Tuesday, September 22, 2015

BMC Mainframe MLC Cost Management – Enabling Digital Enterprise Management

By Rich Ptak and Bill Moran

It is not often that a company understates their product’s features, while actually delivering significantly more. Until recently, we found that while BMC products expertly leverage underlying technology, all too frequently, their messaging failed to highlight all inherent significant benefits and features. Happy to say, those days appear over as BMC announces new releases for its Digital Enterprise Management[1] (DEM) portfolio. To optimize mainframes for DEM, BMC is developing new features and improving products to manage data, infrastructure and costs. BMC teams are comprehensively cataloging significant features “designed to make digital business fast, seamless and optimized from mainframe to cloud and beyond.”

Our focus in this paper are monthly licensing costs (MLC) that alone can account for 30%[2] of total mainframe costs. Let’s look at BMC Mainframe MLC Cost Management V2.0.

First, existing customers with paid versions of release 1 will get the release free for those capabilities they have licensed. Customers who have licensed the v1 components (Cost Analyzer, Intelligent Capping, Subsystem Optimizer for DB2, Subsystem Optimizer for IMS) will get the corresponding new V2 features free. After, reviewing the details of the new release, we think you will agree this represents a real bargain.

Those unfamiliar with BMC’s Mainframe Cost Management products or considering evaluating them, should first uncover the true costs of the mainframe. We say this because many companies, wittingly or not, tend to inflate mainframe costs. They do so by including an assortment of general IT costs as mainframe costs. It just doesn’t make sense to assign distributed system air conditioning and staffing to the mainframe.

With real mainframe costs in hand, the next step is to determine the MLC charges for various IBM software products, e.g. z/OS operating system, DB2 databases, etc. This data will help decide if potential MLC cost management savings justifies an evaluation. NOTE: some BMC customers report MLC cost[3] reductions of more than 20%!

This review of BMC’s MLC Cost Management, only hits product highlights[4]. Functions of particular interest include:
  1. Cost Analysis – allows active management based on analyzing all system and cost data;
  2. Intelligent capping – to reduce costs by identifying and tracking system capacity peaks and costs drivers; 
  3. Optimizing sub-system placement – using pre-implementation “What if” testing of changes to quantify their potential cost impact to get the best results.

Let’s examine these.

First is the Cost Analyzer which breaks down the MLC charges into separate elements to identify what drives the peak elements being charged. “What-if” exercises reveal how changes affect MLC costs. A key new feature performs what-if analysis of moving batch jobs to a time when they will not impact MLC peak charges. BMC estimates a potential of 5-10% MLC cost savings from this product. BMC’s estimates could be conservative as some customers report larger savings.

Second is the Intelligent Capping, which lowers MLC costs by putting a cap or limit on the workloads running in a given LPAR. IBM offers very basic capping as a standard zOS feature – BMC’s technology uses intelligence-driven process automation to minimize overall costs. You can control how much or little of the recommended optimization to implement. BMC estimates reductions of between 5-10%. BMC has a patent-pending application for the cost-aware aspect of its intelligent capping technology.

Third is the Subsystem Optimizer, which reduces MLC by allowing customers to separate the running of certain IBM subsystems (like CICS) from other IBM subsystems it accesses (such as DB2), on to different LPARs. This can reduce billed MSUs for the subsystems, which can significantly impact MLC costs. It also has the ability to optimize cross-LPAR access to applications. BMC estimates it can reduce costs by 10-15%.

However, that’s not all. BMC Subsystem Optimizer has attractive features not strictly related to MLC cost, but which we believe will prove valuable. For example, for certain DB2 failures, it can automatically switch to another copy of DB2. This considerably increases the resilience of affected services and applications. Further, for IMS failures, Subsystem Optimizer can reroute IMS transaction requests to another IMS rather than waiting for the original IMS to restart (the default). It not only saves money but improves operational reliability by reducing the risk of an IMS subsystem failure. Both are great bonuses.

BMC began introducing these solutions about two years ago. They have been well received. We’ve mentioned a few benefits. By maintaining close contact with users, BMC is able to provide details on numerous customer experiences demonstrating product potential for direct cost savings as well as from automation. Watch for case studies to appear shortly.

BMC’s mainframe group has shown itself to be especially responsive to the concerns and efforts of mainframe users to optimize, not simply minimize, the costs and expense of mainframe operation. We highly recommend that mainframe users consider an in-depth product evaluation.

[1] BMC – Preparing Businesses for Digital Transformation,
[3] This doesn’t include some potentially significant personnel time savings. Replacing manual MLC cost management with BMC’s product can free-up the time of highly skilled, higher paid staff. A business case would include an estimate of such potential savings.
[4] A more detailed description requires discussing algorithms used by IBM to calculate MLC costs which exceeds the scope of this paper.