CA Revamps, Refocuses Unicenter Mainframe Line

CA touts ongoing initiative to modernize, simplify, and integrate its Unicenter mainframe software line

Computer Associates (CA) last week updated three of its Unicenter mainframe management tools and also announced an ongoing initiative to modernize, simplify, and integrate its Unicenter mainframe software line.

“These are the first in a series of new mainframe Unicenter r11 management products,” says David Hodgson, senior vice-president of mainframe systems products with CA. “We focus from our development point of view on managing the mainframe, and we’re talking almost about a single solution called Unicenter r11 management. It’s made up of products that we’ve developed over the years, but we’re doing something slightly different with them in terms of integrating them, modernizing them, and simplifying them.”

CA announced improved versions of its Unicenter NetMaster r11 suite; Unicenter CA-OPS/MVS Event Management and Automation r11; and Unicenter CA-SYSVIEW Realtime Performance Management r11.

Hodgson says that all three products introduce ease-of-use improvements and bring new capabilities to the mainframe—including some, he claims, that aren’t yet offered by CA’s competitors, which include IBM Corp. and BMC Software Corp. The idea, he says, is to open up Big Iron to a new generation of IT workers who aren’t necessarily well versed in the minutiae of mainframe administration.

“[The mainframe] needs to be made usable by today’s workforce. How is a graduate, a 20-something graduate going to feel about using mainframe products to manage the mainframe platform?” he asks. “Obviously, we need things like browser interfaces, but it goes beyond that. It has to do with making the mainframe products easier to use. Much simpler to use, much more self-management, more commonality” between tools.

CA isn’t the only one taking this view, of course. BMC, for example, has introduced a graphical S/390 and z/Series administration tool, System Explorer for z/Series, and also markets a one-stop console for mainframe and distributed database administration, SmartDBA. IBM is also building more canned intelligence and ease-of-use features into its Tivoli management tools.

More to the point, both BMC and IBM have a head start on CA, which—by Hodgson’s own admission—has just begun the work of modernizing and integrating its Unicenter management tools. “It’s a forward-looking strategy, because in the next few months, other products will go [to general availability] under that [Unicenter r11] banner,” he indicates. “There are some significant integrations there, but we’re actually undertaking right now a sort of thick common code layer that the mainframe products will sort of be built on top of. This is part of a refocus, increased investment by CA on the mainframe.”

Not surprisingly, Hodgson points to CA’s decision in early October to support sub-capacity pricing—via its Measured Workload Pricing initiative—on zSeries as the kick off (so to speak) of CA’s own mainframe revitalization.

“If [the mainframe is] going to be a viable platform going forward, it needs a facelift,” he says. “From a Computer Associates point of view, these sales [of mainframe software] account for somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of our revenue, so it’s a very important part of our business.”

New enhancements in the three updated tools include:

  • Unicenter NetMaster r11, CA’s a management suite for mainframe-connected TCP/IP and SNA networks, now provides autonomic capabilities that can discover abnormalities out of the box, along with REXX support for NetMaster commands and functions. “It’s a pretty exhaustive network management product, but now we’ve introduced a real-time monitoring capability, sort of like a network sniffer, except it’s on the mainframe, so all of the IP traffic coming into the mainframe is sniffed,” explains Hodgson.

  • Unicenter CA-OPS/MVS Event Management and Automation r11, an automated systems operation offering for z/OS, now provides enhanced support for Unix System Services and enables cross-console event management.

  • Unicenter CA-SYSVIEW Realtime Performance Management r11, a performance monitoring and management tool, is now said to provide an at-a-glance snapshot of the overall health of the data center. Also new in the r11 release of this product is support for IMS 9.1, along with improved support for WebSphere MQ management and monitoring.

About the Author

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