Thursday, February 22, 2007


Topping off my posts for today, here's my last one for at least a week. I'm on holiday the next week and I'm returning on Tuesday, March 6th, undoubtedly with some new posts.
In the meantime for those who might also be going on holiday or perhaps taking a business trip, just remember :

IBM Migration Checker for z/OS

Last week I had a post on the latest issue of the z/OS Hot Topics Newsletter. There's one article I mentioned that I'd like to come back to : the z/OS V1R8 migration checker. It's actually a set of bacth programs which you can download from the z/OS Download page. The article gives an overview of the tool, indicates how to use it and what fields it covers. To my knowledge Marna Walle is responsible for the tool at IBM. So I take the liberty to quote Marna's announcement of the tool on the IBM-Main Discussion list : "It includes twelve batch programs you can run to help determine whether certain migration actions will be needed to migrate to z/OS V1.8 on your currently running system.
You can run the tool as often as you like -- on your current system before you’ve even ordered z/OS V1.8, after installing z/OS V1.8, and after each z/OS V1.8 image is deployed into your enterprise. Because the tool does not make any changes to your system and because it is aware of the level of the system on which it is running, it can alert you to migration actions that you should plan for in the future, detect migration actions that you can do now to clear the way to z/OS V1.8, and verify that you’ve done the migration actions correctly when you’re running z/OS V1.8. ".
What's interesting is that the article stresses that the tool can be very useful for other migrations too as e.g. when migration from z/OS 1.4 to z/OS 1.7. The tool will not guide you through the entire migration but it's complementary aid to the z/OS Migration Book of which there's also a PDF version.
Conclusion of the article : "What are you waiting for? The IBM Migration Checker for z/OS can help drive away some of your migration blues. Climb on board!"

IBM Journals

The IBM Research Department has has been publishing two interesting journals for some 50 years now. The first one is IBM Systems Journal, the second is the Journal of Research and Development. Both are describing "many important advances in information technology and related topics ranging from atoms to business solutions". My attention was drawn by the latest issue of the Journal of Research and Development :IBM System z9. It's a 230-page issue entirely devoted to the System z9, its architecture, its functional enhancements etc. Sometimes it gets a bit too technical for me, but for those who read the "z/Architecture Principles of Operation" with great pleasure, this is highly recommended reading material.

While browsing through the site, I also found there had been a Special Report : Celebrating 50 years of the IBM Journals. "To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IBM Journals, this report highlights a selection of significant papers published in the Journals, along with brief commentaries. The Journal editors chose papers which were very highly cited in the technical literature, described technologies of historic significance, or provided an important overview of a field". Just a couple of examples : there's an IBM Database 2 Overview from 1984. There's an article from 1964 on the Architecture of the IBM System/360. There's really lots of interesting material over here divided over several categories : Applications of Information Technology, Storage Systems and Databases, Computing System Architectures, Computing Methodologies, Software, Hardware Design and Implementation, Device Materials and Processes, Fundamental Science and Mathematic.

As I always say : just check it out !

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A quick capacity table for DS6000 and DS8000

This "Quick Capacity Table for DS6000-DS8000" is also published at Techdocs. It's a spreadsheet that lets you do a quick capacity sizing for the DS6000 and the DS8000 showing physical as well as effective capacity. Watch out, there's several tabs to the spreadsheet. The third e.g. is the DS8000 sizing tab. You have to specify the DS8000 Model, Disk type and format and the Raid type. After you've initialized the capacity table, you can still switch between 'decimal' and 'binary' capacity and you can change individual disk packs and/or raid configuration for these. Interesting document !

Techdocs : Flashcopy & PPRC

It's been a while since I mentioned any interesting reading material from Techdocs. But now there's some nice presentations on Flashcopy and PPRC. The first one is "Flashcopy in a zSeries environment" describing how FlashCopy works, its different functions, and how to invoke those functions using DFSMSdss, TSO, or ICKDSF. Very related to the previous one is "Flashcopy for Open Environments". Another nice presentation is "PPRC Overview" discussing Metro/Mirror, Global Copy, Global Mirror, and Metro/Global Mirror. There's specific attention on how each of these maintains consistency. There's also advice on how to choose the best solution for each specific situation.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

DS8000 : new 300 GB 15.000 rpm disk drives

Wednesday : time to check the announcements !
Yesterday IBM announced new 300GB disk drives, now with a speed of 15.000 revolutions per minute. In fact there were two announcements : one for the new hardware models and one for the 'older' (2107) model that's no longer marketed. The key data :
The IBM System Storage DS8000 series now offers 300 GB 15,000 rpm disk drives supporting improved performance and additional priced options. The 300 GB 15,000 rpm disk drives can support up to 30 percent increased throughput and increased I/O operations per second as compared to similar-size 10,000 rpm disk drives, providing potential benefits for transaction processing workloads.

CA announces broad support for zIIP engines

Yesterday at the Share conference in Tampa, CA announced "new releases of eight IT management solutions that evaluate, monitor and exploit IBM's System z9 Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) by taking full advantage of the zIIP's ability to offload selected computing tasks from a mainframe's general-purpose processors". The products are :
  • Unicenter NetMaster Network Management for TCP/IP
  • BrightStor CA-Vtape Virtual Tape System
  • BrightStor Tape Encryption
  • Unicenter NeuMICS Resource Management
  • Unicenter CA-SYSVIEW Realtime Performance Management
  • Unicenter CA-Insight Performance Monitor for DB2 UDB for z/OS
  • Unicenter Detector for DB2 UDB for z/OS
  • Unicenter Subsystem Analyzer for DB2 UDB for z/OS
Four of those are available, the four other become available in June. But there's more : "Additional CA solutions, including the CA IDMS and CA DATACOM database management systems, will exploit zIIP over the next 12-18 months".
Now that it's not only DB2 that's making use of the zIIP, this might be a reason to reconsider evaluating the use of a zIIP.
You can find the press announcement on the CA site.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Red Alerts subscription service for zSeries

I just see this Red Alert passing, so I might as well mention it to you. There's this Red Alerts Subscription Service that warns you when there's a real red alert everyone should know of. You can sign up for notification and don't be afraid to be flooded with warnings. In the last two years there were only 11 Red Alerts. This last one is about "Sysplex-wide hang on resource SYSIGGV2 on z/OS 1.4 through z/OS 1.8". What's it about ?
After the installation of the PTF(s) for APAR OA18860, a sysplex-wide hang can occur waiting for CATALOG resource SYSIGGV2 which requires an IPL of the system holding the resource in order to to recover. The PTFs in error include: UA30834, UA30835, UA30836, UA30837 UA30838 for z/OS 1.4 through 1.8 respectively. A restart of Catalog is not sufficient to clear the condition. Please see APAR OA19429 for more information.
More info and recommended actions can be found over here.

Getting the Most out of DB2 for z/OS and System z

As you might've noticed already, I have a keen interest in DB2. I worked for several years as a DBA on DB2 for z/OS as well as on DB2 for VM and VSE. Now the End of Service date of DB2 V7 for z/OS is announced (30/06/2008) and the announcement of DB2 V9 is near, I would like to draw your attention to the blog of Willie Favero : Getting the Most out of DB2 for z/OS and System z. I'm sure Willie Favero is going to pay lots of attention to the new version of DB2. Today he gives us a little foretaste on SQL improvements with "SQL MERGE - no more figuring which SQL statement to use". What's the story ? I quote : "Ever write an application that has to have logic to determine if a row exists before it is inserted. If the row doesn't exist, the row is inserted. However, if the row does exist, then you have to do an update. You have to code multiple SQL statements, if it's a distributed application, multiple trips through the network, and program logic to determine what action to take. What a pain!!!!". The solution : SQL Merge ! The rest of the post is over here.

z/OS Hot Topics Newsletter #16

Now here's a top quality newsletter I'd like to recommend to anyone who has something to do with z/OS : the z/OS Hot Topics Newsletter. The new issue came out last week and this is a good moment to put it into the spotlight. It appears every six months, it's free and you can download it over here. If you don't know this newsletter, be sure to check out the back issues too. I only sum up a few articles of this 60 page issue : DB2 and DFSORT, z/OS V1R8 Migration checker, tips for improving your system tests, HFS to zFS file system migration, the new real storage management in z/OS V1R8 etc. etc. As I always say : just check it out !

Friday, February 9, 2007

Upcoming events

I've added a new tab to the right with 'Upcoming events'. As I'm mainframe watching Belgium I limit myself to events in Belgium. Once in a while, I might put the occasional link for events abroad like e.g. an IDUG DB2 conference. Furthermore, some events, like webcasts, are by default international like e.g. the upcoming z/VSE Live Virtual Classes I also mention.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

New Announcements with z/OS 1.9, z/VM 5.3 . . .

Three announcements are worth mentioning this week.
Perhaps somewhat hidden into the zNALC and MWLC announcements I discussed earlier, there was already the announcement of the new version 4 of VSE. Now there's two announcements concerning two other major operating systems in System z. First of all there's a preview announcement of z/OS V1.9. As we are on a one-year schedule for z/OS, V1.9 will become available in september 2007. I guess the first paragraph of the overview section pretty much sums up what we may be expecting :
With z/OS (R) V1.9, IBM plans to extend the value of the flagship mainframe operating system with improvements in all of its core competencies, including scalability, availability, and resource optimization. With increased focus on simplifying z/OS for IT professionals, plans for z/OS V1.9 include improvements to the IBM Health Checker for z/OS, the IBM Configuration Assistant for z/OS Communications Server, DFSMSrmm, ISPF, Hardware Configuration Manager (HCM), and Coupling Facility services, as well as a new dbx GUI. Additional enhancements to z/OS are planned to make the operating system more powerful in applying centralized policy-based rules for defining and controlling how your applications behave.

Next one is the effective announcement of z/VM V5.3, which is planned to be available on June 29, 2007. There's really too much to sum up so I just quote the 'At a glance section' :
z/VM V5.3 is designed to offer:

  • Improved memory utilization to help relieve storage constraints
  • Guest support enhancements, including a z/OS testing environment for the simulation of zAAP and zIIP specialty processors
  • Comprehensive security with a new LDAP server and RACF feature, including support for password phrases
  • Delivery of RSCS FL530 as a priced, optional IPLA feature
  • Enhancements to help improve the ease-of-use of virtual networks
  • Further exploitation of IBM System and Tape Storage devices
  • Management enhancements for Linux and other virtual images
What IS obvious is that IBM is putting lots of stress on the Virtualization factor. This is emphasized by a complementary press release of IBM yesterday heading :"IBM Supercharges Mainframe Virtualization. Helping Customers Reduce Server Sprawl, Company Launches New Scalability Enhancements to Support the Industry's Largest Number of Virtual Images on a Single z/VM". IBM has tested that a single copy of z/VM is now capable of hosting more than 1.000 virtual images. Obviously the focal point is on Linux on System z. The example is given of the Marist College which is now running 600 Linux images on z/VM as each student is running its own virtual Linux. Another recurring element (in favor of the mainframe) is that when you can run lots of Linux images on a single mainframe, you can "lower energy consumption and other costs associated with data centers that have large numbers of single-application servers".

The last announcement concerns EOS dates of System z software starting April 6, 2008. You should really check out which ones apply to you but there's still one I want to mention : DB2 UDB Server for z/OS and OS/390 V7.1 will be withdrawn from service June 30, 2008. Another date I'd seen earlier was March 31, 2008, so we got an extra three months to migrate to V8.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Short title to draw your attention to an operating system that knows a lot of prejudices and doesn't always get the attention it deserves : VSE. There was a conference last week on VSE at the Brussels IBM forum on zVSE V4 and the new MWLC pricing. There was also a nice customer testimony of Securex, a Belgian company that migrated DB2 from VSE to zLinux. Sure there were some pitfalls along the way but eventually they are very happy with the result. The event surely proved two things : there was a lot of attention from the VSE customers who you don't have to convince of the reliability of their systems. And they are very interested on how VSE can interact with new technology, SOA etc. That's why IBM is, on the other hand, is giving a very clear message that it's still putting a lot of effort into the VSE system to keep up with the 'modern world'. The two speakers were Wilhelm Mild and Klaus Goebel, who came over straight from the VSE center in Boeblingen. They brought a very convincing message talking about the modernization of VSE, the new pricing metrics and VSE in relation to SOA.
As a matter of fact, all these presentations can be found at the Documentation page of the IBM VSE web page.
This IBM VSE Web Page definitely deserves your attention. Just to give you an impression of how well VSE and existing (legacy) applications onVSE interact with e.g. DB2 on zLinux or with Web Services, take a look at this graphical representation of some VSE solutions :

You find lots of more info on these solutions over here.
Another interesting tab on the VSE site was mentioned : the downloads page. It contains lots of 'freeware' like e.g. the VSE health checker "a Java-based system diagnosis utility to retrieve, display, and analyze performance relevant data from a VSE system", all this "is transferred to the workstation, parsed, and displayed in the GUI for further analysis". Another workstation tool is the VSE Navigator : it "provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for the VSE operating system, which behaves very much like file managers that you know from other platforms, such as Windows (Explorer). The difference is, that it includes host based VSE file systems (VSE Librarian, POWER queues, ICCF, VSAM) and provides host specific functions, such as Generate and submit VSE jobs, Operator Console, List VTOC, Retrace products and PTFs, Display phases in the SVA, Display host CPU activity, and many more".

To conclude this VSE topic I would also like to draw you attention to an ongoing series of Live Virtual Classes on VSE. These webcasts are also done by people at Boeblingen, the very heart of VSE development. The first one's already been given : "z/VSE and MWLC Announcement Overview". You can download the presentation over here. The next presentation is on February 22 about "Midrange Workload Licensing Charges for z/VSE". You can subscribe over here. The last one is on March 15 about "z/VSE 4.1 solutions based on SOA and DB2". For this one you can subscribe over here.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Dolmen Newsletter N° 6

As I'm also writing most of the stuff that's in our newsletter, I cannot resist to tell you the new Dolmen System z Newsletter is out. It appears every 4 months and kind of interacts with this blog. The blog gives me the opportunity to give information more quickly, while the newsletter gives us the chance to elaborate on certain topics. I already mentioned the new TS7700 Virtualization Engine here, but in the newsletter it's covered in more detail. It also has several recurring topics like EOS dates of operating systems and software, Hints, tips and interesting URLs.
Unfortunately for our English speaking readers it only appears in Dutch and French as it's only sent to our mostly Belgian customers. If you want to brush up on your languages, you can have a peek over here.