Cameron & Barkley Convert To Enterprise Production Management Products In Record Time

Business considerations have prompted numerous corporations to search for more effective ways to manage the crucial information used to run the organization. In 1997, Cameron & Barkley (CamBar), like many other companies, found the need to switch from its legacy systems and standardize to one robust enterprise-wide production tool that would enable the data center to better manage the information. Founded in 1865, the company is a wholesale distributor of industrial, electrical, electronic, power transmission and safety supplies. Its one data center provides information services to 80 branch offices nationwide.

Located in the company's Charleston, SC headquarters, the data center processes the information for various business applications. "The IS organization wrote many of the applications that are responsible for the company's various business functions which include the following: billing, inventory, accounts payable and receivable, general ledger, payroll and others," said Systems Programmer Ronnie Spell. "The applications are running on one mainframe and a host of client/servers; so, we needed a robust cross-platform scheduler. Due to business and software licensing considerations involving our prior vendor, we needed to be able to quickly convert to the new product."

CamBar found the answer to its data center challenge through an IBM partner that recommended BMC Software's IT Process Automation Business Unit of Irvine, CA, formerly known as New Dimension Software. The company chose to implement the following Enterprise Production Management solutions: CONTROL-M for job scheduling and production management; CONTROL-R for automated job restart; CONTROL-O for automated systems operations; and CONTROL-T for removable media management. "We selected BMC Software because the company had already developed the migration tools for the products we had from prior experience with its other customers," Spell said.

BMC Software started with the installation of CONTROL-M. Once completed, the conversion team set up the calendar, transferring the information from CamBar's previous database to the CONTROL-M database.

"The next phase of the migration, which involved CONTROL-T, began soon after and went rather smoothly," Spell said. "The BMC Software team set up the migration jobs. Days before we switched over, we ran the applications to make sure that the information was balanced. In a little over a week, we were able to switch everything over."

The final phase of the conversion process took three days and involved CONTROL-O. CamBar wanted to complete the conversion process prior to installing its new processor in order to reduce costs. Over three days, the BMC Software team manually went through all the responses to the messages that were on CamBar's previous systems operations solution. With the conversion completed, Cameron & Barkley were able to transition smoothly to BMC Software's Enterprise Production Management tools and exploit its functionality to effect better management of its systems and business applications.

Based on an underlying technology called Integrated Operations Architecture (IOA), BMC Software's highly integrated solutions reduced the need for human intervention in CamBar's data center. "CONTROL-M automates the scheduling of jobs enterprise wide and issues alerts when a job fails. CONTROL-R analyzes the reason for the failure and automatically performs the necessary actions for restarting the jobs. A common database and shared calendars also enable CONTROL-M to schedule jobs based on conditions and events that are detected by CONTROL-O," Spell said.

"The data center runs approximately 3,000 to 4,000 jobs daily; some are batch jobs which are updated nightly, but the majority of our jobs run in real time," Spell said. "With CONTROL-M's management-by-exception capabilities we are able to see all failed jobs, eliminating the need to constantly monitor the different jobs throughout the environment. CONTROL-M allows us to see the job ends in real time. A consolidated view of all failed jobs allows us to take a more proactive approach to managing the environment. We immediately know the problem and can assign production personnel to look at it before it affects our customers."

According to Spell, data center personnel can also use the tools to monitor jobs that aren't defined to CONTROL-M such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). These jobs are not defined to CONTROL-M, but still need to be monitored. CONTROL-O monitors systems components and events, automatically responding to messages and events from the environment. Together with CONTROL-M, the products allow CamBar to monitor all jobs. "Since EDI jobs impact the majority of our business, it is important that we know when something goes wrong. While we cannot pre-define EDI jobs to CONTROL-M, we are able to monitor them now. This was something we couldn't do until we implemented BMC Software's products," Spell said.

CamBar also purchased BMC Software's removable media management solution, CONTROL-T. "We wanted CONTROL-T because it provided us with the tape management facilities we needed and tape stacking capabilities. This will significantly reduce our tape library's size," Spell said.

"In terms of jobs executed per day, the number remains the same. However, we have been able to accomplish a lot due to the amount of time we save using the products," Spell said. "The similar look and feel of the products made training easier. We didn't have to train extensively on how to use the solutions. Our operators embraced the products due to ease-of-use. The products communicate well with one another; and, as a result, our operations personnel are able to communicate more effectively."

"We are now just scratching the surface of the products' functionality. When we bought the products, our goal has been to complete the conversion and get the solutions working," Spell said. "Now we are looking toward exploiting the products' potential to better serve our customers."