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Mainframe Performance Management Guide

by John Cirelly - Last Updated: August 1, 2023

Mainframe Performance Management Guide

Looking to get the most out of your mainframe? In this mainframe performance management guide, we’ll cover tactics to improve performance and touch on monitoring tools that make mainframe management easier.

Mainframes In Modern Times

For many companies, the mainframe is still the backbone system for business logic and transaction processing, which is driving digital transformation in many cases. New business strategies like DevOps, automation, and modernization have resulted in an increase in the number of mainframe workloads year over year, according to many industry studies.

To keep essential business applications running at their best, Performance Management solutions monitor and manage them regularly. Supporting essential business applications, conducting large-scale commercial transactions, and housing much of the world’s corporate data requires the mainframe’s high availability and performance.

It is becoming more difficult to maintain the availability and scalability of mainframe services as new technologies like mobile, the Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics emerge. 70% of Fortune 500 companies still rely on mainframes to handle their most mission-critical IT workloads, and yours is no different.

In these enterprises, finding methods to maximize the value of the mainframe is always a top focus. If this is the case in your organization, here are some suggestions for improving mainframe performance.

Effective Monitoring Tools 

The first step in getting the most out of your mainframe is to have a thorough understanding of its internal workings. What kinds of tasks are the most taxing on the system’s resources? What particular operational problems and inefficiencies in the processing chain must be resolved? Before and after optimization, how are the performance baselines different?

To address these questions, you’ll need real-time system monitoring technologies that can give comprehensive information. When it comes to transporting critical operational and security data from the mainframe, platforms like SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor, and Datadog offer industry-leading products.

How mainframe Performance Management tools Aid in the Maximization of Existing CPU MIPS

A vital step towards optimizing the utilization of current mainframe resources is to adopt a good mainframe performance and capacity management system that gives a graphical and data-driven method to lowering or regulating MIPS usage.

When it comes to picking the proper tool, look for a solution that boosts your capacity to:

  • Identify which workloads are producing high CPU consumption and when, and what is driving CPU spikes that limit processors and have detrimental consequences on mainframe performance and budget.
  • Forecast future MIPS consumption per workload over time, depending on predicted application growth and changing business needs – revealing if there is an adequate current capacity to manage application expansion without acquiring new processing power.
  • Analyze the applicability and possible advantages of employing less costly specialty processors such as zIIPs to do the same work and minimize MIPS consumption – saving more expensive MIPS for key workloads that must run on general processors.
  • Assess the ideal configuration settings for different logical partitions (LPAR) and determine the impact of prospective modifications to settings for appropriate allocation of CPU resources.
  • Model and track the placement and movement of LPARs on various CPCs to optimize resource consumption and reduce MIPS increase.
  •  Analyze the efficacy of employing specified capacity for z/OS LPARs to regulate MIPS consumption and the probable bad consequences of soft capping, which lowers an LPAR’s access to CPU resources.
  • Accurately detect delays when an LPAR is seeking processor resources, vs real high CPU MIPS usage to prevent needlessly boosting MIPS capacity and to optimize configuration choices and tuning instead.

Offload processing to zIIP

The adoption of specialist hardware, such as IBM’s System z Integrated Information Processor, may significantly decrease the processing load (and expense) on your mainframe’s central processing unit (CPU). In the case of Copy, SMS Compression, and Sort, you may be able to offload up to 90% of the CPU cycles to zIIP, which will result in a 25% decrease in elapsed time. Furthermore, zIIP simply necessitates a one-time investment in hardware and does not need any continuing licensing payments.

Reduce the window for batch processing

Batch processing is just as important as real-time online transaction processing (OLTP), which is often done on mainframes. When it comes to compiling operating reports, generating customer statements, or processing payroll for employees, many companies rely heavily on batch runs.

In certain situations, batch processing is preferable to OLTP because of its higher throughput. In contrast to OLTP, which requires several database queries for each transaction, a batch process simply has to read the data once and store it in memory.

As a result, it is necessary to provide preference to OLTP when batch and OLTP programs fight for CPU or storage resources. Since batch processing consumes resources, it is essential to optimize the JCL responsible for controlling it to maximize batch processing time.

Continued Innovations

Tools for Performance Management are becoming more relevant when existing systems are modified to give new capabilities or processes are changed to accommodate more fast DevOps style development and implementation procedures, which necessitate the use of Performance Management tools. Developers may utilize the same performance monitoring tools as Operations to assess the effect of changes before they become a problem as part of a test deployment.

An organization’s ability to reduce risk and make informed decisions relies heavily on a history of consistent investment, innovation, and support. Corporate viability is not usually a problem when looking at some of the bigger suppliers (although acquisitions do happen). Public firms, on the other hand, public firms must answer to important industry stakeholders and be held responsible in areas like social responsibility and sustainability (i.e., shareholders, employees, and community members).

While private enterprises may have greater freedom to experiment with new products, they may also be able to make more abrupt changes in their product lineups that might alienate current consumers and force them to upgrade or move. As a rule, private investment businesses choose assets that provide high returns on equity, as well as a high degree of liquidity.

Potential clients need to know what items may be sold or deprecated to redirect finances and attention to higher-growth parts of the market. For the most part, a solution’s vendor reputation and client references, recommendations, and general happiness will play a significant role in the selection process.

Upgrade Compiler

IBM has taken considerable effort to guarantee that when a mainframe’s operating system, middleware, or hardware is changed, application programs don’t need to be recompiled. However, you may have certain COBOL or PL/1 apps that need to be recompiled for whatever reason.

It’s possible to get significant speed gains by just recompiling unchanged source code, thanks to ongoing advances in compiler technology, as seen in the following example. Many applications may benefit from CPU time reductions of up to 17% by aggressively using the latest compiler technology, which IBM calls the “biggest single performance lever”.

What can go wrong in mainframe performance management?

Performance management’s primary goal is to help team members become more effective. Together, the manager and the team member devise a strategy for achieving the organization’s goals while also keeping a close eye on the team member’s progress toward those goals. There are a variety of strategies utilized in this process, ranging from trait-based to behavior-based to result-based. Feedback may be conveyed in both formal and informal ways. The input might be frequent or sporadic. An enormous amount of effort is put into setting objectives and measurements, analyzing performance, then evaluating the results. Things might, of course, go wrong and the desired level of employee productivity is not achieved. The following are some potential stumbling blocks to effective performance management.

1. Wrong decision

The mainframe performance management system must be customized to meet the specific needs of the firm if it is to be effective. Even within the same industry or group of companies, a similar system created and implemented elsewhere cannot be used by another firm. There must be thorough consultations with the system’s stakeholders and end-users.

For a system to succeed, its users must have faith in it. A limited version of the design should be tried out before it is rolled out to the rest of the company. Make certain that all of your documentation and papers are in their proper locations. A level playing field should be maintained throughout the whole process. Continuous performance management should not be seen as a one-time affair. Reward and punish those who do well.

2. Absence of integration

Strategic planning, human resource management, the organization’s culture, structure, and all other important systems and procedures must all be incorporated into the performance management system.

3. Lack of leadership commitment

To have a successful rollout, there must be strong leadership support and commitment. It is the responsibility of the company’s top executives to spearhead the process and integrate performance management into daily operations.

Organizational leaders are not only responsible for establishing the organization’s strategic direction and performance metrics, but they are also responsible for evaluating and monitoring the performance of all employees. Recognizing and rewarding good achievement is another way of reinforcing the cycle of good performance.

4. Ignoring change management during system implementation

The implementation of the system relies heavily on the strategic management of change. It’s a top-down directive that requires cautious handling of pushback. An important intervention and a vital tool for managing change would be communication. Implementation goals and timelines must be adhered to. All of the necessary paperwork must be in order.

5. Inability to do one’s duties

If you want a good mainframe performance management system installation, you need to be able to use it properly. Skills that every person should have to include the following:

  • Additionally, establishing a set of measurable objectives as well as performance contracts is a critical part of this process
  • Establishing strategic goals, performance metrics, and key competencies as well as performance contracts
  • Making ensuring the KPIs and performance measurements are aligned
  • Active listening, providing and receiving feedback, and conducting performance evaluations
  • Coaching for performance

There will be a strong emphasis on establishing and executing training and development programs that will assist employees to acquire new skills. The development of performance’s behavioral components will be given particular attention.

Key benefits from mainframe performance management

You will be able to do advanced tasks with more efficiency if you use a contemporary mainframe performance management and capacity planning system, which will also enhance your business and digital transformation initiatives by providing the following benefits:

  • Reduced CPU utilization and increased processing time were realized
  • Determination of inefficiencies in the system, database, I/O, and application performance
  • Identifying and analyzing application execution delays and performance indicators
  • Acquire a thorough understanding of transaction-level performance characteristics
  • Increased application throughput and expansion planning to eliminate the need for expensive upgrade costs

Collection and automated analysis of performance and capacity information throughout your company will make it simpler to identify and resolve issues as they arise, identify areas where performance can be improved, and determine the actions that must be taken to optimize your overall IT utilization.

Mainframe performance monitoring

As with all IT assets, you need to be able to watch activity and resource capacity on mainframes in order to ensure that they keep running at peak performance and constant availability. You can query system information at your mainframe’s command prompt and some mainframe producers provide GUI hardware or processor monitors but it is nice to have a more joined up monitoring system that can track all system resources without the administrator having to look in several different places.

While there are many system monitoring packages available, not many of them will cover mainframes. Of all the mainframe brands, the one with the most options in the system monitoring market is the IBM Z Series. We explain one option below.

IntelliMagic Vision for z/OS – GET DEMO

IntelliMagic Vision for z/OS is designed to monitor IBM Z Series mainframes. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to monitor other services and equipment in your IT system. However, the dashboard for this package draws in statistics from the simultaneous monitoring of all of the resources on your mainframe and that saves you from having to set up your own query scripts to look for problems.

The monitoring system is based in the cloud and installs an agent on your mainframe for statics uploads. The package looks at all of the important elements of your mainframe’s operations, including CICS, DB2, Disk & Replication, MLC, MQ, TCP/IP, Virtual Tape, zERT, and WebSphere.

Key Features

  • Resource availability reporting
  • Process monitoring
  • AI for predicting service bottlenecks
  • Resource shortage forecasting
  • Capacity planning assistance

The tool gathers activity data for each resource and then cross-references to see which resources and services will be demanded by all running processes and when. This examination uses AI to predict when each service will be in demand and can identify when those resources will be unavailable. This prevents bottlenecks in one area from throttling process performance while resources elsewhere are left idle.

intellimagic vision dashboard

The IntelliMagic Vision system will generate alerts in the event of a predicted resource shortage, an actual resource deadlock, a system error, or an access problem. This alerting mechanism automates monitoring because you can assume everything is running well unless you receive a notification. Predictive alerts buy technicians time to take action and head off performance issues.

This is a SaaS platform with a cloud-based dashboard that you can access from any computer through a Web browser. The dashboard is customizable, allowing you to decide which metrics appear on which page of the console and you can also choose between display formats. The customization lets you set up different roles and allocate accounts to team members according to their roles, assigning different dashboards to each role.


  • Predictive alerts generated by AI
  • Identifies current and potential resource shortages and service bottlenecks
  • Customizable, role-based dashboards
  • Capacity planning forecasting based on past demand
  • Generates system utilization reports


  • Only monitors IBM Z Series mainframes

Demo & Quote: get a free demo.

IntelliMagic Vision for z/OS Get a FREE Demo


To stay up with ever-growing data processing needs without incurring the price of updating hardware, enhancing your mainframe’s performance is worth the time and effort it will take to complete the task at hand. It is not only technology that is involved in identifying the root cause of poor performance but also people and processes that are involved in implementing a solution to this problem.

Consequently, end-to-end mobile-to-mainframe performance monitoring given via a single interface assists operations teams in isolating problems more rapidly rather than having to manually attempt to correlate alerts across separate products and user interfaces, which may be time-consuming.

Mainframe Performance Management FAQs

What types of performance metrics are monitored in mainframe performance management?

Mainframe performance management involves monitoring a wide range of metrics, including CPU usage, memory usage, disk I/O, network bandwidth, and response time for applications and transactions.

What tools are available for mainframe performance management?

There are many tools available for mainframe performance management, including IBM's z/OS Performance Management Suite, BMC's MainView, and Compuware's Strobe.

How does mainframe performance management differ from performance management for other types of computer systems?

Mainframe performance management is often more complex than performance management for other types of computer systems, due to the unique architecture and operating systems used in mainframe environments. Additionally, mainframes often process large volumes of data, which can require specialized tools and techniques for monitoring and optimizing performance.

How can mainframe performance management help improve application performance?

Mainframe performance management can help improve application performance by identifying and addressing issues such as slow response times or inefficient resource usage. By optimizing application performance, organizations can improve customer satisfaction, increase productivity, and reduce costs.

What types of organizations can benefit from mainframe performance management?

Mainframe performance management can benefit a wide range of organizations, particularly those in industries that rely heavily on mainframe computer systems, such as finance, healthcare, and government. It can also be beneficial for organizations with large amounts of data that require processing or analysis.