Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year

Well, that's it for 2009. I'm off for a couple of days now. If you want some reading, my 2009 Year Review is still there.

As this is my last post for this year, I'd like to wish every one all the best for 2010 : A Happy New Year and a good health to you and your family.

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 2009.

By the way, I took the picture about 2 weeks ago in Lille (France). We spent the weekend over there and on Sunday it started snowing. Lille has a lovely Christmas Market, you have a great view from the large wheel and lots of shopping opportunities. Bought some great vinyl from Prince. Couldn't resist that one and I promise, it's the last time this year I'm mentioning Prince.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking back on 2009 - Year Review

Cloud, Dynamic Infrastructure, economical crisis, Smarter Planet, energy savings, zPrime, Solution Editions, SaaS (Software as a Service). Ok, I admit, I'm just trying to get as many hits from Google putting all the (excuse me) buzzwords of the year 2009 together. Perhaps I should add Twitter as well, no ? Just kidding, nevertheless, I think these terms pretty well sum up any IBM Mainframe Review for 2009. Let's get into some more detail looking month by month what happened on the mainframe front.

January. After IBM took over PSI in July 2008 and withdrew the FLEX-ES license for ISVs, no wonder voices were raised that IBM now really had a mainframe monopoly. T3 files an antitrust complaint against IBM, which will later in fall be dismissed by a federal judge. But at the same time however, the Department of Justice will start an investigation whether IBM really holds a mainframe monopoly.

In February IBM introduces Dynamic Infrastructure as the successor to New Enterprise Data Center as this was a bit too focused on (mainly) a green Data Center only. And throughout 2009 Dynamic Infrastructure turns out to be the underlying vision for most announcements with its three cornerstones : Improve Service, Reduce Cost and Manage Risk.
In February we also see a first of a series of announcements for the DS8000 with full disk encryption, Solid State drives, Remote Pair FlashCopy ...
We also proved that mainframe definitely isn't dead, not even for traditional workload as we won the 'STG Winback of 2008' for a customer who migrated its IDMS applications from a Siemens platform to the z10.

IBM announced GDPS V3.6 in March with improved coordinated disaster recovery across heterogeneous platforms, increased availability and simplified management.
We also hear the first buzz about Windows on mainframe from a company called Mantissa with its z/VOS application. This should run as a sort of emulation on top of z/VM, but hasn't been brought to market as far as I know.
Softek LDMF or zDMF as it's called now goes to V3.2 eliminating some of the disruptive actions like e.g. for DB2 datasets.

In April, CA introduces its "Mainframe 2.0 strategy and how it will transform mainframe management at your organization". This will be followed by CA's May Mainframe Madness (which, by the way, will recur this year) and CA's Mainframe Software Manager product, simplifying software installation and management for both experienced and new mainframe system engineers.
We also see the next round of Dynamic Infrastructure announcements on April 28, 2009. Talking about the three cornerstones to mainframe customers, we all came pretty much to the same conclusion as IBM : "System z’s core competencies align with a Dynamic Infrastructure Today". IBM also explained what this meant for the future of System z : we will not only see it as a central data repository but also as the central management platform for the entire IT-environment. It talks about Application Serving Blades and Accelerators, which can both be seen as non-z extensions of the well-known specialty engines. One example is the Smart Analytics Optimizer which is expected to be announced in 2010.
What were the actual announcements also made on April 28, 2009 : z/VSE 4.2, TSPC (Tivoli Storage Proeductivity Center) 4.1, CICS Transaction Server for z/OS 4.1 and some enhancements for z10 EC and z10 BC.

May was a bit calmer so I took the opportunity to have a look at some of the 'new' networking tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Let's say I'm no Facebook fan, but although I had my doubts about Twitter, I'm still tweeting though I mainly do so to automatically announce my new blog posts. Still, I've found it useful to pick up some first hand information on events and new announcements from the people I follow.

I know, CA's May Mainframe Madness was the month before but the tour only hit Belgium in June. It also was a good occasion to bring a CA survey back under the attention stating "that while on average 50% of all corporate critical data are on the mainframe, the cost on average is only 19% of the total IT-budget". CA also announces support for the zIIP for Datacom. Talking about specialty engines, June brings us the first mention of zPrime, some month before it's actually announced.

In July Neon Software introduces zPrime. zPrime enables mainframe customers to offload more traditional workload to the specialty engines than IBM finds eligible. Let's say it has been a bit of the talk of the town since eventually leading up to Neon suing IBM. We'll surely see some next episodes of this story in 2010.
We also get a preview of z/VM 6.1. It's particularly the statements of direction that are of interest : z/VM Single System Image and z/VM Live Guest Relocation. We're definitely looking forward to this.
More storage announcements as well with the next generation of XIV, R4.3 of DS8000 and V2.3 of the Data Deduplication TS7650 ProtecTIER Gateway & Appliance. And the announcement of FICON Express8 for System z10.

August brings us the announcement of Enterprise Cobol for z/OS 4.2, z/OS 1.11 and perhaps even more interesting z/OSMF (z/OS Management Facility). IBM seems to be finally delivering on its promises about its 'Five Year March to Mainframe Simplification' it made a couple of years ago. Talking about this to our customers also brought some sarcastic smiles to their faces : "Yeah, right, another Msys for Setup. What, even better ?" All in all, I think this is a fresh start and z/OSMF definitely deserves a chance.

In September we organize a joint IBM - Red Hat - RealDolmen meeting for customers who are interested in consolidating to Linux on System z. Linux on System z is definitely drawing more and more attention. I also see this when I'm attending an 'Introduction to zLinux & z/VM' Proof of Technology a couple of weeks later. So we're not suprised to also see a new Wiki on mainframe Linux and z/VM come to live.

We have lots of announcements in October starting with IMS Version 11. Next we have z10 EC GA3 and z10 BC GA2, the new DS8700 announcement, new functions of the TS7700 and TS3500, the actual z/VM 6.1 announcement and a preview of z/VSE 4.3. Sometimes to my confusion, it's all linked to Dynamic Infrastructure.

After that November and December are rather quiet months. One particular incident shows me to be careful with Twitter and with people who are (to my opinion sometimes) using it incorrectly. I wrote about a presentation on zPrime in November saying "Apparantly customers are going into production with it and they actually seem to pay less". This turned up on the zPrime Twitter account as "Mainframe Watch Belgium: Customers are in production with NEON zPrime and they really are paying less". Not my words.

Now you will say, what about cloud ? Well, I've looked it up and so far I only used the word sideways in two of my posts. The first time I heard about it, I just thought that we've been doing this already for centuries. But now it seems to have a name, or should I say, a new name. As you see, I'm still in doubt whether this is more than just another buzzword which will be replaced by another one next year.

Looking forward to 2010, it's possible that I will also broaden my horizon a bit, as I obtained my technical certification on XIV a couple of weeks ago. But then again, didn't Moshe Yanai mention at a customer event in November that connecting XIV to the mainframe was on the roadmap of XIV. I guess only the future can tell and we'll see more of this and other subjects I just mentioned in 2010 !

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Redbook : z/VSE using DB2 on Linux for System z

People said I was a bit sharp some two years ago with my comments on the announcement of DB2 for VM and VSE V7R5 when I wrote : "I think this message is loud and clear : move away from DB2 server for VM/VSE towards "data servers with greater ease and better performance" (mainly pointing towards DB2 for zLinux) and just run a client version on VM/VSE to preserve your previous investments on the platform. Correct me if I'm wrong !". Maybe it was because I had seen people trying this and few were successful at the time. One of the main reasons, in my opinion, was that the specialty engines, i.c. the IFL, were not up to the task. I'm also convinced that this has really changed since the announcement of the z10 with its faster engines. And I've also seen better results since.

For any one who wants to try this (again), here's a wonderful redbook documenting exactly what to do : 'z/VSE using DB2 on Linux for System z'. It's still a draft for the moment, so I hope it doesn't disappear in a couple of days like the z/OS Implementation Reddraft I wrote about a couple of posts ago.

It's really a very thorough document guiding you through every phase of the installation and migration process. It starts with a planning chapter with some hardware considerations, talking about whether to use FICON attached ECKD disks or FCP attached SCSI disks, networking considerations . . .
It goes on with the installation of DB2 (with lots of print screens of the installation proces), how to setup DB2 for Linux on System z as an application server, how to setup a federated database with EBCDIC sort sequence for z/VSE and z/VM . . .
The following chapter describes the migration process not only for the data but also for database access packages. Also what has to be considered for applications and how do you go to production.
The last chapter discusses the monitoring of every aspect of this solution : Linux, performance, networking, z/VSE . . .

So, as I always say, just check it out !

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

zPrime : Neon sues IBM

I thought you might be interested to know this. If you follow zPrime on Twitter you've seen it already : Neon is suing IBM. You know the story : Neon introduced zPrime last summer which enables a customer to offload more workload to the specialty engines than IBM finds eligible. Obviously, one thing led to another and this is the latest step in this curious history. I'm no lawyer, so I'm not going to spend much words on this, but if you want to know all the details you can take a look at the Neon site or you can find a very good article on the topic at giving you insight on the viewpoints of both sides.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Redbooks : z/OS V1R11 Implementation

Update 2009-12-28 : This Reddraft is no longer available for the moment. I'll post the new link as soon as it's available again.

When I talked about the announcement of z/OS 1.11 back in August, I also mentioned some interesting resources. Well, here's another one : 'z/OS Version 1 Release 11 Implementation'. It's a RedBook, as a matter of fact, it's still a draft, but I've got the impression it's pretty well finished by now.

The title covers it all : it's for every one who's planning on implementing z/OS 1.11. Nevertheless, it also gives lots of information on all kinds of new features. So it's definitely worth taking a look if you want all the details on some or other new feature. A couple of examples : there's an extensive chapter on EAV (Extended Address Volumes), other topics covered are e.g. Basic HyperSwap and zHPF (High Performance Ficon for z). Of course also every other aspect of z/OS 1.11 is covered. I've programmed a lot in the past, so it's nice to see that ISPF finally has an HX line command. But you know how I think about that : Xedit already had this for ages.

So, definitely worth using this Redbook when you start implementing z/OS 1.11

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mainframe Hacking : Fact or Fiction ?

The December-January edition of z/Journal just came out and as usual there are some interesting articles in it. I don't want to sum them all up, but here are a few that caught my particular attention. The first one is the title of this post. You know the answer to that question ? Of course you do ! There's also an interesting article on the implementation of Linux on System z at Metlife. It illustrates that this is definitely not a mainframers only exercise, as we also already mentioned when writing about Mark Post's 'Linux Installation Planning' article. Focusing on the DB2 articles there's an interesting one on 'SQL Performance Tuning for Application Developers', an often overlooked item. And there are the '11 Rules of the Road for DBAs' by Craig Mullins (Rule #6 : Don't Panic).

As the end of the year is approaching we also see some speculations for 2010 popping up. Is the z11 imminent ? Will it be announced second half of 2010 ? Will there be a new software pricing mechanism announced with it ? What's the Future of Tape ?

As I always say, just check it out !

Oh, by the way, as my mother-tongue is Dutch I've learned two new words today. I don't think they're actually used on a daily basis but now I know what 'enshroud' and 'curmudgeon' mean. Do you ?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IBM Announcement : withdrawal of OSA-Express2 1000 Base-T

Following the withdrawal from marketing of the Crypto-Express2 card on the z10, we now have the withdrawal from marketing of the OSA-Express2 1000 Base-T Card : 'Hardware withdrawal: OSA-Express2 1000BASE-T Ethernet and TKE 5.3 LIC for System z (ZG09-0993)'. Read it carefully, because I was a bit confused myself too. I first had the impression it was also for the z9, but then I realized there would be no replacement for it on the z9. OSA-Express3 1000 Base-T is only available on the z10. For the z9 the announcement is only about TKE 5.3 LIC which is replaced by TKE 6.0 LIC.

Planned date : December 31, 2009. Oh, and keep in mind, as we mentioned earlier, the z9 itself is withdrawn from marketing effective June 30, 2010.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sampling Techdocs : September - November 2009

Here we are again with some new and interesting reading material from TechDocs.
  • Presentation : I'm not a dummy, but ...
    Interesting presentation on Websphere on z/OS for near-dummies like me. "In this presentation, the speaker will provide you with some more knowledge of WebSphere on z/OS. Key concepts, terminology and configurations will be discussed."
    This is just one of the many presentation from the Share Summer 2009 conference. If you want to see more, take a look at the Proceedings page at

  • Presentation : DS8000 Data Replication Best Practices
    Nice presentation on DS8000 Copy Services Best Practices, Key concepts of Data Replication technology, Planning for Data replication (configuration, data collection, Bandwidth studies ...) and some case studies. The audio file is also present.

  • Presentation : IBM DS8000 Storage Allocation Overview Including Thin Provisioning
    This document talks about Storage Allocation concepts, storage allocation specific for DS8000 (incl. types of logical volumes, volume expansion, capacity utilization and planning ...) and of course also about Thin Provisioning.
  • Presentation: z/OS System Management Facility (z/OSMF) & WSC User Experience
    As z/OSMF was introduced a couple of months ago, every one's anxious to find out whether it's really living up to its promises. Well, here's a presentation by Bette Brody giving a detailed overview, lots of installation, configuration and setup details and concluding with a WSC (Washington Systems Center) User Experience. Allthough the last one might have been a bit more extensive.
  • FAQ : IBM System z: Oracle Product Availability and FAQ
    "This document describes in detail the levels of each Oracle solution that is available on IBM System z. The format is an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)." I know that some five years ago I really had to search about every where to find this kind of information. Now it's all nicely brought together in this one document.
  • White Paper : IBM Encrypted Storage Overview and Customer Requirements
    "This document is intended to contain critical information that you will need to know in order to manage IBM encrypted storage and to comply with IBM requirements for using IBM encrypted storage." Look out : it's the word document you need, the .pdf is just a 'Notice regarding Storage Encryption'. Some Topics :Encryption Concepts, Security vs. Accessibility, Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM), DS8000 Disk Encryption, IBM Tape Encryption, Best Practices for Encrypting Storage Environments …
Well that's it for now. As I always say : just check them out !

Monday, November 30, 2009

GSE, z/OS and zPrime

About a week ago I attended the GSE z/OS working group meeting here in Belgium. The presentations are now available at the download page of the GSE z/OS website. This time the 'crowd-puller' definitely was P. Viebrock from Neon Software on zPrime. It was Pauls last presentation before returning to the States as he had been touring through Europe to present zPrime. It was my first real presentation I had on zPrime and it also shed some light on how it works. No explicit details, though. You can find that presentation as well on the GSE z/OS site, so I won't go into any details.

Are there any new evolutions on zPrime ? Apparantly customers are going into production with it and they actually seem to pay less. Here's a recent update on IBMs reaction to a customer using zPrime who ordered additional specialty engines. Of course it's up to every individual customer to decide whether to proceed with this or not.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Arcati Mainframe User Survey 2010

No need to introduce the Arcati Yearbook I suppose ? If you haven't picked up your 2009 edition, you can still find it over here. People reading this blog know I like this yearbook . . . a lot. That's why I would like to invite you to fill out the Mainframe User Survey for the 2010 edition.

That's it ? No, not exactly. I must admit that last year I was a bit disappointed by the number of participants : only 76, while the document gets downloaded by at least 10,000 people. As Trevor Eddolls also indicated on his blog : "The more users who fill it in, the more accurate and therefore useful the survey report will be". So, just don't think the others will fill it out. If you've seen the Series Lost, you should know by now how hard it is to track down the others, so you'd better do it yourselves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

System z9 : withdrawal from marketing June 2010

Here's the EMEA announcement letter for the withdrawal from marketing of the z9 BC and the z9 EC : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM System z9 - Replacements available (ZG09-0421)'.
"Effective June 30, 2010, IBM® will withdraw from marketing the IBM System z9® Business Class (z9™ BC) and System z9 Enterprise Class (z9 EC), all models, features, and upgrades. This includes all upgrades from IBM eServer™ zSeries® 800 (z800), or IBM eServer zSeries 890 (z890), to z9 BC and IBM eServer zSeries 900 (z900), or IBM eServer zSeries 990 (z990) to z9 EC."
So if you want to do any upgrades on your z9 systems, do it before June, 2010.
Replacements are of course the z10 models.
Mind you, withdrawal from marketing has no impact on the support of the z9 machines.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

IBM Systems Magazine November/December issue

There's a new issue of IBM Systems Magazine. As usual there's an online version and a .pdf version. And I must say, there's a lot of content in this issue. Topics covered are :
  • Features for the next release of DB2 (DB2 X)
  • Security features of DB2 9
  • IBM's Solution Editions
  • Managing BI with IBM Workload Manager
  • Active Energy Manager (focus on using external metering devices in order to monitor more than just IBM servers in your data center)
  • RMF Magic V5

But there's more. I know there's always lots of information to be found on new releases of z/OS, but here's a nice focus on DFSMS talking about performance enhancements (cf. multitrack support of FICON), support of SSD (new policies "to help direct new data'set allocations to SSD volumes", tooling to help identify existing data that might be moved to SSD volumes) and dynamic volume-expansion (DVE).

I'd also like to draw your attention to the article on IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer which promises to reinvent the Data Warehouse. It's a very interesting article indeed presenting quite a new approach to data warehousing. I think this still has to be announced but it sure seems to offer us a first view of the hybrid System z future IBM showed us in the various announcements of their Dynamic Infrastructure.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Migrating to Linux on System z extra reading material

Just last week I gave you some reading material (mainly Redbooks) for people considering a migration to Linux on System z. And here's already an update on that post. I think this only indicates it is really getting a Hot Topic generating lots of interest from all sides.

The article I want to add to this series is 'Linux Installation Planning' by Mark Post published on the z/Journal z/VM & Linux on System z Spotlight. Here's the introduction to the article :
"For many mainframe systems programmers, trying to figure out how to install Linux, whether on the mainframe or midrange hardware, can be an extremely frustrating experience. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever done before. This article offers insight on Linux installation considerations and provides the general information you’ll need for a successful installation as well as what groups you’ll need to get involved. You won’t receive any “answers” from this article because each shop is too different for anything generic to fit well with your environment. This article will provide you with enough insight to ask the right questions. If you get all the answers, the job of installing Linux should be fairly straightforward."
Topics covered are : work together with network, storage and security people, the right architecture, disk storage selection, application selection and requirements, file system selection, backup and restore, network requirements, management tools . . .

By the way, you know you can still get the free evaluation version of z/VM 5.3 and that you can get evaluation versions of SLES or RHEL or free versions of e.g. Fedora ?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

IBM Announcement : Crypto-Express2 withdrawal on z10

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago while talking about the z10 EC GA3 - z10 BC GA2, there was a statement of direction on the withdrawal of the Crypto-Express2 card on both z10s. This has now been officially announced : 'Hardware withdrawal: Crypto Express2 and Crypto Express2-1P features (ZG09-0946)'.

Effective December 31, 2009 Crypto Express2 with two ports (FC 0863) and Crypto Express2-1P with one port for the z10 BC (FC 0870) will be withdrawn from marketing. They will be replace by the Crypto-Express3 (FC 0864) and the Crypto-Express3 1 port card (FC 0871). As you know, the one-port card is only available on the z10 BC.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

RealDolmen System z e-zine N° 14

The 14th issue of our RealDolmen System z Newsletter for our Belgian customers was just released today. As we target the Belgian market, those who read Dutch or French can find this issue and previous ones on the RealDolmen Website : Dutch versions and French Versions.

As there were a lot of announcements on October 20, 2009 we focus on these various announcements including z10 EC GA3, z10 BC GA2, z/VM 6.1, z/OS 1.11, z/OSMF, DS8700, TS7700 and TS3500 enhancements. Furthermore we also have some Hints and Tips, EOS dates for software and operating systems . . . and lots of other interesting stuff.

Enjoy the reading !

ABCs of z/OS System Programming Volume 12 : WLM

Last time I mentioned this series, there was still one gap in the thirteen part series : 'Volume 12: Unknown'. This has changed now as there's a draft available of this redbook which you can find over here. Here's a brief summary of what's being discussed in the four chapters of the book.
  • Chapter 1. Workload manager with an introduction on WLM, workloads, service policies, service classes, service class goals, subsystems supported by WLM . . .
  • Chapter 2. WLM ISPF application on using the application for the creation of service definitions, policies and classes . . .
  • Chapter 3. WLM goal management on WLM functions, performance index (PI), PI calculation, CPU delays, I/O priority management, IRD, (Hyper)PAV . . .
  • Chapter 4. WLM miscellaneous on dynamic load balancing, (resource group) capping . . .
Of course there's a lot more than what I just mentioned, but I hope you're interested enough by now to go and take a look. And as I always say : just check it out !

Monday, November 2, 2009

Migrating to Linux on System z reading material

The picture I used last week came from the redbook : 'Practical Migration to Linux on System z' which was published a couple of weeks ago. This is a well-written publication on migrating/consolidating workloads to Linux on System z. It gives you a high-level tchnical overview on how to tackle such a migration project. Or as the authors state it : "(...) we attempt to present an end-to-end view of the technical challenges and methods necessary to complete a successful migration to Linux on System z". I particularly like the part on the migration analysis starting with z/vm and Linux on system z technical aspects (not too technical) and further focusing on Network analysis, Storage analysis, Application analysis, Database analysis, Backup analysis, Security analysis, Operational analysis and Disaster Recovery and Availability analysis. There are also some example cases.

So for some one who's (even only remotely) considering this kind of migration, this is definitely worth a read.

If you want to go a bit further down this path, you might also be interested in one or more of the following publications :
  • The manual Getting Started with Linux on System z (SC24-6194-00). I really want to quote the titles of most of the chapters of this manual as it gives you a wealth of technical information on the topic : About z/VM, Planning for Linux Virtual Servers, Changing the System Configuration, Configuring the Directory Maintenance Facility, Configuring TCP/IP, Restarting z/VM and checking the system, Creating your first Linux virtual Machine and installing linux, Cloning Linux Virtual servers . . .
  • Redbook z/VM and Linux Operations for z/OS System Programmers. I guess the abstract of this book really sums up accurately what it's about : "Although other books have been written about many of these topics, this book gives enough information about each topic to describe z/VM and Linux on IBM System z operations to somebody who is new to both environments. This book is intended for z/OS programmers and system programmers who are transitioning to the z/VM and Linux on System z environments and who want a translation guide for assistance." You can take this translating very literally. Very often z/VM concepts are compared to the z/OS ones in order to make clear how they are similar to or different from z/OS.
So, if you're about to start with Linux on System z, you have (to my opinion) some nice starting material gathered here, no matter whether or not you're already familiar with z/VM or Linux (on System z).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Picture of the Day

'Network Complexity' is the title of this picture, in case you wondered what you were looking at. In fact I've got it from a Redbook I'm reading for the moment and I just couldn't resist posting it. Hope I made you curious for the book, so I'm going to use this as a cliffhanger for the weekend. I'll tell you all about it on Monday !

z/VM 6.1 Documentation

As I was reading about the new z/VM 6.1 announcements I came across several z/VM information pages. So I thought I might as well gather them here . . . with focus on z/VM 6.1.
Enjoy the reading !

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Preview announcement : z/VSE 4.3

I'm concluding my tour of last weeks announcements with the preview announcement of z/VSE 4.3 : 'Preview: IBM z/VSE Version 4 Release 3 - More capacity for future growth (ZA09-0028)'. This is really a preview as the planned availability for the fourth quarter of 2010 is still one year away. Here's a summary of the new functionalities from the IBM z/VSE page :
  • "Virtual storage constraint relief:
    Allows customers with growing (CICS) workloads and/or those who want to consolidate their z/VSE systems to satisfy their increased needs of limited 24-bit storage.
  • Ease of use through four digit device addresses:
    Provides more flexibility and infrastructure simplification in mixed IT environments consisting of z/VSE, z/VM, Linux on System z and/or z/OS.
  • Exploitation of innovative IBM System z10 technology:
    • Dynamically add logical CPs without preplanning; allows increasing the capacity of the z/VSE system dependent on workload needs.
    • Large page (1 megabytes page) support for data spaces to even better exploit large processor storage.
    • FICON Express8 for faster data access.
  • Enhanced Storage Options.
  • Networking, security and auditability enhancements.
  • DOS/VS RPG II support for CICS Transaction Server for VSE/ESA (CICS TS). Support will also be made available on z/VSE V4.2."
If you want more information, the announcement letter is elaborating on every above aspect. As was also already announced in an earlier statement of direction, z/VSE V4.3 will no longer offer CICS/VSE V2.3 as part of the z/VSE V4.3 base. And there's one new "statement of general direction (...) z/VSE intends to provide an IPv6 solution that will enable z/VSE to participate in an IPv6 network".

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

IBM Announcement z/VM 6.1

z/VM 6.1 already had a preview announcement in July. Now, here's the official announcement : 'IBM z/VM V6.1 - Foundation for future virtualization growth (ZP09-0459)'. Usually we need significant changes (pricing mechanism, technology) to trigger a new version. Here the trigger is definitely the fact that z/VM 6.1 implements a new Architecture Level Set (ALS) available only on the IBM System z10 EC and System z10 BC and future generations of System z servers. There are indeed some functionalities making use of System z10 only functionalities. Here's a short review of the new functions :
  • Exploitation of the System z10 server cache management instructions to help improve the performance of z/VM virtual networking for guest-to-guest streaming workloads
  • Better integration with IBM Systems Director by providing the z/VM Manageability Access Point (zMAP) agent (including the Platform Agent for Linux) with z/VM V6.1 for easier agent installation
  • Support for FICON Express8 – designed to provide faster access to data (link data rate of 8 Gbps)
  • Support for Crypto Express3 – the next generation cryptographic feature for System z (z/VM support is planned to be available in November 2009)
  • Support for IBM System Storage DS8000 Extended Address Volumes (planned availability: 12/2009)
  • Inclusion of several functional enhancements previously delivered in the z/VM V5.4 service stream
As I already indicated with the preview announcement the real interesting part lies in the Statements of Direction. As it seems that these will not be realized in 6.1 but in later releases, it's not sure that many customers will really want to upgrade to z/VM 6.1. As I've already read in the IBMVM Listserv List people will tend to wait for releases that do include the statements of direction. Surely as the support for z/VM 5.4 has been extended to September 2013 for people still running on System z9 or older systems.

Now what's so exciting about these SODs ? Well, they will certainly mean a step forward in Disaster/Recovery, manageability and Continuous availability for z/VM and zLinux. I'll just repeat them from my previous post :
  • z/VM Single System Image
    IBM intends to provide capabilities that permit multiple z/VM systems to collaborate in order to provide a single system image. This is planned to allow all z/VM member systems to be managed, serviced, and administered as one system across which workloads can be deployed. The single system image is intended to share resources among all member systems.
  • z/VM Live Guest Relocation
    IBM intends to further strengthen single system image support by providing live guest relocation. This is planned to provide the capability to move a running Linux virtual machine from one single system image member system to another. This is intended to further enhance workload management across a set of z/VM systems and to help clients avoid planned outages for virtual servers.
Here's a picture illustrating the Single System Image implementation.

Click on image for larger version in new window

Planned availability for z/VM 6.1 : October 23, 2009 except for some features as indicated above.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Upcoming events Belgium (+ webcasts)

I've just updated the events agenda in the right hand column of the blog. I just would like to point out three events which I think will be quite interesting to follow.

First of all there's a webcast next week on November 3, 2009 (5 p.m. Brussels Time) on DB2 X for z/OS technical preview. This is about the new version of DB2 on z/OS and from what I've heard of it so far, it looks like a very promising release. You can register over here.

Secondly, for people near Brussels, I would definitely recommend the XIV event at the SAP Lounge in Vilvoorde on November 9, 2009 : 'XIV - The New Generation of Storage'. If only because it's with storage-visionary Moshe Yanai himself, the creator/inventor of XIV Storage. A must for every one who's remotely interested in XIV and Storage in general. You can register over here.

Thirdly I would like to recommend the 'PoT - Introduction to zVM and Linux on System z' at IBM Luxembourg on December 8-10, 2009. This is a three day Proof of Concept with a good mix of presentations on z/VM, zLinux, Cognos, DB2, Linux on System z monitoring ... and various installation labs. I'm practically sure there will follow PoTs in Belgium, but I mention the Luxemburg version anyway as they had to refuse subscriptions for the last one in Brussels and . . . I can testify from first-hand experience it's defintely worth your time. You can register over here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

TS7700 and TS3500 : new functions

For the TS7700 and TS3500 there wasn't actually a real announcement last week. As far as I can see, there were only firmware upgrades for which no announcement is needed.

You can find the new functions for the TS3500 Tape Library R9A on the IBM support pages or on the TS3500 Information Center. Here's a short summary :
  • Support for greater than 6260/6887 slots : you can now have 15.000 slots for 3592 media and 20.000 slots for LTO media.
  • Inventory Self-Correction
  • Key Path Diagnostics via the Web Specialist
  • Automatically set HD slot offline for specific errors
  • SNMP Audit Logging
  • SNMP traps for EKM/TKLM communication failure, tape drive TapeAlert 18, new unassigned cartridge, and all doors closed
  • Added Offline slot count on System Summary web page
The new functions of the TS7700 R1.6 can be found in the data sheet. Here's a short summary :
  • 2-way grid has been enhanced up to 4-way grid support
  • TS7720 and TS7740 can now be combined in the same grid. This "allows a TS7720 to use a TS7740 as an archival installation providing full back end tape functionality"
  • Virtual WORM Tape media are supported : "microcode capabilities allow the TS7700 Virtualization Engine to support a virtual equivalent of write once read many (WORM) tape media".
  • Machine code install should be improved and installation time should be significantly reduced.

Friday, October 23, 2009

IBM announcement - DS8000 R5 - DS8700

Second in row for last Tuesdays announcements is the DS8700. Yet again, we have an announcement for each model type : 'IBM System Storage DS8700 high-performance flagship high-end disk addresses your business and financial needs' (2421 : ZG09-0832, 2422 : ZG09-0903, 2423 : ZG09-0904 and 2424 : ZG09-0905).

When you take a look at the summarizing table in the data sheet, you won't find a lot of difference between the DS8300 and the DS8700.
First of all there's the larger cache and Non Volatile Storage (NVS) that go up from maximum 256GB-8GB to 384GB-12GB.
Then there's of course the new processor where instead of the Power 5 2.2 GHz 4-way you now have the Power 6 4.7 GHz 2- or 4-way. The Power 6 is DS8700 only and allthough the DS8100 and the DS8300 will still be marketed, they will remain Power 5.
Thirdly, you also have to look at what's no longer there : ESCON has disappeared from the picture and I think that makes sense. I'm pretty sure that whoever is considering a DS8700 nowadays has migrated from ESCON to FICON.
Then there's another feature that's no longer supported ; LPAR-mode. I would've missed it, because the announcement only briefly mentions that 8300-LPAR model conversion is not supported. But Tony Pearson gives an explanation about this in his blog post on the DS8700 : customers just didn't seem to be interested in it and "it turned out that supporting both LPAR and non-LPAR modes merely doubled the testing effort, so IBM got rid of it for the DS8700".

So, what's the really new part ? I would paraphrase by saying : IBM made it "better, stronger, faster". I guess I'm getting old if a quote like this comes to my mind. But I have one consolation : if you recognize it, you must be getting old too, no ? Back to business and I'll once again quote Tony Pearson :
"On the hardware side, it uses faster POWER6 processors instead of POWER5+, has faster PCI-e buses instead of the RIO-G loops, and faster four-port device adapters (DAs) for added bandwidth between cache and drives".
I think this pretty much sums up the improvements that have been made for this new DS8000 generation. So what does this mean for you ? The DS8700 "can enable over a 50% performance improvement in I/O operations per second in transaction processing workload environments. Additionally, sequential workloads can receive as much as 150% bandwidth improvement".

Planned availability : Today October 23, 2009. The DS8100 and DS8300 can be upgraded to a DS8700. This hardware installation MES will be available on January 6, 2010.

(*) As I'm sure no one recognized the quote : it's from the opening sequence of Six Million Dollar Man !

Thursday, October 22, 2009

IBM Announcement : z10 EC GA3 and z10 BC GA2

As I told you in my last post, IBM made a huge amount of announcements last Tuesday. Here's a first one on improvements for the z10 : 'IBM System z10 - Delivering security-rich offerings to protect your data (ZG09-0798)'. In the past, we sometimes saw huge amounts of new features at a new GA, but this time I think it's rather limited. Still, there are some interesting new things. I'll give you three of them. You can explore the rest of them in the announcement itself. It's a.o. about STP Enhancements and z/OS Alerts for error conditions, HMC/SE Digitally Signed Firmware . . .
  • Next generation of cryptographic feature with new Crypto-Express3 card
    I'm not that familiar with encryption and stuff, so I'm not going to divert on the new functions. But I do want to mention a statement of direction regarding Crypto-Express2 : "The IBM System z10 EC and z10 BC will be the last servers to offer Crypto Express2 (#0863) as a feature, either as part of a new-build order, or carried forward on an upgrade".
  • Capacity for Planned Events (CPE) enhancement
    As you know 'Capacity for Planned Events' was announced along with the z10 and functions as a kind of equivalent to CBU for planned events. Up to now you could turn on the full available capacity for the machine for a three-day planned period. Now you are able to limit this to the capacity you actually need and this should imply a cost reduction for your CPE activation.
  • Configuration flexibility for OSA-ICC cards
    "You can now exploit the four ports on an OSA-Express3 1000BASE-T Ethernet feature on the z10 EC and z10 BC, or the two ports on an OSA-Express3-2P 1000BASE-T on a z10 BC, when defining the feature as an Integrated Console Controller (OSA-ICC)" with CHPID type OSC. This means e.g. on a four-port card there are two PCI-E adapters with each two ports. But until now you lost one of the two ports when defining one of them with CHPID type OSC. This limitation has now been removed !
There's one other Statement of Direction I would like to mention : "On future System z servers, IBM intends to support optional overhead cabling. (...). Overhead cabling is designed to provide an additional option and increased flexibility, to help remove floor hazards in a non-raised-floor environment, and to help increase air flow in a raised-floor environment".

If you're interested in specific features, watch out for the availability dates. Most of the features, like the Crypto Express3 card, will be available on November 20, 2009. The Improved Capacity for Planned Events options become available on December 31, 2009 and the OSA multi-port support for CHPID type OSC is scheduled somewhere in the first quarter of 2010.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 20 Announcements and Dynamic Infrastructure

You may be thinking there were lots of announcements yesterday, there was a new announcement about Dynamic Infrastructure and Mainframe Watch Belgium doesn't seem to be commenting on it as quickly as before. Well, I must admit, first of all there were really a lot of announcements, but that's not the main reason. Everything is presented in function of the Dynamic Infrastructure vision of IBM. And that's the one I'm really struggling with. I'm trying to see the relevance of it all for mainframe and I don't think I have really come to terms with it . . . yet. So I'll stick to the basic concepts : improve service, manage risk and reduce cost. I'm sure the product announcements are very valuable but when I hear all the theories, the word that actually comes to my mind is hineininterpretiering. If you don't know it, just look it up, you'll know what I mean.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm actually quite happy to stick to three concepts that I've known for quite some years now which were first launched in October 2003, already six years ago now : Value, Innovation and Community. Yes, the Mainframe Charter. When I look at the z10 announcements that were made yesterday the new items might as well have been divided into these three categories.

Having expressed my confusion on the topic, what can you expect from me in the upcoming posts :
  • z10 EC GA2 and z10 BC GA3
  • DS8700 announcement
  • New functions of the TS7700 and TS3500
  • z/VM 6.1 announcement
  • z/VSE 4.3 Preview announcement
  • Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V3.9

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Webcast : Responding to Today's Demands with a Dynamic Infrastructure

Next Tuesday IBM is going to have "some important announcements" on Dynamic Infrastructure. Following earlier February and April announcements, you might call this the third wave of announcements around Dynamic Infrastructure. I quote the invitation :

"As the world becomes more instrumented, intelligent, and interconnected, the demands on your infrastructure continue to grow. IBM continues to chart a strategy to help you deliver a new kind of infrastructure. One that helps you reduce costs, manage risks and improve service. A dynamic infrastructure — designed for a smarter planet.

In this special 45-minute Webcast, you’ll hear from IBM Executives and clients about a host of new offerings that deliver and support a dynamic infrastructure:

The names of the speakers may already give you an idea of some of the content that will be dealt with : Rich Esposito Vice President, ITS&A Services,Middleware Services, IBM Global Technology Services, Al Zollar General Manager, IBM Tivoli Software, Rod Adkins Senior Vice President, Development & Manufacturing, IBM Systems & Technology Group and Curtis Tearte General Manager, Storage Systems, IBM Systems & Technology Group.

The Webcast takes place at 11.00 EST, 15.00 GMT, 17.00 Brussels Time.
Link for information and registration :

And to top it off, here's a video invitation for the event :

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

System z ITSO Workshop Tour 2009

Just like last year IBM organizes some System z Workshops in November. For Benelux it's at the IBM Forum in Brussels and at the IBM Training Center in Amsterdam. These workshops are "completely devoted to the latest technology IBM System z Platform, taught by several 'guru' members of the IBM ITSO Department of Poughkeepsie". There are 5 1-day workshops which focus on :
  • System z Hardware Update
  • Technical Seminar on z/OS. Latest Release V1 R11
  • Parallel Sysplex update and High Availability
  • System z Virtualization (z/VM and Linux)
  • System z Networking Technologies Update
Links for dates, content, enrollment prices etc : Belgium and Netherlands. You can also launch a search for other countries. You will also notice that there are some other workshops as well (e.g. on DB2, CICS Transaction Server, IMS ...).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Belgian Mainframe students looking for a training place

I've been discussing the Academic Initiative, young mainframers or the lack of it in several previous posts. So here's my little contribution in finding a training place for some of our Belgian mainframe students.

Hogeschool Gent (a Belgian college) is one of those schools offering a mainframe specialization. This does not only involve following some courses but also a real life training period in an actual mainframe environment. In other words : in your company ! Due to the succes of this mainframe specialization (yes, really !), the school is still looking for some companies who want to give their students a chance for a real life opportunity.

What does it involve ? Two students will work out a very concrete project you have in mind. The goal is to have a well defined project on which they will be working full time in your company for about 3 months. They are assisted by a tutor from your company who is appointed to them.

If you're interested and want to have more details, please contact Angeline Van Achter who is responsible for the traineeships at Hogeschool Gent. She has all the additional information you need. Or you can drop me a note as well. You know where to find me.

So stop saying there are no young people choosing mainframe. There are. And they need you. And don't forget : you'll need them ! One last note : we see that companies offering this traineeship to students are very proud of their students, of what they accomplish and they often offer them to stay after they graduate from school.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

IBM Announcement : IMS Version 11

I started out my programming career in a production environment where we were using IBM COPICS ... back in the late eighties. COPICS was one of the first IBM ERP products. Ididn't even know the phrase back then. If I remember correctly we were using VM, VSE, CICS, COBOL, VSAM and DL/I. At a certain moment there was a study to convert the database to DB2 as DB2 was the future and DL/I already seemed to have become a thing of the past. Still, the conversion never took place.

And look now : about a year ago IBM made a pre-announcement of IMS Version 11. Now here's the announcement itself : 'IBM IMS V11 easier than ever (ZP09-0352)'. And IMS is going as strong as ever with lots of companies still heavily relying on it. I'll just give you the highlights and some extra reading materials.

The highlights :

IMS™ V11 Database Manager enhancements

  • IMS Open Database support offers direct distributed TCP/IP access to IMS data, providing cost efficiency, enabling application growth, and improving resilience.
  • Broadened Java™ and XML support and tools can ease IMS development and access to IMS data.
  • IMS Fast Path Buffer Manager, Application Control Block library, and Local System Queue Area storage reduction utilize 64-bit storage to improve availability and overall system performance.
  • Enhanced commands and user exits simplify operations and improve availability.

IMS V11 Transaction Manager enhancements

  • IMS Connect (the TCP/IP gateway to IMS transactions, operations, and now data) enhancements offer improved IMS flexibility, availability, resilience, and security.
  • Broadened Java and XML tooling eases IMS application development and connectivity, and enhances IMS Web services to assist developers with business transformation.
  • Enhanced commands and user exits simplify operations and improve availability.
  • IMS Application Control Block library and Local System Queue Area reduction utilize 64-bit storage to improve availability and system performance
    Some extra resources :
    • The IBM IMS page
    • Announcement summary
    • There's a teleconference on November 10, 2009 by Rich Lewis (IBM) at 4.00 p.m. GMT. The technical level is 'basic'.
    • IMS V11 presentation in .pdf or .ppt format.
    • There's an interesting post at Mainframe Update on recent enhancements to IMS related software.
    • If you're into IMS, don't forget to check out the Virtual IMS Connection site on a regular basis. They also have a newsletter and regular virtual meetings (webconferences). All earlier newsletters and presentations can be found on the Resources page.
    Planned availability date : October 30, 2009

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    Short Takes

    Here some short messages on publications, sites, events, podcasts . . .
    • : Mainframe Systems Programming
      I like to refer to some good or promising sites once in a while and this is one of them. This site wants to collect all kinds of information for the mainframe systems programmer. It has a very nice section on mainframe websites and blogs itself even with a small review on each site. The homepage is also interesting because the Something to read part intends to gather information from different sites so you have a central point referring to all kinds of new information which is mainframe related. It has my blog included and I hope others will follow.
    • When did IBM first open its offices in my town ?
      This is a nice FAQ I came across via the IBM-MAIN discussion list. It's from the IBM Archives site and there are other interesting, intriguing, funny questions like e.g. 'What is the origin of IBM’s “THINK” motto?' or 'What was the IBM type ...' starting from Type 1 up to Type 7656, What is the origin of the term “Big Blue?”. It also gives a historical overview of the mainframe.
    • Abis DB2 newsletter
      Recently, Guido Indesteege from ABIS (a Belgian Training & Consulting Company) drew my attention to their DB2 newsletter. This is a newsletter covering application programming, best practices, maintenance, new functionalities . . . Unfortunately for some readers : it only appears in Dutch !

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    BCOOL with COBOL

    COBOL has turned 50 on September 18, 2009. Though I spent quite some years programming COBOL myself, I didn't pay that much attention to it. But yesterday I came across this page on : '20 things you might not know about COBOL'. Nice. Worth mentioning ? Perhaps.

    And then yesterday evening my eldest son came from school and told me he wrote his first COBOL program. Coincidence, synchronicity, how do you call that ? So of course I asked what he wrote and they did some simple calculations to start with. "Oh yeah, the compute statement, no ?". I just couldn't resist it. Had to play the smart ass (not a COBOL expression). But still, it's nice to see that some schools still see the relevance of teaching that old COBOL language. By the way, it's also one of those schools participating in the Academic initiative. So, they're also offering a mainframe education.

    So that's why I'm posting the link after all. So my son and his co-students can perhaps pick up the relevance of COBOL through this little slide show. And if they want to challenge their teacher why they still have to study COBOL they might throw in this quote from Edsger Dijkstra : "The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offence".

    By the way : BCOOL is an acronym of COBOL.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    A draft, a book and a technote

    If you haven't got a clue what I'm talking about, then shame on you : three types of publications you find on the IBM Redbook site. The book is the final product while a draft is a publication that's not yet entirely finalized, but is already worth publishing on the site. A Technote is a short, usually very practical text, on one particular subject.

    The book : 'DB2 9 for z/OS: Distributed Functions'
    It consists of 4 parts
    • Distributed Database architecture and configurations : the authors "introduce the concepts and protocols of DRDA and describe the layout and the components of the possible configurations where DB2 for z/OS can play a client or server role"
    • Setup and Configuration : "a description of the steps needed for the installation of a distributed environment"
    • Distributed Applications : Application programming and data sharing
    • Performance and problem determination
    The book also contains lots of samples.
    And if you live in the Belgian region, you might want to go to the joint DB2-CICS-SOA GSE meeting next Thursday where there's also a session on 'Talking with DB2 for z/OS : today's distributed connectivity options'.

    The Draft : 'Batch modernization on z/OS'
    "As a large portion of the workload on z/OS is processed in a batch mode, it is not difficult to justify a dedicated publication on this matter.
    These days there are many different technologies that can be put at work in a batch environment on z/OS. This Redbook demonstrates that batch on z/OS is not only COBOL, JCL and a job scheduler anymore. This book also demonstrates that z/OS offers a sophisticated environment for batch that you may not have implemented on z/OS yet.
    (...) The book also includes a chapter on future developments in batch processing."

    The Technote : 'Converting LPAR Weights to Logical Processor Allocation'
    Plain and simple, but useful : "This Tip describes how to calculate the portion of a shared logical processor assigned to an LPAR."
    --> Link seems to be no longer working. Workaround : you can Google for lpar weight redbooks. It gives you the non-working link to the document, but you can still find it via the 'in cache' link.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    My third Blogoversary

    Time flies . . . when you're having fun !

    Three years already and it seems like yesterday that I was writing my first post. I just took a look at the number of posts I made and I see I'm living up to my promises. I'm still hitting an average of two posts per week.

    The one thing I miss from time to time is some interactivity. Don't be shy to leave a comment or drop me a note or a mail. I might be having second thought about Twitter, but it sure has a lot more interactivity going on. On the other hand, I see Twitter more as a source of references to the real content that's still more often found in blogs.

    So I'm just going to stop this with the same words I posted last year : thanks for stopping by from time to time and don't hesitate to leave some comments if you have any kind of remarks.

    As Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (from The Simpsons) would say : "Thank you, Come again".

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    New initiative : Mainframe Linux Wiki

    I think this is an initiative worth mentioning and I hope it'll be a successfull one. It was cross-posted by Mark Post on the Linux-390, IBMVM, and IBM-Main Discussion lists : "With the assistance of Marist College (and Velocity Software who owns the domain name), I've put up a Wiki at for people to contribute content". This should become a wiki for mainframe Linux an z/VM and it's now up to people like you and me who want to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of us.

    Suggested topics so far include :
    For the moment only the 'Technical Presentations' has content with already a nice collection of presentations from previous Share, WAVV, System z Expo ... meetings.

    As I said, I hope this becomes a success story !

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    Sampling Techdocs : July - August 2009

    Here we are again with some new and interesting reading material from TechDocs. I've mentioned the first two before, but hey, it was holiday season back then and they are really valuable documents.
    • Presentation : z/OS System Initialization Logic (IPL)
      "This presentation describes general processing involved initializing z/OS System from the IPL process until the system is ready to start JES2 or JES3." The major steps described are : the hardware process of loading z/OS, the loading and initialization of the nucleus, the initialization of general system resources, Master Scheduler Initialization. All I can say about this one : veeeeerrrrrrryyyyyyy nice !

    • Technical Document : OSA-ICC experiences. Usage guide for z/OS and z/VM
      This is a very nice document for any one who wants to install the OSA-Express Integrated Console Controller (OSA-ICC) support of the 1000BASE-T card. It really takes you by the hand through chapters like OSA-ICC definitions on HMC, OSA-ICC VTAM Definition on z/OS, Implementing an OSA-ICC connection for z/VM and Connect to TSO using PCOMM & OSA-ICC. If you're still a first time OSA-ICC installer, this is the document to start with.

    • Technical Document : Restore Server Time Protocol configuration information across a Power on Reset
      One can now save an "STP configuration across PORs and power failures for a single server and a two server STP-only CTN". This 2-page document outlines "the prerequisites, set up required, and steps needed to enable this functionality".
    • Flash : Withdrawal of z/OS Function Beginning with z/OS Release 5 Through Current z/OS Release
      "This flash lists those items IBM has announced intention for removal in a specific z/OS release. These items have already been announced in previous IBM z/OS announcement letters. This is a collection of those items being removed. Consideration should be given to this list when planning your migration to a z/OS release". The Flash has been updated for z/OS 1.11
    • White Paper : IBM Encrypted Storage Overview and Customer Requirements
      "This document is intended to contain critical information that you will need to know in order to manage IBM encrypted storage and to comply with IBM requirements for using IBM encrypted storage". It's the Word document you need. It contains chapters on Encryption Concepts, TKLM (Tivoli Key Lifecycle Management), DS8000 Disk Encryption, Tape encryption, Best Practices for Encrypting Storage Environments, IBM Guidelines and Requirements for Encrypting Storage Installations and IBM Guidelines and Requirements for Key Server Management.
    Well that's it for now. As I always say : just check them out !

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Upcoming Events (Belgium) and Webcasts

    You know I keep an agenda up to date on this blog, but those reading the blog via RSS (or other) feeds might never see it. So, since I see some really interesting events coming up, I thought I'd mention them here too.

    If I have to put some in the spotlights, I think the CICS Web Services Webcasts will be interesting. Oh, by the way, I stumbled across these through @IBM_CICS on Twitter. So Twitter might prove usefully after all ;-). I see some very interesting agendas for the joint GSE meetings on September 23 and 24. And I'm following the three day PoT on zVM and zLinux.

    September 11, 2009
    GSE Security Group Meeting on z/OS Security

    Information and registration

    September 22, 2009
    Webcast: CICS Web services Part 1 - Development

    Information and registration

    September 23, 2009
    Joint GSE z/OS and GSE Storage Working Group Meeting at IBM Forum Brussels

    Information and registration

    September 24, 2009
    Combined GSE DB2, CICS and SOA Working Group Meeting at IBM Forum Brussels

    Information and registration

    Webcast: CICS Web services Part 2 - Deployment

    Information and registration

    September 29, 2009
    PoT - Introducing Web 2.0 in Your Company at IBM Forum Brussels

    Information and registration

    October 9, 2009
    PoT - COBOL - PL/I Application Development for IMS at IBM Forum Brussels

    Information and registration

    October 5-8, 2009
    IDUG Europe in Rome

    Information and registration

    October 14-16, 2009
    PoT - Introduction to zLinux & zVM at IBM Forum Brussels
    Information and registration

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    FICON Express8 Performance

    In a previous post I pointed out the announcement of the new FICON Express8 cards. Now there's already a white paper on the performance. Here's a graph taken from that study :

    You can find the entire white paper over here : 'IBM System z10 FICON Express8 Channel Performance Version 1'.

    Thanks to Jan Tits from IBM Belgium for pointing this out to me.

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    Red Hat Webinars : Get the Hype on System z

    Yesterday I attended the joint IBM - Red Hat - RealDolmen event on Red Hat on System z. There were some really nice presentations. If you couldn't attend the session, I'll give you the links as soon as they're available on the web.

    Red Hat really has a very dynamic Benelux team and I guess it's no different elsewhere. They have dedicated people focusing on System z and if you still think zLinux and Suse are synonyms, then think again. In a couple of years they now have gained a share of almost 40% of the Linux on System z market.

    If you want to learn more about it or for that matter about Linux on System z in general, you should really have a look at the three webinars they are giving on Red Hat on System z. I just watched the playback of the first one : 'What's all the Hype about System z?' and I must say it's really worth spending an hour's time on it. It's also a great presentation for people not involved into mainframe up to now. It gives e.g. some explanations on 'mainframe-speak' and it elaborates on things we use to take for granted. And that are exactly the arguments you'll need to convince non-mainframers of the value of the mainframe. Ok, you got the message : check it out !

    There are two more webinars coming up :

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Putting a new face on z/OS

    I borrowed the title of this post from an article on z/OS in a CCR2 newsletter dating from 2005. Oddly enough, that almost exactly matches the title of the announcement of z/OSMF : 'IBM z/OS Management Facility V1.11 -- A new face for z/OS (ZP09-0276)'. I can't resist to give you a quote from that article.
    "z/OS users today must master an assortment of user interface (UI) styles: TSO command line, ISPF panels, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), even Web-style UIs. To complete a task such as applying service, they often must interact with different UIs while flipping through a variety of publications. That's today. On the horizon is a new z/OS management console that will be headquarter central for z/OS management tasks".
    So, the goal was "to simplify and modernize z/OS management for 'zNextGen' - the new generation of IBM System z9 and eServer zSeries IT professionals" in order to "make life easier for z/OS novices and experts alike".

    A year later we had the announcement of 'IBM's Five year march to Mainframe Simplification'. The goal was "to enable technology administrators and computer programmers to more easily program, manage and administer a mainframe system -- as well as to increasingly automate the development and deployment of applications for the mainframe environment". Areas on which to focus were automated configuration checking, modernizing the mainframe user interface, improving software asset management technologies and modernizing the mainframe's development environment with visual tools. If we look at these targets wen can definitely say that progress has been made. Look e.g. at the development environment. But there's still room for improvement.

    So, now, here's z/OSMF (z/OS Management Facility). It's "a new product for z/OS that provides support for a modern, Web-browser based management console for z/OS (...) The z/OS Management Facility is intended to enable system programmers to more easily manage and administer a mainframe system by simplifying day to day operations and administration of a z/OS system. More than just a graphical user interface, the z/OS Management Facility is intelligent. Automated tasks can help reduce the learning curve and improve productivity". It surely offers some interesting features and is definitely worth trying out. An example ? "Tasks taking up to 20 minutes, such as collecting and sending dump data, can now take as little as 30 seconds (or 8 key clicks) with z/OS Management Facility". This looks impressive and as far as I've heard, it actually is.

    Here's an image of the browser user interface :

    Click on picture for larger view in new window

    For the moment you see four functionalities on the tree menu on the left :
    • Configuration contains the Configuration Assistant task which provides a guided interface for configuring TCP/IP policy-based networking functions.
    • Problem Determination contains the Incident Log task which provides a consolidated list of problems, along with the details and the diagnostic data captured and saved with each problem. It also facilitates sending the diagnostic data for further diagnosis
    • Links contains links to sites for system management tools and information. Some initial useful links are provided
    • z/OSMF Administration contains administrative tasks that allow you to manage z/OSMF users, roles, and links
    I took this from the latest z/OS Hot Topics Newsletter which has several introductory articles on z/OSMF. There's also a z/OSMF Web page and at the bottom of it you'll also find the Program Directory and the User's Guide.

    Oh, and have I told you that it's completely free. It's sold as IPLA software with a cost of zero dollars and a yearly S&S of also zero dollars, which is pretty much the same in euro. So, there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't give it a try !

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    The zPrime discussion - Violation vs. Exploitation ?

    Here's an interesting blog entry at Data Direct which was brought to my attention by Mike Nelson : 'Violation vs. Exploitation: IBM Clarifies Authorized Use of IBM Specialty Engines/Processors' by Gregg Willhoit, Chief Architect at Progress DataDirect.

    There was already a letter form Mark Anzani (IBM) circulating regarding IBMs position towards zPrime, which you can also find on the DataDirect blog. Apparantly Gregg Willhoit asked for more information and he now reproduces a new letter by Mark Anzani on his blog. You can read it over here.

    I think the message remains the same : "non-Eligible Workload running on the Specialty Engine will cause the software running on the Specialty Engine to be chargeable" (first letter) allthough perhaps a little bit more explicitely stated in the second letter : "To be clear, if customers use Specialty Processors/Engines to process workloads beyond the IBM authorizations, then customers must pay the hardware, software and maintenance pricing associated with full CP capacity". In addition Mark Anzani says "In particular, IBM sells (...) MES upgrades for customers who wish to convert Specialty Engines/Processors to CP capacity in order to execute general purpose workloads".

    Still, I'm curious how this will turn out in the long run. Aren't you ?

    IBM Announcement - Enterprise Cobol for z/OS V4.2

    Almost two years after Enterprise Cobol for z/OS V4.1 IBM yesterday announced 'IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, V4.2 (ZP09-0281)'. It becomes available on August 28, 2009. Emphasis is on enhancements to XML parsing and usablility improvements.

    The highlights
    • Further enhancements to XML parsing using the z/OS XML System Services parser
    • A new facility that lets users customize message severity
    • A new compiler option, BLOCK0, lets programs take advantage of system-determined block size for QSAM output files
    • COBOL user-defined words such as data names and program names can now include the underscore character (_)
    • Compiler listings display CICS options in effect
    • Enterprise COBOL applications using object-oriented syntax for Java interoperability can now run with Java 5 or Java 6
    Enterprise Cobol V4.2 requires z/OS 1.9 or later.

    Customers running on earlier versions should know that V3.3 was End of Support as of April 30, 2007. The versions 3.4 and 4.1 haven't been given an End of Support date yet.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Red Alert for z/OS 1.8, 1.9 and 1.10 with fix and HSM PATCH enabled for OA22507

    Here's a new Red Alert :

    Possible data loss for z/OS 1.8, 1.9 and 1.10 with fix and HSM PATCH enabled for OA22507


    Only users of HSM with the PATCH enabled for APAR OA22507 to change GDG scratch processing during migration are affected. With this function enabled HSM may erroneously invalidate data sets which would prevent the data sets from being moved to a new tape volume during RECYCLE processing. The data may be lost if no backup exists.

    Please see APAR OA30149 for additional information and actions to determine exposure.

    Recommended Actions:
    Please remove the PATCH to prevent the problem until fix for OA30149 is available and can be installed.

    If you want to have en overview of all past Red Alerts, then take a look over here. You can also subscribe on the same page so you'll be notified by mail of any future Red Alert.