Monday, December 27, 2010

Looking back on 2010 - Year Review

Well, another year's gone by and it's time to take a last look back on 2010. To us mainframers, I guess the main event was the announcement of the new zEnterprise this summer as it introduces a whole new concept to the (not only) mainframe world. Still the year started out rather calmly as we did not really see any significant announcements or things happening in January. Or we could mention the ever continuing legal saga between Neon and IBM over Neon's zPrime (you can find a little update over here).

But February already makes up for lack of interesting news. First of all, DB2 10 goes beta and there's a preview announcement of z/OS 1.12 and also an enhanced z/OSMF 1.12. Then there's ProtecTIER Deduplication Gateway, the virtual tape solution that emulates tape drives and writes the data to an attached disk array, which now comes available for System z as well. And, strangely enough I also pay some attention to the Power7 engine, allthough I didn't know then, it would become part of a new mainframe announcement, later on this year. Next to that, we see the first signs that the DS8100, DS8300 as well as the DS6000 will gently be replaced by the DS8700 in 2010.

If you want to read some more on ProtectTIER deduplication for mainframe, I payed some more attention to it in a March post. In that month there was also the creation of the new GSE Belux site, which is now used by almost every working group and contains lots of interesting information. We also see that z/OS 1.12 will no longer be available on 34xx tapes.

In April there are quite some storage announcements. In the year of its 10th anniversary, LTO comes with the fifth generation with 1.5TB of native capacity and up to 140 MB/sec native transfer rates. We also have a new DS8700 announcement with 600GB FC drives, 2TB SATA drives. But certainly the most important part of the announcement is Easy Tier with its automatic and manual modes. It takes care of automatic relocation of hot data to SSD drives and it also makes lots of volume migrations non-disruptive. Next to that ProtecTIER now offers many-to-one replication and XIV introduces 2TB SATA drives hereby doubling its capacity.

May shows us it's becoming a habit to add 2 years of extra (priced) support called Lifecycle Extension to the z/OS version that will go out of support in September, so this time for z/OS 1.9. It's also becoming clear that DS6800, DS8100 and DS8300 will be phased out. By the end of 2010 limited upgrades and disk types remain available. And as most of the customers are starting to pay (heavily) on maintenance by now, the message is clear, no ? We see a steady capacity growth of the TS7740 en TS7720 Virtualization Engines, too. BMC also did some catching up with the announcement that quite some additional products (focusing on DB2 utilities) will start using the zIIP from now on.

In June we learn about a new APAR (APAR PM12256) that should allow you to improve the redirection of DRDA workload over TCP/IP to the zIIP from some 45%-50% to about 60%. And you know what : it actually did ! Furthermore VTFM (Virtual Tape Facility for Mainframe Systems) is now also supporting zIIP for most of its workload. VTFM acts as a virtual tape library kind of like CA-VTape that already supported the zIIP pretty much from the beginning. IBM also announced the End of Marketing of their smaller TS3400 Tape Library without offering a replacement.

In July IBM managed to re-arrange my vacation plans by announcing the zEnterprise on July 22, 2010. A small offer for "A new dimension in computing". The zEnterprise did not only bring us a new mainframe (z196), it also introduced the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) and the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager. Together they form the zEnterprise System. For the moment the zBX contains Power7 Blades and/or the Smart Analytics Optimizer. The goal is to use the mainframe as a central system to manage the heterogeneous platforms which are connected to it. In the beginning we will be mainly talking about managing, setting up, monitoring and automating these systems. But in the end we should be talking about a common policy based Workload Management. This will be realized through the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager. Oh, and there was also a new MLC pricing especially for the z196 : AWLC (Advanced Workload License Charge). The larger the customer, the higher the benefit. There's no longer a so-called technology dividend.

August and September were pretty calm after all the announcements in July. I even forgot to mention software announcements on z/OS 1.12, z/OSMF 1.12, z/VM 6.1, DS8700 (z/OS Distributed Data Backup) and PL/I for z/OS V4.1. Some of them were discussed in our latest Realdolmen System z e-zine which also came out in August. PL/I for example should now use less resources than its predecessor as it's using the new instructions on the z196. This seems to become a goal for IBM when launching new software : better performance without increased CPU usage. Which often used to be the opposite in the past.
The Total Solution event for System z organized at the IBM forum was a success and will surely be repeated in 2011.

October was also quite eventful this year. First there were some software announcements like z/VSE 4.3 and the IMS 12 Quality Partnership program (QPP). But the most important software announcement was of course the announcement of DB2 10. And here I continue the story I started with PL/I : "Just by REBINDing you should obtain out-of-the-box CPU savings ranging from 5% to 10% for traditional workloads up to 20% for some specific workloads". Read all the further details over here. Oh, and it's possible to migrate straight from DB2 V8.
On the hardware part there's more exciting news : the DS8800 is announced. I would summarize by saying : faster processor, faster connectivity and larger capacity on a smaller (hence more cost-efficient) footprint. But the message is clear : despite everything said and written, the DS8000 is here to stay for quite some time. Continuity prevails.
Less exciting news on the other hand : zBX will not become available for the z10.

Actually, November and December were rather quiet months. There was an announcement of a price increase for DB2 V8. Next to that there were also some updates on the status of the zPrime and TurboHercules cases, not that there was suddenly anything spectacular to mention.

Conclusion ?
Well, actually just some general remarks. First of all not only LTO had its 10th anniversary this year. Linux on z was also introduced ten years ago in 2000. And I think, when we see the zEnterprise today, that it's partially building on the success of the IFL and the other specialty engines. I'd say Smart Analytics Optimizer is the first System z specialty engine out of the box. So I can only fully support the direction IBM is taking with this zEnterprise. And of course the question raises : will we see a zEnteprise BC next year ? I guess so.

Second, what about cloud ? In your blog, not very present it is, Yoda would say. Well, it actually is, I think, I just don't like the term itself and I still have the feeling it's just a new name for things we've been doing for years (decennia). So I'd like to repeat a quote from James Governor's blog on this : "The next time someone tries to take you through 30 slides explaining the cloud you can just nod sagely, and say… “ohhhh. you mean servers, middleware and apps. Yeah I get it".”

And thirdly I would like to conclude with a trend I certainly like a lot. IBM has shown over the past year that it's thinking cross-brand and cross-product more than ever. Take e.g. StorWize : it introduces Easy Tier from the DS8000 and it takes the easy-to-use graphical interface of the XIV. Taking the strong points of one technology and not being afraid to use them in another product may continue to deliver some promising results in the future. Need I mention the zEnterprise in this context ?

Well, that's it for 2010. Looking forward to 2011 and I hope you will join me in the coming year too.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

Nice Summary of 2010.
I have enjoyed your many blog posts this year and look forward to reading more in 2011!