RTS Provides More Quality and Security to Computing Centers

Automatic control and achievement of declared CC standards

Wolfgang Schwarz, BV-Info GmbH, Munich

In today's computing center, standards are indispensable. They streamline processes and guarantee quality, as well as an efficient use of available resources. At BV-Info GmbH, the EDP service provider of the Munich-based Vereinsbank Group, Real Time Standards (RTS) by INTERCHIP is an indispensable tool for the automatic control and achievement of declared CC standards. In the quality control of CC services and in the framework of ISO 9000 standardization processes, this powerful tool provides critical advantages that result in significant cost reductions.

For years, BV-Info GmbH has devoted itself to vigorously maintaining and monitoring defined standards in storage management. For this purpose, the company has successfully employed ProSMS, a software package which was developed in collaboration with the Munich corporation INTERCHIP in the late eighties and which is now marketed worldwide by Boole & Babbage. The outgrowth of the perpetually escalating demand for quality and efficiency in CC operations was the desire to have similarly powerful control instruments available for other CC departments in which the adherence to standards was at least equally as important as in the area of storage management.

Again, this mission was entrusted to the developers of INTERCHIP. They were assigned the task of developing highly efficient software with Real Time Standards (RTS) with which important areas of daily production, such as job routing, job classification, name and account conventions, or output handling, could be controlled comprehensively and effectively.

What was sought was the option of providing a central control mechanism in the CC which would carry through processes and resource assignments in accordance with the defined standards, no matter what parameters were input by the user--much like the function SMS performs for the (system-managed) storage. To the extent possible, unnecessary job terminations were to be precluded through automatic self-correction, while available resources were to be utilized with utmost efficiency.

All functions were to be easily operated and controlled via an ISPF interface. For the integration of additional CC standards, simple expansion options had to be provided. The general objective was to enhance and safeguard quality in productive CC processes through an automatic protection of standards and declarations. In order to accomplish this task, the following had to be achieved:

  • automate real time transactions,
  • centralize function controls,
  • allow for changes at any point,
  • facilitate a step-by-step introduction,
  • enhance security,
  • decrease expenditure, and
  • document automated actions performed by the software.

Abundant Flexibility in Standardization

At BV-Info GmbH, the entire MVS production has been controlled with RTS with exceptional reliability and great success for almost two years. The high amount of flexibility provided by the RTS functions which facilitate a customized processing for various resource groups via powerful keywords and filters is of central significance. By means of this mechanism, production as well as declared standards are automatically controlled and monitored on a corporate level.

Each of the multitude of RTS functions is individually controllable. The actions to be executed are respectively divided into resource groups--such as an output class, an RACF group, or job names. Any desired combination can be defined rapidly and interactively via the user interface. All of the resource groups can be modified in the running system at any time.

In general, any function or resource group can be run in various modes: in simulation , active or disabled mode. As a result, a safe transition to the production run is guaranteed. Even extremely powerful RTS functions, the results of which would otherwise be obtainable only by using MVS or JES exits, may be implemented, tested, and changed any time with RTS without resorting to an IPL.

Job Class Assignment and Output Controls

The 27 RTS functions currently used by BV-Info GmbH range from simple functions, such as the automatic assignment of a specific job classification to a job name, all the way to output controls or the assignment of jobs depending upon the related system, such as IMS.

The most important RTS functions employed by BV-Info GmbH include:

  • Automatic job assignment, depending upon where the requisite subsystem was started, for instance, in situations in which a batch job is to run where, e.g., DB2, Beta 92, or an information management subsystem has been activated. Even if for various reasons the respective subsystem is started on another MVS, the subsequent jobs are automatically rerouted appropriately.
  • The protection of initiators intended for OPC from the accidental or unintentional use by non-authorized users. Smooth production processes require that the OPC is fully available to the appropriate resources. At BV-Info GmbH, the job classification of 2,000 to 3,000 jobs is changed every day with this function.
  • Limitation of maximum CPU time for a job--a function which, at BV-Info, is primarily used in the framework of applications development. Various initiators are available that are classified according to whether the associated jobs are short, medium, or long running. Short running jobs are executed rapidly and vacate the initiators quickly. Under certain conditions, the maximum CPU time can be increased dynamically, for instance, in conversion programs in which the required time cannot be calculated exactly. In this situation, the user retroactively receives a bonus in excess of the declared CPU time. On the whole, this function substantially increases throughput in test operations.
  • Review of job names with regard to declared conventions. At BV-Info GmbH, job names must not be assigned arbitrarily, but must adhere to specific declarations. Only what is agreed upon can be controlled and monitored sensibly. If a job name does not comply with the standards, RTS does not execute a correction. Instead, as a rule, RTS aborts the job.
  • Analogous to the job names, the accounting information has to comply with the rules, in order to be able to properly account for any services. At BV-Info GmbH, this is of special significance because the company provides services not only to Vereinsbank, but to its subsidiaries as well. RTS reviews the accounting information. In situations of conflict or deviations as a result of erroneous information, corrections are made. However, RTS also provides the option of automatically making these corrections by drawing upon predefined rules.
  • Conversion of condition codes into user ABENDs (abnormal terminations), to be able to control disposition processing for the allocated files. Important programs, such as most IBM utilities, frequently signalize errors only through condition codes at the end of the processing run, so that in the event of errors, the disposition information is not that useful. In these situations, the RTS remedy is to force an ABEND while triggering the associated system routines. In the past, BV-Info GmbH primarily experienced severe problems in the DB2 area when errors were only pointed out via the condition code and processing continued to proceed normally otherwise. Today, with RTS, these cases are under excellent control.
  • Securing of job logs in accordance with audit requirements. As a service provider for the banking sector, BV-Info is subject to particularly stringent requirements with respect to the auditing and tracking of any actions. To manage the production job logs, which have to be retained for 10 years, Beta 92 is used. Here, RTS ensures that for all production users, the job logs are automatically transferred to Beta 92. The same applies to on-call programmers who are connected into the production group intermittently, thus gaining access to production files.
  • Control of Sysout classes, writers, and forms. With this function, RTS monitors and controls the output classes for printing. Output generated by production and test systems is automatically divided into different classes and assigned to various print terminals. This also guarantees that test output is not inadvertently sent to customers.
  • Control of separator pages and cut marks. The separator pages can be controlled centrally and externally with RTS. In situations in which, e.g., a laser printer with a print path is actuated, cut marks with automatic separations are employed, while in chain printers the setting of marks is eliminated.
  • Limiting, redirecting, or expanding the output. With this RTS function, the volume of the authorized output for each user can be controlled with sophistication. When necessary, similar to CPU time, the contingent for an active job can be dynamically adapted and increased. On the other hand, RTS prevents system failure due to gigantic output volumes of multiple parallel users.

In general, a modification of parameters is possible at any time. Parameters may be set via masks or wild cards. Any changes are automatically passed on to other systems. User intervention is not required.

All activities are centrally audited via an SMF reporting system, so that one can always easily trace back what was done when for whom. RACF is tied into the review process; the message output to the user is controlled flexibly.

Significant Cost Reduction

Real Time Standards (RTS) is an indispensable tool for the automatic control of various areas of CC processes. It facilitates the unified central monitoring of important standards and thus contributes significantly to cost reductions in the computing center. Incompatibility, duplication of expenditure, and added costs are successfully prevented.

At BV-Info GmbH, RTS is firmly anchored in the CC environment. The tool is operated simply, flexibly, and comfortably and safeguards production against user mishaps. To a large extent, unnecessary job terminations are thereby avoided.

Thus, RTS has established itself as an insurance against breakdowns and errors. The tool provides a substantial increase in security for CC operations by controlling and optimizing resource consumption. Quality assurance in production is definitely enhanced. This tool should also be of great benefit to other computing centers, not last because of its flexibility.

Wolfgang Schwarz, 47, is a chief consultant at BV-Info GmbH of the Munich-based Bayerischen Vereinsbank (BV). He is a devout proponent of cost reductions in computing centers through the use of state-of-the-art tools such as Real Time Standards (RTS).