Eliminate expensive, error-prone manual checking of system health.
Editor's Note: This article is extracted from the white paper "51 Things You Can Automate on Your System i (iSeries)—and Prove Return on Investment," which can be downloaded free from the MC Press White Paper Center.
When you're running busy System i (iSeries) machines, many important events can happen that do not generate a systems message on the operating system. Because a message is not generated, these things are never brought directly to your attention. More importantly, these events can lead to holdups in processing or even that cardinal sin: unscheduled downtime.
So to counter this, you have to go looking. One of the ways I have seen companies tackle this is by carrying out a number of manual checks, often on a hourly or daily basis, to check the health of their systems and the activity of business processes to make sure all is well. But what happens if something really important occurs between these hourly or daily checks?
Let's be candid for a moment. We are talking about very mundane, routine tasks. Yet these checks are vital to your operations to ensure that crucial jobs get completed on time so critical processes run like clockwork and the whole business functions as it should. So in reality, a busy operator, even with the best intentions, may do these checks sporadically, or—the worst-case scenario—the checks simply aren't done at all and important things get missed.
The impact on the business can be significant:
- A backlog of critical jobs held in a queue
- Devices failing or going offline
- Applications locked or on message wait
- Authority failures
- Subsystems not being started when they should be
- Printers stopped
- Disks failing
- Slow response times
- Jobs looping or hogging the processor
- Thresholds being breached or approaching capacity
This is not all. This white paper lists many more of the typical things that can happen to cause serious problems.
So what can you do about it? In a word: automation.
Working with many different companies in various industry sectors, I have homed in on the common principles of how good systems management practices can lead to significant cost reductions for companies.
This technical paper sets out to provide you with a comprehensive list of the 51 things that I have identified in my experience that you can do something about, simply and effectively. One company saved over $80 thousand in the first year after installing automation software by drastically cutting down the man hours for handling emergencies, freeing up staff to do more important, productive projects.
Proof of ROI
How many times have you heard the words "return on investment" recently? More and more, the IT manager has to prove to senior management that the IT department is delivering value back to the business. My own view is that good IT managers have been doing that for years anyway, but now more than ever, and particularly under increasing scrutiny, we have to prove the case.
Apart from eliminating the routine, repetitive checking, you can introduce proactive monitoring and automation procedures for those things that could cause serious problems (like loss of data) or lead to disruption in end-to-end business processes. With a good systems management tool in place, occurrences of system events can be automatically monitored; in addition, the appropriate action (or sequence of actions) can be automated. Certain things consistently present you with issues or problems or cause you to take the same repetitive action, and these can be tackled and swiftly eliminated as tasks. This avoids manual checking, human error, and the unexpected.
Automating these things can really save your bacon. To achieve this, you need to use a robust and reliable systems management solution to monitor for system messages and for important events that don't generate a systems message in the operating system.
What's the ROI?
As greater levels of automation are introduced, the man hours saved can be successfully converted into cost-saving figures in another column, which, across an extensive period, can add up to give an impressive but realistic figure. I have seen this successfully done in a number of customer sites as a way of tracking improvements and proving return on investment to senior management.
Find Out More
Learn more about how automation can help your business by downloading the free white paper "51 Things You Can Automate on Your System i (iSeries)—and Prove Return on Investment" from the MC Press White Paper Center. This white paper demonstrates the real cost-savings to be gained by automating the management of your IBM Power Systems (System i, iSeries). It includes figures based on the actual experience of companies using systems management solutions. Packed with hints and tips, we demonstrate how one company achieved more than $80 thousand in cost savings, in the first year, by using a methodical, phased approach to automating manual tasks, checks, and repetitive business processes.