Nationwide improves performance and reduces costs

Eliminating duplicate software saved time, money and effort and increased performance

Published on 27-Dec-2012

"I think IBM is to be recognized for the outstanding work and progress made in the DB2 utilities suite. We have been impressed with the huge strides being made for efficiency and CPU reductions. Keep them coming." - Mike Hood, infrastructure engineering database administrator, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

Customer:
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

Industry:
Insurance

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
System z Software

Overview

Over the past 80 years, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. grew from a small mutual auto insurer owned by policyholders into one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the world. Nationwide experienced significant growth throughout its history, and with that growth came an expanded role for IT.

Business need:
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. needed to migrate confidently to IBM® DB2® 9 for z/OS® data server with utilities to help support features and maintain application performance.

Solution:
Nationwide took part in a proof of concept (POC) to test IBM DB2 Utilities Suite for z/OS with DB2 9 for z/OS technology.

Benefits:
The IBM DB2 Utilities for z/OS solution provided consistency and helped eliminate duplicate third-party utilities and lower costs without compromising business resiliency and continuity.

Case Study

Over the past 80 years, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. grew from a small mutual auto insurer owned by policyholders into one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the world. Nationwide experienced significant growth throughout its history, and with that growth came an expanded role for IT.

Third party utilities lack support for IBM DB2 9 for z/OS
Prior to migrating to DB2 9 for z/OS technology, Nationwide had been using two sets of utilities: IBM® DB2® Utilities Suite for z/OS®, which supported general database maintenance, and third-party utilities solution, which provided additional performance benefits for key DB2 applications. When Nationwide migrated to DB2 9 for z/OS data server, it experienced increased support costs because the third-party utilities did not support key features or new functionality in DB2 9 for z/OS solution. Additionally, Nationwide found that it lost availability when its utility jobs failed because it lacked key feature support from the third-party vendor.

Taking advantage of IBM performance features with best practices
Nationwide reevaluated its use of DB2 utilities and performed a proof of concept (POC) that verified that the IBM DB2 Utilities solution performed not only sufficiently for the company’s ongoing maintenance needs but also outperformed the third-party utilities and provided cost savings. Nationwide realized that it no longer needed to pay for and manage two sets of utilities.

For some time, Mike Hood, infrastructure engineering database administrator for Nationwide, had been tracking the significant enhancements delivered within the DB2 Utilities Suite data server software. “I think IBM is to be recognized for the outstanding work and progress made in the DB2 utilities suite,” he says. “We have been impressed with the huge strides being made for efficiency and CPU reductions.”

As Nationwide began using the DB2 Utilities Suite technology exclusively, Hood knew that deploying best practices in the company’s DB2 for z/OS environment was essential to realizing the full benefits of the new enhancements. For instance, by using parallelism in the utilities, he significantly reduced elapsed time, which increased application availability and reduced operating costs.

Several Nationwide DB2 applications previously scheduled REORG, REBIND and RUNSTATS at regular intervals; however, this type of regularly scheduled maintenance placed costs on Nationwide’s chargeback system. Working closely with an IBM support team, Hood created a REXX routine that used DSNACCOX to look at real-time statistics to determine which, if any, REORGs the company needed to execute. He then used a file input into a single job that removed the multiple scheduler weekly REORG operations. He also used REORG SHRLEVEL CHANGE on most of his REORG jobs to minimize the outage in the batch window and improve availability. As a result, Nationwide reduced its REORG costs by 90 percent.

Reducing CPU and elapsed time in LOAD and UNLOAD
One of the biggest cost savings Nationwide realized was in the LOAD and UNLOAD DB2 utilities with the FORMAT INTERNAL option, which provides a high-speed way to move data from one table to another with a similar table structure. The FORMAT INTERNAL option unloads the data from the UNLOAD utility in an internal format that only the LOAD utility can read.

With a sizeable test environment, Nationwide wanted to avoid testing in its large production environment. Using the FORMAT INTERNAL option, the company significantly improved performance by reducing data verification and conversion time. With FORMAT INTERNAL, Nationwide estimated it saved more than USD200,000 per year on its data refresh costs and saw an 85 percent improvement in elapsed time and a 65 percent reduction in CPU usage.

The DB2 Utilities Suite technology COPY utility is also faster and less expensive than the third-party solution. Nationwide changed its syntax to use the PARALLEL keyword, which decreased elapsed time by exploiting the number of tape drives available.

Saving more with DB2 Utilities Suite Solution
Hood made several large-scale changes to use enhancements in the DB2 Utilities Suite and to implement best practices. Chief among those changes, Hood deployed LISTDEFs and TEMPLATEs. This addition simplified some of Nationwide’s common changes, such as its use of image copy data sets, and proved especially useful for the development environment.

Hood also turned on several zPARMS. UTSORTAL automatically allocates the right amount of sort work data sets for each utility run, and IGNSORTN permits easy exploitation of this feature without the need to change existing utility jobs when SORTNUM is specified.

Finally, Hood took advantage of statistics sampling, reducing RUNSTATS job overhead by more than 50 percent and facilitating a safe, representative sample size for SQL optimization.


Staying current is key to success
Nationwide improved resiliency and business continuity by eliminating its third-party utilities technology. When the company experienced a problem with the third-party utilities, the vendor frequently could not provide a timely resolution. With the DB2 Utilities Suite in place, IBM utilities respond by support of any DB2 for z/OS changes that are delivered through the maintenance stream, without any service interruption to DB2 applications.

The core features in the DB2 Utilities Suite technology and additional enhancements help Nationwide reduce costs and resource demands as well as improve availability. The company enjoys huge efficiency gains by exploiting the new features and intelligent utility decision making. Additionally, Nationwide can keep its staff well educated on the DB2 Utilities Suite solution’s latest features to take full advantage of them.

For more information
To learn more about IBM System z software, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/software/systemz

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
DB2 Utilities Suite for z/OS, DB2 for z/OS

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America March 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com,are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data and client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only.