Longpela Expertise logo
Longpela Expertise Consulting
Longpela Expertise
Home | Press Room | Contact Us | Site Map

LongEx Mainframe Quarterly - February 2023

technical: Six z/OS Features to Reduce a Systems Programmer's Workload

Although many see z/OS as an 'old' operating system that rarely changes, the reality is different. New z/OS versions every two years regularly introduce new features and benefits. Over the past 10 years or so, this has included some features that make the lives of z/OS systems programmers easier. Let's look at my six favourite z/OS enhancements or features that make my life easier.

1. Runtime Diagnostics

Picture this: your z/OS system is sick, and things are running slowly. You issue the z/OS command:


You see the following response in the z/OS console:

EVENT 1: HIGH:HIGHCPU          SYSTEM: MVS1     2023/02/04 09:15:04
  STEPNAME: STEP1     PROCSTEP:           JOBID: JOB00078
  USERID: USER1     JOBSTART: 2023/02/04 09:04:23

Voila! You've found the problem: a job was looping.

Runtime diagnostics is a started task that just sits there until needed. Systems programmers can issue a simple command, and it will check all sorts of things, including

  • CPU usage and looping tasks
  • ENQ, latch and lock delays and deadlocks
  • Critical messages or message combinations
  • Outstanding WTOR messages
  • JES2 health exceptions
  • Server address space health exceptions

One single command can save 30 minutes of manual analysis.

First introduced with z/OS 1.13 in 2011, regular enhancements make runtime diagnostics one of the best tools to help z/OS systems programmers analyse problems.

2. z/OS Health Checker

I love the fact that I can logon to SDSF, and look through a whole bunch of systems checks that the z/OS Health Checker automatically does. Many of these I would never have found myself, others would have taken a while to dig out.

z/OS Health Checker is enhanced with Predictive Failure Analysis (PFA) that can detect 'soft' problems before they become 'hard' problems. For example, detecting if an address space is obtaining too many ENQs, or CSA storage is creeping up. If setup right, it can also perform some actions to help diagnosis, including performing a Runtime Diagnostics analysis, or dumping affected address spaces.

3. z/OS Upgrade Tools

It seems like we're already planning, implementing, or finalising a z/OS upgrade. With every new version of z/OS, IBM release two fantastic tools to make installing and migrating to the new version easier:

  • z/OS Health Checker – IBM releases new z/OS Health Checker checks that analyse the current system, and look for issues that may affect migration.
  • z/OSMF Workflows – IBM release z/OS Management Facility workflows so you can step through all the migration steps. So good, IBM no longer publishes the z/OS Migration manual.


SDSF has been around since I started working on the mainframe. However, since Rocket software have taken charge, a lot of really amazing features have been added. Today, SDSF is an excellent all-round z/OS monitor. Want to list APF authorized libraries? Easy. Want a quick view of all z/OS systems in the Sysplex? No problem. Want to browse the contents of storage? Can do.

If you haven't taken a fresh look at SDSF, now is the time to find out all the brilliant new features.

5. PARMLIB Validation

OK, this isn't one feature, but a few. IBM haven't produced a single utility to validate z/OS PARMLIB settings. But there are a few other ways it can be done. For example:

  • RACF RACPRMCK command – validate RACF PARMLIB members
  • TSO PARMLIB CHECK command – validate IKJTSOxx PARMLIB members
  • z/OS Symbolic Parmlib Parser – sample ISPF dialog to see parmlibs members after symbol substitution. Can also check the syntax of LOADxx and GRSRNLxx PARMLIB members
  • SETOMVS SYNTAXCHECK - z/OS command to check the syntax of the BPXPRMxx member. Also checked by the z/OS Health Checker rule USS_PARMLIB
  • CEEPRMCC – Language Environment program to check the syntax of CEEPRMxx members

Other products also provide features to check PARMLIB syntax. For example, Broadcom MIM has the SyntaxSCAN utility.

Scanning parmlib changes before implementing them can save a lot of pain later.

6. ISPF Option 3.17

I've used the ISPF ISHELL utility to manage z/OS UNIX files and filesystems for years. A few months ago, a friend of mine suggested that I was an idiot, and should use the ISPF option 3.17 introduced in z/OS 2.3. OK Liam D, you were right.

For us z/OS guys who struggle a little using UNIX shells, 3.17 is a great ISPF panel for doing anything with z/OS UNIX filesystems and files.

Working Less

As a senior systems geek, I'm all for working less. These tools are free, always available, and easy to understand. Six ways to work less.

David Stephens

LongEx Quarterly is a quarterly eZine produced by Longpela Expertise. It provides Mainframe articles for management and technical experts. It is published every November, February, May and August.

The opinions in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of any other person or organisation. All trademarks, trade names, service marks and logos referenced in these articles belong to their respective companies.

Although Longpela Expertise may be paid by organisations reprinting our articles, all articles are independent. Longpela Expertise has not been paid money by any vendor or company to write any articles appearing in our e-zine.

Inside This Month

Printer Friendly Version

Read Previous Articles

Longpela Expertise can improve your system performance. We can determine performance problems, and implement performance solutions to speed up your systems. Contact us to get your own z/OS performance expert.
© Copyright 2023 Longpela Expertise  |  ABN 55 072 652 147
Legal Disclaimer | Privacy Policy Australia
Website Design: Hecate Jay