Friday, April 30, 2010

Total Solution Event for System z

Today, it's true even more than ever : time is money. I hear this quite a lot nowadays. Crisis isn't over yet and every management is very cost aware. The argument that an event is free is no longer enough because . . . your time is money, too. And I think many of you will recognize this : you don't attend that many events any more. It makes it harder to get to valuable information when you need it.

That's why I want to bring the 'Total Solution Event for System z' to your attention once again because it's open for registration now. It's a free three day event at the IBM Forum in Brussels taking place from September 8, 2010 to September 10, 2010. There will be lots of parallel tracks "presented by ITSO and worldwide specialists".
"This event features a mix of presentations, demonstrations and hand-on labs with a full range of products and solutions on System z that are relevant to both business-oriented and technology-oriented people. To make it a truly total solution event, we are including a number of sessions that demonstrate the strength of System z platform solutions. We expect to deliver more than 60 sessions in three days".
Here are the tracks you can follow :
Track 1 - System z for Managers and Executives
Track 2 - System z for Architects
Track 3 - System z and z/OS Update
Track 4 - VSE
Track 5 - Getting started with Linux on System z
Track 6 - Linux on System z - Advanced
Track 7 - Information and Data Management on System z
Track 8 - Enterprise Modernization and new Trends for Development
Track 9 - Implementing the Foundation for Business Continuum on System z
Track 10 - Managing and Monitoring of System z Workloads
I'm telling you about this now, because before you know it, holidays will be coming up and if you can only bring this up afterwards, it might be too late.

You find all the information here.
You can register over here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sampling Techdocs : February 2010 - April 2010

Here we are with some new documents from TechDocs I recently came across or found while browsing through the latest publications.
  • White paper : Planning Considerations for Running zAAP Work on zIIPs
    This 6-page white paper gives you a brief but quite complete introduction to the zAAP on zIIP functionality : "This document will review the functions, features and restrictions involved with successfully using this support, (...) called ZAAPZIIP support". It also explains the implementation differences for various z/OS releases.

  • White paper : How to Generate WTO Messages from RMF Performance Exceptions
    RMF allows the definition of performance-based exception thresholds, and displaying these thresholds on the Monitor III Workflow/Exceptions Report in an ISPF session. This paper describes how to surface those exceptions as Write-to-Operator (WTO) messages. This is done by customizing JCL to run the RMF Monitor III session as a started task or batch job.

  • Technical document : Overview of Supported Disk and Tape Storage for Linux on IBM System z10
    Nice summary, reference with not only IBM equipment mentioned.
Well that's it for now. As I always say : just check them out !

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Storage Announcements : XIV and Protectier

This week I already discussed the LTO5 and DS8700 announcements, but there're still some more : XIV and ProtecTIER. As I've already said, I've broadened my horizon a bit and I will also talk about high-end storage which is not always immediately mainframe-related. But we've already seen how thin this line can be. ProtecTIER already has a gateway for the mainframe and behind that you can also have an XIV. Though I must say, the new functionalities for ProtecTIER are open systems only for the moment as it's about the TS7650.

What's the main part of the ProtecTIER announcements (ZP10-0169 and ZP10-0172) ?
It's called many-to-one replication. It's for customers with backup data at multiple data centers, remote offices or multiple office locations. You can have up to twelve primary sites with a ProtecTIER solutions (called spokes) and have one central target (called hub). The twelve spokes replicate their virtual tapes (already deduplicated) to the hub. This hub acts as a Disaster/Recovery solution for all spokes. "It can become a 'primary' for any number of the spokes under disaster while still allowing local backups and replication from other active spokes". And as a picture tells more than a thousand words, here's schematic illustration you can also find when you take a look at the accompanying podcast. You can find the link on the ProtecTIER information page too.

Click on image to see larger version in new window

Planned availability : May 28, 2010

On to XIV with the 2TB drive support (ZP10-0080 and ZP10-0069). This is quite straightforward : it extends the maximum usable capacity from 79TB to 161TB for a full rack with 15 modules. But there's more good news : same footprint but less power consumption compared to a 1TB rack. And performance should remain roughly the same. Some resources : the XIV home page, the XIV fact sheet and the XIV 2TB launch page with some interesting links like customer references, testimonials and an introductory podcast.

Planned availability : April 22, 2010.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Storage announcements : DS8700

IBM made some 70+ announcements today including some interesting storage announcements for the DS8700, XIV and ProtecTier. There are two announcements on the DS8700, one with the actual announcement (ZG10-0125) and one about the Function Aouthorizations like Thin Provisioning (ZG10-0140).

You might say the announcement has three types of new functionalities for the DS8700.
The first type is about some catching up that had to be done : Thin Provisioning (still only for open volumes) and Remote Pair FlashCopy are now also available on the DS8700.
The second type of functionalities is those I would categorize under the normal evolution of the DS8700. Release 5.1 shows us the following new features :
  • 600 GB 15,000 rpm Fibre Channel Disk Drives
  • 2 TB 7,200 rpm SATA disk drives
  • Concurrent code load improvements : the download phase is separated from the activation phase, limiting the latter to a maximum of 2 hours
  • Prevent deletion of CKD and FB volumes in use
  • As SSD drives are not cheap : "Eight drive install group of Solid State Disk (SSD) - Offers the support of eight drive install group of SSD (half disk drive set), providing additional price/performance and capacity flexibility to help address application and business requirements".
The third one is the real innovative part of the announcement : IBM System Storage Easy Tier. The two features of the new functionality can be summarized as follows :
  • "Automated relocation - Volumes in an extent pool with SSD and HDD will be managed automatically by moving hot extents to SSD and cold extents to HDD."
    The problem with SSD is that they're quite expensive and you do not exactly know what to put on those SSDs or how many of them you need. Well, from now on, Easy Tier will determine what should best be put on SSDs ànd it will also automatically do so. It will move data at sub-volume or sub-LUN level from HDD or SATA drives to SDDs. This is done by monitoring the data activity and determining which data are 'hot' which means which data are giving a maximum performance boost by moving them to SSDs. These data (so not necessarily entire volumes) will be dynamically, non-disruptively and transparantly moved to SSDs in such a hybrid extent pool.
    What's also nice : there's a Storage Tier Advisor Tool that can be used before you even have SSD drives. It can give you insight on how many SSDs you might want to buy to get optimal performance enhancements.
  • "Volume migration - Enables the manual relocation of volumes between extent pools, as well as the restriping of volumes within an extent pool, and the ability to merge existing extent pools".
    You don't even have to have SSDs installed in order to use Easy Tier functionalities. The second feature operates at volume level. "Easy Tier also includes the ability to dynamically relocate individual logical volumes to another drive tier or to another drive type within a tier. For example, clients can move a volume from a set of 15,000 RPM spinning drives to a set of 10,000 RPM spinning drives. In addition, they can also change a volume’s RAID type from, say, RAID 5 to RAID 6, as well as change the way data is striped within the system. For instance, a volume that was configured to stripe data across a single RAID array can be changed to stripe data across multiple arrays for better performance. And all of this can be done dynamically without disrupting applications."
More good news : Easy tier is a no charge feature on the DS8700.

Planned availability date : May 21, 2010.

Tomorrow, I'll try and tell some more about the XIV and Protectier enhancements.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    LTO Ultrium 5 announcement

    Last week I told you about a webcast next Thursday talking "about a host of new offerings". Well, despite the fact that it's only Monday, I see we already have the first announcements about storage. IBM announces the LTO Ultrium 5 tape and tape drive. Here's a summary of the several announcements about it. Browsing through the announcement for the TS3500 library ('IBM System Storage TS1050 Tape Drive offers an Ultrium 5 Tape Drive for the TS3500 Tape Library - ZG10-0101)', here are the main characteristics :
    • Increases maximum data transfer rate, providing to up to 140 MB/sec native as compared to LTO Ultrium 4
    • Provides up to 1.5 TB native physical capacity per cartridge (3.0 TB with 2:1 compression) with Ultrium 5 1.5 TB cartridge
    • Includes a 8-Gbps Fibre Channel dual-ported interface attachment
    • Supports LTO5 media partitioning and self-describing tape
    • Supports encryption capabilities and requires IBM Tivoli® Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM) for encryption key management
    • Adheres to LTO specifications
    • Mounts in TS3500 Tape Library Model L53 or D53, and in 3584 Tape Library Models L52, L32, D52, or D32
    I think that's pretty much following the roadmap for the LTO drive technology.

    Planned availability date : April 16, 2010

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Webcast : Smarter Systems for a Smarter Planet

    I think this will be an interesting Webcast to mark in your agendas. There have been a couple of Smarter Planet or Dynamic Infrastructure announcements in the past and this one also promises to tell you "about a host of new offerings designed to redefine the industry’s prevailing view of performance and address our client’s needs:
    • Storage solutions to store, manage, retrieve vast amounts of data without adding complexity
    • New servers and enhancements optimized to provide the scale and performance needed for emerging workloads and analytics
    • Virtualization and Integrated Service Management capabilities to ensure scalability in today’s dynamic environment
    • Remote implementation services to speed deployment"
    The webconf takes place on April 15, 2010 at 11am New York and 5pm Brussels. You can register over here.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    DB2 User Experiences : migrating to DB2 9

    This was a couple of weeks ago, but since I've been out for about a week, I only had the chance to check for these presentations this week. I know it's all very interesting to hear all the details about DB2 10, but let's face it, a lot of people are still migrating or even starting to migrate to DB2 9. Why am I telling you this ? Well, on March 25, 2010 there was a GSE DB2 working group meeting here in Belgium with 4 customers presenting their experiences. So I must say I personally find these customer experiences about their migrations even more interesting than the new stuff.

    So if you're also still in the migration process, do take a look at these presentations, you'll definitely learn something from them. And don't forget to also check out the Q&A presentation where Bart Steegmans (IBM) answered some questions from the audience.

    And to end with something new : you'll see in the Q&A presentation that Bart confirms that people will be able to skip DB2 9 and migrate from DB2 V8 to DB2 10. But, and I quote : "Skip versions V5 to 7, V8 to 10, don’t get used to it" !

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    General Price Action on System z

    If you were wondering why I haven't been posting for almost two weeks, well, I was at home. No, not having a nice holiday nor gardening. Last Monday I could hardly sit straight because of the pain in my back, so I've been recovering mostly lying in bed, walking around a bit and doing pretty much nothing. But I'm back (pun not intended) now.

    And here we are already with the annual price action for System z. Last year there seemed to be a larger raise for products that were End of Support, but this time the announcement does not mention any particular softwares. For most European countries - including Belgium - "the maximum reduction will be 3% or the maximum increase for the impacted MLC prices will be 5%". If we have the same trend as the last couple of years, and I'm only talking about Belgium here, the impact might very well be rather small. Last year, most customers hardly had a raise and some even had some reduction on their bill.

    The price changes will be effective July 1, 2010.