAC. Their duration varies from one to three months, depending on the customer’s requirements.
Q: You mention we can also get your IP monitor as part of the deal; what if we already have an IP monitor?
A: SDS offers other VitalSigns solutions, including VFTP for FTP monitoring, management, and security. The customer can choose to add the VFTP solution as a free component solution, or to take a bit deeper discount on VNAC.