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 !