MPG Releases AS/400 Optimization Toolkit

Midrange Performance Group Inc., (MPG) of Boulder, Colo. has released version 3 of its Performance Navigator, a Windows-based performance management, capacity planning and problem determination software tool for the AS/400. MPG also announced a new consulting service, which provides fixed-price analysis of the performance and capacity of current AS/400 systems and offers upgrade and workload balancing recommendations.

New functions included in both the Standard and Professional Editions include current day graphs that allow users to view 10 performance metrics up to the most recent performance data interval. The toolkit also includes capabilities to drill down to the job/task/thread level--performance problem determination is made easier with this feature which displays jobs, system tasks and threads in any interval.

Before vs. after analysis summarizes statistics before and after any event, such as a hardware or software upgrade or system tuning. Enhanced graphing has added progress bars, a status bar with dynamic data readout, new toolbar icons, optional vertical grid lines, hidden trend lines, and many other features. Enhanced data reduction (EDR) gives users the option of employing IBM's reduced data or data produced by the EDR function of Performance Navigator, which provides greater detail and more meaningful statistics.

The Professional Edition also includes DASD modeling/capacity planning that consists of a point-and-click method, which facilitates the analysis of various DASD configurations and their effect on performance. DASD arm utilization and capacity utilization are modeled as users migrate or replace old DASD, add or delete additional arms, or change HDA capacities.

"In the past, AS/400 users would have used products such as ours only once a month for performance management or maybe twice a year for planning capabilities," says Randy Watson, president of MPG. "With Performance Navigator, we gave functions to people who wanted this product in-house, whenever they had a need. Problem Determination was the big enhancement for making this product useful--if not on an everyday basis, then at least three to four times a week. With our product, users can quickly and graphically discover what was causing a problem, so they can spend more time fixing it, rather than finding it."

"We were impressed with the MPG when we looked to them for other solutions," says Warren Tierney, senior software systems engineer at Frontier Insurance Group (Rock Hill, N.Y.). "When they came out with Performance Navigator, we decided it would be a reasonable way to check our system growth.

"The way our use was increasing, it was hard to predict what would be needed for DASD requirements and system performance," he adds. "We used their tool to find bottlenecks for response times and to project system requirements for upgrades. We selected Performance Navigator because it's very reasonably priced, has a drill-down capability to see what problems are in real-time, and available whenever you want or need it."

A limited function, evaluation version of Performance Navigator 3, is available immediately at no charge at

MPG also announced a consulting service, called SecondOpinionService, which provides customers with a fixed-price analysis of the performance and capacity of their current AS/400 systems and servers, as well as recommendations of potential new models for either MES upgrade, replacement, or consolidation of workloads.

MPG says users can quickly, economically and easily generate the complex analyses needed to make informed acquisition decisions about expensive AS/400 hardware. All recommendations are documented with graphs, which include past history, future workload projections (based on past usage of current hardware), and projected models or model combinations. "We decided to offer the SecondOpinionService because we found that a subset of AS/400 customers don't have the skills, resources, or time to do proper capacity planning. Our consulting service is designed to give customers a fixed set of graphs and charts to help them justify purchase or upgrades," says Watson.