Most people are aware of the main benefits of having an IBM i monitoring solution, including being more proactive and reducing downtime. But not everyone understands the unexpected benefits they can gain through IBM i monitoring by having their monitoring software, not their responders, control how a problem is resolved. Here’s how it works.
Scarce expertise: the gap in IBM i monitoring
Many IBM i shops have one or two people who are responsible for keeping the system running smoothly when a problem occurs (their experts). But having expert responders also puts their shops at a disadvantage, if their experts are not available when the monitoring system detects a problem.
Being alerted to problems before the user reports them is not the only key benefit of having a monitoring solution on your IBM i; being able to quickly and automatically resolve the problem in the absence of expertise is also important. Below are four unexpected benefits of having an IBM i monitoring system like SEA’s AbsMessage that can automatically solve system issues, even when your experts are unavailable.
#1: Problem resolution instructions: telling the responder how to solve the issue
Being alerted to issues when they happen is one of the main benefits of any monitoring system, but the alert is just one part of the equation. Knowing how to resolve the issue is the second half of the equation. It’s scary when the people with the knowledge are not available. Capturing that knowledge helps reduce problem resolution time significantly.
Many IBM i monitoring packages can include problem resolution instructions inside the alert that is sent, helping companies to ensure that problems are resolved quickly and with the least amount of business impact. The responder can be provided with the instructions to actually resolve the problem when they receive the alert, instead of having to start searching for the answer. This drastically reduces problem resolution times.
#2: Automated response scripting: Teaching the software to resolve common problems without human intervention
Without a doubt, including resolution instructions in your alerts will help reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve issues. However, there is an even better way to resolve common problems: teach your IBM i monitoring software how to automatically respond to a problem through scripting. This may seem difficult and even time consuming to accomplish, but the truth is it is easier than you think. Packages like SEA’s AbsMessage don’t require a programmer to script automated responses to common issues; operators and administrators can easily input their knowledge into a monitoring response script without using programming. When a monitored error occurs, the script is run.
Any issue that can be resolved by using a CL program can easily be solved by using an IBM i monitoring solution. AbsMessage includes some CL Commands out of the box and others can easily be added to its alerts for automated responses. As you encounter new problems, you can easily add more automation to your monitoring scripts without the need to do any programming.
#3: Throughput balancing: Managing job queues for efficiency
If you are familiar with how the IBM i works, then you know that jobs are key to processing data. Operators and Administrators spend a significant amount of time monitoring that the critical jobs are running in a timely manner. One of the benefits of the IBM i is its ability to move jobs to a different Job queue when job queues back up. This is one of the tasks that operators love to have automated. Using an IBM i monitoring package to automatically move jobs between job queues drastically reduces the amount of work the operator needs to do and speeds up job processing, because you don’t have to wait for someone to execute the necessary steps to move a job to a less crowded queue. Your IBM i monitoring program can automatically do it for you.
#4: Rescuing troubled jobs: Automatically responding to critical jobs
Besides having jobs stack up in job queue, changes in jobs status, CPU consumption and the amount of time a job takes can all have impact on the business. IBM i monitoring solutions can also help you to automatically respond to any critical job alert. Jobs which go into MSGW status are the bane of Operators and Administrators everywhere. It’s not difficult to go in and change the status, but it requires time. Having the solution automatically retry the job or cancel the job, drastically improves job processing.
Another issue that can affect system processing is if a specific job is consuming too much CPU. This affects not only the job that is running; it also slows down processing across the board. Being able to reallocate CPU on the fly can save significant time and prevent one job from affecting system performance.
Most IBM i shops have a nightly backup process which need to be complete before the users can sign on in the morning. These processes often include multiple jobs which must be run in sequence. If any one of the jobs in the process is taking too long to run, it can affect the users in the morning. Having the ability to be alerted when a job is taking longer than expected and being able to automatically take some action to ensure that the process will not be adversely affected is a major benefit.
Ensuring that your system is performing as expected and that critical jobs are being executed in a timely manner has never been so easy. Since SEA’s AbsMessage can react to anything you see in WRKSYSSTS via an alert or a CL command, you are able to automatically respond to critical job issues whether an issue is related to where the job is being executed, how much CPU is allocated to the job, or how long the job is taking.
The real benefit of monitoring
The real benefit of IBM i monitoring is being able to reduce downtime and the impact that problems have on the business. While being alerted to an issue when it happens is important; the ability to share knowledge, teach your monitoring solution to execute commands, and to automatically respond to issues, offers significant benefits that people sometimes overlook.