Performance and profitability don't have to suffer as a result of high CPU usage
February 10th, 2010

Managing performance and cost has become a significantly more difficult job with capacity planners and performance analysts being asked to defer hardware and software upgrades due to squeezed budgets. Many large IT departments have also seen loss of staff due to redundancy and this has put added pressure on maintaining good application performance.

One of the most effective ways of reducing or containing mainframe costs is through better managing CPU consumption. By slowing down the growth of CPU usage, hardware and software upgrades can be deferred while often improving performance thereby allowing organisations to keep costs down and performance and profitability up.

MIPS Growth in the Mainframe Market
In a recent mainframe market study, IBM reported that the mainframe has seen a 20% compound annual growth rate in MIPS since 2003. Also, In Ovum's "The state of the mainframe" research, they found that mainframe MIPS growth is averaging around 20 percent per year and large mainframe-centric enterprises have been consistently averaging 35% plus MIPS growth.

Whilst it is good news for businesses to see transactions on the rise, with usage based pricing for z/OS this increase in workload pushes up software costs and can also negatively impact application performance.

The effects of growing MIPS
Performance
- Typically, any significant increase in the amount of CPU used by a given workload will result in an associated increase in transaction elapsed times. For performance-critical online workloads, that increase can translate directly into poorer critical business metrics such as customer satisfaction and retention.

Just throwing more MIPS at a poorly-performing DB2 workload does not always address the issue. A 2 hour response time may be reduced to 1.5 hours with more CPU time being available, but the problem might be due to a poor access path and some DBA attention could get it down to 5 seconds. This is especially true of application performance tuning, which is where the majority of performance issues tend to lie.

Cost - Although performance is a key issue for many organisations, the major diver for many IT teams is the need to reduce mainframe resource usage and thereby potentially defer hardware upgrades and reduce monthly MIPS costs. There is also human costs to consider: maintaining an underperforming system takes more time and resource for IT teams and adds pressure from the business teams who are calling for improved response times.

Can tuning do enough to reduce costs?
The majority of customers have significant potential for reducing resource consumption through tuning. This is especially true for those with older applications that haven't been actively maintained for a while or who have lost some of their deep DB2 skills through retirement or redundancy.

By implementing key tuning procedures, ongoing software costs can be reduced and mainframe upgrades deferred. In addition, application performance will be enhanced and overall TCO reduced.

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