Lines of Code – Up to the HORIZON(T)

Lines of Code – Up to the HORIZONTAt home, we use Office or layout programs on a daily basis and thus know that we need to implement updates and current patches from time to time.

Naturally, the software landscape of a major corporation is vastly more complex. This blog article illustrates how the products of our subsidiary HORIZONT help you keep your system environment up to date.

The real-life example below demonstrates the vast difference in scale between a large company and a normal user: For example, the IT administrators maintaining the production environment of a premium car maker must check out, change (due to technical or content-related requirements) and re-implement approx. 40,000 programs each year. When things reach this scale, the products of our HORIZONT subsidiary deliver precisely the right functions that enable users to easily search for and index data and code at a level that is not possible without smart automation.

In a major corporation, hundreds of developers create and maintain software programs on a daily basis. This requires them to maintain an overview of millions of lines of code. These numbers incidentally only describe the mainframe platform and do not even include the client/server world with its ever-growing number of applications. The products of HORIZONT Software GmbH offer tools for interconnecting and tapping into this data as well as for running code analyses. The Munich-based company has been specializing in workload automation and scheduling for over 20 years. Software solutions from HORIZONT automate, document and analyze IT workflows and processes in data centers of national and international companies of all sizes and across all industries. At present, close to 300 customers from 15 countries across the globe employ HORIZONT products.

A ‘Virtual Private Eye’ at Work

Let’s take a look at how code analysis actually works. For instance, the above-mentioned car builder needs to extend the chassis number since the previously assigned number range has been used up. These numbers are used in a vast range of programs, input screens, databases and reports throughout the entire mainframe software portfolio.

Like a private eye, the available retrieval systems must determine where the numbers are located so the IT department can update them. This task is performed by XINFO, a batch production information system from Horizont.

It collects data from a very large number of mainframe components and makes it available in a transparent format to facilitate detailed comparisons. XINFO permanently scans meta information, such as chassis number data, and stores it in the DB2 Horizont database.

There it can be accessed to run queries on what programs use the chassis number. This, in turn, makes it possible to identify all objects where the number needs to be updated.

Specific Data Structure Queries

XINFO is a modular software tool that offers a dedicated scanner for each mainframe component. Among them are the TWS and loading module scanner as well as a JCL scanner for checking the JCL syntax. These tools enable developers to determine whether any particular job is executed without errors. In addition, they verify the job’s quality. While it is true that the IBM-internal search function – the IBM Analyzer – also allows for running program source code searches, the process binds a lot of resources. What’s more, the function only supports general string-based searches rather than specific queries relating, for instance, to the data structure.

In this area, XINFO offers much more extensive options for accessing information. One of its key highlights: It performs searches directly in DB2, thus providing all-encompassing data access. In addition, you can use the XINFO dialogs to implement search routines via DB2 query tools of your choice. Furthermore, you can link DB2 searches to a program for downstream processing of the results in this application.

Rapid Access to Information Chains

The XINFO database provides more than just a view of program code: It also visualizes data on all workload objects in the IT environment, including TWS databases, jobs and files. This means quick access to a wealth of interconnected information.

You can even use XINFO data in algorithms, for instance in process flows, to test the quality of software modules in the batch. This is possible since XINFO directly connects with DB2, thus allowing you to directly access data stored in the DB2 database.

As regards other batch production information systems that store data in proprietary databases, access is much more difficult due to the closed design. XINFO, on the other hand, provides mainframe developers with precise information, indicating at runtime which files are actually used in the batch run. As this information is made available at a central location in the database, access is easy and fast. Better yet, the information provided is not limited to programs but rather includes the whole breadth of workload and batch objects as well as the TWS scheduler.

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Thomas gr. Osterhues

Thomas is Senior Manager Marketing at Beta Systems. While working at market leaders Coca-Cola and Lidl, he was infected with the tech bug and moved rapidly into the software world, working for leading ECM and IAM companies in Marketing, Channel Sales and Product & Solution Management., with a strong focus on business processes and data center solutions at large clients.
He is able to rapidly understand and articulate how technology can solve specific business challenges: for sectors, channels, prospects, teams … and bring all stakeholders on board. He is someone who gets the job done – and then some.

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