Friday, April 22, 2011

Announcing the DB2Night Show - DB2 for z/OS

People with a scope on DB2 surely know about the DB2Night Shows, a series of free webinars, that has been organized on a regular basis starting in 2009. You can find replays of the former 50 shows over here.

Now, "Klaas Brant of KBCE and organizer of DB2 Symposium Education has decided to turn Mondays into a must attend learning session for people who work with DB2 for z/OS. There are already 5 amazing shows on the schedule with more to come." Here's the overview :
  • The History of DB2 by Roger Miller on Monday April 25, 2011
  • The Future of DB2 by Jeff Josten on Monday May 9, 2011
  • DB2 10 Performance by Cristian Molaro on Monday May 16, 2011
  • DB2 10 SQL Enhancements by Terry Purcell on Monday, May 23, 2011
  • DB2 10 Customer Experiences by John Campbell on Monday, June 6, 2011
Not just some randomly picked speakers, I'd say so !
All webinars start at 5 PM Brussels Time and you can find a schedule over here.

The date of the first one might be a bit unluckily chosen, because lots of people in Europe are enjoying a day off due to Easter Monday. But hey, there'll surely be a replay.
Register for this first show by Roger Miller over here and here's a short overview of its content :
  • Understand some of the key inventions in DB2
  • Note the teams and some key inventors for the technology
  • See the cross-product design and implementation
  • Provide insight into the past and direction for DB2
  • Show some of the reasons for the success of DB2
By the way, if you want some more information, go have a look at Susan Vissers blog, where I also got most of the information above. Here's the particular post.

This was my last post for April. I'm not only taking a day off on Monday, but I'm on holiday for the rest of that week too. So take care, happy Easter, find lots of chocolate eggs in your garden with the children or grandchildren . . . and see you back in May.

Google or IBM Support Portal

We may well be ranting about the young internet generation. You know : if you can't find it on Google, it doesn't exist. Well . . . I think I largely underestimated, or should I say, overestimated the age of lots of mainframe system engineers. Or, by now lots of them are contaminated by the younger generation. Why do I say so ?

Well, yesterdag I put up this new Red Alert on my blog and it referred to
APAR PM37396. But what did I see : I really had a lot more readers than on previous days. And that during a holiday period ? So I took a look at the statistics of my blog and what did I see ? More than 50 people who arrived at my blog via the search argument 'PM37396'. I got curious, Googled it too and what do you know, my blog post came up first !

There's an alternative, people, and it's called IBM Support Portal. That's where 'real' system engineers go looking for an APAR ! Try it, if you haven't before. You'll like it.

And for those who still prefer to Google. OK, I admit, I referred to the APAR without mentioning the link. So, as a reward for clicking through to my blog : click here !

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Red Alert for All TCPIP users on z/OS 1.11, 1.12 using the QDIO Accelerator function

Here's a new Red Alert:

All TCPIP users on z/OS 1.11, 1.12 using the QDIO Accelerator function

A logic error in the QDIO Accelerator function in the base TCPIP code of z/OS 1.11, 1.12 can cause potential data loss.

TCPIP users with QDIO Accelerator enabled on z/OS 1.11 or z/OS 1.12 can experience a problem that may result in the potential loss of data when the accelerating path suffers a storage shortage condition. The accelerating path does not present any form of notification that a storage shortage condition has occurred.

Please see APAR PM37396 for additional details.

Recommended Actions:
Disable the QDIO Accelerator function until the ++APAR or corrective PTF can be applied. Please see APAR PM37396 for detailed instructions on disabling QDIO Accelerator.

If you want to have en overview of all past Red Alerts, then take a look over here. You can also subscribe on that same page so you'll be notified of any future Red Alert.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Red Alert for any customer running Linux on z/VM

Did you know there was a z/VM Red Alert page too. I must admit I did not. So, thanks to Pamela Christina for directing me towards it via the IBM VM discussion list. The z/VM Red Alert page can be found over here. If you want to get notified of future Red Alerts, just click on the 'Notify Me' tab on the left hand side and fill out your e-mail address.

Now, what's this Red Alert about ? Here's a quote.
APAR VM64862 is in error
APAR VM64862 has been found to be in error. Installing this APAR may result in ABENDHRM003. APAR VM64965 has been opened to correct the problem and is planned to be available by the end of April 2011.
Any customers running Linux on z/VM
All details about this Red Alert can be found in the following .pdf : 2011 z/VM Red Alert

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Preview of z/VSE V5.1

Last Tuesday we also saw the preview announcement of z/VSE V5.1 : 'Preview: IBM z/VSE V5.1 offers 64-bit virtual addressing for future workloads (ZP11-0151)'. It will effectively become available somewhere in the fourth quarter of 2011 and it will require a z9, z10 or z196 to run on.

The highlights straight out of the announcement :
  • "64-bit virtual addressing for applications.
    • 64-bit virtual support vastly increases the virtual storage available in a single address space.
  • IPv6/VSE V1.1 exploitation of 64-bit virtual support.
  • Exploitation of innovative IBM zEnterprise 196 technology:
    • Static power save mode allows you to reduce the power consumption of IBM zEnterprise 196 when full performance is not required. z/VSE supports this feature for clients using MWLC pricing with the subcapacity pricing option.
    • z/VSE V5.1 is designed to provide 4096-bit RSA keys for use with configurable Crypto Express3 for enhanced security.
    • z/VSE V5.1 is designed to participate in a private intraensemble data network (IEDN) that connects all elements of a zEnterprise ensemble.
  • Exploitation of IBM System Storage options:
    • Copy Export function of the TS7700 Virtualization Engine Series for disaster recovery purposes
    • IBM Storwize V7000 Midrange Disk System
    • IBM XIV Storage System
  • Networking enhancements."
The above mentioned 'static power save mode' is actually a chapter on its own. The announcement seems to indicate that this is new in z/VSE 5.1, but, if I see this correctly, it's already implemented in current versions on z196 with SCRT reporting. Does this exist for z/OS too ? Yes. So any customer who wants to know more about this can take a look at the most recent SCRT User's guide. You can find a link to the one for version 19.2.0 over here. There's a chapter on it in Appendix B.

There's one Statement of Direction : "IBM intends to provide CICS Explorer™ capabilities for CICS TS for VSE/ESA, to deliver additional value".

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

IBM announcement : zEnterprise Support for Microsoft Windows

'zEnterprise Support for Microsoft Windows (ZG11-0127)' is not really the actual announcement yet but a Statement of Direction.

In fact it's quite simple : IBM promises to deliver the roadmap "to incorporate select IBM System x technologies, originally targeted for the first half of 2011". But where originally the Linux part of the roadmap was stressed, IBM apparantly also had many requests by customers for Windows support (cf. my previous post over here). So here are the two Statements of Direction :

"In the third quarter of 2011, IBM intends to offer select IBM System x blades running Linux® on System x in the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension Model 002.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, IBM intends to offer select IBM System x blades running Microsoft Windows in the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension Model 002."

And you know what IBM adds after every SOD : "All statements regarding IBM's plans, directions, and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice".

IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V4.2

Last week IBM announced CICS TS for z/OS V4.2 : 'IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS , V4.2, further reinforces competitiveness, compliance, and control (ZP11-0104)'. I'll just give you a few quotes to give you an idea of the announcement. The first quote is from the announcement itself.
"CICS TS V4.2 builds upon the new and enhanced capabilities developed and delivered in CICS TS V4.1 to enable users to compete in the marketplace, comply with standards and regulations, and control their business".
The second quote is from the CICS Portfolio eNewsLetter which was issued on April 5, 2011 and it gives a summary of the main domains where CICS TS V4.2 is delivering innovations.
"CICS TS V4.2 delivers technical innovation and significant business value in the following five main focus areas:
  • Event processing is extended with new system events that give you real-time feedback of potential problems, and new life-cycle support to make events easier to manage
  • Java improvements include a new 64bit multi-threaded JVM server environment built on the OSGi model for higher scalability and easier application management, and a new Axis2-based Java web services stack enabling zAAP offload
  • Connectivity using IPIC is extended to cover function shipping of File Control, Temporary Storage, and Transient Data requests to take you a step closer to an IP-only environment, and HTTP improvements can help to improve performance
  • Management improvements include a new transaction tracking capability to speed problem determination, new CICSPlex SM workload management algorithms to give more control over workload distribution, new support for password phrases up to 100 characters, along with many CICS Explorer enhancements
  • Scalability of CICS is enhanced with new threadsafe support for IMSDB and function shipping mirrors when using IPIC, plus new 64-bit exploitation by Trace and Temporary Storage, helping to improve throughput and performance"
This eNewsLetter is really worth a look. You can subscribe to it over here. The April version is over here. And if you go one level up, you'll also find the previous versions.

This CICS TS V4.2 requires z/OS 1.11 and it becomes available June 24, 2011. If you want to test it earlier you can subscribe to the beta version. There's more information on the IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V4.2 page. You can find more information on the Open Beta over here.

One final remark I also pick up from the eNewsLetter : since there will be a price increase for CICS TS V3 bringing prices close to those of CICS TS V4 (cf. my post over here), price may no longer be a reason to stay much longer on CICS TS V3.

IBM announcing some new price changes

There were two price change announcements for EMEA on April 1, 2011 that become effective starting July 1, 2011.

The first one mainly covers zSecure products : 'Price Changes on several IBM Subscription and Support Programs (S&S) (ZA11-1009)'. For most European countries (incl. Belgium) the S&S charges for these products increase with 5 %. Take a look at the announcement for more details.

The second one covers FWLC priced products : 'Price Changes in monthly Flat Workload License Charges (FWLC) on selected IBM System z Software Products (ZA11-1013)'. Flat Workload License Charge is a software metric that applies to softwares that are not eligible for subcapacity pricing. It has one flat fee per server regardless of its capacity. According to the announcement the FWLC prices have not followed the considerable generation-to-generation capacity increase of the System z machines. Therefore the "price of Flat WLC products will increase up to 10% in all EMEA Countries".

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red Alert : z/OS Security and Integrity Service Currency

Here's a new Red Alert:

z/OS Security and Integrity Service Currency.

IBM strongly recommends all z/OS customers validate currency of security and system integrity service levels.

It has come to IBM's attention that customers may not be validating the currency of their security and system integrity service levels and promptly installing all security and integrity PTFs when made available by IBM.

IBM strongly recommends that users of the z/OS Operating System validate the currency of security and system integrity service and take action to promptly install all security and integrity PTFs. Security and system integrity fixes are included in Recommended Service Upgrades (RSUs) and maintaining RSU currency minimizes exposure to security and integrity issues.

IBM also recommends that customers subscribe to the System z Security Portal. The portal enables you to receive the latest critical service information on security and system integrity APARs for z/OS and z/VM. If you are not subscribed to this portal, instructions are located at URL:
Important information about critical security and system integrity APARs and associated fixes are posted to this portal which can help you to plan the timely installation of this critical service. Once you are registered at the portal, subscribers will receive an email notification of all new posts.

Recommended Actions:
Validate the currency of your z/OS security and system integrity service levels. Subscribe to the System z Security Portal to receive the latest information on System z security and system integrity service. The timely installation of security and system integrity service is critical in minimizing potential risks and maintaining overall system security and availability.

If you want to have en overview of all past Red Alerts, then take a look over here. You can also subscribe on that same page so you'll be notified of any future Red Alert.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

IBM Data Power on zBX

I covered this already in our newsletter, but I still want to repeat it here as this whole zEnterprise story really seems to mark a turning point in our mainframe history.

I'll start off with a video, just watch it before you continue reading.

OK, now you may ask yourself : "how did I get here, am I right am I wrong". Oops, no, that's Talking Heads. Second attempt : now you may ask yourself : "what does this have to do with me ?" Actually, a lot ! The IBM Websphere DataPower Integration Appliance XI50 for zEnterprise (XI50z) is - next to the Smart Analytics Optimizer - announced as the following optimizer on zBX. And it fits perfectly in the new zEnterprise strategy of IBM.

Let me repeat some of my own words when I discussed the announcement of the z196 EC : "Starting point for this is that we live in a heterogeneous world where a one size fits all approach for all workloads does no longer stand a chance. Each platform has its specific strengths. What IBM wants to do now is bring those platforms together into one system, the IBM zEnterprise System. The goal is to use the mainframe as a central system to manage the heterogeneous platforms which are connected to it." I think the XI50z is quite a good example of this strategy as it bring's an existing appliance to the mainframe. And there are good reasons for doing so. Let me tell you some more about it.

Some history
The DataPower appliances (there are several) were added to the IBM portfolio in 2005 when IBM took over DataPower. De XI50z is actually the System z version op the existing XI50B appliance, you also see in the video above. These appliances are hardware platforms built with a specific goal : functionalities that are originally executed at server level are consolidated into appliances. This does not only consolidate these functionalities, it should also boost your performance.

Click on image for larger version in new window

How does it work ?
It's clear that this follows the same philosophy as what I described above or it's at least a predecessor of it. Summarized the XI50z is specifically used to accelerate XML processing, converting Web services protocols and also taking up some security aspects.

Ok, it's clear, you can best describe this as an Enterprise Server Bus (ESB). Let's give you some functionalities in more detail :
  • Protocol Bridging : Integrate disparate transport protocols with extreme ease like : HTTP(s), WebSphere MQ, WebSphere JMS, Tibco EMS, Database (DB2, Oracle, Sybase, SQL Server)
  • "Parsing of messages to allow specific routing based on Quality of Service requirements by user or transaction type.
  • The ability to take synchronous or asynchronous action based on the message, such as additional database calls to add to the message, or to modify the message content.
  • Conversion of XML to more efficient protocols than the SOAP or HTTP format, such as WebSphere MQ."
As I also indicated, IBM states the use of these appliances should give you a performance gain. For the XI50 this should be around 23%.

What about the mainframe
Here are some functionalities the XI50z (or for that matter of course also the XI50B) can handle in a mainframe context :
  • Connect to existing applications over WebSphere MQ
  • Transform XML to/from COBOL Copybook for legacy needs
  • Natively communicate with IMS Connect
  • Dynamic crypto material retrieval & caching, or offload crypto ops to z
  • Service enable CICS using WebSphere MQ
  • Virtualize CICS Web Services
As always, a picture tells more than a thousand words, so here are a couple of examples for CICS and DB2
Click on image for larger version in new window

Click on image for larger version in new window

Integration of the DataPower appliance on zBX
For the technical implementation I'm going to refer to the announcement, but I would like to point out some of the advantages for putting this appliance on mainframe (zBX) instead of running it as a standalone appliance.

Blade Hardware Management
  • Monitoring of hardware for health, degraded operation
  • Call-home for current/expected problems, automatic dispatch of CSR
  • Consolidation/Integration of DP HW problem reporting with other problems reported in zBX
  • Energy Monitoring and Management of DP Blades
DataPower Firmware Load and Update
  • Consistent change mgmt with other zGryphon firmware mgmt
  • Enforced restriction of firmware updates to SE userid
  • Enhanced new firmware level testing in zBX
HMC Console Integration
  • Person monitoring the z environment from an overall hardware operational perspective will see DP blades included in the picture, with associated status from a single console
  • Group GUI operations for functions supported on HMC (e.g. power up/quiesce/upgrade firmware)
  • Time synchronization with system z time via HMC/SE time server
DataPower Failure Recovery and Restart
  • HMC/SE will detect and report on appliance failures and can be used to re-cycle appliance if DataPower built-in restart fails
  • Periodic Backup/restore of full blade configuration (automatic on changes to config); Backup to HMC media
  • Virtual Network Provisioning
  • Provides enforced isolation of network traffic via VLAN support
  • 10Gb end-to-end network infrastructure
  • Built-in network redundancy
  • IEDN provides protected network, possibly obviating customer-perceived need for encryption of last-mile flows between DP and target back-end server
Monitoring and Reporting
  • Monitoring of DataPower health via HMC
  • Consolidated platform error logging across whole environment
I repeat my question : "what does this have to do with me ?". Well, in the coming years we will see more and more of these 'strange' technologies coming to the mainframe. All technologies that wé are not familiar with. Still, we will have to invest time in them, learn to know them because otherwise we will never be able to convince people that these technologies can run on, yes, belong on the mainframe. This is a new challenge we are facing. Let this XI50z be a first testcase for you.

I'll end up with another video, specifically on the XI50z and how you can implement it on mainframe.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sampling Techdocs - January/March 2011

It's been a while since I've referred to some of the most interesting publications I regularly find on Techdocs. But, here we are once again with a selection.
  • Presentation : DS8000 PAV and FlashCopy with z/VSE
    There's more to life than just z/OS. Here's a nice presentation on the implementation of PAV on z/VSE. It explains PAV in general and then continues on how to implement it on z/VSE. Do take a good look at the restrictions, though.
  • Presentation : DS8000 Advanced Functions and z/VM
    "This presentation discusses which DS8000 System z functions are exploited by z/VM. Functions discussed are Parallel Access Volumes (PAVs), FlashCopy, MIDAWs, zHPF, and Extended Address Volumes (EAVs)." Also interesting if you're running e.g. z/VSE as a guest on z/VM.
  • Flash : IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension Top of Rack Switch (TOR)
    This document starts with an overview of the zBX but goes into greater detail afterwards. It discusses the Bulk Power Heads on the z196, the connectivity for the Intranode Management Network (INMN) and the IntraEnsemble Data Network (IEDN), with some illustrations (always nice to get a visual) and it concludes with lots of reference materials.
Well that's it for now. As I always say : just check them out !

Friday, April 1, 2011

IBM announces System XIZ

No, no typo here. I was going to put up a post about this new revolutionary system being announced today, but my fellow Australian blogger Anthony Vandewerdt was ahead of me. What can I say : combining XIV with System z is as ingenious as it's simple. Here's a picture of it :

If you want all the information including lots of technical details, just take a look at Anthony's blog post : 'IBM stuns the IT world with new System XIZ'.

As I always say, just check it out !