CA Looks to Ease Mainframe Management

At the CA World 2010 show, CA Technologies officials are unveiling Mainframe Chorus, a new workspace designed to stem the drain of mainframe skills and make it easier to manage the systems. The first workspace will focus on the DB2 database.

CA Technologies is adding to its 18-month-old Mainframe 2.0 initiative with a new set of tools to simplify the management of the massive systems and to make it easier to attract a younger generation of programmers to the mainframe.

At the CA World 2010 show in Las Vegas May 18, CA officials unveiled Mainframe Chorus, a role-based workspace brings a more intuitive design and greater embedded intelligence that not only makes it easier for current mainframe administrators to manage the systems, but also will make the environment more appealing to newer staff members.

For example, Mainframe Chorus brings a more intuitive graphical user interface, online collaboration capabilities and point-and-click features, tools that the younger generation of programmers have come to expect, according to Dayton Semerjian, corporate senior vice president and general manager of CA's Mainframe Business Unit.

"It's like nothing that's been seen on the mainframe before," Semerjian said in an interview.

Despite many predictions of a decade ago, the mainframe market has continued to survive, thanks in large part to IBM's efforts to expand the workloads that can run on the systems and to offer more modestly priced models.

"It's a powerful platform," Semerjian said. "It has undergone a renaissance, but there still are challenges."

A key challenge is the aging mainframe workforce. As they retire, they take knowledge with them. IBM, CA and other vendors have been working to attract a younger generation to the mainframe space.

A problem is that, in many ways, the mainframe environment doesn't have the same features and tools that younger programmers are used to. That's an issue that CA is looking to correct with Mainframe Chorus, Semerjian said.

The offering will increase efficiency and productivity, which also will help with any shortage of mainframe skills, he said.

CA will start with the database with the first role for the workspace. The beta version of Mainframe Chorus for DB2 Database Management is open now. It will leverage several of CA's mainframe database management products, including Detector for DB2 for z/OS, Insight Performance Monitor for DB2 for z/OS, Plan Analyzer for DB2 for z/OS, and Subsystem Analyzer for DB2 for z/OS.

More roles for the Mainframe Chorus will follow, Semerjian said.