Thursday, February 24, 2011

Easy Tier Manual Mode without SSD drives ? Yes you can !

I was very disappointed last week to find out that the Easy Tier Manual Mode for the DS8000 really required the hard presence of some actual SSD drives even if you only wanted to perform some operations on HDD drives. So I wrote the following post about it : 'Easy Tier Manual Mode without SSD Drives ? No Way' to tell the customers I'd been telling them some lies.

I checked this, double checked this and then posted it as I had no access to a DS8700 to test it myself. I must say I kind of hoped some one would reply to contradict this. And you know what : I had two replies from IBM people telling me you CAN use Easy Tier Manual Mode without any SSD drives present. So Nick Clayton comments :
It is possible to use the Easy Tier manual migration function without having SSD drives installed. You do however have to have requested the zero charge Easy Tier feature to do this.
And Anthony Vandewerdt confirms this
I can tell you that I have used the manual mode method on a DS8700 with NO SSD and it worked just fine.
All you need are the R5.1 code level installed and the EasyTier license key (which is a $0 key).
Once both those things are true, manual mode (rebalancing vols and merging extent pools) is possible regardless of whether SSD is present or not.
I'm glad it is possible after all because even the Manual Mode is actually a great feature. By the way, Anthony's changed his blog address. It's now at Wordpress and it's called : Aussie Storage Blog. Do check it out !

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Upcoming events Belgium - EMEA

I just updated the agenda with upcoming events (with focus on Belgium of course). I thought I might as well draw your attention to them, by also posting them with here and there some additional information.

March 3, 2011 - 1 p.m. - 7 p.m.
GSE DB2 Working group meeting at SD Worx Antwerp

Sharing DB2 Backup and Recovery Experiences
The GSE DB2 Working group is a must for every one who's working with DB2 for z/OS in Belgium. This time there are some customer experiences on backup and recovery, there's a recap on the latest enhancements and improvements in DB2 V9 and V10 and it concludes with an open discussion. I especially like this sentence in the announcement of the event : "A backup plan is part of our development process, not an afterthought". How true ... this should be for every one !

March 3, 2011 - All day event
POT - Discover the IBM Websphere DataPower Appliances at IBM Forum

Information and Registration

March 8-10, 2011
FREE Total Solution event for System z 2011 Amsterdam

Information and Registration
If you have a chance to attend this, do so. This is a great, FREE event with lots of tracks and usually some renowned international speakers.

March 15, 2011 - 5:30 p.m. Brussels
Reduce Costs and Gain Better Competitive Insights - DB2 10 for z/OS and QMF

March 16, 2011 - All day event
GSE z/OS Working group meeting at RealDolmen Huizingen

Information and Registration

March 18, 2011 - 1 p.m.
GSE Architecture Working group meeting at IBM Forum Brussels

The IT Architect Profession (within IBM Belgium, ING and BNP Paribas)

May 2-6, 2011
IBM System z Technical University in Vienna, Austria

Information and Registration

May 12-13, 2011
GSE Belgium-Luxemburg Regional Conference at Dorint Spa-Balmoral on the Promises of Hybrid Systems

Information and Registration
I had the impression that the regional conference didn't draw as much people as it deserves over the last couple of years. It looks like it's still advertised as a two day event but all sessions seem to be on Friday. So, if it's been a while and you can justify this one day to your management, do come this time.

June 15, 2011 - All day event
GSE z/OS Working group meeting at RealDolmen Huizingen

Information and Registration

September 27-29, 2011
FREE Total Solution event for System z 2011 Brussels at IBM Forum.
This is pretty much the same as the event we have in March in Amsterdam. Last year we were lucky this occurred just after the announcement of the z196, so we had lots of information sessions on the new system. Book this in your agendas. it's free !

November 14-18, 2011
IDUG EMEA 2011 in Prague

Information and Registration

New Statement of Directon on ESCON channels

I was following some courses last week and so I see I have some more catching up to do now. Here's a first interesting piece of news. If I remember correctly, IBM already had a statement of direction that the z196 would be the last server to offer ESCON. It wasn't clear about carrying forward ESCON channels to a next generation. This has now been clarified although it has been a bit hidden in the announcement on 'IBM WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance XI50 for zEnterprise (ZG11-0019)'. Here's what it says :
IBM plans not to offer ESCON channels as an orderable feature on high-end System z servers that follow the z196 (machine type 2817). In addition, ESCON channels cannot be carried forward on an upgrade to such a follow-on server. This plan applies to channel path identifier (CHPID) types CNC, CTC, CVC, and CBY and to feature numbers 2323 and 2324. System z customers should continue migrating from ESCON to FICON. Alternate solutions are available for connectivity to ESCON devices.
I think this will not be a problem as most customers already switched to FICON. We saw some customers still taking them along as they upgraded to z10 but so far I haven't seen any customers still using ESCON on z196. Mind you, the text explicitely states 'high-end System z servers' and you know what I told you about (not) filling in the blanks in a previous post.

For those interested in the WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance, I should come back to this in a future post.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Easy Tier Manual Mode without SSD drives ? No way !

Update : this post has become obsolete.
I'm not deleting it because the comments contain valuable information.
Check out my update : Easy Tier Manual Mode without SSD drives ? Yes you can !

I'm not exactly sure how I should begin this post. I might say something like : I must apologize to all our customers to whom I explained Easy Tier for not telling the truth. Or perhaps : damn, I hate some of those IBM announcements for only telling half of the story. Mind you, there are no lies in these announcements, but they're not telling everything, they leave out things and people tend to try and fill in the blanks for themselves. That's exactly what I did with Easy Tier on DS8000.

You know there's an Automatic and a Manual mode. Well, for the Automatic mode you need to have SSD drives. That's the whole point of using Easy Tier in automatic mode, making sure the most accessed data are put on the SSD drives.

But then, there's the Manual mode. What is it for ? I'll just quote what I wrote about it when it was first announced :
"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."
I put one specific sentence of mine in bold because it is absolutely NOT true. Even for Manual Mode you do have to have at least some SSD drives into your DS8000. This is the official answer I received from IBM TechLine. I really thought you didn't have to and no one has ever told me you did. This is what always bugs me : the announcement doesn't mention this SSD requirement, so you start thinking things, filling out the blanks. Well, you shouldn't. What isn't there, isn't there for a reason . . . And Easy Tier without SSD drives just isn't there.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2011

It's been out for a couple of weeks but I still want to mention it as it always contains valuable information for all mainframers. We have the usual vendor directory listing vendors, consultants and service providers in the mainframe environment. The media guide points out some newsletters, magazines, blogs, user groups and information resources. Do take a look at it, it contains some good references. The yearbook closes with some technical information, time tables and the mips tables for the z196 are already included too.

But of course there's also the annual User Survey providing a snapshot of the System z user community’s existing hardware and software configuration, and also their plans and concerns for 2011. it also tracks "the growth of mainframe integration with Web services, cloud computing, and other areas of new development".

You can download the Yearbook for free over here.

As I always say, do check it out !

Thursday, February 10, 2011

As tears go by

A couple of weeks ago, I received the terrible news that my brother-in-law had died in an accident. He was not only my brother-in-law but also one of my dearest friends. No need to tell you this came as quite a shock to me and my family. So, the last weeks my mind hasn't been much on blogging. I'd rather wanted to be there in support of my family and especially his wife and children. It's been a very hard time for all of us. It still is.

Allthough most of next week I'm on training, I'll try to catch up and start blogging again.