To help mainframe-dependent companies protect their investments, BMC Software is rolling out software designed to simplify and automate big-iron systems management processes for a wider group of IT workers.
The System Advisor for z/OS is the first in a planned line of Java-based tools that it said will let IT staffers who lack mainframe skills manage mainframe computing resources.
For example, network or Unix specialists would be able to use the software to manage mainframes via a streamlined graphical user interface (GUI).
Calvin Guidry, vice-president and general manager of enterprise systems management at BMC, said keeping mainframes running smoothly could become more of a challenge as companies face a predicted shortage of mainframe-savvy IT workers.
Typically, mainframes are managed through 3270 green-screen terminals or specialised interfaces, Guidry said.
Other features include text messages to help simplify systems configuration and application service management tasks. Systems managers will also be able to use the software to set performance thresholds, restart systems and oversee workload management, data integrity and storage operations.
Given the ageing of the mainframe workforce, that sort of point-and-click tool could help younger IT staffers get up to speed on mainframes, said Larry Riggen, a principal technology consultant at Cinergy, a utility and energy services firm.
At Cinergy, which runs BMC's Mainview mainframe management software and its tools for managing DB2 databases, there is also tremendous pressure to cut costs, Riggen said.
The utility will probably consider BMC's offering as a potential way to meet those goals, he added.
Computer Associates International and IBM's Tivoli Software unit have also recognised the anticipated thinning of the mainframe talent pool, said Richard Ptak, an analyst at Ptak & Associates. He said both CA and Tivoli are likely make similar product announcements in the near future.
CA already sells several Windows-based tools like System Advisor to ease mainframe job management, automation and security administration for IT staffers trained on other systems.
Tivoli said it is shipping a mainframe management application that can be used by various IT workers and is developing portal software to provide integrated mainframe monitoring.