The Yin and Yang of Messaging

In Chinese philosophy, balance is achieved between yin—the sustaining principal—and yang—the creative principal. When it comes to System i messaging, the same balance can enhance your operations and bring success and prosperity to your organization. Today’s messaging solutions provide sustaining, constant automated monitoring capabilities along with notification features that offer many creative avenues for eliminating disruptions to your network and operations, as well as taking control of broad ventures with System i at the center.

Send in the Yin

With each passing year, the complexity of and demands on IT increase; but the amount of time you and your staff have to keep things running smoothly does not. With the constant stream of events, System i can generate thousands of log entries every day. Some operational issues simply can’t be avoided: a print queue stalls, stopping jobs from all over the company; a backup job doesn’t start on schedule; a runaway job and extensive logging rapidly eat up disk space resulting in a system shutdown. Keeping up with these events can be an overwhelming task.

To make things easier, many System i managers rely on messaging software that provides automated monitoring features. Serving as the yin in your System i, messaging software acts as a constant watchdog that sustains your system and network by ensuring that everything works as a well-oiled machine. Automated monitoring does what human staff cannot, watching over System i 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

With automated monitoring sustaining the system, you and your staff can devote your work hours to other projects that can improve and enhance your overall IT operations. Tasks that in the past seemed to always slip through the cracks or get relegated to “tomorrow” become possible.

What’s more, so-called “off hours” can really become just that. You can spend evenings out and weekends at home, attend your children’s events, and not miss special occasions. If anything needs your attention back at the office, the messaging software will catch it and let you know regardless of where you are.

In short, the yin in your System i improves your quality of life.

The Yang Game

Watching over mundane yet essential system activity may be critical to operations, but it’s not the only way to employ messaging software. While the yin quietly sustains, it’s the creative power of the yang that exposes the real punch of these solutions.

You can be creative with messaging software in both implementation and usage. Many organizations have taken messaging software beyond the box and have made it a centerpiece of overall organizational activity. From saving lives to hitting jackpots, the monitoring and notification one-two punch can mean great success for you and your organization.

North Marion County, Oregon, is an example of a locale that has given the task of saving lives to System i, with messaging software at the core. Tying in 911 call centers to System i messaging, they have reduced the lag between receiving calls and notifying first responders to just a few seconds and have in turn improved the safety of the community.

In Farmington, New Mexico, System i and messaging software are utilized to conduct all city financial transactions, store and maintain public records, and as a backup to the area’s 911 call center.

Under the glistening lights of Las Vegas, casino resorts such as the Four Queens use System i and messaging software to keep tabs on “high rollers,” making certain that their experience—and their desire to put ever increasing amounts of cash on the table—is always at its highest.

On the other side of the country, Harrah’s in Atlantic City relies on System i with messaging software to keep tabs on slot machines. If a machine has a door left open, is out of change, or otherwise needs assistance, casino staff are informed right away.

These are just a few of the ways that System i yang asserts itself, and how messaging software makes all the creative uses possible.

Batten Down the Hatches

So we’ve seen how messaging software watches over everyday OS tasks, and how System i shops have put such software to work to achieve larger goals. But this isn’t the end of the story. There’s still another area where messaging software and the sustaining power of yin play a role that’s more important now than ever before. That area is security.

In recent years, regulatory legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) has placed a lot of pressure and responsibility on IT departments to maintain strict controls on data access and thorough records of activity. You may have already put significant time and money into developing a security policy and implementing a network security solution. Bringing together these efforts with messaging can take your security to a new level of effectiveness.

i5/OS has excellent built-in logging facilities to track activity occurring on the system—the System History Log, Message Queues, and Journals, just to name a few. Many activities are automatically logged, such as when particular users sign on and off, and you can enable additional logging for many other types of activities as well. These logs provide a detailed accountability to what is occurring on the system, and can be monitored proactively to identify potential problems, or post-mortem to trace a particular problem.

You can take further advantage of these built-in capabilities—and any enhanced monitoring that you may set up with a third-party product—by tying into the notification features of your messaging solution.

Logging is good, but being informed of a breach immediately is better. Should a hack attempt occur in the middle of the night—or any other time you are not in the office—the remote notification features of messaging software can alert you or your staff within seconds, making it possible to minimize the damage and possibly identify the intruder.

The same holds true for combating the scourge of malicious code. By creating monitors that work in tandem with your anti-virus solutions, you can use messaging software minimize the time required to respond to a virus outbreak.

Such abilities can go a long way toward successful compliance with regulatory legislation.

You’ve got no strings to hold you down…

Messaging software has been around for a long time, and in years gone by the pager was the primary method for receiving alerts from System i. But today GSM-enabled cell phones, Blackberries, Palms, and a variety of other two-way devices are the tools du jour of communication. Modern messaging solutions give you creative control over how, when, and where your alerts are sent. Just about any device you may choose to carry can interface with a System i messaging solution to keep you in the loop.

What’s more, System i messaging is keeping up with the Joneses with simple, wireless notification that eliminates the need for paging providers or receiving modems. Using the popular GSM and SMS protocols, today’s messaging solutions can put your System i in touch with anyone on the planet within seconds. All you need is their phone number.

With the yin and yang of messaging, you can pull together the steadfast power of System i along with the creative possibilities of automated monitoring and notification to take your operations to new heights and bring balance to your network.

This article was originally published on MC Press Online and is reproduced here for portfolio purposes.