Security and integration burden AS400 managers

Single sign-on, security, heavy workload and constantly changing technical and business requirements are among the issues that...

Single sign-on, security, heavy workload and constantly changing technical and business requirements are among the issues that keep members of the IBM mid-range systems user group Common UK awake at night.

Other concerns to emerge from a survey by Common of its members were: upgrading server hardware, service continuity while configuring or transferring databases and files, back-up and disaster recovery.

IT managers were asked about their main management and technical challenges, what business issues keep them awake at night, and what their major irritants are.

The key management challenges identifed by Common members were updating customer information, especially database replication; and justification of systems, especially in terms of total cost of ownership.

Effective time management and meeting deadlines were a concern, against the backdrop of pressures to increase productivity while resources are diminishing. Consolidation to reduce costs and improve efficiency are resulting in less hardware and fewer sites and creating systems integration challenges, the survey found. Another management headache is prioritising projects.

"These findings reflect the two main factors that are influencing IT in any enterprise right now: dealing with the rate of change and increasing complexity and diversity of IT, and trying to deliver all these in a timely manner," said Common UK's chairman Stephen Way, IT manager at Johnson Matthey.

"The demands of the desktop are for a single information source to access multiple platforms and internal and external data. The security issues and integration that go with all that are also adding to the considerable workload of the IT shop. That is as true for me as for our members."

Systems integration also crops up as a major technical challenge for Common users. Other technical challenges they face include keeping abreast of the latest technical developments and learning about new products that can provide business advantage.

Keeping systems running, and overcoming problems of systems crashing, while meeting deadlines for projects are ongoing technical challenges, along with providing office functions for remote workers.

Improving service with fewer resources also presents technical challenges, especially when technical skills are concentrated in only a few key personnel.

Asked about the major irritants they face, Common members cited support, buzzwords, keeping up-to-date with different application platform technologies, and single sign-on systems.

Members were also annoyed by projects not being planned at the scale they require and the IT department not being involved at the planning stage.

Common UK

Common UK is the user group for all iSeries mid-range IBM systems, more widely known in their previous incarnations as the AS400 and System 38 series.

Common UK comes under the wing of the IBM Computer Users Group. It has about 2,000 individual members and 350 corporate members, comprising mainly IT managers and senior technical engineers.

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