Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

Well here's my last post for this year. If you missed my year review, just scroll down a bit.

We don't know what the next year will bring us but I surely wish every one the best for 2012 : A Happy New Year and good health to you and your family.

Thanks to all my readers for stopping by so regularly, to all the people who linked to this blog and to every one who gave me great feedback during 2010.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A customer mainframe story

This testimonial was referred to quite a lot a couple of months ago. I wondered why and a little demon whispered in my ear that it was because in this male bastion, there finally was a woman explaining why you should use the mainframe. No idea, anyway, I like this last 2011 feelgood story on my blog. So, just have a look at it too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mainframe Movers

Das Pop (a Belgian Rock group) has a song called Feelgood Factors and that was exactly what popped into my mind when I saw this video some time ago. Just makes you feel good to be a mainframer. Hey, it's the end of the year and I'm in a good mood. So, just enjoy this one too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Chorus, Christmas and a New Mainframe

Simplifying mainframe management and gathering mainframe knowledge has become essential over the last years. IBM started off some years ago with its Five Year March to Simplification with, as the result of it, z/OSMF. CA Technologies came up with its own solutions like Mainframe Chorus. And so, they also made a little christmas song with their Chorus and an explanation of their message.

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 : Linux celebrates its 20th anniversary

IBM celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, but there was another one who grew big in just 20 years : Linux. Remarkably enough last year we celebrated its 10th anniversary on the mainframe. So more, than half of its existence, Linux was available on the mainframe. I promised myself not to mention Windows in this context, so I won't. I'll wait another ten years for that.

So here's a nice, short history of Linux.

Want to see some more : check out the Mac vs PC vs Linux ads on youtube.

Friday, December 23, 2011

IBM's Five in Five and Social Media

IBM has been launching its 5 in 5 predictions for quite a couple of years now. I first mentioned them at the end of 2007. Why did I add social media in the title ? Well, at the time there was a press release with a video, yes, but you had to download it to watch it. So, I uploaded it to youtube (watch it here). This is just an example of how we have come to take social media and also services like youtube for granted. Four years ago, it was still completely new for (parts) of IBM and now IBMLabs uploads it immediately to youtube, I guess, without even thinking about it. Obviously, they didn't see that one coming . . .

So, here we have again 5 predictions that might become reality within 5 years. Are they realistic ? Frankly, I don't think so. Can I prove it ? No, but . . . first take a look at this year's issue.

And now we move on to the first one I've found which dates from about 5 years ago. We can check which one of those have become true. And you'll see : mind reading should no longer be a prediction in 2011, it should already be reality.

If, just for fun, I should have to choose one prediction to become true I would pick the next one. And though it's presented with a woman, I think men would even love this more. I know I would. So for all the men who hate shopping or who think shopping with their wives takes too long. Here's the solution. Well, almost !

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Looking Back on 2011 - Year Review

Well, another year's gone by and it's time to take a last look back on 2011. If you want the management summary now, I'd say : z114, heybrid computing, Linux and Windows on zBX. But let's not rush and just start off with January. First of all we saw the new IWP pricing : if you have running some IPLA software in an LPAR (actually it's restricted to some Websphere products) then you might see a reduction of the MSUs of some MLC softwares (CICS, IMS) that are also running in that same LPAR. On the other hand, there were quite some software price raises this year. It started off with CICS TS V3 and some Websphere, Tivoli and DB2 IPLA software. And Windows on zBX was mentioned for the first time.

In February I found out how important social networking can be ànd how willing people still are to help each other. I got news from IBM Techline that you always have to have SSD in your DS8000 to use Easy Tier, even the manual mode. In just a couple of days Nick Clayton (IBM) and Antony Vandewerdt (IBM, Aussie Storage Blog) contradicted this. Thanks, guys. You could actually hear my sigh of relief that I hadn't been telling any lies to my customers. IBM also changed its statement of direction on ESCON telling us that after the z196 (and implicitely the, yet to be announced, z114) ESCON would be a thing of the past. No carry forward either. Period.

I still remember that in March I was really excited about the preview of z/OS 1.13. This had to do with changes to the Batch Runtime environment and lots of improvements/additions to z/OSMF with software deployment, Storage DASD management and Capacity Provisioning. And if I saw a positive thing about social media and such in February, the zPrime Saga gave us a downside of all this. Alan Radding aka DancingDinosaur wrote a very enthousiastic piece on zPrime mentioning really amazing savings for one company. But the same day the post had already dsiappeared. So beware, you can almost never delete all traces of anything you wrote. I had the post in my feed reader and you can't come and delete a feed on every computer that's out there.

In April I wrote an extensive piece on the DataPower appliance on zBX (XI50z). I still think these 'accelerators' are an added value to the hybrid zEnterprise and you can be sure there's more to come of these. The mantra of this year (whether you like it or not) : some more price 'changes', this time on the zSecure products and all FWLC products. Further, there's the announcement of CICS TS V4.2 and a clear statement of direction by IBM to deliver Linux on zBX in Q3 and Windows on zBX in Q4, which they did. There was also a preview of z/VSE V5.1 and we saw the first DB2night shows for z/OS.

May gave us the first wave of storage announcements of 2011 with innovations on nearly every mainframe related storage component. The DS8000, which by now definitely only means DS8700 and DS8800 gets Easy Tier V2, the priority manager ... We also had the new TS1140 tape drive.

In June we finally see 'The End' for zPrime and we can now put the link to our February story. zPrime has also become a thing of the past. And of course there was some great news for our own company. From now on, with the support of IBM, we're teaming together with Sogeti for mainframe opportunities where we both can mean an added value for each other.

Why IBM chooses July to announce a new zEnterprise system is totally unclear to me. Every one (at least in Europe) is on vacation in that period. Still, great announcement of the z114 which gives the Business Class customers also the opportunity to have a real zEnterprise System. I'm not going into too much detail (you can read everything over here) but, when we take a look at the really new stuff, it introduces the new PCIe I/O drawer and the Intel Blades for the zBX. There is no technology dividend for the z114 but there's a new and better pricing : AEWLC. But, better is a relative word because, here we go again, it sets off against a price raise of 5% for all EWLC customers starting January 2012. Next to that there's also the announcement of the new 3592 Model C07 tape controller which now includes library management functions. This makes the 3953-L05 Library Manager unnecessary for any mainframe customer.

After all these announcements August and September were really calm months. We saw the obvious thing happen : the 3953-L05 Library Manager was actually withdrawn from marketing. Just like last year, the Total Solution event for System z organized at the IBM forum was a success and there are already plans in place for a new edition in 2012.

October was also quite eventful this year. There were the software announcements of Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.2 and of (who said this was old and obsolete ?) IMS 12 Transaction and Database server. On with the storage announcements with XIV Gen3 with support of 3TB SAS drives and a mobile monitoring dashboard for iPad. We also see StorWize expanded to the StorWize Unified System supporting NFS/CIFS/FTP/HTTPS/SCP file protocols in addition to existing block protocols (iSCSI and FCP). DS8000 gets some new features supporting an additional frame on the DS8800, supporting three drive tiers for Easy Tier and I/O Priority support for System z volumes. And don't forget the new mainframe announcements with Windows on zBX, IDAA (IBM's DB2 Analytics Accelerator) and, last but not least, the Tivoli Storage Manager for z/OS Media making it possible to keep using z/OS FICON attached storage when migrating TSM to another environment.

As last year, November and December were rather quiet months. So I took the opportunity to write a bit more detailed on the Tivoli Storage Manager for z/OS Media and IBM's DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA).

Conclusion ?
Software pricing is always a delicate story but it surely represents the larger amount of the mainframe cost. And I can tell you that most customers weren't really happy with all the price 'changes' that came their way in 2011. Especially the 5% price raise on the EWLC pricing was not very kindly received. Even if it's justifiable, you know how it goes : it's the perception that counts.

Here's a great role for hybrid computing. Now that zBX is also available on the Business Class Systems, I think that 2012 will be a crucial year for the breakthrough of it. We have more than a year of experience with it on the z196 and with that experience it's time to convince each and every manager that this could really be a valid alternative for lots of management problems. And I also think accelerators will play an important role in this. The more mainframe related workload we can run on the zBX, the easier it gets to justify this is a really cost effective platform.

That's why I still find it a wrong signal to the customers to put the IDAA on a separate Netezza box. I'd rather have seen IBM waited a bit longer and came up with a really integrated solution. How can you justify to your management you will run DataPower on a zBX and the successor of Smart Analytics Optimizer on a separate box ?

Well, that's it for 2011. Looking forward to 2012 and I hope you will join me in the coming year too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last short takes of 2011

You know I usually try to conclude the year on a lighter note, if possible with a couple of videos. Well this year won't be any different. First of all I'm still presenting you some reading material with these short notes, then I still owe you my year review and after that I'll come up with some videos, commercials etc. that will hopefully brighten up your last working days of 2011 a bit.

Sor for those who first still want to have some serious reading material . . .
  • I just received the Winter issue of zJournal. You can download it over here. I think it's a great issue this time. It has a comprehensive article on the IDAA (IBM's DB2 Analytics Accelerator). Some personal columns like e.g. from Marcel den Hartog (IT Management) and Mark Lillycrop (Recession Pushes Mainframe prices up). Too much to mention of course but, VSE people, do take a look at the column of Pete Clark who's already listing all 2012 events. And there are quite some articles on CICS like e.g. on the scalability enhancements of CICS TS 4.2.
  • Which brings me to the next reading material : the CICS Portfolio eNewsletter that starts off with a 2011 overview. It also gives an overview of 2011 product deliverables, gives you a lot of links to documentation, redbooks, demos, webcasts ... And there's also a preview of 2012 events. You can subscribe to this eNewsletter over here.
  • Looking for more webcasts, here's a link to the upcoming January System z Software Webcasts and Teleconferences. And if you want to keep up with the next months, then just follow IBM System z events on Twitter.
Well, as I always say : just check them out !

Friday, December 9, 2011

Potential DS8700/DS8800 Loss of Access due to repeating device recovery with the PTFs for OA34661 installed on z/Os

Call this a Red Alert for the DS8700 and DS8800 (DS8100 and DS8300 are not affected by this). This is the entire title 'Potential DS8700/DS8800 Loss of Access and Job Abends on Release 6.2 due to repeating device recovery with the PTFs for OA34661 installed on z/Os releases 1.11 through 1.13. Also base z/OS 1.13 clients are exposed' and you can find all details over here.

In short, people running z/OS 1.11 or higher who are using zHPF and have Release Code 6.2 installed on their DS8700 or DS8800 should read on.

The content of the notification gives you a clear view of what's happening :
"With z/OS OA34661 support and Release 6.2 DS8700/DS8800 microcode, System z High Performance FICON (zHPF) supports additional workloads using QSAM, BPAM, and BSAM access methods as well as provide improvements for DB2 list prefetch processing. These changes expand the type of applications that can now use zHPF, including applications performing format writes. The zHPF support must be in both the host system and DS8000 in order for the new functions to be allowed. In general, the access methods exploiting the new zHPF support do not use format write/update write intermixed in the same channel program. However, Media Manager does have the ability to generate zHPF channel programs with format write/update write intermixes, and the new support for format writes allows it to be done using zHPF. When such an intermix is processed in the control unit using a zHPF channel program, repeating panics will occur leading to fenced host adapter cards and potentially a loss of access issue."

Have a look at the notification page on how to avoid or resolve this particular problem.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS and the DB2Night show

In my last post I mentioned IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS or IDAA (pronounce : Eye-Da) as the successor of the Smart Analytics Optimizer. I didn't want to enter a discussion of why IBM chose to abandon the zBX ship and keep the Netezza hardware boxes. But I just have to repeat my statement I also made in my previous post. Obviously it's a very specific hardware configuration that doesn't seem to fit onto the zBX and there's also very little configuration about it. But you can say the same of every appliance like e.g. the DataPower appliance. And I still think it somewhat undermines the whole zEnterprise message with the centralized role of the mainframe and the management of the distributed appliances on the zBX including Workload Management. I guess (hope) there will be some (financial) regulations for people whe bought a zBX solely for the ISAOPT and who are now moving on to IDAA. I won't even think about the possibility of next generations of IDAA running on zBX.

Let's move on to the real subject of this post : the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA).

IDAA delivers even faster response times for your Data Warehouse queries with the Netezza technology. The DB2Night show of last Monday was a presentation by Namik Hrle on this very IDAA and the replay is available over here. If you're even only remotely interested in the technology, it's definitely worth an hour's time. Topics discussed are :
  • Business and Technology drivers
  • Key design and operational features
  • DB2 integration explaining every DB2 parameter, Explain functionalities etc.
  • Powered by Netezza
  • Supported Workloads
I won't go into any detail as Namik Hrle does a far better job explaining all the aspects. Just a few quotes to tease you into watching the replay
  • You can also use the Explain function when you don't have the IDAA yet as a kind of projection tool
  • Loading takes about 0.87TB up to 1.5TB per hour depending on the data
  • There's a nice slide summing up the conditions for routing queries to the IDAA
  • There's a compression ratio of about 4x
  • IBM is looking into refining the updating of the IDAA data based on inserts and/or updates rather than whole partitions or tables now.
So, do have a look at the replay. Furthermore you can also find information about IDAA on the IBM page and in the IDAA Bruochure. I particularly like this phrase from the brochure : 'The Forgotten Query'. You can guess what it is : it's that query you tried running optimizing it to the bit and finally deciding there was neither time nor resources to run it. Well, have another look at it now !

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

IBM Announcement : some System z software withdrawals

Today IBM announces some System z software withdrawals : 'Software withdrawal: IBM System z selected products - Some replacements available (ZP11-0602)'. There's a couple of softwares I would like to mention here. It's about withdrawal from marketing dates, so it's about last dates you can order these softwares. So, of course, this is just a reminder for those very few who are not always up to date and still want to order these products.

The first one is IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer for DB2® for z/OS V1.1. This one will be WDFM on December 12, 2011. It will be replaced by the new Netezza solution : IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS V2.1, which was announced along with a lot of other products on October 12 of this year. This complements an earlier announcement with the hardware withdrawal of the IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer (ISAOPT) feature on the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) (ZG11-0350). This also means that this Netezza Solution is running on Netezza hardware and no longer on the zBX. This strikes me as being completely against the entire argumentation IBM built up so carefully in favor of using the zBX as opposed to loosely coupled distributed solutions, no ?

A couple of other softwares being WDFM are :
  • IBM z/VM 5.4 on March 12, 2012
  • IBM z/VM 6.1 on November 28, 2012
  • IBM z/VSE 4.3 on June 25, 2012
  • IBM DB2 for z/OS 9.1 on December 10, 2012
  • IBM PSF for z/OS 4.3 on September 30, 2012