Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Documentation on TS3500

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked where a customer who had bought a TS3500 and LTO4 could find information on the subject. I made a little summary of the sources I usually refer customers to. It can never harm to recapitulate them here. Perhaps some people might find this useful as well.
  • The Redbooks :
    Search terms : TS3500, 3584, LTO, Connectivity Handbook
  • Techdocs with presentations, white papers, Technical information, The Slot calculator I've mentioned a couple of times . . .
    Search terms : TS3500, 3584, LTO
  • You can always ask the SAPR guide from your IBM or Business Partner representative.
  • And of course I have to make some publicity for my own as I'm also trying to cover all news on this topic.
I know ther's much more out there, but I think these are nevertheless good starting points on this subject. I might come up with a few similar posts in the future (e.g. on the z10). It's always nice to have a good starting point in our everlasting quest for information.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Short Takes

I used to be subscribed to Paul Thurott's daily newsletter on Windows. Every Monday he opened with some 'short takes' and as I just seemed to have some short bits of information on various subjects, I suddenly remembered his newsletter. Yes, the strange behaviour of the human mind. I haven't got enough time anymore to read his newsletter, but as I checked it out, he still has the 'short takes'. I'm sure he won't mind my borrowing his title. And if I can return a favour : I'm no expert on Windows, but Paul Thurott's Supersite for Windows is the first site I turn to when I want some information on a specific Windows version. He always writes great reviews on new releases, beta versions ... and usually with lots of screen shots. Here's e.g. a review on the beta version of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1. But I'm way off base now, let's get back to the short takes I had in mind.
  • I mentioned Corneel's blog some posts ago. Well, as he indicated in a comment, he has just written the second part of his 'Uncertain future of CICS' called 'Happy Cows' : how (un)happy are CICS people and for what reasons. The link with the cows : just go and find out, it's definitely worth reading.
  • I just saw that Willie Favero is (finally) continuing his 'Brief History of DB2'. He stopped at DB2 2.1 some time ago, but now he's added DB2 2.2 and DB 2.3. Definitely worth reading too.
  • I mentioned the new IPLA pricing mechanism for some Websphere Products last week. There's not much about the real pricing mechanism behind it in the actual announcement, but Thimothy Sipples (IBM) gives an elaborate explanation of it in the IBM-Main list. Here's the archive reference to his post. Do check out the replies to it as well, as Al Sherkow a.o. is giving some useful additional information. I know I'm generalizing when I try to summarize this : these IPLA Websphere products are generating the necessary SMF records that can be used by the SCRT report. If you report 1% of the used LPAR capacity (e.g. WS reports 2 MSU and z/OS reports 200 MSU) then you only pay 10% instead of the full 100% up to now. For a reported usage of 5%, you pay 50%. So as long as you're under 10%, there's a benefit for the customer.
Well, that's it for now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Getting Started Sub-capacity Pricing for z/OS IPLA software with select Websphere Products

This is quite a mouthful for an announcement title. The entire title : IBM Getting Started Sub-capacity Pricing for z/OS IPLA software provides an attractive pricing option for starting projects with select IBM WebSphere programs (ZA08-0134).
As we know some IPLA (formerly OTC) software follows sub-capacity ruling. Now for some Websphere products IBM announces 'Getting Started Sub-capacity Pricing'. This "offers entry pricing for customers with low usage on select IBM WebSphere programs and the applicable Subscription and Support annual maintenance charge (...) Getting Started Sub-capacity Pricing offers less than the full LPAR (sub-capacity) license charge for up to 10% of the LPAR utilization consumed by the workload ". I haven't seen any prices yet and I find the explanation somewhat puzzling, but it's definitely worth checking out if you're in the target group :
Getting Started Sub-capacity Pricing helps you:
* Deploy small projects on z/OS with improved price/performance
* Provide greater software licensing flexibility by improving alignment between software use and software charges
* Increase LPAR capacity without changing software charges for a constant workload
* Transition smoothly to traditional sub-capacity pricing as workload grows
All additional information on prerequisites, planned availability and eligible products can be found in the announcement.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

BT : Upcoming Events Belgium

For those who missed some previous posts. I use 'BT' to indicate this is a specific 'Belgian Topic' (in analogy to 'OT'). Many newsletters give frequent updates on all the events happening in the US. Unfortunately for Belgian customers, it's a bit too far to attend those.

So once in a while, I compile a list of Belgian events I think to be interesting. I put them in the agenda at the right hand side of my blog. Most of them are at IBM Forum in Brussels (except where indicated). Here's a little survey for the next month :

17-18/04/2008 GSE Regional Conference BeLux at Thermae Palace Oostende
Topics : Consolidation Flavors and 'What is happening Today?'

18/04/2008 Paint IT Green
Morning session for CIOs, data-centre and IT managers who want to implement ‘Green IT’ in their daily lives (in Eindhoven)

23/04/2008 DB2 9 for zOS and tools workshop
One-day free seminar for technical professionals, architects and managers to gain insight into DB2 9 for z/OS and optimizing its use by getting the latest information on the IBM DB2 tools

06/05/2008 PoT - Mastering your Application Development Process with Rational Unified Process
By exercising 2 tools of the IBM Rational solution for business driven development (Rational Method Composer and Rational Portfolio Management), attendees will understand how they can use these tools to prioritize, plan, manage and measure projects as a comprehensive portfolio

19-20-21/05/2008 PoT - Building the WebSphere Foundation with WAS and ESB
This free 3-day Proof-of-Technology session focuses on two products that are the foundation of the WebSphere portfolio: WebSphere Application Server (WAS) and WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus (WESB)

22/05/2008 PoT - Building the WebSphere Foundation with MQ
In this Proof of Technology you’ll be informed on several extensions which rely on WebSphere MQ. You‘ll have the opportunity to practice the products in hands-on labs

Do take a look at the IBM Events Page because there are e.g. more sessions on the Rational Products.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Master Terminal

A little correction : I put up a post on two CICS blogs, last Friday.
Apparently I forgot the link to the second one from the people at Hursley : 'The Master Terminal'. And you definitely should take a look over there.
In the meantime, the youngest member of the team, Chris Hodgins, has answered Corneel's thoughts about Cobol and CICS extensively. Interesting reading !

Red Alert : Sysplex-wide outage associated with PTF UA38900 or UA38901

Here's another Red Alert :

A defect was introduced by the PTFs for OA21917 (UA38900, UA38901) which can result in a sysplex-wide outage due to a full CFRM checkpoint area condition. The removal of the CFRM MSGBASED managing system may cause event management to get "stuck" on a CF structure alter event, which will eventually lead to this condition.

Note: MSGBASED processing is only possible when all systems in the sysplex are z/OS 1.8 or higher.

The problem documented in OA24563 will cause a CFRM checkpoint full condition. The impact of the full condition will cause Parallel Sysplex services to result in a RC=10x. Functions that require these services may terminate as a result. For example, all systems in a sysplex using GRS will load a wait state if IXLCONN REBUILD to ISGLOCK returns a component error which would cause a sysplex outage. Please see APAR OA24563 for more details.

Check out all the details and what recommended actions to take on the Red Alerts Page.

And if you haven't subscribed to them yet, please do so over here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is COBOL killing CICS ?

How's that for a starter ? I must immediately admit, it's not my quote, it comes from Corneel's Blog at the CICS Community Forums page. I recently came across this blog of Corneel Booysen, also the driving force behind the CICS Wiki, I discussed earlier. He writes a great article on how COBOL is a threat for CICS as CICS is put in the same bad daylight as COBOL. I hope Corneel won't mind me quoting a couple of extracts. But be sure to read the entire article. And there'll be coming an 'Uncertain Future of CICS Part 2'.
The very same thing that has been the bread-and-butter of the mainframe for so long and has helped IBM build their mainframe empire – is the thing that threatens to kill it but more specifically in this case – CICS. The monstrous monolithic mass that is the 500 billion lines of COBOL code that companies still maintain has become a dingy little secret that is kept in the basement of many a fortune 500 company. That missing code, the retiring programmer community has become the “Unmovable Object”.

Companies actively develop themselves out of trouble. They have given up on converting or migrating COBOL code or COBOL people to anything else. They replace the functionality with newer systems, in modern programming languages developed by enthusiastic people that enjoy working with computers. In fact I dare to say that the users of modern programming languages and technologies has a much firmer grasp on information management and computer science theory than the typical COBOL programmer.

A couple of posts earlier Corneel is also discussing 'The Aging Mainframe Workforce' : "I believe that IBM is dedicated to the future of the mainframe. The question is - are we? I suppose (or hope) the initial response to the question would be “Yes”. But the unavoidable follow-up to that is - what are we doing about it? Are we creating an environment that promotes and nurtures new talent?" For the answer, you'll have to read his post.

Corneel also points to another CICS blog that has just started : 'The Master Terminal'. Its intentions : "This unofficial blog is written by a hopefully expanding group of people in IBM Hursley and beyond who work on CICS. Expect to see posts on conferences, code samples, helpful hints and anything else that we can think of". It does look interesting but I'll hold my 'judgement' as they only started out March 31, 2008.

But I think I found two interesting blogs on CICS worth checking out regularly.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sampling Techdocs : February - March 2008

With the z10 announcement and the z/OS 1.10 preview in February, some documents have been reworked and there are of course new documents discussing the new functionalities of the z10. I already discussed one of them into more detail (Basic HyperSwap), but there's of course much more. Here's a selection :

  • Presentation : A System Programmer Productivity Tool Bag
    This is such a useful document I just have to mention it from time to time. "It is designed to point to and describe various information to assist in planning, aid in finding pertinent information, tools which are available to make a systems programmer job a bit easier".

  • Technical document : IBM System Storage DS8000 FlashCopy SE Implementation Considerations and Recommendations
    I know I mentioned this the previous time too, but it has been updated and and it gives a great description of how FlashCopy SE works, where you can use it and where it's better not to use it. Some examples : it is not recommended to use it when data changes more than 20% between two FlashCopies. Do not use it either when you are running update jobs on the same data just after the FlashCopy SE. These circumstances might have a negative influence on your performance.

  • Presentations : WebSphere for z/OS - Version 6.1 Handouts for WBSR6 Wildfire Workshop
    I promised to try and pay some attention to products I'm less familiar with, so here are all the presentations and hands-on labs for the Wildfire Workshop on WebSphere Application Server for z/OS Version 6.1. The topics covered are an overview, Building the Deployment Manager, Standalone Servers and Federation, Data Resources (CICS and DB2), Clustering and Security Implications of Adding Servers, Comparison of HTTP Front-End options for WebSphere Application Server. This should provide a great introduction to the Websphere Application Server and I will surely work my way through it.

  • Tool : Getting Started with zPCR (IBM's Processor Capacity Reference)
    Most people are already familiar with this tool or know at least what it does. It's a great capacity planning tool for System z and since one (or perhaps already two years) it has been made available to the customer. It now provides support for System z10.

  • White Paper : z/OS: Planning Considerations for HiperDispatch Mode
    This was one of the new features that raised many questions when the z10 was introduced as it was not very clear what this was really about. Basically "z/OS workload management and dispatching have been enhanced to take advantage of the System z10 hardware design. A new mode of dispatching called HiperDispatch has been implemented to provide additional processing efficiencies. This White Paper describes planning considerations related to HiperDispatch".
As I always say : just check them out !

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

IBM Price Actions

Here's the annual Price Action Announcement : 'General Price Action on System z, zSeries, and S/390 Software Program Products' (ZA08-0119). Just like the last years "the maximum reduction or the maximum increase for the impacted MLC prices will be 6%".
Nothing 'special', so far, but there's a second announcement : 'Price Change: IMS High Performance Fast Path Utilities for z/OS V3.2 Subscribtion and Support (S&S), DB2 Log Analysis Tool for z/OS, V3.1 Subscribtion and Support (S&S), IMS Buffer Pool Analyzer for z/OS, V1.2' (ZA08-1016). For these products "IBM is announcing price changes on recurrent license charges (monthly and annually), on reseller license charges and on On/Off Capacity on Demand (OOCoD) and OTC licenses". The price increases here go well beyond 6% ranging from 39% to 89% for '5655-E36 - IBM IMS High Performance Fast Path Utilities for z/OS V3.2 Subscription & Support (S&S)'. For Belgium a maximum price increase of 47% is indicated for this product. For the other countries, please check out the announcement.