AIOps

No More Headaches: Take Control of Mainframe Alerts

March 16, 2022

Managing alerts on the mainframe can be a headache-inducing experience. Multiple problems can occur simultaneously which may or may not be causally linked. Issues can arise that are correlated, yet the dependencies may be obscured by the complexity of the systems involved. Some alerts are the result of unusual circumstances not likely to be repeated while others are just the latest manifestation of a recurring issue.

In this frenetic mix of alerts, mainframe level one operators are under tremendous pressure 24/7 to assess issues, check procedures, engage appropriate personnel, and perform troubleshooting. To do so, they have to juggle different windows on different products with different passwords across different platforms. With complexity only increasing in the IT ecosystem, this is an untenable, unsustainable situation.

Broadcom is bringing a note of calm into the noisy world of mainframe alerts with the innovative capabilities of Alert Central. Alert Central is a new component of our automation solution that enables you to centralize alerts from different products across the entire organization, consolidate meaningful insights about those alerts (including historical information and topology), and streamline workflows to accelerate problem identification, investigation, and incident resolution.  

 

Here is an Alert Central screenshot that shows open alerts from multiple systems and resources, along with their severity and other basic information:

Through Alert Central, level one operators gain the ability to act swiftly and accurately by having all the details about an alert instantly visible to them. An operator can make a data-driven decision as to whether they have the right skills to fix the problem or if they need to engage a subject matter expert (SME). If the problem is beyond their capabilities, Alert Central enables quick interaction between operators and SMEs to facilitate handover and escalation, including integration with main ITSM tools to support auto ticketing. 

Below, you can see an example of the detail provided by Alert Central, including a timeline of when the same alert occurred previously as well as data on related alerts:

Alert Central helps you optimize your mainframe operations in numerous ways. For example, Alert Central enables operators to:

  • Increase visibility through a single pane of glass. Suppose a level one operator at a major financial institution has 100 LPARs. Previously, the operator had no way to consolidate alerts from these resources. With Alert Central, alerts from across the enterprise – including all 100 LPARs and more – are consolidated in one place. 
  • Balance workload across the operations team. Consider a night shift that has ten operators overseeing alert activity. Alert Central ensures that all ten operators see the same information through a common web interface. They are not isolated in their view of the environment but can see what is taking place across the board in real time. They are therefore able to balance work between them as it comes in, optimizing issue handling. 
  • Create and manage incidents through ticketing and authentication. With the ability to interact with ServiceNow, Alert Central facilitates ticketing and lets operators set security on the resource level so that the right people can be assigned to address an issue as swiftly as possible.
  • Improve responses through a “big picture” view. By looking at the historical and topological detail that Alert Central provides about alerts, an operator might see that the same resource is issuing other alerts or that multiple resources are issuing the same type of alert, indicating that there is a larger problem to be addressed.
  • Identify areas for continuous improvement. If an operator sees the same problem happening a dozen times over the past seven days, she can flag this as an area that needs a permanent fix or an automated response. Doing so optimizes mainframe operations and the business processes the mainframe supports. 

The powerful benefits of Alert Central will continue to expand over time. Future enhancements to this capability will enable operators to easily access procedural instructions to speed up issue resolution, leverage dashboards for more analytical views, and incorporate machine learning to help cluster alerts, predict issues, and advance root cause analysis. 

Monitoring and managing mainframe alerts has caused too many headaches for too long. It is time to take calm control of the mainframe operations environment: it is time for Alert Central.

Tag(s): AIOps, Mainframe

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