BMC Software Inc. has introduced a new tool for IBM Corp.'s IMS database called Log Analyzer designed to sort through millions of log data items and unearth the source of a database problem more quickly.
The feature also allows administrators and programmers working with the venerable IBM mainframe database to trace the flow of work that resulted in a problem and who or what caused it. BMC claims the tool can cut IMS problem discovery from days to minutes.
Log analysis isn't new to the IMS world. But in the past, programmers had to scour logs line by line, digging into the database to surgically discover the problem.
"Now you have the ability to go in and not have to mud wrestle," said Richard Ptak, a systems product management analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates. "You can identify who did what to parts of the database and then reverse it. You have the power and the analytic ability to go in and peruse what happened inside the database."
IBM's IMS has always had an abundance of log data -- so much, in fact, that it was sometimes difficult to identify the origin of the problem. Older employees used to dealing with IMS log data have gotten accustomed to digging for the information, but Dave Hilbe, director of IMS research and development at BMC, said that's not always the case for the technology's novices.
"We've simplified the concept of using the logs," he said. "There's an aging workforce in the IMS world that has pretty good knowledge of log records. But a lot of people coming in behind them have not built that knowledge yet. Log Analyzer greatly simplifies those logs."
Ptak said that BMC is the first company that can thoroughly delve into IMS data to extract what administrators want.
Log Analyzer also enables an auditor to determine when an IMS database was changed, what was changed and who changed it.
Rory Day is an IMS database administrator at Unigard Insurance Group, a U.S. insurance company now owned by Australia-based QBE. His company runs roughly 60 IMS v9 databases on a z/OS 1.7 mainframe. He doesn't yet have the BMC Log Analyzer tool, but he wants it.
"Every once in a while I read about great things in the trades that I want to use, and my mouth waters," he said. "I'd love to be able to use the logs for analytical reasons, but we don't have that utility yet. If there's a bad decision, we would have to analyze how to recover by looking at the logs and determine how we would go forward."