Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dolmen Newsletter N° 8

Our eigth Dolmen System z newsletter for Belgian customers is due out next week on Tuesday, November 6, 2007. You will find the Dutch version of this and previous newsletters over here. A French version is also available. Unfortunately for other readers, Belgium does not have an English speaking community ;-).
Topics covered : a status report on the Specialty Engines, IBM and Second Life, how to find EOS dates for my software, a summary of recent announcements, some hints and tips, EOS dates of operating systems and an agenda. As you can see, some of these have already been discussed here too, but the newsletter is more elaborate.

Friday, October 26, 2007

IBM Press Room, DS8000 and AMP

Coming back for the last time on the DS8000 announcements, I still want to put in a quick word on the Press Announcement : "IBM Introduces New and Enhanced Enterprise Storage Products Delivering Consolidation, Simplification and Improved Performance". Just because the press announcement mentions an element that's not covered in the announcements themselves : Adaptive Multi-stream Pre-fetching (AMP).
It's described as "a breakthrough caching technology that can enable up to double the throughput and dramatically reduced processing time for tasks such as data backup, batch processing, business intelligence and streaming media". AMP will e.g. make a DB2 table scan from disk perform like it would be from cache. Apparently it's not in the announcements because it was already quietly introduced to the DS8000 earlier this year with a new microcode upgrade. If you want to find out more, on this page from the IBM Almaden Research Center, you'll find an article on AMP.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Announcement : Totalstorage Productivity Center & SSPC

In my last post I also talked about the DS Storage Manager improvements that are mentioned in the new DS8000 announcement : "The online configuration and copy services configuration are available via a Web browser interface installed on the DS8000 management console or the System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC). The DS Storage Manager is provided with the DS8000 series at no additional charge". However, as you see, there's not only the improved DS Storage Manager, but in addition the System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC) is mentioned. It is even mandatory for all newly purchased DS8000s (unless you already have Totalstorage Productivity Center).

SSPC is new and it "is the next step in IBM storage strategy". It's a first step in centralizing all configuration and management activities of all your storage components. There are separate announcements (1,2) describing SSPC and its functionalities. As a matter of fact, it's a separate Windows 2003 x86 server which is pre-installed with IBM Totalstorage Productivity Center Basic Edition. This Basic Edition is in fact a kind of replacement of the Limited Edition. It "allows you to manage the storage network, hosts, and physical disks in context, in addition to basic device configuration". The Limited Edition is withdrawn as it was hardly ever used because it had too many limitations (e.g. maximum of 2TB). It's mentioned that the DS Storage Manager remains free of charge, the SSPC with the TPC Basic Edition is a priced feature.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Announcement : DS8000 New Functionalities

IBM has made quite a few announcements today on various matters. Some of them are about the DS8000, some others on the DS6000 and I also briefly mention the DS4000 - but for a good reason.

Let's first focus on the DS8000. IBM is announcing it’s second major enhancements to the DS8000. After the intial announcement, the Turbo Models were the first major enhancement. Since the new turbo models announcements are duplicated. New functionalities are announced for the DS8000 2107 and for the DS8000 242x series. The same for the new FlashCopy SE functionality (1,2).

The announcement is built up around two major themes : Performance on the one hand and Simplification and (cost) efficiency on the other hand. I’m going to give a brief description of these new functions.

  • Storage Pool Striping
    It is now possible to stripe a volume’s data across arrays in the storage pool. This should optimize the performance. This is done by choosing the ‘Rotate Extents’ option at volume allocation instead of the current default (Rotate LUNs).
  • z/OS Global Mirror Multiple Reader
    This function increases parallellism in processing I/Os and improves throughput for IBM z/OS Global Mirror.
Simplification and efficiency
  • IBM FlashCopy SE
    FlashCopy SE stands for Space Efficient FlashCopy and fullfills a statement of direction lots of people have been asking for and that’s been lingering for quite some time now. This should significantly reduce the disk capacity needed for copies and it only uses space to save source data being updated. You no longer need a full match between source and target volumes. Most FlashCopy functions are available with FlashCopy SE. Exceptions for the moment are e.g. Dataset FlashCopy and Full Volume Copy.
    FlashCopy SE is separately licensed next to FlashCopy. Licenses are independent of one another.
  • Dynamic Volume Expansion
    You no longer need to delete and re-create a volume to expand it.
  • ‘Expansion frame’ warranty intermix
    Expansion frames can from now on have a warranty type (1,2,3 or4 years) independent of the base frame warranty.
  • New SSL broadband option for Call Home
    This secure protocol is used for data offload and problem reporting only. It provides quicker debug times than a modem and requires minimal firewall setup at the customer site.
  • DS Storage Manager Enhancements
    Based on a large study IBM has improved the functionality and the user interface should be faster and easier to use. This means faster respons time, improved flows, better graphics . . .
  • Support for System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC)
    I'll come back to this in a follow-up post as there have been some separate announcements regarding Totalstorage Productivity Center and this new SSPC concept.
Another functionality people have been asking for is Raid 6. Raid 6 is not in the announcement, but it has been announced for the DS4700, the midrange disk storage solution of IBM. Maybe the DS4700 is the first one, and others will follow ?

Announcement : DS6000

There are some announcements on the DS6000 too.

First of all, similar to former announcements on the DS8000 there's the withdrawal of the 146GB 10k rpm and the 300GB 10k rpm disks. These will be replaced by the 146GB 15k rpm and the 300GB 15k rpm disks. This will be effective January 11, 2008. Hence the announcement of new 300GB 15k rpm disk drives for the DS6000.

Secondly there's the withdrawal of the 1-, 2- and 3-year extended warranty one could choose when purchasing a new DS6000. I'm a bit puzzled by this one as I've no idea why this has been withdrawn.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Labelling posts

Just a quick notice : you might have seen I've started labelling my posts since last week.
I've also begun to label all older posts.
This should make it easier to find posts related to one subject.
You find the list of labels on the right-hand site of the blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fellow bloggers : update

Since I gave some comments in April on the blogs I regularly visit, there's been some changes and I also added a couple of blogs. So here's an update.

For some time already I added Eightbar : this is a blog from "a group of techie/creative people working in and around IBM’s Hursley Park Lab in the UK", as they describe themselves. And no, to anticipate the question, the blog is not about CICS. It's a group of people strongly involved in the Virtual World concepts like e.g. Second Life. So, if you want to stay up to date on all these matters, this is the place to be. You can e.g. read some comments on the new IBM announcement on working together with the Linden Labs from Second Life. The ultimate goal goes way beyond Second Life as IBM (with others) aims at creating one single, linked virtual environment of the individual virtual worlds where you can move around freely with one universal avatar. Even (or also) here, standards will be needed.

I also added The Raised Floor when it was launched together with Project Big Green. It's a blog "tracking changes in corporate data centers as they become greener, more efficient and more indispensable to business". I know blogging frequency can go up and down but for the moment I must say I'm a bit disappointed about this one. It started off very well but with only two posts to last five months (and a copied post from the Mainframe Weblog), I hope this is not one disappearing off the radar.

I just added Susan Visser's Build your Skill on DB2 blog to my list. Subtitle to the blog : 'books, certifications, tutorials, and more'. And you may say : 'much more'. This blog does not really give you the breaking news on DB2, but it gives you all the documentation you need to understand this breaking news. It covers all kinds of books, redbooks, links, presentations and lots more on DB2. It also gives you all information on how to prepare for certifications. In short, this is a great source for anyone who's looking for documentation on DB2 and related subjects.

Finally, an update. Trevor Eddolls will no longer contribute to the Mainframe Weekly blog. Trevor has put up a new blog named Mainframe Update and he transfered his posts to this blog. I'm not sure what will happen with Mainframe Weekly. There's a new post, I think, suggesting the blog will continue and it's also referring to a new newsletter Xephon launced at "designed to bring you information from all over the web. News items, announcements, tips, tools and tidbits from the web that you may have missed".
To be continued !

Monday, October 15, 2007

Server Time Protocol NTP Client support

The announcement of Server Time Protocol (STP) last year had the following statement of direction :
Network Time Protocol (NTP) client support: IBM intends to enhance the STP design to provide Network Time Protocol (NTP) client capability, so that Coordinated Server Time may be initialized and maintained to time provided by an NTP server. The purpose of this function is to allow the same time across an enterprise comprised of heterogeneous platforms.
As of today, this NTP client support is available on System z9 servers that are at Driver 67L and have the STP Feature 1021 installed.
The STP design has been enhanced to include code for a Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) client on the Support Element (SE) of the IBM System z9 Enterprise Class (z9 EC) and IBM System z9 Business Class (z9 BC) servers. This support will allow customers to initialize the time of an STP-only Coordinated Timing Network to the time provided by a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server, and maintain time accuracy. This allows an enterprise comprised of heterogeneous platforms to track to the same time source.
You can find additional information about the NTP client on the IBM STP page. There's a Redpaper available describing this new functionality : 'Server Time Protocol NTP Client support'. The redbook 'Server Time Protocol Implementation Guide' will be updated soon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Redbook : GDPS Family

I still find this blogging business a bit strange. Last month I was a bit worried because I didn't have much to post. But then again, I didn't want to post just for the sake of it. But see, this week, I made as many posts as last month. Apparently my blogging just reflects the real world. Sometimes just nothing happens and then all of a sudden everything comes together. It's like having nothing to do for ages and then you get three invitations all for the same date. Synchronicity ? Now . . . back to business.

The Redbooks Newsletter is a great source to stay up to date with the redbook publications for your specific interest areas. You can subscribe over here. Though it's not a new one, the redbook that caught my attention this time is 'GDPS Family : An Introduction to Concepts and Capabilities'. This is a 180p. introduction to GDPS in its various forms. I guess the Table of Contents gives you a good idea of what's being discussed. Overall,
  • Chapter 1. Introduction to Business Resilience and the role of GDPS
  • Chapter 2. Service Availability technologies
    Explanation of the underlying technology such as Parallel Sysplex, copy technologies, synchronous vs asynchronous, Recovery Time and Recovery Point Objectives . . .
  • Chapter 3. GDPS/PPRC
    Protecting data integrity, Active/Active and Active/Standby discussion, Freeze Policies, Open LUN support, Management with lots of examples
  • Chapter 4. GDPS/PPRC HyperSwap Manager
  • Chapter 5. GDPS/XRC
  • Chapter 6. GDPS/Global Mirror
  • Chapter 7. Combining Local/Metro HA with out-of-region DR
  • Chapter 8. RCMF/PPRC
    This was unknown to me : it offers "a small subset of the function provided by GDPS/PPRC and GDPS/PPRC HM, providing just the ability to manage your remote copy configuration using a set of NetView panels. It is not a disaster recovery offering because it does not include the Freeze function and therefore cannot guarantee consistency across multiple LSSs". It may be a first step towards the implementation of "full GDPS/PPRC or GDPS/PPRC HM in the future".
  • Chapter 9. RCMF/XRC
  • Chapter 10. Sample continuous availability and disaster recovery scenarios
    Some case studies going covering single site solutions and various two data center solutions.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sampling Techdocs : September

I had my last Sampling Techdocs at the beginning of July. Summer also slowed down the publishing pace on Techdocs but it now seems to catch up again. So here we go for another round of interesting documents (to me at least) that I found at Techdocs, covering the latest three months.
  • White Paper : A Power Benchmarking Study on the IBM System z9: Applying Energy Efficiency Metrics to Performance
    "This paper will demonstrate the role of the IBM System z9 as an excellent platform for power efficiency and performance, discuss tools used for measuring z9 power, highlight a Java power benchmarking study on this platform, and analyze client server consolidation as an energy management strategy. The paper will conclude with next steps in power benchmarking for the IBM System z9".

  • White Paper : IMS Disaster Recovery with GDPS
    This paper describes the role of GDPS at an IMS site. First there's a description of some concepts (Recovery Time / Point Objective, Synchronous and Asynchronous writes). Next GDPS is explained into more detail. Then there's a topic on dependent writes and consistency groups. You have to have consistent recovery points for restart and recovery of data. The next topic is on IMS Coupling Facility Structures. In IMS some CF structures are good candidates for duplexing, others are not. Furthermore there's info on testing, customer references and some interesting links to more information.

  • Technote : IBM Tape Encryption for TS1120 and IBM Ultrium 4 Tape Drives
    Encryption is not really my forte, so I'm glad to have come across this document. It gives an overview of tape encryption, the Encryption Key Manager (EKM) and a detailed description of the Encryption - Decryption process. I think I'm finally getting to understand this matter.

  • Technote : TPC Licenses Comparison SE - LE
    This document lists out the differences between TPC Limited Edition and Official TPC 3.3 licensed versions.

  • Tool : WebSphere for z/OS Version 6 - Configuration Planning Spreadsheet
    "Anyone who has tried to configure a WebSphere Application Server for z/OS Version 6 runtime environment knows that one thing just can't be avoided -- the planning of short names, long names, JCL proc names, IDs, UIDs, GIDs and ports. Unless you do some up-front planning of all those things, you'll quickly get lost in the configuration panels. What this spreadsheet does is take the work out of doing that. By capturing a few key variables, this spreadsheet does all the rest -- it calculates and allocates TCP ports, UID and GID values; it constructs names based on root character strings ... in short, it makes things a whole lot easier".

  • Summary : zSref_Channels: A Guide to ESCON and FICON Features for zSeries and System z9
    Nice reference charts of all ESCON and FICON feature codes on all zSeries and Systems z.

  • White Paper : TS7700 Copy Export V10
    This white paper describes a new function on the TS7700. "With Copy Export, logical volumes written to a TS7700 can be removed from the TS7700 and taken to an offsite location to be used for disaster recovery". Don't get confused : you still need a TS7700 at the recovery site to restore these tapes.
Surely there are many more articles like e.g. the ones on using the z9 CPACF Crypto Functions, a new version of the System Programmer Productivity Tool Bag, Moving Applications to WebSphere on z/OS and so on.

As I always say : just check them out !

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

IBM announces IMS (V)10

Same confusion as with DB2 9, the announcement letter mentions IMS V10 : 'IBM IMS V10 Database and Transaction Servers deliver unsurpassed application and data serving'. The IBM IMS site is talking about 'IMS 10'.
Nevertheless, here's the new version of IMS.

Here's a short description of what's new :

IMS Version 10 enhancements include:

IMS V10 Database Manager

  • Integrated, open access with enhanced IMS/XML database support, XQuery access to IMS data, and broadened Java™ and XML tooling to ease development
  • Manageability through autonomic computing:
    • simplified dynamic resource definition
    • eased operations and systems management
    • integrated operations across subsystems/platforms
    • enhanced security and serviceability
  • Scalability with more parallelism in IMS Database Recovery and Sharing Control (DBRC), and improved performance/capacity in Fast Path, IMS High Availability Large Database (HALDB), and database utilities

IMS V10 Transaction Manager

  • Integrated, open access with enhanced XML and Web services connectivity, and broadened Java and XML tooling to ease development
  • Manageability through autonomic computing:
    • simplified dynamic resource definition
    • eased operations and systems management
    • integrated operations across subsystems/platforms
    • enhanced security and serviceability
  • Scalability with widened bandwidth for Multiple Systems Coupling, and improved system availability, performance, and capacity in workload balancing
I'm not going into more detail as this would lead us way too far. As an introduction, here's a link to the Data Sheet and the Release Guide. There are also some teleconferences like 'The IMS Integration Suite', 'Moving to the IMS common service layer', 'IMS Version 10 systems enhancements', 'IMS V10 DRD and Online Change Enhancements', 'IMS V10 DB and DBRC Enhancements'. More info on this page.

Planned availability date : October 26, 2007.

Announcement : Encryption Facility for z/VSE

As I already mentioned in my previous post, there's another z/VSE announcement : 'IBM Encryption Facility for z/VSE, V1.1.0 helps secure data'.
The Encryption Facility for z/VSE V1.1 is packaged as an optional, priced feature of VSE Central Functions V8.1 (5686-CF8) and runs on z990, z890, z9 EC and z9 BC.
A description : "The Encryption Facility for z/VSE complements the tape encryption solution provided by IBM's System Storage™ TS1120 tape drives. The TS1120 tape drive, with encryption enabled, is designed to provide a data protection solution that has the ability to off-load the encryption processing from the server to the tape drive. It is designed to provide a cost-effective encryption solution for the large volumes of data involved in data archive and backup activities (...) The Encryption Facility for z/VSE is designed to be compatible with the Encryption Facility System z format provided as part of the Encryption Services feature in Encryption Facility for z/OS ".
That way encrypted data from z/OS or z/VSE can be distributed to numerous platforms that are running a Java based client called the 'Encryption Facility for z/OS Client' which can be used to decrypt those encrypted data.
Planned availability date : November 30, 2007.

Preview : z/VSE Version 4 Release 2

Today there's the preview of z/VSE 4.2 : 'z/VSE Version 4 Release 2 enables growth'.
What's the core message ?
z/VSE V4.2 is designed to support :
  • More than 255 VSE tasks to help clients grow their CICS workloads and to ease migration from CICS/VSE to CICS Transaction Server for VSE/ESA
    IBM has from VSE/ESA 2.4 onwards delivered CICS/TS together with CICS/VSE at no extra cost. Now, there's a statement of direction that " z/VSE V4.2 is planned to be the last release to offer CICS/VSE".
  • Up to 32 GB of processor storage
    z/VSE V4.2 operates in z/Architecture mode only.
  • Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT) running 'natively'
    The SCRT report will be able to run natively (also in z/VSE 4.1). Until now VSE clients had to send their collected data to IBM. Now, they will be able to do their own reporting. Though no availability date has been given for z/VSE 4.2, all details for downloading and using the tool will be available on the SCRT homepage as off October 11, 2007.
  • Encryption Facility for z/VSE as an optional priced feature
    This is subject to a separate announcement I'm talking about in another post : 'IBM Encryption Facility for z/VSE, V1.1.0 helps secure data'.
  • IBM System Storage TS3400 Tape Library (via the TS1120 Controller)
  • IBM System Storage TS7740 Virtualization Engine Release 1.3
    The support indicated on the last two lines will be available on z/VSE 3.1.2 and later.
z/VSE V4.2 is designed to allow Fast Service Upgrade (FSU) from z/VSE V4.1 or z/VSE V3.1 using equivalent disks.

No availability date has been given yet.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tivoli Decision Support for z/OS V1.8

Last week IBM announced Tivoli Decision Support V1.8 : 'IBM Tivoli Decision Support for z/OS V1.8 supports reporting on the Web and the Tivoli Enterprise Portal'. Here's a summary of what's new :
  • Integration with IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager
  • Dataset Activity Subcomponent
  • OMEGAMON for CICS Subcomponent
  • Message Broker V6 Component
  • Web Reporting utilizing Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT)
  • Integration with IBM Tivoli Enterprise Portal (TEP)
  • Support for zIIP and zAPP processors
  • Support for z/OS V1.8, IMS Versions 9 & 10, DB2 V9, MQ V6 and CICS TS V3.2
January 18, 2008 V1.7 will be withdrawn from marketing.
Watch out : the current product numbers will be replaced. The base product number 5698-A07 is replaced by 5698-B06. The Subscription and Support number 5698-S41 is replaced by 5698-R06. Don't worry : "Customers who currently have an active licenses of 5698-A07 are entitled to 5698-B06 at no additional charge. You must order 5698-B06 to receive Tivoli Decision Support for z/OS V1.8.".

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Price Action on Websphere Products

Stepping into the supermarket a price action is usually (always) a good thing : prices are going down. IBM learns us that 'price action' must have a neutral connotation as this price action actually means an increase in price. It's almost exactly the same range of products that were affected last year :
  • 5655-P27 IBM WebSphere Process Server for z/OS V6 (S&S)
  • 5655-L86 IBM WebSphere Business Server Foundation for z/OS V5 (S&S)
  • 5655-I59 IBM WebSphere Message Broker z/OS V6 (S&S)
  • 5655-K58 IBM WebSphere Event Broker z/OS V6 (S&S)
  • 5655-G98 IBM WebSphere Message Broker Rules & Formatter extension for z/OS V6(S&S)
  • 5655-R16 IBM WebSphere Enterprise Server for z/OS V6(S&S)
  • 5698-S37 IBM Tivoli Business Systems for z/OS (S&S)
  • 5655-K13 IBM WebSphere Portal Enable z/OS (S&S)

The new prices are effective January l, 2008.
For Belgium (and most European countries) there's a price increase of 3%.
You can check out the announcement letter for other countries.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

End Of Support Dates

Finding the right End Of Support (EOS) dates can be quite a time-consuming business. The questions we usually have about our software is : how long is it still supported, are there any successors available yet and how long can we still order them.

The one and only really correct source is of course the announcement letters. But there's another page where you can find this information : the IBM Software Support Lifecycle page. I mention it because it has recently been changed ... and for the better, I think. You can start with choosing a category but I prefer to just select the ‘Software A to Z’ link. Formerly you only got a list with software and their EOS dates. Now you can run through the list and select your own software on the check box in front of it. One random example : suppose you're still running CICS Transaction Server 2.2 then you can check that version but you might also want to select all succeeding versions (as in the illustration below).

That way you can run through all pages and check all your softwares.After that you can ask to 'View Details' and you get the following details :

For every release, you see three lines with dates ànd the associated Announcement Letter :

  • GA (General Acceptance) : it is delivered from this date onwards
  • EOM (End Of Marketing) : how long can you still order this release
  • EOS (End of Support)

So if you want to upgrade your CICS to Transaction Server V3.1, you'd better already have it, because since June 29th, 2007 you can no longer order it.

What could still be better ?
Actually it would've been nice if you'd be able to save your software list. That way you could easily come back every now and then to check out your personal list. And secondly, I'd like to make a regional choice so that I would be able to have the European Announcement Letters listed instead of only the American ones now.