By Jerry Street
When I was growing up, long car rides were a bit challenging due to our car’s alerting system: smoke, steam, horrible clunking noises, or dead silence. Everything was great until Betsy (my mom always named our car Betsy) did not move anymore. Then we had to get the car to a mechanic who was an expert at making us feel ignorant and took a lot of our money to fix something simple (usually).
Then cars started getting better at alerting the operator about simple problems, but you still had to take the car to a mechanic to fix the problem. Today, between YouTube, Google, and Internet forums, you can often get the steps it takes to resolve a lot of these alerts for a whole lot less money; however, there is still more that needs to be done between getting an alert from your car and solving/fixing the issue.
What if your car could alert you to an issue, do an Internet search for you, and send a fixit video to your smartphone before you could even get to a safe place to check your smartphone? That kind of intelligence would be convenient. The same principle applies to alerts you get from your z/OS Operating System.
When I started working in Operations, when we still called it “MVS”, an Operator would see an alert and call me (usually at night). I would sometimes have to drive into the office or call another Systems Programmer, analyze the alert, and act upon it. What if now, the alert could automatically perform root cause analysis and send supporting reports to your smartphone?
One of the major problems with alerts in IT is that digitally oriented machines are generating so many that the Operators become desensitized to them. Projects to “clean up” alerts may end up filtering out necessary ones. I know of one project that was started to reduce alerts, which was intended to improve the alerting, and it created more problems than it solved. Many customers even ask for a single pane of glass to contain alerts and want them to be smarter. This can wind up being a single glass of pain, that adds no value if alerts don’t lead to actionable solutions.