Thursday, July 30, 2009

Joint IBM - RedHat event

Now I'm really taking a break. Don't expect any new posts for about 3 weeks. But I want to use this last post to make some publicity for a joint IBM - RedHat event that's taking place at the IBM Forum in Brussels on September 3, 2009.

My company RealDolmen is one of two premier business partners of RedHat in Belgium and we're the only one who's also a certified business partner for IBM System z.

So to all my Belgian readers, consider this as an invitation for the event.
You will find the same invitation at the Registration page.

The reliability and security of the mainframe has been proven for decades. Linux has established the same reputation for Intel architectures within only 10 years.

Can you imagine the combination of IBM Mainframe with Red Hat Enterprise Linux? Bank of New Zealand bought an IBM System z10 Mainframe only to run Linux on it. Consolidating about 130 servers into a single one! And the result? 38% savings in energy cost; less heat, CO2 emissions and regained space.

IBM and Red Hat invite you to learn about the reality of the winning combination of mainframe and Linux. Get all the insights why Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM System z10 will make your IT life easier.

    What: 'Server consolidation on IBM System z with Red Hat Enterprise Linux'
    When: Thursday 3 September 2009 from 12.00-17.00
    Where:IBM Forum Brussels - Belgium
    Avenue du Bourget/Bourgetlaan 42, B-1130


  • 12:00 - 12:30 Lunch
  • 12:30 - 12:40 Welcome
  • 12:40 - 12:50 About the IBM & Red Hat alliance
  • 12:50 - 13:30 System z Hardware update and introduction
  • 13:30 - 14:15 An introduction to Linux on the mainframe
  • 14:15 - 14:30 Coffee Break
  • 14:30 - 15:15 Linux on System z10 Solutions for your data center
  • 15:15 - 15:45 Red Hat subscription model and offerings for mainframe
  • 15:45 - 16:15 Why and how to conduct a Proof of Concept?
  • 16:15 - 17:00 Success with System z10: Clients success stories
  • 17:00 - 18:00 Closing and drinks

If Mainframe sounds expensive to you, then you really should attend and ask about the System z10 BC Enterprise Linux Server. You will be surprised.

Friday, July 24, 2009

T-Rexx Mainframe cartoons

Just a quick one, I can't resist mentioning : Reg Harbeck is putting up a series of mainframe cartoons on the CA EXEC I/O Mainframe blog. In a humorous way, they illustrate some of the arguments used to show the advantages of the mainframe (the T-Rexx character, get it ?) as compared to distributed systems. I'm not sure whether these cartoons are copyright protected, so I'm just going to put one up here. You'll have to go to the blog for the rest of them. If any one wants me to remove it again, just drop me a comment.

Click on the image for larger version in new window

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

FICON Express8 for System z10

I have another (Dutch) blog where I give people all kinds of tips on the use of computers. In my last post I advised people to stay away from their computers during their holidays. You can surely live without it and your mail won't be running away. Don't tell those other readers, but I'm not really able to stick to that myself. So, here I am, in the midst of my own holiday, blogging about mainframe announcements. Shame on me !

Well, today IBM announced FICON Express8 cards (ZG09-0480), mind you, only for System z10 EC and System z10 BC. A small summary :
  • Link data rate of 8 gigabits per second (Gbps) with autonegotiation to 2 or 4 Gbps. So, as mentioned before, no more autonegotiation to 1 Gbps.
  • Performance improvements when transferring small blocks of fixed size data (4k blocks)
  • With FICON Express8 operating at 8 Gbps, performance improvements for large sequential I/O operations can help reduce the duration of your backup/copy operations
  • High Performance FICON for System z supports multitrack operations
Take a good look at the prerequisites. You need System z10 for zHPF and you need appropriate levels of z/OS to support certain functions. You will also have to pay attention whether any additional feature codes are needed on e.g. the DS8000.

Planned availability
  • July 31, 2009: New build systems and MES orders
  • August 21, 2009: FICON support of System Storage DS8000 series for zHPF multitrack operations
Alongside this announcement, there's another one (Hardware withdrawal: Select IBM System z10 Features - ZG09-0270) announcing the withdrawal of FICON Express4 10KM LX, FICON Express4 SX and FICON Express4 4KM LX cards on the z10. As you see it's just the 4-port cards. The 2-port cards on the z10 BC remain available. This withdrawal is effective October 27, 2009.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

zPrime - Webconference

I guess that every one who's blogging is curious how many people are reading their posts and how people come to their blogs. As I was looking at some statistics the other day I noticed that I had lots of people coming via Google with search arguments on zPrime.
I mentioned this before, but for all those people who should've missed it : there's a webconference tonight at 17.30h Brussels time on zPrime. You can find more details in my previous posts on zPrime : 'Neon zPrime Reduces Mainframe TCO' and 'zPrime - some more information'. You can still register over here.
For those who can't attend, if I see a replay coming up, I'll mention it as well.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Major Storage Announcements

Today, IBM made some significant storage announcements in different fields. In this post I'll give you a first reference to some of the most important announcements and the major topics of these announcements.

XIV : Next generation open storage (ZG09-0529 - ZG09-0530)
  • The IBM XIV Storage System Model A14
  • Ranging from 72 to 180 1 TB SATA drives providing a usable capacity from 27 to 79 TB.
  • Up to 24 ports of 4Gb Fibre Channel host connectivity
  • Up to 6 ports of 1Gb iSCSI connectivity
  • Advanced functions such as synchronous remote mirroring, thin provisioning, data migration, and writeable snapshot technology
  • New flexible 3 year and 1 year hardware warranty options
  • Statement of Direction : "By the end of 2009, IBM plans to deliver asynchronous mirroring capabilities on the IBM XIV Storage System".
  • "XIV offers dual processors enabling up to 30% higher performance for some workloads".
  • Planned availability : August 13, 2009
DS8000 R4.3 : Premier mainframe storage (ZG09-0497 - ZG09-0498)
  • Thin Provisioning for Open Systems. "Thin Provisioning allows you to overcommit storage to specific devices and throughout the system in general (...) Thin provisioned devices offer performance that is comparable to standard, fully allocated, logical devices". As indicated : initially only for open systems. Thin provisioning requires an extra license which is announced separately (ZG09-0499 - ZG09-0500).
  • Faster LUN initialization " improves initialization speeds up to 2.6 times over previous versions of the DS8000"
  • Enhancement to High Performance FICON for System z enables higher throughput. zHPF Multitrack support means applications can read or write more than one track's worth of data in a single transfer, removing potential I/O bottlenecks.
  • Planned availability for plant and field install : August 21, 2009
TS7650 ProtecTIER Gateway & Appliance Edition V2.3 : Data Deduplication enhanced with optional replication functionality (ZP09-0250 - ZP09-0258)
  • Native IP-based Replication Capability : "ProtecTIER's IP replication function addresses two of the biggest requirements in a deduplication environment today : DR capabilities and offsite storage/archival. ProtecTIER IP replication provides a simple and affordable, over-the-WAN method to move data to a remote DR site, and supports tape archiving capabilities outside of the primary production environment".
  • "Scalability options to address the storage needs of different sized customers"
  • Inline deduplication delivers faster throughput, up to 1,000 MB/sec.
  • Planned availability : September 4, 2009
You see, lots of announcements. I left out the 8Gb SAN switch announcements like e.g. the SAN384B. If you want to have a complete overview, you can also go to the storage page of IBM giving lots of information on the new announcements.

There is also one withdrawal that certainly draws our attention. It's the IBM System Storage DS8000 series Model 9B2 and selected features (ZG09-0521). Effective December 31, 2009, IBM will withdraw from marketing the following products:
  • Model 9B2 on machine types 2421, 2422, 2423, and 2424
  • Internal Management console
  • Microcode Bundle Family - Release 4 Bundle Family
  • All 2Gb FICON Adapters
  • ESCON cables and ESCON adapters
All have replacements, but if I read this correctly ESCON is completely abandoned on the DS8000 as the only replacements indicated are FICON !

Friday, July 10, 2009

z/VSE documentation

I was looking for a VSE customer presentation of some time ago and I was amazed to see how many recent presentations I found on the z/VSE Documentation page. Just go to the presentations tab and you'll find a wealth of different presentations over there. Theyre divided into categories :
  • IBM Technical conference presentations
  • WAVV presentations
  • Presentations from other conferences
  • Presentations from z/VSE Live Virtual Classes
and there's also an archive that's going way back to the year 2000. But there's more. Any one who says VM or VSE often also says zLinux. You might want to check out the 'Linux for S/390 - It's Cool Part 1 and Part 2' presentations from 2000. These presentations themselves are very cool. You might call them old news, but if you want to see the very basics of zLinux, it's the place to be. They explain things which every one takes for granted now or . . . doesn't even remember any more.

As I always say, just check it out !

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sampling Techdocs : April - June 2009

It's been a while, but here we are again with some new and interesting reading material from TechDocs.
  • White Paper : IBM System Storage DS8000 with SSDs An In-Depth Look at SSD Performance in the DS8000 and An Assessment of SSD Performance in the IBM System Storage DS8000
    Two recent white papers on the use, best practices and performance of SSDs (Solid State Drives).

  • Presentation (with notes) : IMS Data Sharing
    "IMS data sharing allows multiple IMS systems to share databases with full update capability from all systems. IMS data sharing may be used to improve availability, increase capacity, and simplify applications. This presentation provides potential users with an explanation of data sharing and information on implementing it."

  • 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.

  • White Paper : Software Requirements for Running SAP on System z
    Thinking about a consolidation of SAP on System z ? Here's a short 10-page introduction on what is required to run System z as the database server and Linux on System z as the application server.

  • Presentation : z/OS System Initialization Logic (IPL)
    We're closing with a verrrrry nice presentation from Riaz Ahmad : "This presentation describes general processing involved initializing z/OS System from the IPL process until the system is ready to start JES2 or JES3"
Well that's it for now. As I always say : just check them out !

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Preview: IBM z/VM V6.1

Today IBM announced a preview of z/VM V6.1 : 'Preview: IBM z/VM V6.1 - Foundation for future virtualization growth (ZA09-0015)'. It's planned to become available in the fourth quarter of 2009 and it will only run on the z10 and future generations of the System z. Allthough some functionalities will also be available on z/VM V5.

The highlights ?
  • Exploitation of the System z10 server cache management instructions to help improve the performance of virtual networking
  • Closer integration with IBM® Systems Director by shipping the Manageability Access Point Agent for z/VM
  • Support for Linux® guests using dynamic storage reconfiguration, IBM FlashCopy® SE, Worldwide port name (WWPN) prediction tool, OSA-Express QDIO data connection isolation, Multiple file dumps ...
  • Additional tape encryption : "Guest operating systems running under z/VM can take advantage of these encryption features through z/VM, even if the guest does not exploit them itself for reading and writing tapes. In addition, this tape drive can be used for native z/VM tape functions.
But I would also like to draw your attention to a couple of the Statements of Direction. Take notice : these are statements of direction, so I guess this goes already beyond z/VM V6.1.
  • 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.
VM-plex ? We'll just have to wait and see !

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Red Alert - VSAM datasets with invalid creation dates being deleted in some cases

We already saw more alerts by the half of this year than we had in any previous year. Here's the latest one : 'z/OS 1.8 and z/OS 1.9 with PTFs for OA28473 can result in VSAM datasets with invalid creation dates being deleted'

"HSM may expire and delete VSAM data sets because of an invalid creation date caused by a DSS RESTORE or HSM RECALL/RECOVER of a VSAM data sets. This occurs after the application of PTF's UA46732/UA47067 for z/OS 1.8 or PTF's UA46733/UA47068 for z/OS 1.9 when DFSMSdss alters the creation date of the VSAM data set to an incorrect date (e.g. 1901.921 or something similarly invalid). You can see the invalid date via LISTCAT or IEHLIST for the data set. DFSMShsm may expire these data sets during Primary Space Management or Secondary Space Management based on your expiration attributes in the associated Management Class for the SMS managed data sets or based on the specific expiration date for Non-SMS managed data sets.

DFSMShsm uses DFSMSdss Logical Data Set RESTORE to RECALL and RECOVER VSAM data sets, therefore the same problem can result.

See APAR OA29102 for additional details and methods to identify data sets that may have been affected."

Recommended Actions:
Please apply fix for OA29102 to prevent the problem.

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.

zPrime - some more information

I was telling yesterday about zPrime and that there was little information on how it technically works. Well, Al Sherkow (co-presenting the webcast on zPrime on July 15, 2009) comments on this in the IBM-Main list :
"I’ve worked with many ISVs, but typically NDAs are signed and I am not allowed to even disclose a relationship exists. I have been consulting with Neon Enterprise Systems in relation to zPrime. I am an independent expert and the information in this IBM-Main posting is no longer under my NDA.

Neon Enterprise Systems is not using the API in zPrime. They have invented a new way of enabling work for the zXXP engines and that is a 'trade secret'
of Neon Enterprise Software."
To be continued . . .

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Neon zPrime Reduces Mainframe TCO

OK, I admit, I'm interested, no, I'm actually curious : zPrime (I talked about earlier) is now officially available from Neon Enterprise Software. What is it ? Well I'm not really sure how it technically works and I can't find any specific details on it, butI'll give you some appetizers. Here's a quote from the press release :
"NEON zPrime can save companies with System z mainframes 20 percent or more of their annual mainframe hardware and software costs under conventional use-pricing structures. Unlike any approach to date that attempts to offload processing from a System z central processor, or CP, to IBM specialty processors such as System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) or System z Application Assist Processors (zAAP), zPrime easily enables the shift of huge amounts of routine workloads running on CPs to these equally-fast but lower-cost specialty processors.

zPrime can facilitate the transfer of as much as 50 percent or more of a company’s IMS, DB2, CICS, TSO/ISPF, and batch workloads from System z CPs to zIIP and zAAP processors, and consequently reduce mainframe costs significantly."
So, if I understand this correctly, Neon has come up with a technique to offload much more workload to the specialty engines including e.g. a lot more DB2 workload than before but also traditonal batch workload. To good to be true ? Not according to Neon :
"NEON zPrime is 100 percent compliant with IBM specifications, rules and conditions for System z processor access to assure a seamless environment that makes IMS, CICS, TSO/ISPF, DB2, batch jobs and NEON IMS utilities workloads eligible for processing on zIIPs or zAAPs."
If you want to read more about it, you can find additonal information at the Neon Website with some more details, a data sheet and a short presentation.

There's also a Webcast on Wednesday, July 15, 2009 5:30 pm Brussels Time with
Tony Lubrano, NEON product author who will explain the solution and with Al Sherkow. Now I'm really curious :
"Al Sherkow describes the dramatic early test results that NEON zPrime has shown in real-world environments. Mr. Sherkow is a capacity planning and performance consultant for IBM's mainframe computers. He is also recognized as the leading industry expert on the crucial subject of IBM’s new software pricing model Workload License Charges (WLC)."
Do check this one out !