Improve the way you maintain IBM Z software with the IBM zServiceAdvisor

By Nigel Slinger and Ann Hernandez

If you’re involved in supporting Db2 for z/OS environments, you probably wish there were a simpler way to deal with preventive maintenance. The good news is that the IBM zServiceAdvisor can now make your life easier and, more importantly, improve the health and stability of your IBM Z environment.   

The IBM zServiceAdvisor is a smart IBM Z software maintenance solution that runs on a mobile app for iPhones and Android phones. You can download the app now at no charge (from one of the links at the end of this blog post). 

Wondering what problems the IBM zServiceAdvisor can address? First off, it can reduce the amount of time and effort you spend trying to optimize Db2 for z/OS and CICS software maintenance. This app provides additional information that can help you decide which HIPER, PE-fixing, and Red Alert PTFs to apply for your environment. After all, not all HIPER and PE-fixing PTFs are created equally. This app also simplifies the process of maintaining mainframe software and building maintenance packages, which is a time-consuming, manual process that strains the resources of most IBM Z shops. Finally, this app is great for getting new people up to speed more quickly because the mobile app interface comes more naturally to many of the people you’re probably hiring. 

A big benefit is that administrators can use the IBM zServiceAdvisor to search for and evaluate service information from IBM, which is particularly important for urgent service, such as HIPERs and PEs. The mobile app helps administrators decide which service to apply. It also rates missing HIPERs based on the number of users who had the issue and on assessments by technical experts. Administrators can filter HIPERs according to both impact and rating.   

Administrators can also request push notifications about urgent Red Alerts, HIPERs, and PEs.  This will save time and help administrators take quick action when appropriate, which in turn reduces the risk of outages.

You know that a big part of maintaining an IBM Z environment is keeping the system up and running. The IBM zServiceAdvisor offers health check push notifications to alert administrators to missing HIPERs and PEs, and to other inconsistencies. By taking advantage of the health check notifications, administrators save time and have better control over the health of the environment they support.  

 

From the zServiceAdvisor app, administrators can download prebuilt maintenance levels with just one touch. IBM regularly builds and checks software maintenance into single maintenance levels, with HOLDDATA processed, filtered, and collated as a single PDF file. These maintenance levels also include information that identifies RSU levels, HIPERs, PEs, and SAP levels. The IBM zServiceAdvisor even lets administrators generate custom maintenance levels.  Because the IBM zServiceAdvisor provides prebuilt, prechecked maintenance levels, IBM Z shops save a lot of time and effort, and they enjoy the confidence in knowing that these maintenance levels are being used and tested by many other shops.

The IBM zServiceAdvisor also helps administrators do normal, day-to-day maintenance on their systems. They can download and apply PTFs locally, maintain local SMP/E-based maintenance, and perform emergency maintenance when needed.  

Participants in a recent beta program for the IBM zServiceAdvisor gave positive feedback about the app.  For example, they found navigating the user interface to be easy, and they liked the push notifications about important PTFs. They also found the rating system very useful because they gained access to useful, previously unavailable insights that helped them do a better job of maintaining their own environments. They also found that the app is a good tool for training new employees who don’t have SMP/E backgrounds.

Watch this space! Our vision is for the zServiceAdvisor to be the one-stop shop for information relate to all service-related issues for Db2 for z/OS. In keeping with industry practices for mobile apps, IBM plans to continuously deliver valuable new features for the IBM zServiceAdvisor over time. In the future, additional IBM Z software products may be supported, a web interface is in the works, and IBM even plans to integrate cognitive capabilities to help you determine your optimal maintenance levels.  

IBM recognizes that maintaining a mainframe environment is far from simple. Naturally, administrators tend to be cautious about applying maintenance changes. The IBM zServiceAdvisor can play a big role in providing critical information in an easy-to-use interface so that your shop can make optimal decisions about your maintenance strategy and keep your systems up and running.  

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Comment by Ian Maughan on September 28, 2017 at 10:04am

This may be very useful but what is really needed is a version packaged as a desktop application. I can't see many of us doing our DB2 maintenance from our phone.

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