It Wasn’t Me! Change Management on the Mainframe
February 7, 2024

Imagine the following situation: It’s 5AM, you just walked into a crowded meeting room, tired people chatting and pointing at various screens. Coffee mugs and paper notes everywhere. Earlier that night one of your companies’ critical applications went down and now you are scrambling to get it back online before global markets open. Just then your CIO walks in the room, everyone stares at her as she asks the dreaded question: “Who performed any changes last night?” – dead silence…

What reads like the teaser to a TV drama is a situation I have found myself in several times during my career in IT – including being called out of bed at 2AM.


By Eddy Caliendo
Vice President, Strategy

Change management on the mainframe

Being able to identify changes quickly and comprehensively, planned, or unplanned, is a critical early step in problem determination. I would argue that z/OS environments have one of the most stringent change management processes based on decades of experience and the knowledge that if something goes wrong on a mainframe, there usually is a good chance for it to end up in the newspapers.

However, I would argue that z/OS change management has two challenges:

  • There is no link between your company’s change management platform (likely ServiceNow or JIRA) and the z/OS backend. You enter a change, request a change window, track the change to completion all using your service management platform but that is merely a paper trail. There is hardly any backend integration that would allow z/OS to report back to the change management tool that a change was completed – it will be a manual task to check off the change.
  • With uptime requirements increasing by the year and change management windows getting more and more scarce there is a temptation to “just quickly tune this parameter” while your Db2 is down to apply a PTF. It is such unplanned changes, that while done with the best intentions, cause confusion if something

z/OS Change Tracker to the rescue!

IBM’s z/OS Change Tracker allows System Programmers to identify, track and recover hundreds of configuration files in real-time. Mission-critical system and application software configuration data can be monitored automatically in real-time. IBM z/OS Change Tracker can audit and check software configuration integrity, protect critical libraries and track changes through auditable trails and snapshots of key identified data sets. Change Tracker offers z/OS environments a host of critical capabilities that come in handy when time is of the essence:


Simplified monitoring

Control and plan automatic backup capabilities and roll back unwanted changes.

Avoid duplicate software copies

Quickly understand differences between two groups of data sets or volumes.

Easy to use z/OSMF interface

Change Tracker now offers a powerful graphical user interface.

Unprecedented control

Track and control real-time system-wide software configuration changes.

Quick and easy installation

Unlike other tools, z/OS Change Tracker comes pre-installed with the z/OS operating system. Once enabled, configuration & deployment is performed via z/OSMF.

Enhanced recovery processes

Automatic versioning of identified system control data sets.

Expanded capabilities

Immediate rollback capabilities to undo unplanned/unsuccessful promotions.

Next-level monitoring

Data set recovery and reporting of real-time configuration data changes.

Learn more about z/OS Change Tracker 



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