Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Take back control with IBM mainframe

Sometime ago I posted 'The Heist', a Linux consolidation movie of IBM. This one here is kind of the prequel to it. Just as nice and funny as the previous one - in my opinion.

But I'm just wondering if this one is really original. If you go over here, there's a series of other videos on consolidation and one of them is exactly the same as this one. Except for the ending where it's not the mainframe playing a key role, but the virtualization engine. Anyway, IBM has put a lot of effort into these ads, with, I must say, two great actors too. I'd say, just enjoy them. And if you ask me, Day 22 is my favourite !

IBM to acquire Softek

IBM seems to be on a roll in acquiring companies. Next on the list is Softek. The Softek site is very outspoken : "IBM + SOFTEK = The Ultimate Choice in Data Mobility". The press release at the IBM Press Room gives us the full detailed information. The main product of Softek is TDMF : "Softek's patented Transparent Data Migration Facility (TDMF) solution enables a simple, unified approach to the non-disruptive movement and management of data across storage vendor platforms and operating system environments, as part of an information technology (IT) infrastructure change. By using Softek's solutions, clients can improve their ability to migrate data while keeping data online and applications available for end users." Typical use : customer acquires new DASD bu cannot afford to have an outage. TDMF does a transparent move of all your data without the outage. I guess this acquisition also fits into an IBM strategy of offering more and more services instead of just products.
Another question that pops up concerning this acquisition : what will be the reaction of EMC who is also a long-term partner of Softek. EMC also uses LDMF which is an equivalent of TDMF. But where TDMF works on a volume level for a mainframe migration, LDMF operates at a dataset level.
Perhaps this is not such a spectacular acquisition, but still a very interesting one indeed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

IBM Software Newsletter

Just received the first 'IBM Software Newsletter' of this year. Here's the page were you can subscribe to it and read the latest issue. The newsletter describes itself as delivering "the insights you need to fuel innovation and remain competitive. Access analyst reports, executive briefs, success stories, money-saving special offers and more. See how companies and organizations like yours are meeting IT and business challenges and building real business value with IBM software".
There's (amongst others) an announcement for a Webcast : IBM WebSphere Portal Enable for z/OS powers your portal on System z. If you're interested in other webcasts (to come or past) you can find them by navigating via the tool bar on the left.
What actually drew my attention the most was the header What's behind the buys? See how your needs drive IBM software acquisitions. I wondered what was the status of the Consul take-over. I think it's a coincidence but just last wednesday there was a new press release on it describing that IBM Completes Acquisition of Consul. There's some more information to be found on the IBM software pages with a Q&A of how Consul products will be integrated into the IBM Tivoli software portfolio. I'm sure there's more to come on this subject, so I'll keep you informed.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

IBM Mainframe Discussion List

You might've noticed that my list of links is (in view of the subject of this blog) rather short. That's because I've seen lots of blogs flooded with links, and no one has the courage to wade through them. I could easily put tens and tens of links, but I've chosen to build this up gradually, each time giving a little explanation when I'm adding a new link.
Today it's the "IBM Mainframe Discussion List". I guess any person who's doing system related work on the mainframe knows it. For those who don't : the list is thé community of z/OS system engineers exchanging thoughts and problems on anything related to z/OS in particular and mainframe in general. You might compare it with the forums we all know on the net, but this system is set up via e-mail. You subscribe to the list and you get every post via e-mail and you can participate in the discussions. If you don't want to be flooded with mails you can e.g. ask to group them and have them sent once a day. If you don't know this list, you should really go and take a look. I suggest you start with the archives to give you an overall idea of the list. It's also a good starting point when you want to ask a question. It might've been treated before.

Some items I've covered here were also covered in the discussion list (e.g. new software pricing) - correlating dry announcements with real-life situations and comments.

Of course there are more discussion lists than just this one. I only mention a couple of them :

If you want to search for others you can go to the L-Soft List Search Page.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Edition of z/Journal

I've mentioned the previous edition of z/Journal and I've just received the December-January edition. I thought I might mention it once again, as they always have some interesting articles. If you want to stay informed on the next editions of z/Journal I suggest you subscribe to the digital edition over here (PDF - print only available in the USA).
The main article this time is a threat we're all aware of but we rarely pay enough attention to it. Perhaps because most of us are also in that corner. It's about "Priviliged users and the Mainframe". Starting point of the article : "A recent insider threat survey, conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and CERT, confirms that the insider threat usually comes from technical or priviliged users".
Some other interesting articles : "CICS TS 3.1 Debugging Background & Guiding", "Enhancing Efficiency with Mainframe Virtualization : Enter Linux on the mainframe" and "Reorg Rebalance DB2 for z/OS V8 Utility enhancement" (This article "examines the REBALANCE option, a utility enhancement in V8 you can use to make REORG automatically rebalance the data in your partitions").

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Software pricing : zNALC and z/VSE MWLC

Yesterday two new pricing models were introduced. The first one is zNALC pricing on the z/OS platform. zNALC pricing is due to become the only pricing matrix for new workload replacing NALC ànd z/OS.e. There are some differences as compared to NALC and z/OS.e pricing :
  • As opposed to NALC and z/OS.e it runs on all zArchitecture machines (z900,z800,z990,z890,z9 EC enz9 BC).
  • You only have one product i.e. z/OS (without the limitations that were posed to z/OS.e as e.g. number of TSO sessions limited).
  • zNALC can be implemented on LPAR level and sysplex aggregation is possible.
  • It comes in two flavours : full-capacity ànd sub-capacity pricing.
  • The interpretation of the 'New Workload' definition seems to be more lenient than before.
Along with the announcement of the new z/VSE Version 4 there's a complete new pricing matrix for VSE : Z/VSE MWLC (Midrange Workload Licence Charge). The full-capacity version of MWLC is already more interesting than TWLC pricing as more levels are introduced. But what's more : for the first time sub-capacity pricing is introduced to the VSE environment. The formula can very well be compared to that on z/OS. z/VSE V4 (and only z/VSE V4) can generate SCRT89 records. An SCRT report will be sent to IBM and will be used to bill the customer. Exciting news for VSE customers, I'd say.
This pricing model can be set up on an LPAR level too. This creates the possibility to consolidate a smaller VSE machine onto an LPAR of a larger z/OS machine - without having the penalty of paying full-capacity. Bear in mind that you have to have z/VSE V4 running on a z9 machine.

As you can see, I'm only touching the surface of these matters. A comprehensive explanation can be found in the announcements I already mentioned and IBM added two pages to the IBM System z software pricing page : zNALC and MWLC.

Last remark : as type 89 records must be gathered for the sub-capacity matrixes and general availability is March 16th, 2007, the earliest billing date for these sub-capacity formulas is June 1st, 2007.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Kristine Harper's Newbie Blog

In one of my former posts discussing the mainframe making its comeback I mentioned an article on the 23 year old Kristine Harper illustrating there are still young people interested in the mainframe. Kristine is also Project Manager of zNextGen. zNextGen is co-sponsored by IBM and Share and is "a brand new user-driven community for new and emerging IT professionals focused on mainframe computing. (...) The expressed goal of the zNextGen community is to serve as the gateway for newcomers to leverage the experience of mainframe veterans and expedite their professional development in this crucial segment of the IT workforce." I also just found out that Kristine has her own 'Newbie Blog'. Her most recent post is on Assembler Myths Dispelled!.
Once again, I'd say, just check it out !

Monday, January 8, 2007

A couple more software price changes

Before getting too euphoric about low mainframe costs, here's some counterweight, as IBM announced some price 'changes' on Subscription and Support (S&S) for certain products. Those affecting EMEA customers are :
  • IBM Debug Tool Utilities and Advanced Functions for z/OS V7.1 S&S
    (5655-R45 - 5655-J19)
  • IBM IMS Command Control Facility for z/OS, V2.1 S&S
    (5655-R58 - 5655-F41)
As always IBM links the price changes to functional improvements added to the products.
The one that stands out is 'IBM Debug Tool Utilities and Advanced Functions for z/OS V7.1' with an increase of maximum 25% for most European countries. Further details can be found in the announcement itself.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Consultancy Puts IBM’s TCO Claims to the Test

As if to emphasize my final note of last year, Stephen Swoyer of Enterprise Systems Journal starts off the year with this article : "Consultancy Puts IBM’s TCO Claims to the Test", subtitled "Do Big Blue’s mainframe TCO assertions add up?". The article focuses on a study by Wayne Kernochan, an analyst with consultancy Illuminata Inc. It looks at the way IBM presents the TCO of the mainframe divided into hardware, software licensing, people (e.g., administration, implementation, and upgrading), and environmental (e.g., electricity and air conditioning) costs. It seems to be clear that system administration and environmental costs are clearly more advantageous for the mainframe. The hardware itself is still more expensive, but then again, much less than, say, 5 years ago. Software costs should be about the same on all platforms. The strongest criticism is that IBM clearly underestimates the people cost for "for application, infrastructure, and (especially) database management", meaning "the more database instances you consolidate on a single system, the more DBAs you’ll have to have on hand to effectually manage them". But Kernochan immediately adds : "The reverse of this argument is that these costs are universal".
His conclusion is that IBM TCO claims do have merit : "Add it all together and mainframe TCO can look quite attractive. Administrative costs are often lower—even much lower—and … hardware, software, and physical plant costs are not … the drag they once were."