I Know What You Did Last Summer – Some Structure At Last

(Originally posted 2012-02-13.)

Way back in April of last year I started to talk about a presentation I hoped to write: "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and I showed a brain dump of ideas. Then in June I blogged the abstract (complete with a revision in a subsequent comment). Despite the occasional comment on Twitter it all went quiet until today.

Now the more cynical among you will be remarking that I forgot all about it. Actually that’s not true. Two things needed to occur before I was going to make much progress:

  1. There needed to be a compelling deadline to work to. (Doesn’t there always?) πŸ™‚
  2. I needed a narrative framework.

I sort of have 1 – this presentation really will have to be completed before the May timeframe if I’m to present it at a couple of conferences in Europe.

What I want to talk about today is the fact I have 2 – a narrative framework that I think will work.

What I had all along was a message. It goes something like this:

"While we traditionally value the instrumentation on the z/OS mainframe for Performance and Capacity, there are other ways of using what we have – most notably for Inventorying, Gleaning System Understanding, and Talking to IT Architects."

That was the abstract notion I walked in with and, if anything, it’s amplified now rather than attenuated.

The following two graphics from the presentation are the first and last in a layered sequence that provides the narrative framework:

We start with a very high level "Physical Resources" view:

and proceed down until we reach a much more logical "Application Componentry" view:

I won’t spoil your page-loading enjoyment by showing the graphics for the intermediate layers in this blog post. Suffice it to say the colours represent layers. Let’s talk a little more about layers…

Untidiness Of Layering

The layers I present aren’t strictly hierarchical: Without padding out the presentation I’m not going to make them so. But here they are and you’ll see what I mean:

  1. Physical – Blue
  2. LPAR – Turquoise
  3. WLM Constructs – Red
  4. Address Space and Coupling Facility Structure and XCF Group / Member – Purple
  5. Application – Green

If I really did treat Layer 4 as three separate layers where would it end? It would certainly make the presentation more turgid.

What I can say is that all the elements of Layer 4 belong below Layer 3 and above Layer 5. And that when I look at systems I try to do it in this sequence.

Sparseness Of Style

You’ll notice a lack of words and a lack of connectors. In the real world, of course, there’d be things like CF links and LPARs would have names. But the message isn’t helped by adding any of these. And a certain sparseness of style feels right to me.

Gratuitous Graphics?

You might ask "Why have these graphics at all?" Generally that’s an acid test I apply – possibly to excess. Those of you who’ve seen me present know typically the only graphics in my presentations are graphs. In this case I think a sequence like this helps.

It should be noted I’m under no pressure to "jolly it up" with lots of pretty graphics. In fact this isn’t a commissioned presentation at all: It’s one I think is important. So it gets whatever style I choose to give it, perhaps with advice from others such as you.

Flexibility Of Timing

I joked today on Twitter:

Question: “How long is a piece of string?”

Answer: “Fifty minutes plus questions to One Hour plus questions, depending”.

OK, not a very funny joke but it makes a point:

When I present I generally get 1 hour slots or 1 hour 15 ones. For any presenter it’s tough taking a presentation and shrinking / stretching it appropriately. This structure gives me quite a lot of flexibility, I think. I foresee no difficulty adjusting to any time slot.


This structure enables me to survey the ground in a structured fashion – drawing on instrumentation from a diverse set of sources. And then it provides me a launch pad to make the other points.

For example, the “Inventorying” and “Talking to IT Architects” points flow naturally from this.

So now I’ve got a structure I can get going with the rest of the presentation. I think at last I can say I actually have a show. The rest is just details, inspiration and perspiration. And believe what you will about the proportions of the last two. πŸ™‚

Now if anyone can tell me how in OpenOffice.org to make it honour a PNG file’s transparency I’d be grateful. The original graphs were made using Diagrammix on a Mac and exported as PNG files with a transparent background. When composing this post Firefox was entirely happy to honour that but it seems OOo isn’t. 😦

Published by Martin Packer

I'm a mainframe performance guy and have been for the past 35 years. But I play with lots of other technologies as well.

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