A Key Component for the Successful Deployment and Operation of Mission-Critical Production Applications
The concept of best practices in JCL management are generally accepted processes and procedures that, when applied to a business function, serve to improve the effectiveness of that function. In the context of IT operations, Best Practices effectively minimize the potential for failure, help to quickly identify and resolve the cause of failure, and to quickly restart the application or take an alternate course of action as appropriate.
This blog series covers the issues that must be addressed in every IT organization for production error prevention through the deployment of Best Practices for managing JCL as an asset. It establishes the financial value of the JCL asset and from that discussion, explores the characteristics of JCL which necessitate its consideration as an asset. It also outlines some requisite policies and procedures (including automation) necessary to manage this asset and maintain JCL libraries with attention to continuing accuracy and quality, leading to associated benefits for the data center.
JCL in the Modern Data center
Every major corporation has a requirement for its IT function to do massive amounts of batch processing. The vast majority use IBM’s z/OS and Job Control Language (JCL) for this purpose. z/OS is rooted in IBM’s 360 technology, dating from the mid-1960’s. Legacy mainframe systems continue to operate with JCL that, theoretically, could have been originally written as long ago as thirty years or more.
It is not unusual for a large IT shop to run hundreds of applications comprised of several thousands of batch jobs each night. These jobs are required to execute properly and complete successfully in order to allow interactive processing to take place when the batch processes are completed. These batch processes must take place day in and day out, without exception.
The drive toward Best Practices
The drive in identifying and implementing “best practices” in a number of different fields has gained acceptance over the last decade. Organizations are increasingly turning to defined approaches such as Information Technology Infrastructure Library, (ITIL®), and most recently, DevOps as a shifting paradigm of culture, tools and practices to deliver applications and services at high velocity.
We acknowledge that there may be no literal “best” way to do something. Best practices must be evaluated in the context of each company’s business strategy, its position on the technology curve, on the growth curve, and the importance of the particular business process to the overall corporate goals.
Therefore, best practices function more as a source of creative insight rather than one irrefutable answer to a given business problem. This insight begins with the question: “Does this practice make sense for my Company?” Best practices describe the optimum ways to perform a business process. They are the means by which leading organizations have achieved top performance and they serve as goals for other organizations striving for higher levels of excellence.
Following is an initial set of “Best Practices” for the management of JCL as an asset in the data center.
- A methodology for managing JCL as an asset
- The processes by which JCL is standardized and made defect – free throughout its life cycle
- The use of automation to achieve these objectives
Some Benefits of adopting JCL Best Practices
In the data center, these practices will assist in IT reaching their organizational and enterprise operability goals. By managing maintainable JCL in a defect -free environment, while adhering to high standards, the IT organization helps the enterprise reach corporate and competitive goals, such as the deployment of new and re-engineered applications. It also helps accommodate changes in the corporate environment, such as mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations. With these practices and procedures in place, we witness IT positioned as an enabler for change and progress, without the barriers to successful, cost-effective operations.
JCL Best Practices Implementation Plan
The implementation plan is the critical piece of installing a “Best Practices” approach to managing JCL. It can be as simple as getting a JCL management product installed and set up with the proper Interfaces. Conversely, it can be as complex as writing a ten-step plan to standardize and re-work old JCL and then write complex JCL standards enforcement routines to maintain the quality of the JCL. Some data centers have even gone to extent of writing JCL change routines that produce accurate, high quality JCL from faulty, Non-conforming JCL.