We believe that BMC’s announcement of its acquisition of I/O Concepts is welcome news to mainframe users for a number of reasons. First, it provides BMC with a new and important product offering, MainView Console Management for zEnterprise that provides the consolidation capabilities that address the festering pain of console management. This product drove much of the success of I/O Concepts. We discuss key features of this offering a little later.
Second, mainframe users will welcome BMC’s significant investment in the mainframe’s future by buying I/O Concepts. If mainframe users needed any non-IBM provided proof of the current excitement around and vitality of the mainframe, this acquisition provides it. Why is this proof? It’s proof because without a significant and growing proliferation of mainframe consoles there is no need for a robust, powerful manager of consolidated consoles. New consoles proliferate only if a market is expanding.
Third, it provides new reasons for mainframe customers to catch-up with BMC’s activities. While BMC has quietly been expanding its mainframe portfolio, much of the mainframe aficionado’s attention has been engaged by IBM’s highly publicized, much discussed new zEnterprise systems. With this new solution, BMC delivers a product offering significant benefits to all mainframe customers searching for ways to reduce costs as they expand and optimize operations.
Before we talk features, we want to emphasize that while MainView Console Management for zEnterprise integrates smoothly with other BMC products such as BMC MainView, it also operates on its own. No other BMC product is required to use and benefit from its ability to provide access to System z consoles from Windows, Linux, and UNIX workstations. Since it uses standard protocols, no modifications to existing hardware or system Z console definitions are needed. The solution easily installs on the network. While we highlight only a few of its features, the MainView Console Management for zEnterprise family is feature rich.
The first feature capturing our attention is the solution’s ability to monitor and simultaneously keep track of all console activity. It automatically builds a message log that allows IT staff doing problem determination to see all messages and responses. Another important feature, it keeps track of all messages whether the System z environment is up and running or not. In other words, it handles NIP and IPL messages as well as System z activity. This means that hardware failures that prevent System z from initializing will be visible to the solution as well as the operator. This feature becomes critical when the operator is not seated in front of the machine but is instead located at some distance, perhaps thousands of miles away.
MainView Console Management for zEnterprise also provides system access security. Anyone attempting operator access to the system must pass rigorous security controls before connecting to System z. System access is via a browser; therefore no special software is installed on the workstation to provide this security. In addition, all traffic between the workstation and the system is encrypted. Operator commands to perform low level tasks, such as IPL, can be pre-configured by an administrator with the proper parameters to reduce operator errors and down-time.
MainView Console Management for zEnterprise includes automation capabilities. If you have already invested in datacenter automation, it easily integrates into the solution. If you’re not automated, the solution has a built-in rule based engine able to sort thru System z messages and identify items requiring attention.
Prior to acquiring I/O Concepts, BMC had installed and used this solution. This paid off during a power failure at BMC Houston’s campus. With the solution, Houston employees (from their homes with power) were able to manage a mainframe site located in Phoenix. Not only were they able to quickly respond, but BMC avoided the expense and difficulties of transporting employees to Phoenix.
In summary, MainView Console Management for zEnterprise is a tool that helps to reduce operational costs in the datacenter. It reduces the cost to manage what can potentially add up to hundreds of consoles. It simplifies problem determination thus reducing downtime. It increases security and reduces the possibility of unauthorized personnel accessing a mainframe. Its automation capabilities assist in reducing operations staff headcount. All-in-all, we think that BMC made a wise choice in acquiring the company. This new offering should win a significant place in the marketplace.
Rich Ptak, Managing Partner
Bill Moran, Research Director
 We are also not going to discuss the BMC packaging of MainView Console Management for zEnterprise in any detail. There are actually 3 products under the solution umbrella. The main product MainView Console Management for zEnterprise, BMC MainView Console Automation for zEnterprise, and lastly BMC MainView SecureHMC.
 Note MainView Console Management for zEnterprise supports z/OS, z/VM and z/VSE.