Project Description

Large regional bank commissioned TxMQ to conduct a CICS architecture and implementation review to maximize use of resources and technology.

The Situation

TxMQ’s client, a large regional bank, requested a CICS HealthCheck. Under the request, TxMQ would assess the current infrastructure and verify that the environments were running optimally (response times and availability), and assess how the client used them in comparison with other institutions of like size and structure.

In addition, TxMQ was asked to identify opportunities for different and greater functionality, as presented by the technology, and to determine what business solutions might be recommended.

The Objectives

The first key objective for the HealthCheck was to provide senior architecture consulting, plus a broad assessment and review. The assessment and review would be used to provide flow documents and possible recommendations including, but not limited to:

  • Software and system-configuration changes or upgrades/support packs needed
  • Technical impact and performance analysis
  • Response to solutions impact
  • Written recommendations based on meetings with stakeholders
  • Stakeholder concerns mapped to specific infrastructure objectives

A second key objective for the HealthCheck was to analyze the WMQ environment and configuration to eliminate any potential performance, availability and security exposure, and to ensure there were no roadblocks for future growth and new applications. This included an analysis of current staffing structure, number and size.

The final objective was to analyze the proposed capacity-increase solutions and the impact of each solution to support increases in business processes up to 100% of the existing transaction volumes. The analysis would help the client effectively plan MQ/CICS capacity-management strategy, identify technical dependencies and assist with an identification of the costs and benefits.

The Response

TxMQ’s consultant – an MQ Subject Matter Expert – spent a little more than a week onsite with the CICS/MQ team at the bank.

TxMQ dove into a diagnosis of the current OS and middleware environment, which included CICS V3.2, WebSphere MQ V7.01 and DB2 V8. The Client had more than 85 CICS regions deployed, many of which were standalone and used for development and testing.

TxMQ’s consultant completed a review of CICS parameters and specifications for the bank’s main production regions. The consultant also assessed the source of three system outages over the prior 13 months due to application issues.
In conjunction with the bank’s internal teams, the TxMQ consultant was able to deep-dive into the environment and architecture and create a list of observations and recommendations.

Findings

The HealthCheck revealed no major or current issues. The consultant’s general observations were as follows:

  • Sound Architecture
  • Highly motivated and skilled professionals
  • Excellent communication among management, teams and members
  • Need for ongoing skill updates
  • Fast problem resolution
  • Formal structure for support and problem facilitation
  • Central change management
  • No performance issues
  • Management aware of and willing to address issues
  • Good planning

The three system outages were sourced to application issues. TxMQ recommended the client reduce additional outages by:

1) Thorough application testing, and 2) Utilization of a disaster-recovery system identical to the production environment.

As far as CICS parameters, no networking issues were detected and only minor changes were suggested.

The client is proactively planning upgrade activities as well as additional training for its staff.

Photo courtesy of Flickr contributor Bob Mical

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