Server Farming

Oct 15 2010   5:16PM GMT

BMC improves inline software upgrade process, rolls out Control M v7

Matt Stansberry Matt Stansberry Profile: Matt Stansberry

BMC recently released a new version of its job scheduler, Control-M 7, with new features to help manage IT workloads in the cloud. The software has come a long way from prioritizing and scheduling batch computing jobs on the mainframe a few decades ago.

Modern job scheduling tools run in the distributed, virtualized and now cloud computing environments. And vendors started rebranding job schedulers as “workload automation” to make it sound more exciting.

John Strege, director of capacity and enterprise software at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, said his organization has used Control-M for over a decade for mainframe batch processing. Today he’s using Control M to start up and shut down the Unix boxes in CBOE’s QA certification tier, which is basically a mirror of the exchange’s production trading system.

Strege said CBOE is using Control M version 6.4. He’s looked at Control M 7, and said his support services group is anxious to use the new features. Strege expects to upgrade in the January timeframe. “We try to stay current with our software, but we don’t usually deploy something in the first few months it is released.”

BMC execs said for this Control-M release, the company worked hard to streamline the inline install and upgrade process. According to BMC, users are reporting reduced time and effort by about 90%.

“In simple terms, the new version pulls the data out of the old version without any downtime,” said Control M senior product manager Saar Schwartz. “What this means is that users can continue to work on the old release while the upgrade is taking place, with little to no downtime.”

This is good news for users who have complained in the past about systems management software updates from the Big Four spanning months or even years, and requiring an army of professional services people to get the job done.

“IT management software is notoriously difficult to install,” said Michael Cote, an analyst with Redmonk. “No one wants to manage their management software.”

Strege said the simplified update process could be a driver for CBOE to upgrade sooner. But this update is going to be a bit more complex than previous projects.

“We’ve been running Control-M for Solaris 10 on SPARC servers, and we’ll probably go to Linux on x86 for the next update,” Strege said. “We’ve been planning to go with x86 servers for a lot of our applications for over a year now. And for some of them we’re sticking with Solaris on x86. But in the case of a lot of BMC products, they don’t support Solaris on x86, so Linux is our only choice for a lot of these packages.

“An OS change makes upgrade more difficult,” Strege continued. “We haven’t done it yet with BMC products, but we’ve done it with a couple of our other products. If the software migration tools are good, shouldn’t make a big difference.”

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