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.