Analysis: Revamped NetView a Sleeper Hit

NetView 6.1 is, by almost any standard, an exciting new deliverable -- particularly for users of IBM’s Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex technology.

IBM Corp. announced the latest revision of its Tivoli NetView for z/OS at almost the worst possible time -- on the Friday before the three-day Memorial Day weekend holiday. It’s no wonder the revamped NetView for z/OS received little fanfare. In fact, IBM didn’t even publish a press release.

That’s a shame, industry watchers say, because NetView 6.1 is, by almost any standard, an exciting new deliverable -- particularly for high-end users of IBM’s Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS) technology.

Big Blue bills NetView for z/OS as a network and systems management tool for its mainframe systems. The revamped NetView 6.1 release bundles a bunch of new amenities, including high-availability (HA) and automation enhancements that IBM claims can help boost system availability.

Similarly, NetView 6.1 promises to accelerate problem-solving and diagnostics via features such as Canzlog -- the “Consolidaited Audit, NetView, and z/OS Log -- as well as packet tracking and analysis features.

Canzlog is a feature new to NetView 6.1 that makes it easier to log and browse NetView and z/OS messages -- including message attributes such as command echoes, delete operator messages (DOM), trace messages, and audit messages.

Canzlog alone could be worth the acquisition cost for some prospective customers, argues industry veteran Anne McFarlane, a principal with McFarlane Consulting. It makes good on a decades-long lament -- “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do something like this?” -- voiced by mainframe hands everywhere. “[Canzlog] allows more sources of data to be brought to bear to automate better decisions in response to events. This dexterity makes its business value particularly high where factors relevant to a situation cross the boundaries from network into applications and jobs,” she writes.

An improved IP Packet Trace Analysis feature should likewise excite both existing and prospective NetView customers, according to McFarlane. “[It] provides information that can accelerate the resolution of network issues,” she explains. “With this capability, and the sophisticated tools and scripts that are at the command of IT administrators, more effective and efficient collaborative management is possible. The single user interface can eliminate the hand-offs that add delays to the inevitable recoveries that are needed in large systems.”

Together, these capabilities could be a boon to GDPS, McFarlane points out.

“The consolidated logging [i.e., Canzlog] ... and the wide variety of data feeds importable to the NetView Automation Engine, bring the facts into focus and make a solution [for Active/Active HA GDPS clusters over long distances] practical,” she writes.

Right now, IBM supports an Active/Active GDPS failover period of less than 10 minutes; its ultimate goal is to winnow this down to less than 10 seconds. The information generated and consumed by NetView 6.1, coupled with its built-in automation capabilities, will help make this practicable, McFarlane argues.

“With NetView 6.1 and GDPS Active/Active, IBM offers active-active failover at unlimited distances with rapid recovery. The first stage of this capability is Active Standby, where the second system is on standby to take over from a failing system,” McFarlane explains. “Since the applications run at both sites, functionality, at the level of a workload or set of workloads -- depending on the dependencies of the parts -- can shift seamlessly between sites.”

The advantage, she points out, is an extremely granular failover experience.

Fanfare or no, NetView 6.1 is “welcome news and should be even more welcome to large businesses with global reach and to those contemplating the complexities involved in managing cloud environments,” McFarlane maintains.

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