System Ready for Year End? - 4 Things to Double Check

As the final days of the year approach I again want to thank all my readers for their support and comments this year.
Year end is always hectic as the holidays, shopping, and year-end requirements approach.  Below are four critical items that will hopefully jog your memory and help you avoid year-end troubles so you can enjoy your holidays.

  1. Identify the sources of end-of-year processing.

    Archives, backups, special accounting files, warehouse, order, customer, or other infrequently used files are needed for year-end processing.  These are always a pain to find and there always seems to be one missing to throw a problem into everyone’s plans.

    The year-end’s processing source code and the changes needed to account for all the new database columns, file fields, and new reporting requirements have hopefully all been verified. If you are just realizing changes are needed now, better late than never, or the night before it’s supposed to execute in a week.

  2. Identify the required year-end reports.

    The government continues to roll out more regulation and reporting requirements.  Some of these requirements are related to Obamacare, Dodd-Frank financial regulations, and governance-requirements related to security breaches or PII or HIPPA regulations.

    Some of these situations require special handling and reporting.  Review the plans of these new-for-2015 year-end situations and try to understand their DB2 or file access requirements.  Reviewing their access now might prevent a bad, long-running tablespace scan or non-matching index scan of your database. Try to get together with the people running these year-end reports and review them so that their once a year run is successful as the new year begins.

  3. Review overall operation expenses

    The end of the year is also a great time to discuss IT expenses.  Detailing the costs of the components such as staffing, software, storage, memory upgrades, electricity, and especially disaster recovery are only the starting points.  Management wants to know the environment utilization figures of the various centralized mainframe, distributed Linux, UNIX, and Windows environments compared against the number of interactions/transactions. Also of interest are the year on year growth of the number of database table rows and number of files compared to the number of people interacting with this environment during normal operations.
    The system availability and scalability of the environments needs to be documented.  Did your environment utilization go up or down?  If so why and by how much?  These are always interesting figures since every company continues to try to exit from their mainframe environment while its utilization continues to go up.  Whether management likes it or not the mainframe is still adding function to the core systems that require the mainframe reliability, stability, and availability.

    Disaster recovery is always another interesting topic to review at year end.  How did your disaster recovery testing go this year?  Or was the disaster recovery test cancelled because of costs?  The mainframe test went well but what about all those interfaces and distributed Linux, UNIX, and Windows environments?  Can’t those distributed environment’s disaster recovery be tested against the IBM, Amazon, or Azune clouds?  Well maybe next year those distributed environments will be tested successfully.

  4. Detail staffing technical requirements

    As the three wise men retire this year, what is the knowledge, experience, and technical skills walking out the door with them?  Staff turnover happens all the time and the baby boomer generation is marching to the beat of their retirement while others move to other positions with other companies.  Quarterly or yearly review of staffing to replace people is normal and especially needs to be considered as new 2016 project agendas get into the proposal, budgeting, and execution stage.

Thank you all again for a great last year, 2015. I really appreciate your support.

Remember the Festivus Airing of Grievances is at 7:00pm sharp!

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and have a great 2016!

Dave Beulke is a system strategist, application architect, and performance expert specializing in Big Data, data warehouses, and high performance internet business solutions. He is an IBM Gold Consultant, Information Champion, President of DAMA-NCR, former President of International DB2 User Group, and frequent speaker at national and international conferences. His architectures, designs, and performance tuning techniques help organization better leverage their information assets, saving millions in processing costs.

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