New Tool Exposes AS/400's Best-Kept Secret

Unanticipated surges in demand have brought a number of high-profile e-commerce sites to their knees. Fortunately, AS/400 shops can prepare for such scenarios with a little-known performance measurement tool that IBM includes within every AS/400 system -- PM/400. It's just a matter of digging out the data. Midrange Performance Group (MPG, Boulder, Colo.) recently released a new PC-based tool that captures and presents the cache of data compiled by PM/400.

The latest version of MPG's Performance Navigator (Version 2) provides access to performance information -- potentially dating back years -- to support capacity planning, workload balancing and upgrade strategies. The tool accesses performance data generated by OS/400 and heretofore hidden from users. The graph displays key system metrics such as CPU, memory and DASD utilization, average response time, transactions, jobs and pages spooled.

"Performance Navigator provides dynamic access to the PM/400 data stored on most machines," says Randy Watson, president of MPG. "Most users don't even realize the data is there. The data PM/400 has been collecting for months or years is still sitting on the customer's machine." PM/400 regularly collects system performance data that can be sent to IBM Rochester for analysis. Watson estimates that more than half of the AS/400s in existence continue to run PM/400.

MPG is shipping both standard and professional editions of Performance Navigator. The standard edition includes CPU by job type graphs, tabulations menu with metrics on jobs, users, communication lines and IOPs, average day graphs, and disk graphs of GBs stored. The professional edition adds workload graphs and "what-if" capacity planning.

The "what-if" planning feature enables users to model existing system workloads on a new target system. Server consolidation can also be modeled by combining workloads of two or more systems on a target system.

A subsequent release of the Professional Edition targeted for May -- Version 3 -- will include measurement and modeling capabilities that embrace the new LPAR (logical partitioning) capabilities of OS/400 V4R4, as well as Lotus Domino workload metrics, Watson says.