Lower your mainframe TCO - part 2

Issue 3, 2016

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zIIP enablement of Natural functions under IBM® CICS® or IMS™ TM

Lower your mainframe’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by moving parts of your online transaction workload from IBM® General Purpose Processors (GPPs) to less expensive IBM® zIIP™ processors. This second article in my “Lower your mainframe TCO” series explores how you can realize the benefits of zIIP when running Natural under IBM® CICS® or IMS™ TM.


Today, online applications are serving more and more mobile devices as well as increasing Internet access. This creates heavy workloads for Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) applications and is driving demand for resource-saving solutions.

Introduced in 2012, Software AG’s zIIP Enabler for Natural takes advantage of IBM‘s innovation in specialty engines to lower the mainframe’s TCO by moving almost all Natural batch workload from IBM GPPs to less expensive zIIP processors for execution. This innovation enables users to shorten their nightly batch-processing window and thereby release resources to be used for online applications.

In the last issue of TECHniques, we explored how users of Software AG’s mainframe application server Com-plete can offload online workload to zIIP processors by running Natural for Com-plete 8.3. Here, we will explore how users of IBM CICS or IBM IMS TM can also benefit by using the updated Natural Roll Server from Natural 8.2.6.

Natural Roll Server to the rescue

If you are an IBM z/OS® customer running Software AG products on a modern z/Architecture® mainframe with one or more zIIP processors installed, you can offload some internal Natural workload from CICS and IMS TM environments to a zIIP processor.

We have implemented this capability within the Natural Roll Server that operates as a different server outside the TP environment. Unfortunately, you cannot offload workload to the zIIP inside your TP systems with other roll facilities like CICS Temporary Storage (TS) or Natural Swap Pool.

How it works

In TP and Server environments, Natural has to save the working buffers from one task to the next. Because these buffers typically cannot be kept in core memory, they are rolled out to an external storage medium. This roll-out lengthens the response time and increases the CPU usage of your applications because it is part of the working tasks.

Fortunately, a roll server designed to handle IBM Parallel Sysplex® environments is able to handle parts of the roll-out workload asynchronously. With Natural 8.2.6, we have extended the Natural Role Server to perform this function as well as handle the compression and de-compression of the data in the roll server region.

Using Natural Role Server will free up resources in the TP and Server environments and increase the throughput of your applications. First, the TP and Server clients send only the pointers of the data to the Natural Roll Server. Then the Natural Roll Server transfers the data to the server tasks and compresses it asynchronously and vice versa.

Your applications will run faster and you will be able to run more transactions in parallel by offloading workload to the Natural Roll Server. When you have a zIIP installed, the Natural Roll Server will transfer this workload to a zIIP, reducing your costs by saving CPU resources on your GPPs. 

Figure 1: Lower your mainframe TCO by offloading Natural workloads to IBM zIIP with Natural Roll Server.

More information

We have developed a little guide to assist you in setting up your environment properly. It explains how to find the best configuration for your enterprise. You can gain immediate benefits in your existing environment as we also provide instructions on setting up without requiring you to upgrade to the latest Natural maintenance level. Of course, the better the environment is configured, the more savings you will realize.

To request a copy of this guide or inquire more about how to take advantage of zIIP with Natural applications under IBM CICS or IMS TM, please contact me.