Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Another eventful year's gone and we're on the verge of a new one. I'm off for a couple of days now, but if you're eager for some lecture, my 2008 Year Review is still there.

We don't know what 2009 will bring us but I surely wish every one the best for 2009 : A Happy New Year and good health to you and your family.

New Year Graphics

Thanks to all my readers for stopping by so regularly, to other bloggers for linking to me and to all those who gave me great feedback during 2008.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some movies - Part 4

OK, here's the last one in the series. In fact it's a series of iSeries commercials, but specifically the first one reminds me of commercials I posted earlier : 'The Heist' and 'Taking back control with the mainframe'. It stays funny though.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Looking back on 2008 - Year Review

Already my second year review. On the one hand it’s as though I only made the previous one yesterday. On the other hand, when I read it again, I realize how much of it I’d already completely forgotten. Or some things just fade away. I must admit I haven’t been on Second Life ever since.

In January the acquisition of Cognos becomes a fact. We'll see the realisation of this during the year with products like 'Cognos 8 Business Intelligence for Linux on System z'. There was also an interesting Share Market Review indicating that mainframe data and applications are not all that closely cooperating with distributed environments as we might sometimes tend to believe. I was also the month we saw the first z890 on eBay !

February brought us the Arcati Yearbook, but the main event was of course the announcement of the z10 EC, which we covered extensively over here and in the RealDolmen System z Newsletter. There's too much to summarize in a couple of words but there's e.g. the much faster processor, the introduction of the InfiniBand technology, the improved RAS . . . If you want to download the wallpaper I made for the occasion, it's over here.
At the same moment, there's a first announcement for the DS8000 as well with Extended Distance Ficon and Extended Address Volumes (EAV) which will be implemented with z/OS 1.10.
Another interesting announcement was that of Basic HyperSwap, you might say, the GDPS HyperSwap possibilities reduced to its essentials with a single site, IBM Storage and z/OS exclusive implementation.

For the first time in March, IBM announced a reduction in the price of z9 BC memory. We'll see that when the z10 BC is announced, there's even a further price reduction when the memory is bought in combination with a specialty engine.

In April IBM announces a new pricing metric for Websphere : 'Getting Started Sub-capacity Pricing'. It's intended for those who want to get started with small projects without immediately having to pay a lot. I must admit I haven't heard anything about it, since.

Some z10 EC elements only became available in May like e.g. OSA-Express3, the InfiniBand Coupling links and the Balanced Power Plan Ahead.
It was also in May that suddenly every one seemed to start focussing on specialty engines (especially the zIIP) and how to save money with them. I also made a list of ISVs supporting the zIIP at that moment. And I still think we've now reached some kind of turning point for many customers. So you really should start considering or re-considering whether specialty engines are also something for you.

In June DB2 turns 25. So it's older than many young people who are just starting out their careers on mainframe. Current version by now should be DB2 V8 as DB2 V7 is also going out of support this very month.

IBM took over PSI in July. Lots of people are quite unhappy with this as the 'mainframe emulation' territory seems to become a barren desert.
In July, we also saw the new TS1130 Tape Drive with faster throughput (160MB/sec) and larger tapes of up to 1GB (uncompressed).

In August there were quite a lot of announcements from IBM. The DS8000 is definitely here to stay for a while. We see the introduction of Raid-6, 450 GB 15,000 rpm Fibre Channel Disk Drives, Variable LPARs ...
New Operating systems are announced : z/OS 1.10, z/VM 5.4 and z/VSE 4.2 and we first hear of IBM CICS Explorer, the new face of CICS.
And there's more, the TS3500 library gets new, driveless frames with at least 2,5 times the capacity of former frames due to a new tiered cell structure.

September started with a new challenge for my company as Dolmen and Real Software merged into NV RealDolmen.
There was also the pre-announcement of IMS V11. So don't tell us IMS isn't alive and kicking or as we read in the Mainframe Update blog : 'IMS - still life in the old dog !'.
For the DS8000 and DS6000, the 500GB FATA disks are put to rest, the replacement coming in 2009 with 1TB 7,200 RPM SATA disk drives.

In October, the main event was of course the announcement of the z10 BC (and z10 EC GA2). No announcements last year, two announcements this year. The z10 is "smart, cool and affordable". Again we have the faster processor. We also leave the 2-model approach of the z9 BC behind. Other new features are new OSA-Express3 cards and the zHPF feature - once again improving the FICON performance.
There are also some important tape storage announcements in October. The current Virtualization Engine (TS7740) can be upgraded with additional cache drawers going from 6TB to 9TB of cache. There are also new models which will have up to 14TB of cache. And, you no longer need a separate frame for the Library Manager. But there's more : there's also a new, disk-only Virtualization Engine (TS7720) that can have 70TB of uncompressed data.

November. Oh yes, there were wallpapers for the z10 BC, too. And we had a webcast on the new IBM CICS Explorer. 'The Master Terminal', a new blog since March 2008 from the Hursley people, gives us the links to the necessary SupportPacs.

For December, there's not that much to mention. In October CA announced support for the zIIP for IDMS and Datacom and there was a webcast on it this month. And if anything drew a lot of attention this year, it's definitely the specialty engines. The list of zIIP uses is growing and IBM itself put the IFL in the spotlight with its own Project Big Green. I think this, combined with the New Enterprise Data Center (NEDC) will surely be one of the spearpoints of IBM's strategy for 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Linux Installation Planning

I told you about the zJournal Spotlights before. They're extra editions focusing on specific subjects like CICS, DB2, z/OS, WebSphere etc. You can subscribe to them over here.
Well I just received the 'Linux on System z Spotlight' and I must say it publishes two excellent articles anyone taking up an interest on zLinux should definitely read.
The first one is 'Linux Installation Planning' by Mark Post and it gives a splendid introduction to anyone planning to install his/her first linux on System z. The topics covered :
  • First Things First
  • Pick the Right Architecture
  • Disk Storage Selection
  • Application Selection
  • Application Requirements
  • File System Selection
  • File System Layout
  • Backup and Restore
  • Network Requirements
  • Ongoing System Support
  • Management Tools
  • Data for Installation
The second one is 'Linux on z/VM: Configure for Performance' by Barton Robinson. Starting point is that people may have experience on performance tuning for z/OS or z/VM, but many 'rules of thumb' just don't apply to Linux on System z performance. So you have to reevaluate some of those. The article focuses on three areas : memory, Linux configuration and z/VM configuration. Some topics covered :
  • Configuring Storage
  • Memory Considerations
  • z/VM Storage Architecture Issues
  • Network Storage Impact
  • Minimizing Linux Storage
  • Linux Swap Options
  • How Many Virtual Processors?
As I always say : just check them out !

Friday, December 19, 2008

Some movies - Part 2 - Revenge of the mainframe

You must have noticed there's not that much news towards this year's end. Still, keep stopping by : I still have some nice videos coming up and I'm going to post my '2008 Year Review' next week.

Here's a video with another enthusiastic speaker : "remember we're back and we're ready to rule" !

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

IBM System Storage VTF Mainframe V3

The announcement of this product dates from a couple of weeks ago and the software was completely new to me, so it suprised me to see it was actually already on Version 3 : 'IBM System Storage VTF Mainframe V3 -- a z/OS software virtualization platform that delivers industry-unique functionality (ZP08-0605)'. Here's the overview of the announcement :
"IBM System Storage VTF Mainframe provides a virtual tape alternative for many System z® users. It is compatible with and integrates within existing IBM and IBM compatible System z tape environments, delivering a high performance yet low cost tape virtualization strategy.

By storing its virtual tapes on standard System z disk, VTF Mainframe (VTFM) adds device independence to batch tape processing and enhances disaster recovery by providing tape data with the same resiliency features as IBM System z disk products.

VTFM provides Parallel Access Tape (PAT) support. PAT enables multiple, simultaneous read accesses to virtual tape volumes. z/OS does not support multiple, simultaneous read accesses to a physical tape volume".
Am I not confusing with CA vTape now ? No. When you take a look at this spreadsheet, it becomes a lot clearer. IBM took over Diligent this year and of course most attention went to the de-duplication technology of that company. But, as you see, they also had this VTF Mainframe (Virtual Tape Facility for Mainframe Systems) in their portfolio. It's now commercialized as IBM IPLA software and it became available on December 5, 2008.

Some more information ? There's a User Guide over here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

IBM Systems Magazine - Digital Edition

I mentioned the IBM Systems Magazine before and now I've received a mail that there will be a free digital edition from January, 2009 onwards. When you subscribe, you'll see that American and Canadian readers can also obtain a printed version.

There will be six issues per year and you can view a sample over here. You can subscribe via the same page. I must add the sample is nothing more than that. It gives an idea of the layout, but the articles mentioned on the contents page are not even entirely published. Luckily you can find the complete versions of the articles on the site itself.

And I do hope we'll get a plain and simple .pdf version of it as I must admit I don't like this kind of flash animated, online editions. But there's a print button and there's software like the open source pdfcreator, that can help us out here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some movies - Part 1

Last year I gave you some funny Youtube movies at the closing of the year. They're still there if you want to have a look. My favourite is still the 'Helpdesk support in the Middle Ages'. By the way, there's also a Star Wars Helpdesk movie, but to me it's not as good.
Well, I thought I might take a different angle this year and give you one movie every Friday from now on. So, if you cannot access Youtube at work, you can take a look during the weekend. They don't necessarily have to be funny. I just came across them this year, but for some or other reason I just didn't come to posting them.
I'm starting off with a two year old one on disk innovation. You just have to love the enthusiasm of the speaker. Sometimes it's almost like poetry :
"So turn it up and play it loud
Meet the ground-breakers
The movers and shakers
The action takers
The innovators
Dedicated to bringing you another 50 years of
Mind-blowing innovation that matters . . . from IBM"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

RMF The Latest and Greatest

I just came across this new presentation about RMF on the presentation page of the z/OS RMF web page : 'RMF - The Latest and the Greatest (z/OS v1.9 -z/OS v1.10)'. It gives a nice overview of recent enhancements. There's information on System z10 Support like e.g. HiperDispatch. There are some sample charts explaining how to analyze the possible benefits of HiperDispatch. There are also additional fields documenting CBU and OOCoD enhancements and Large Page Support.
Next to that, XCF reporting has been extended by the detection of bottlenecks on system and TC level and by the identification of path contention. There's also information on the reporting of System Locking Activities and on Blocked Workload Analysis.
If you want to have a graphical, front-end interface for all this, you might want to try the RMF Spreadsheet Reporter V5 for Windows. You can download it over here, and there's a presentation of it over here. A short description of the Spreadsheet Reporter :
"The RMF Spreadsheet Reporter serves as a front-end to the RMF postprocessor on your z/OS system. With its graphics capabilities, RMF Spreadsheet Reporter allows you to analyze z/OS performance data through powerful graphical charts — right from your workstation.
The new interface: resource oriented
Version 5 is a major revision of the RMF Spreadsheet Reporter, which was originally introduced in 1997. In Version 5, the task flow of the previous versions is replaced by an intuitive resource-oriented interface".

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mainframe Talk

Every four months I'm also writing our RealDolmen System z Newsletter. It was on one of those occasions I realized again we really use some funny language. The person rewiewing my text asked what I meant by 'IPL-ing', pronouncing it as ipling (one word). So I told the person it was actually IPL-ing (eye pee el - ing) the system and it was like 'booting' the system. So the person asked me why I didn't use the term 'booting' so that every one would understand what I was talking about. Sounds logical, no ? I was shocked (ok, exaggerating a bit), you don't boot a mainframe, you IPL it.
I was reminded of this when I read a post by Reg Harbeck on the CA mainframe blog : 'How to talk like a mainframer'. Here's one example I really like : "Then there's DASD, pronounced "dazz dee" by mainframers, "disk" by non-mainframers". Just take a look, you'll like it. And is it really true the DFH of CICS (see eye see ess or kicks) stands for 'Don't Forget Hursley' ?
And talking about mainframe jargon, here's another page you should take a look at allthough I think most people already know it : 'You know you're a mainframer if ...'.
Have fun !

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Webcast : a VSE perspective of the System z10 BC

I know it's a bit short notice but here's another interesting webcast : 'Smart, Cool, Affordable - A VSE Perspective of the IBM System z10 Business Class'.
"This webcast will provide an overview of the new z10 BC announced October 21, 2008 for z/VSE users. It will highlight why this server is the affordable choice that delivers more value than previous midrange servers and new technology that is the smart choice. IBM's new mainframe aims to assist midsize companies to jumpstart new application development efforts; consolidate IT servers; and give organizations a platform to build the mainframe as the foundation of their new enterprise data center".
Date : Thursday, December 4, 2008.
Time: 16.00 UK, 17.00 CET (Brussels)
Duration: 75 Minutes

You can register via the VSE website. The session will be recorded and a replay will be available on December 6, 2008 on the same site.

CA IDMS r17 zIIP Feature Webcast

CA was one of the first ISVs to announce support for the zIIP. Now they also announced that IDMS R17 will support it. You can e.g. take a look over here. you'll see that also Datacom is mentioned.
If you want to be brought up to date, there's a webcast next week on Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 11.00 EST or 17.00 in Brussels (CET).
"This webcast will explain how portions of all typical CA IDMS production workloads — including those generated by online transaction systems, batch processing jobs and distributed platform requests — can exploit zIIP capacity to offload processing to deliver greater capacity with lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)".
All details and registration over here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Trekkies or Trexxers ?

The site I want to draw your attention to is The title looked a bit confusing to me until I took a look at the site.

Of course, it's T-Rexxers. It's set up as a new community site for all mainframers : " is your source for information, inquiry and debate. This is not just a website. It’s an interactive community that thrives on the contributions of mainframers across the globe". There's lots of stuff : news, a library, links, a forum, an exhaustive calendar etc. If it's kept up to date regularly, this might become a new reference site for us.

As I always say : Just check it out !