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Automation Control Introduces Enterprise-Class Automated Operations for Smaller z/OS Environments


These days, IT service providers must respond to an always-increasing demand for more services, higher quality and increased availability—and it all must be achieved at lower costs. Automation can certainly contribute, but do lower costs automatically imply you must forego enterprise-class automation technology? Or does it mean you have to write scripts to get automated operations? IBM Automation Control for z/OS* can help answer these questions.

What is Automation Control?

Automation Control is the newest member of the System Automation family of products. Not all z/OS systems are members of a Parallel Sysplex* cluster and therefore require sysplex support functions. Not all installations have hundreds of systems they need to manage from a single point of control. Automation Control fits into the niche where System Automation for z/OS and NetView* for z/OS are often perceived too rich. Automation Control is a single product providing all of the capabilities for efficient and automated IT operations for small and mid-sized businesses. It possesses the mature and enterprise-proven technologies of the System Automation family, sharing the same look and feel as System Automation for z/OS and NetView for z/OS; however, it is simpler and slimmer.

Many other products have large lists of rules that follow the IF-event-THEN-EXECUTE-script pattern. These can be hard to maintain and program for ongoing change with reduced staff. The System Automation products use a policy with expert knowledge that just describes the relationships of the automated resources and the behavior for normal planned operations and recovery in case of unexpected failures. Sample policies are provided by Automation Control as a starting point for the base z/OS operating environment as well as for major middleware subsystems. Automating DB2*, for example, becomes a breeze. As a byproduct of using a policy, you almost automatically accomplish a standard of your automated operations in the enterprise, as single definitions can be applied to multiple z/OS systems. Hence, a policy not only greatly reduces the complexity and time to get to the point of having solid, fast and reliable automation, it also helps IT shops in the transformation from cost center to service provider.

Like all other System Automation products, Automation Control is goal-oriented to keep the applications in line with the business goals. This means each automated resource has its own desired status set by either policy or operations. If the desired status doesn’t match the actual observed status, Automation Control takes the necessary steps to adjust. Goals can change at any time. For instance, if a database must be stopped, an operator can do that with a single request. Automation Control immediately recognizes the database’s changed desired status and uses the definitions in the policy to determine the consequences of this new goal on all other dependent resources that have a relationship to the database. The origin of the new request and its associated priority allow Automation Control to arbitrate in case of conflicting goals.

Every automation product must function within an ecosystem of other applications and tools within a data center. If noticeable events are detected by the automation, they’re fed into the event-management infrastructure of choice. Also, for alert conditions requiring manual intervention, it’s important that alarms are generated automatically to quickly inform the support staff and the operations manager on duty. With Automation Control, you can flexibly define in the policy how to treat these events and alerts. It integrates with Netcool* OMNIbus to bring operational events to OMNIbus’ active event list and informs Tivoli* System Automation for Integrated Operations Management as necessary.

Jürgen Holtz is a senior software engineer for Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure within IBM Software Group. He is responsible for Tivoli System Automation for z/OS and IBM Automation Control for z/OS. He has more than 20 years’ experience in system software development for System z in the areas of automated operations, high availability, performance and workload management.


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