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How IBM’s Tailored Fit Pricing Can Help You Optimize Mainframe Use

Authors Photo Ron Franklin | January 16, 2020

For many mainframe shops, managing operations so as to minimize MLC (monthly licensing charge) costs has long been a major preoccupation. MLC is tied to CPU usage and has historically been calculated based on the peak rolling 4-hour average (R4HA) of MSU (million service units) consumption per month. Tailored fit pricing can help reduce costs while still allowing mainframes to do more work.

The challenge of R4HA in today’s environment

Although R4HA pricing has been the standard for almost two decades, it has lately become a stumbling block to adding modern workloads to the mainframe task mix. For example, application areas such as mobile and cloud-based transaction processing often cause unpredictable short-term CPU usage spikes. Since the R4HA model is based on peak usage, such surges can elevate MLC costs significantly. 

That reality has resulted in many IT administrators spending inordinate amounts of time and staff resources micromanaging when and where specific workloads execute in order to minimize R4HA costs, instead of tuning their mainframe environments for best overall efficiency and performance.

Recognizing the problem, IBM introduced Tailored Fit Pricing to reduce operational complexity and lower costs, making the mainframe a more attractive platform for new as well as legacy applications.

How tailored fit pricing changes things

According to Barry Baker, VP of software for IBM Z, Tailored Fit Pricing is intended to help customers “leverage the strengths of the (mainframe) platform as opposed to architecting workloads around price.”

Customers can choose between two options, both designed to make the process of managing monthly billings simpler, more transparent, and more predictable.

The Enterprise Consumption Model establishes a monthly cost baseline by dividing total MSU usage during the previous 12 months by 12. This allows customers to pay only for the CPU processing they actually use.

The Enterprise Capacity Model, on the other hand, establishes a fixed monthly cost based on the total processing capacity of the mainframe rather than on CPU usage.

Whether you choose the consumption model or the capacity model, the key to minimizing your mainframe costs is reducing your monthly MSU baseline to the lowest level possible. Precisely offers two products that are designed to help you do exactly that.

Precisely can help minimize MLC costs

In a typical mix of mainframe applications, functions involving sorting and copying constitute a substantial portion of the CPU workload. Precisely’s mainframe optimization solutions — Syncsort MFX and Syncsort ZPSaver — work together to minimize the number of MSUs consumed by those operations.

Syncsort MFX is a high-performance sort, copy and join utility that intelligently harnesses features of z/OS to reduce both the number of CPU cycles and the elapsed time required to execute those functions in software. Syncsort ZPSaver takes optimization of sort, copy, and SMS compression functions a step further by offloading them, in a large number of use cases, from your mainframe’s CPU to zIIP auxiliary hardware processing engines. The two utilities working together can reduce the mainframe CPU workload for sort and copy operations by as much as 90%, and elapsed processing time by up to 40%.

The combination of Syncsort MFX and Syncsort ZPSaver allows mainframe shops using the Enterprise Consumption Model to significantly reduce their monthly MSU consumption and the MLC costs associated with it. Those employing the Enterprise Capacity Model benefit by being able to free up substantial amounts of CPU processing power within their current configuration. This allows them to support additional workloads without increasing their MSU capacity baseline or upgrading hardware.

Syncsort MFX and Syncsort ZPSaver solutions, when employed with either of the tailored fit pricing options, allow mainframes to do more work while controlling overall costs. And they do so without adding any significant operational overhead to your mainframe environment. 

To learn more about optimizing your mainframe, read our white paper:  Getting the Most Out of Your Mainframe