For us, what I find is that we have a declining workforce where we have a very experienced staff who are retiring, moving on in their careers, and we have an influx of newer, younger generation who don't have all of the experience. Because we have a smaller workforce now, we're having to use tools to optimize what they spend their time on. I don't want my staff spending time on the logistics. I want them to spend their time on the critical thinking so they can truly apply their time and energies on those things that are really critical to what a systems programmer does, and MSM allows us to do that.
Improvements to My Organization
I would say that the process where MSM is gaining the technical information from CA about availability of hypers, availability of information, current data about errors in the system, and going and retrieving the actual fixes makes it so that we're able to focus on the actual application of those changes rather than the logistics of going and getting them, and dealing with the analysis. We can focus on just the important part of the job.
We've been involved with Mainframe Software Manager for a number of years through its introduction and development, so certainly we've seen our share of development changes, but what I continue to see is the team has been incredibly responsive to those challenges. We use it every day now. It's become a de facto part of how we conduct business.
Room for Improvement
Here at CA World, we've been talking with the directors directly about upcoming features, as they're in a real development of the product. They've gone from it simply being maintenance of products, to looking at more advanced features of analysis and reporting on product deployments, what products do or don't have hypers, or errors installed. What I'm seeing is a development into a direction with the product I wasn't expecting. I'm really excited to see the changes. I think that in the end, being able to have management have an independent way to look at deployments and see where things are or are not installed or staged, makes the analysis that much quicker. It makes it independent so you're not relying upon somebody who may or may not see exactly the same thing you're seeing. I'm very excited about where they're headed with it. It's just so odd because you don't really expect a product to develop in a specific way, and you get your own head pigeonholed around, "Where do I think this product goes?" Or, "What do I think it does? What should they be doing?" Then you see where they're headed and it's just an eye opener. It's a very exciting time.
When I'm looking at new solutions for our environment, I'm constantly looking for ease of implementation, ease of use, and whether or not the solution reduces the complexity of how we do business. There's the analysis, there's the logistics of getting maintenance, and whatnot. I'm looking for solutions that make it so my staff can focus on their job, focus on the critical thinking, and not spend an inordinate amount of time at configuration, or trying to teach other people how to use it, or having to learn how to use it themselves. Simplicity in execution, and stability.
We've been very pleased with that. Currently it just manages products from CA. As we've expanded, what we've done is more and more of the products are supported by MSM, and have taken on the CA recommended service maintenance lifecycle. In that aspect, they have continued to change the product to support more of the internal products at CA. For our standpoint, we're really not expanding its use as much as we continue to expand the number of products that we're doing it for, but it's so easy to do that it doesn't feel like it's a scalability issue. It doesn't feel like we're taking on great hordes of work because it is so simple.
Customer Service and Technical Support
A+. I've been very responsive. I think because of the industry that we're in, very high security, a lot of concerns about privileged access, recently we had some internal challenges with the product because of how our company does business, and CA was very responsive.
Our team has been involved in all of the sprints, and all of the developing the betas as it comes out, so we've had direct feedback with the development of the product. I would say it's been very easy. Every time we've come up with an issue it seems like the person on the other end says, "Yeah. We saw that too. Yeah, we recognize that's a deficiency too. We're working on it. It's in the next release." We've been very happy with how quickly they've adopted changes to the product, and how responsive they've been to our issues.
From my experience with other vendors and their solutions in this sort of software management, I would have to rate CA MSM as a 10.
The advice that I would give a counterpart when they're considering CA Mainframe Software Manager as a solution is to really consider, "What do you pay your technicians to do?" When I have a high end systems programmer, and I need them to do this job, I need you to apply maintenance, I need you to maintain these products, I need you to run Error Sysmod Reports, I need you to see the health of the system. I want them to focus on those tasks. It's not, "Did you go to that website? Did you download that cumulative maintenance? Did you unzip it?" Whatever the logistics are, I don't need you to be doing FTP, and be on your PC, and uploading, and downloading data. I want my staff to focus on the actual parts of the job that are about systems programming. The critical thinking. What does it take to apply or back off this fix?
If my staff are spending so much time in all of the logistics, then the amount of time, and energy, and focus they have left at the end now to look at, "Okay, well does this fit our environment? What do we need to do to back it off?" Now they've spent too much time here. I would say to my counterparts, "Look at where you want your staff spending their time. Look at where you want them to apply their critical thought process, and their problem skills, their analytics. If they're doing it up front in logistics, they're not doing their job. They're doing a logistical job. You want them to focus over here." Having a tool like CA Mainframe Software Manager that allows you to channel your staff's direction into the actual work, it's priceless. That's what I would say.