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CA set to put fresh face on mainframe management

The Mainframe Chorus management tools for zSeries, which comes with user-friendly interfaces tailored to different admin roles, will come out of beta in November
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

CA Technologies plans to take its Mainframe Chorus management tools for IBM zSeries machines out of beta at the end of November.

The management software, which provides a user interface for mainframe systems management, will eventually include a security audit tool called Investigator, CA's chief architect Scott Fagen said at a company event in Prague on Thursday.

Mainframe Chorus gives zSeries administrators a view of resources provisioned for different parts of the business, also allows automatic alerts to be set up which will show when certain thresholds have been reached for provisioning. The mainframe management tool pulls data from a range of systems feeds and presents the data through a graphical user interface (GUI) designed to be user-friendly.

The software will launch with the Database Management for DB2 'role' interface, which means it will present all the tools necessary for an admin doing DB2 management in a single front end. Security and storage roles will follow, but the timing for their introduction has not been set, CA said.

David Norfolk, practice leader of development and governance for Bloor Research, said that Chorus was overdue as a management tool with a user interface. "Chorus does what mainframes should have been doing 10 years ago," said Norfolk. "The mainframe... should become invisible."

Investigator gives insights into which employees are accessing which resources. Fagen demonstrated how CA had used Investigator to forensically reconstruct a series of events suffered by a CA customer in 2008.

Fagen said the company had mistakenly given full data access rights to members of its financial department, rather than to those in its security group. A member of the financial department, 'Bob', then compromised a number of credit card details. Fagen declined to name the company or which country it operates in, saying only that the customer was not in retail.

"Bob placed a lot of online internet orders," said Fagen. "Bob had a bunch of stuff sent to his house. He'd been given access to data he shouldn't have."

The Investigator tool would have been able to show that Bob had accessed the credit card details, as alerts can be set to indicate when access thresholds had been reached, said Fagen.

Mainframe Chorus is part of CA's Mainframe 2.0 effort, which aims to position mainframes as a viable alternative to datacentres for modern needs. After suffering a dip in fortunes, interest in the venerable platform has revived in recent years, and CA touted the machines as well suited to cloud computing at its Prague event. It released the results of a survey it commissioned, which found that four out of five European organisations believe that a mainframe is an "essential component" of their cloud-computing strategy.

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