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 !

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