Last week, I was at the shopping mall and ran into a friend I've known for many years. Like myself, he was involved in ITAM related activities for mainframe software. After exchanging comments on family, health, weather, sports, etc., I asked him how his job is going. His reply was, “Boring!” That response shocked me a bit and I said, “What's wrong?” He responded as follows.

“Years ago, when I started doing mainframe software ITAM work, I asked you for advice. You told me I needed to create and track accurate information about my company’s environment. So I now maintain a list of the installed mainframes, the software licensed on each machine, and the monthly charge (MLC for IBM products) on each machine. For sub-capacity products, I document the usage from the SCRT reports and that allows me to maintain a list of the monthly MLC run rate for the machines and the pricing Sysplex. I also maintain a monthly view of the z/OS usage and the major subsystem MSU usage, the monthly MLC run rate, and the cost of each product each month. As you suggested to me, I keep track of the usage of zOTC products each month so I always knew the high water mark. For ISV products, I track monthly MIPs usage relative to the contract for each of the vendors.

“In addition to tracking software, I keep abreast of planned mainframe hardware upgrades and am able to determine their effect, either increased or decreased costs, to stay ahead of the game. All in all, I have all the information I need whenever management has a question for me. Since changes/upgrades of IBM mainframes occur at a slow pace and are usually driven by announcements of new generations of mainframe hardware ever 2-3 years, I have time to plan for those events.

“You also said that maintaining simple graphs of monthly usage and run rates for each business unit is a good way to keep management informed of how the mainframe environment is doing. I distribute these graphs on a regular basis and management appreciates that way of keeping them informed of mainframe usage trends.

“I have time to evaluate how IBM offerings such as Mobile Pricing, Country Multiplex Pricing, software saving related to technology options, SVC and MVM , and Container Pricing would affect mainframe software costs at my company.

“Occasionally, I get asked to review vendor invoices to ensure we are correctly being charged for products we are using. Although each vendor bill is different, I have the inventory and usage information to validate the charges without any major effort on my part.

“In my job, I find I have the information I need when management asks me questions. There are very few crisis situations, and no mainframe software audits to worry about. Things are somewhat hectic at contract renewal times, but at least I have the information so management can make better decisions.”

After hearing all his comments, I said, “It sounds like you have things under control so I wonder why you are not happy with your job.” He said, “Don’t get me wrong. I like the job but I worry that I should be doing more. Like the mainframe environment in general, the associated ITAM processes are under control. I am aware of planned hardware and software changes in the datacenters. Since these changes do not occur on a daily, or even weekly basis, I have time to determine their effect on our software budget. At times, I am just ‘bored’.”

As I was about to say goodbye and go to the parking lot, he said, “Do me a favor. If you ever talk to colleagues at my company or to any one in my management team, don’t mention the conversation we just had. If they thought I was bored, they would suggest I transfer to the Server and Distributed Software ITAM group. In that job, I would have to constantly try to track what software is used and where it is used, constantly worry about audits initiated by the vendor, and constantly try to keep abreast of the server inventory for hundreds of machines. I would surely be very unhappy.” I said to him, “Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.”

As I walked back to my car, I thought to myself: “If more people had their mainframe software licensing and asset management practice under control like my friend does, they could happily share in his boredom.”

For those of you who do mainframe software ITAM work, do you find that the job is “boring” or “chaotic”? Or do you have another adjective to describe your day in day out activities? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.