BMC: Data Center Management Nirvana Gets Closer

DBXray lets administrators manage multiple database platforms residing on distributed and mainframe systems from a single console

Ever since it announced its Project Golden Gate initiative last year, BMC Software Corp. has promised to bring database administrators (DBAs) one step closer to data center Nirvana—that, is the ability to manage multiple database platforms residing on both distributed and mainframe systems from a single administrative console.

Now that it has released its first SmartDBA management tool for mainframe DB2, Houston, Texas-based BMC is finally starting to deliver on that promise.

Although BMC’s SmartDBA products have been available for some time for Oracle, DB2, SQL Server and Sybase databases running on Unix and Windows systems, the company’s DB2 and IMS management tools for mainframe systems have lacked integration with the SmartDBA console, which enables a DBA to manage several different databases from a single, Web-based interface.

Until now, that is. Last week, BMC announced the availability of a SmartDBA-compliant database monitoring tool called DBXray as part of version 2.1 of its System Performance for DB2 product.

Bill Arledge, BMC consulting product manager, acknowledges that mainframe DBAs are probably comfortable with the administrative interfaces they’re now using, but says that a tool such as DBXRay can help them more effectively share management duties with their colleagues in the data center. “What this does is it allows you to take somebody who maybe is an expert on Oracle, so they have some understanding of database technology … and now they’re being asked to move over to DB2,” he comments. “They’re not an expert on DB2, but they can understand it, because there are a lot of common things on databases, plus the help system here [in SmartDBA] can tell them what to do.”

Arledge acknowledges that DBXRay doesn’t currently provide wizard-like management tools—“that’s not something that’s there in the first iteration”—but says that the product’s dashboard-like interface can help DBAs quickly identify problems. From there, a help system can suggest several common fixes. “We think the fact that we provide the indication that there’s a problem, and the expert advice to help solve the problem, will help them go a long way to actually fixing the problem,” he concludes, noting, “The same thing applies for a mainframe DBA that has been asked to wear a new hat.”

BMC hasn’t specified a timetable for introducing IMS integration with SmartDBA, but Arledge says it’s certainly in the pipeline. “We also have plans to increase our SmartDBA integration with IMS, although the solutions that we offer for IMS are a little bit different than for DB2,” he says. “We don’t offer the same number of things for IMS, because it’s quite a radically different implementation, but we do offer the same functionality.”

Going forward, BMC will continue to ratchet up integration between its traditional mainframe database tools and SmartDBA, Arledge says. “What’s driving this is that customers are demanding more productivity [from DBAs]. Productivity is very important if you’ve got a small staff of DBAs having to manage a large number of database instances."

Also last week, BMC announced a new version (v. 2.2) of its Database Administration for DB2 tool, which is designed to manage large binary objects (LOB), along with a version 2.1 release of Application Performance for DB2, which includes a variety of unspecified performance enhancements. Finally, BMC announced version 2.6 of SmartDBA Performance Solution for DB2 UDB, which boasts support for 64-bit DB2 UDB.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.