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