So You Don’t Think You’re An Architect?

Every year I try to write one new presentation. Long ago, it feels like, I started on my “new for 2020” presentation. It’s the culmination-so-far 🙂 of my “architecture thing”.

“What Architecture thing?” some of you might be asking.

It’s quite a simple idea, really: It’s the notion that SMF records can be used for far more than just Performance, even the ones (such as RMF) that we’re notionally designed for Performance. A few years ago I wrote a presentation called “How To Be A Better Performance Specialist” where I pushed the germ of this notion in two directions:

  • Repurposing SMF for non-Performance uses.
  • Thinking more widely about how to visually depict things.

The first of these is what I expanded into this “Architecture” idea. (The second actually helps quite a bit.) But I needed some clear examples to back up this “who says?” notion.

My day job – advising customers on Performance matters – yields a lot of examples. While the plural of “anecdote” isn’t “data”, the accumulation of examples might be experience. And boy do I have a lot of that now. So I set to writing.

The presentation is called “So You Don’t Think You’re An Architect?” A good friend of mine – who I finally got to meet when I did a customer engagement with him – thought the title a little negative. But it’s supposed to be a provocative statement. Even if the conclusion is “… and you might be right”. So I’ve persisted with it (and haven’t lost my friend over it). 🙂

I start at the top – machines and LPARs – and work my way down to the limits of what SMF 30 can do. I stop there, not really getting much into the middleware instrumentation for two reasons:

  • I’ve done it to death in “Even More Fun With DDF”.
  • This presentation is already quite long and intensive.

On the second point, I could go for 2 hours, easily, but I doubt any forum would let me do a double session on this topic. Maybe this is the book I have in me – as supposedly everybody does. (Funnily enough I thought that was “SG24–2557 Parallel Sysplex Batch Performance”. Oh well, maybe I have two.) 🙂

One hour has to be enough to get the point across and to show some actual (reproducible) examples. “Reproducible” is important as it is not (just) about putting on a show; I want people to be able to do this stuff and to get real value out of it.

One criticism I’ve faced is that I’m using proprietary tools. That’s for the most part true. Though sd2html, An Open Source WLM Service Definition Formatter – Mainframe, Performance, Topics is a good counter-example. I intend to do more open sourcing, time permitting. And SMF 30 would be a good target.

So, I’ve been on a long journey with this Architecture thing. And some of you have been on bits of the journey with me, for which I’m grateful. I think the notion we can glean architectural insight from SMF has merit. The journey continues as recently I’ve explored:

I’ll continue to explore – hence my “culmination-so-far” quip. I really don’t think this idea is anything like exhausted. And – in the spirit of “I’ll keep revising it” I’ve decided to put the presentation in GitHub. (But not the raw materials – yet.) You can find it here.

You might argue that I risk losing speaking engagements if I share my presentation. I have to say this hasn’t happened to me in the past, so I doubt it makes much difference now. And this presentation has already had one outing. I expect there will be more. And anyway the point is to get the material out. Having said that, I’m open to webcasting this presentation, in lieu of being able to travel.

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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