By far, the most valuable features of this product are:
Improvements to My Organization:
Our largest LPAR currently has 633 tasks defined to SSM. We can shut the system down and have it back up in 30 minutes. Without SSM, that could not be possible.
Room for Improvement:
I think some of their built-in functions are short on functionality. We have written homegrown REXX functions to perform many of these.
- There is nothing in place to ensure that your rules are consistent across all machines in an environment. I have worked at large (20+ LPARs) to gigantic (200+ LPARs) shops. The key to having good automation is to make sure all the rules and REXX execs are the same everywhere. Otherwise, you lose track of changes and differences very quickly. Obviously, some rules might only apply to one system, and we code them accordingly. (CA says that they are working on this currently, and I have seen a demo which looks very promising).
- To go with the previous topic, we have a function called PLEX that returns the current logical sysplex that the rule or REXX exec is running on. Currently, with the provided tools, you would have to code a long select and list each system.
- There is no function within OPS/MVS to open problem tickets to an outside product. Currently, our problem management tool is ServiceNow. We automatically open problem tickets and assign them to the appropriate group all automatically. This function I did demo for other companies at CA World in 2010. Some were very interested in what we have done.
- There is one built-in OPS/MVS function that actually does not work at all. If you are using OPSVALUE to retrieve global information cross-system, there are times that it is not possible to get the information. The reason is you have to pull the data one level higher than what is needed, and you are limited to a number (I do not remember exactly what the value is) that can be returned cross-system, and it is less than what is retrieved from your request. We wrote a function that will look up global information on the system where they reside and return only the info that is needed. This one I have opened a problem ticket on, and have posted it to the CA website.
These are the biggest issues. Some of these I have opened issues on, and others I have just posted online. So far, the only one that seems to have gotten attention is the first one.
Use of Solution:
- Current employer: 11 years
- Personal experience and usage: 14 years
I have not encountered stability issues very often. It is a very mature product, so there are usually only minor issues.
As mentioned, our largest LPAR currently has 633 tasks defined to SSM. That kind of shows that there does not seem to be any issues with how big a system can get.
Technical support is very helpful, and usually extremely responsive.
We previously used and we continue to use a different solution. (We still have two LPARs on a different solution.) The #1 reason we switched to this product was the ease of operations and the hands-off approach in day-to-day usage.
There are some things that are different, but that is true for pretty much all products. Overall, it is very easy - time consuming because of the code having to be rewritten - to convert to OPS/MVS.
Cost and Licensing Advice:
OPS/MVS tends to be one of the more expensive products if you strictly look at the licensing costs. The ease of use and operations more than makes up for that cost, however.
Other Solutions Considered:
I have been working with system automation since 1986. I have used or evaluated probably six different automation tools. When we made the decision to switch, OPS/MVS was the only option that was considered.
If converting from a different product, all of your existing code (REXX, rules, clists,...) will have to be rewritten. It is NOT hard, but it is time consuming. If you are installing automation for the first time, use the samples, and be aware that automation is an evolution and it takes time for everything to fall into place. Once it does, life becomes MUCH easier and system stability improves tremendously.
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Officially we are only a customer. However, they do tend to listen to us because we have written some ingenious code and are an extremely large customer with very large systems.