Wednesday, December 26, 2012

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 2013 : 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, to those who kindly retweeted me and to every one who gave me great feedback during 2012.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Looking back on 2012 - Year Review

Just try to sum up three important facts/evolutions that colored the mainframe world in 2012. With which ones do you come up in a split second ? I had some trouble you know. Was 2012 a rather quiet year for mainframe ? Well there's of course the announcement of the zEC12, oh yes, and there's the pre announcement of z/OS V2 and . . . and . . . Big Data perhaps ? Or something else ?
Well, let's find out.

My first post in January was about a belated New Years present by IBM with a price change for z/OS for VWLC and AWLC customers. In hindsight I think this was a more important price raise than the FWLC price raise later this year that caused a lot more of comment. I also broadened my perspective on storage. As I said it back then "I can no longer pretend to write about high-end storage attached to mainframe. There's a whole range of midrange storage devices that can also connect to this very mainframe and zBX". So I also started writing about XIV, StorWize ... and no longer just about DASD. One other thing I see throughout this year is that the customer Working Groups (especially GSE in Belgium) usually draw a lot of people and do one heck of a job. They also try to more and more involve young professionals into this. IBM also launches a try before you buy version of CICS TS 4.2.

In February we learn that the End of Support date of DB2 for z/OS 9.1 is set on June 27, 2014. For z/VM there's an EOS date for z/VM 6.1 : April 30, 2013. So, z/VM 5.4 outlasts z/VM 6.1 with half a year. We also had our first major storage announcement in February with Gen 3.1 of XIV. The most important feature of XIV Gen 3.1 is the introduction of SSD read cache.

In March Jeff Magdall, z/OS program leader from IBM, held the MVS Program Opening Keynote at Share and stated that the next z/OS releases would have a 2-year release scheme instead of the yearly releases up to now. And if you didn't get your copy of the source of true wisdom back then it's still there. I'm talking about the CA Technologies Reference Guide for DB2 10 for z/OS.

In April we got clarity about z/OS with a pre-announcement of z/OS 2. z/OS 2.1 will be released in the second half of 2013 and the current n-2 support for migration remains. Standard support is prolonged to 5 years. Price changes, now for Cobol V3 and Enterprise PL/I V3 follow the same train of thoughts as before. IBM has continuously added functionalities to these versions without significant price increases. Now it wants to level the prices with the more recent versions of the products. There were also some enhancements to z/VSE 5.1. Hardware withdrawal for the DS8700 is also announced this month. Mind you, it's only the base frame. This prevents you from buying new DS8700 boxes but you can still upgrade existing ones. And for those still on DB2 V8, by the end of the month the end of support date is reached.

May did not bring us a lot of new things. There was only an announcement on the DS8000 making clear if you're still on DS8100 or DS8300, it's time to move on as you can no longer order expansion frames nor practically anything else for them. Still there was an anniversary to celebrate in May : IBM Tape turned 60 and you can summarize this in a few words : "60 years of innovation – and counting".

More, no, a lot of storage announcements in June on XIV, SVC, StorWize, TPC and also DS8000. And, of course, it's especially the DS8000 statements of direction that caught our attention : Easy Tier will extend smart data placement intelligence to use server resources, communicating with servers to place hot data in server SSD cache to optimize performance. DS8000 will use fast, high-density SSD cache modules to enhance performance.and there will be an Easy Tier support for application APIs enabling servers to communicate with storage so storage can become aware of application workload needs and use that to optimize data placement. I can't wait to see this in action.

July and August seemed to be relatively quiet mainframe months but you know what they say : the sting is in the tail. But before that we should of course also mention that z/VM turned 40 in August and, more than ever, it stays alive and kicking. You know what they say : life begins at 40 ! And to complete this, support for z/VM 5.4 is prolonged. "z/VM V5.4 will continue to be supported until December 31, 2014, or until the z9 EC and z9 BC are withdrawn from support, whichever is later".
The most important announcement of August, and actually of 2012, was the announcement of the zEnterprise EC12 or zEC12. I'm nog going into too much detail, you can read everything over here, but I think it's reasonable to say that it's kind of a logical evolution of the z196 with the addition of two new features : Flash Express and IBM zAware. Not much news to offer on zBX, which only feeds some rumors that it might eventually be replaced by or merged with the new PureSystems of IBM. Something which is afterwards strongly contradicted by IBM. And surprise : there is no new pricing mechanism, allthough MLC software prices can go down up to 7%. That, we must say, is good pricing news of course.

In September we had another price 'change' for some CICS and IMS products. And in Belgium we had, yet again, a sucessful version of the Total Solutions Event at the IBM Forum. Don't forget to mark the days for next year's event : September 24 to 26, 2013.

Quite a lot of announcements in October. I start off with the new DS8870 which promises three times more performance than the previous version. It has a new Power 7 processor supporting a lot more cores and cache. But let's move on. Next one is the announcement of IDAA for z/OS V3.1. The most striking new things : you can put tables on the IDAA without keeping a copy in DB2. So it acts like a kind of archive, of very fast archive, that is. Secondly there's an incremental update feature giving you near real-time accessability instead of 'outdated' copies. Also CICS Transaction Server V5.1 is announced in October. And just like we saw with CICS TS 4.2 in January, it also gets a developer trial version. And there's more : the Early Support Program (ESP) for DB2 11 is announced. GA should be somewhere in 2013. No time to waste : Quality Partnership Program (QPP) for IMS 13 is also announced. This is also some kind of ESP. So also there, estimated GA in 2013. The last announcement is the Withdrawal from Marketing of the base frame of the DS8800. This means, similar to what we saw with the DS8700 in April, that you can no longer order a new DS8800 but you can still order all other components like expansion frames, disk capacity . . .

In November quite a lot of comments popped up about the FWLC price change IBM announced going as far as stating that customers would see a raise of their software bill of about 10%. I begged to differ there because definitely not all customers are affected and as far as I can see, only a small portion of their stack is taken into account making it more like a 0.5% price increase.
For the rest November and December were rather quiet months. I followed my first twitter mainframe debate (#mainframedebate). I'll let you know when there's another one, because it's actually quite interesting as lots of different people are there at the same moment. Just don't do like me by asking questions on customer experiences for products that haven't GA'd yet (FlashExpress that was).

Well, that's all folks. So, let me end by repeating my question : try to sum up three important facts/evolutions that colored the mainframe world in 2012. With which ones do you come up in a split second ? Well ? Or was it a quiet year after all ?

Wait a second, you'll say. Where are the 2013 predictions ? Well, it's not because I blog and, I admit, sometimes think about those things, that I have a crystal ball. I mentioned Big Data at the beginning but didn't really talk about it any further. Well, it's perhaps because I don't really like all those Big Words, but I'm definitely looking forward to evolutions in Data Warehousing and what role IDAA will have in this. Furthermore I'm curious on how the zBX story will continue, because let's be honest, we haven't seen much evolution here in 2012. And yes, I guess there will be a zBC12 in 2013.

To be continued . . .

Friday, December 21, 2012

Much ado about Nothing . . . euh . . . FWLC

I was going to write my year review, yes there's one coming up and I wanted to refer to the FWLC price raise that IBM announced a couple of months ago. But now I see this story popping up again in other year reviews and I do not totally agree with everything I read. I might be looking at this from a more European, or even Benelux, point of view, but still . . .

When I first read the articles and all the excitement about an announcement of a 10% price raise for FWLC softwares (American version 2012 (312-129)), I just thought : no big deal, we had ours last year (EMEA version 2011 (ZA11-1013)) that also bluntly announced that 10% raise. 'Oh well', I thought 'most of the mainframe watchers are focused on American announcements, they just missed this one here in Europe'. I also noticed they did not interpret the announcement all that correctly but what the heck. As I already said : much ado about nothing. I'll tell you why in a minute. But then in December there was another European announcement (ZA12-1087) once again announcing a 10% raise on all FWLC software. Hey, that's adding up to let's say 20%. So I started searching the announcements and found out that there had been the exact same announcement for the United States in January 2011 (311-002). Why no one mentioned it back then ? I don't know.

But why am I not al that worried about it ?

First of all FWLC is a pricing mechanism which has a flat monthly rate per server independent of its capacity. But, perhaps more important, it's only applicable to let's say Enterprise Class machines and sysplex pricing : VWLC and AWLC for most customers nowadays.
Customers on smaller systems having EWLC and AEWLC pricing do not even have FWLC pricing. So when I read that customers that are still on older machines running this old software are the first victims of this, I tend to disagree. These are usually small customers who do no longer update their systems ànd who are usually on small systems, hence, nót having FWLC pricing. So who stays : large customers and sysplex customers. But there again it will only be the larger customers as smaller customers who run sysplexes on BC machines are often cheaper off paying each machine separately with EWLC or AEWLC pricing.
Since this mainly effects larger customers I cannot imagine that lots of those customers, who still invest largely in mainframe technology will have many of these older softwares running.

Secondly, what about the 10% price raise ? Well, I checked it and it's actually correct. Customers will see a 10% price raise on their software stack . . . at least on their FWLC softwares. So, when I read in some year review that software prices for mainframe customers will raise with 10%, that is definitely not the case.  I've checked a number of software stacks and the maximum percentage of FWLC software I found for a customer was about 4% of the total bill. So . . . in reality we're speaking of a raise on the total bill of maximum 0.4% instead of 10%. Hey, now I can even live with the 20% I just mentioned.

So, you know I usually can be critical about price 'changes' by IBM, but not really about this one. Unless the American market is entirely different. But then again why did no one mention it last year ?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

IBM zAware information

IBM zAware was introduced together with the zEC12. You can find my introduction to it over here. Let me fresh up your mind with this little picture. More info in my previous post.

Click on image for larger version

But that was just an introduction leaving people with lots of questions. So I'm glad I can refer to some additional information through a couple of blog posts by the real subject matter specialists.

Have a look at the IBM Mainframe Insights blog. There was a series of  4 articles on IBM zAware which is definitely worth your attention. The first one 'The Journey of IBM zAware' tells us how the idea for IBM zAware originated and how it was developed. The content of the second one 'zAware Installation and Start up' is pretty obvious as it tells you which steps to take to setup and activate the IBM zAware partition. The third one aswers the 'Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About IBM zAware'. And the last one is actually an 'IBM zAware Demo'. It's a 15 minute demo on Youtube demonstrating the GUI. Oh well, I might as well include it here too.

Don't forget : there's also a Redbook on zAware : 'Extending z/OS System Management Functions with IBM zAware' which has the following content :
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. z/OS System Management Functions
  • Chapter 3. Planning for IBM zAware
  • Chapter 4. IBM zAware Installation
  • Chapter 5. Maintaining and Managing IBM zAware
  • Chapter 6. Integration with other products
  • Appendix A. Syslog Message Analysis Program
  • Appendix B. Activating TCP/IP AT-TLS
  • Appendix C. Using automation to monitor IBM zAware connections
  • Appendix D. Problem determination sample
An just to be complete : there's also an 'IBM System z Advanced Workload Analysis Reporter (IBM zAware) Guide (SC27-2623-00)'.

Combining all this information, you'll be pretty well on your way to become a real IBM zAware specialist.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Distributed Energy - The Journal of Energy Efficiency & Reliability

People who know me a bit will probably raise their eyebrows at this title. If there is something I know absolutely nothing about, it's about electricity. When at a Solution Assurance (or should I say TDA) it comes to 220V or 380V, DC or AC, 16A or 32A, I'm at a total loss desperately looking around for any help I can get. It must be some kind of switch (no pun intended) in my head that's immediately turned off when it comes to electricity.

But hey, this is about Energy. And I have a slight suspicion that's not exactly the same. So, I first stumbled across this Distributed Energy Journal in 2009 when it published an article about 'The Green Machine', with the subtitle 'IBM unveils the “most technologically advanced, energy-efficient” data center ever constructed'. I think it's still an interesting read.

So I kept following the periodical and from time to time it published some articles on the building of Data Centers and Energy Efficiency when doing so. Because I know that practically all companies are interested in this matter (money, money in times of crisis) and I doubt a lot of IT people know this journal I guess it might be an interesting introduction for some of you.

The latest November-December issue has an article called 'Supersize IT' writing on how "huge data centers' surging demands are met with innovative power solutions". it gives lots of examples of new data centers and how they are trying to handle energy as efficiently as possible. Yes, I know, I'm starting to sound a bit vague here, but you know why. So all you data center specialists, just head over there and read all the good stuff. And yes, the question whether DC is a better alternative is also discussed.

There, I should go into politics. I can fill a whole page delivering a valuable message without having a clue what I'm talking about. Sort of.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why every IT architect should understand something about CICS

Sometimes you stumble across a topic or some documentation that's just too good not to post about (Is that a correct English sentence ?). Even if it has already been brought to your attention through several other resources. So, I read about the new 'Architect's Guide to IBM CICS on System z' in the new CICS Portfolio eNewsFlash which you can find over here. And there were also some links to some other sources about it. So, instead of writing my own post about it, I'm going to do a bit of stealing (yes, even my post title) and I'll give you the references.

Bottom line is : every IT architect should know about the value of CICS. That's why Martin Keen starts his post on the IBM Software blog like this :
How many times did you use CICS Transaction Server this year? This week? Today? Unless you're already familiar with IBM's 43 year-old transaction server, you might be scratching your head and thinking “I've never used it!”.

Think again.

Have you had lunch yet? If so, did you pay with a debit or credit card? Then you've used CICS. Did you pay for lunch with cash instead? CICS entered your life then too – when you went to the ATM to withdraw the money.

And you're not alone. CICS Transaction Server handles a dizzying number of transactions every day. More than 30 billion transactions a day in fact(...)
Go on over there and read about the value of CICS and why every IT architect should know about it.

The same introduction to the Redbook is found on Youtube.

Still not convinced ? Then take a look over here to find out what inspired the writers of the Redbook.

But of course, do go and read the 'Architect's Guide to IBM CICS on System z' over here. And don't think : 'Oh, it's definitely beginner's stuff' because Martin Keen concludes :This is an essential book for architects, and a lot of other people besides. Even people who consider themselves CICS experts will learn something from reading it. I highly recommend it".

Still not enough ? Here's another 10-pager on the 'CICS Transaction Server Application Architecture'.

So, as I always say, do check them out !

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#mainframedebate, twitter, mainframe blog and Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM

Some three years ago I had my little say about Twitter over here and back then (ages ago) I referred to an article on 'The four stages of the average Twitter user' and I think the article is still relevant. The four stages are : Confusion and Indignation, The first "Aha!" Moment, Remembering to Tweet and Thinking in 140 characters. Three years ago I was definitely a stage one person. But things - and people - evolve. I've discovered that lots of information and links to interesting blogs comes a lot faster via Twitter. So, I'm tweeting a reference to my blog posts myself, I'm checking the tweets of people I follow at least twice a day, I'm re-tweeting interesting stuff and this all mostly via Tweetdeck. Am I hooked to it, not really : I'm only using it for professional purposes and I haven't gone mobile ... yet.

And so my post starts with the hashtag #mainframedebate. For those not familiar with the term, a hashtag is a kind of search argument you can add to a tweet. If people search on it, they get all tweets around this topic. And, if all people start using that hashtag at the same moment, you can start a debate. Well, yesterday I received an invite from Steven Dickens (@StevenDickens3) which went like this :
planning to join us? 5th Dec | 4pm GMT | 11am EST
So tomorrow at 4pm GMT you can join this debate on twitter posing as many questions as you like about the mainframe. You need a twitter account to participate but you can follow the discussion over here as well.
If you want some more information, you can have a look at the Mainframe and Hybrid Computing blog from Steven who also organized the first debate and wrote about it in a couple of posts last September.

It's free association today, so this topic also brings me to Stevens blog. I didn't know it before but Steven writes quite some interesting stuff on mainframe and cloud computing. His latest post is about Cloud Computing and the Cult of x86. He refers to a white paper 'Comparing Virtualization Alternatives - What's best for your business?' which you can find via this link. "The purpose of this analysis was to examine the real-world  impact on businesses that deploy IBM’s z/VM virtualization product, compared to those using UNIX or x86 products". If you want to make a stand for z/VM as virtualization platform this is a very useful document with lots of arguments and graphs illustrating every aspect of the comparison.

And . . . don't forget to join the #mainframedebate tomorrow !

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Proud to be a part of z and Millennial Mainframer

Remember I blogged about the System z poster you could be a part of. Well, it's been out for a couple of days now.

The poster was shared on Facebook on the IBM System z Mainframe page. It seems to be originally put up on the Millennial Mainframer page with the following comment : "Proud to be part of z.Together we stand for generation z - customers, business partners and IBMers from around the world. 156 z enthusiasts from 100 companies in 28 countries share their passion for IBM zEnterprise". 

In case you haven't come across Millennial Mainframer I'm sure you will soon. They want to offer "a fresh look at mainframes and associated Information Technology topics". They also have a site/blog which you can find over here. It's actually a group of young people or at least people at the beginning of their mainframe career who offer us a fresh look at our System z world. Do have a look at their site. It's surely worth it. And you can even join the experience or as the say it themselves :

"Get Involved
Millennial Mainframer is always looking for permanent or guest contributors interested in publishing articles on our blog community. While we welcome contributions from mainframers of all ages, we are particularly interested in hearing from students and mainframe professionals in the first ten years of their career. To get in touch with us please email us at"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Redbook : IBM zEnterprise EC12 Configuration Setup

I already mentioned the usual Redbooks when a new system is announced. For the zEC12 this was the IBM zEnterprise EC12 Technical Introduction and the IBM zEnterprise EC12 Technical Guide. But there's a lesser known third one that's been getting published since the z10 EC for the Enterprise Class systems. The new one for the zEC12 is : IBM zEnterprise EC12 Configuration Setup.

I mention it as it's easily overlooked because, unlike the others, it usually appears somewhat after the announcement date of the system. What's its content ? Well, let me just quote the introductory summary.
"This IBM Redbooks publication helps you install, configure, and maintain the IBM zEnterprise EC12 server. The zEC12 offers new functions that require a comprehensive understanding of the available configuration options. This book presents configuration setup scenarios, and discusses implementation examples in detail.
This book is intended for systems engineers, hardware planners, and anyone who needs to understand IBM System z configuration and implementation. Readers should be generally familiar with current IBM System z technology and terminology."
Just take a look at the different chapters and you'll see that it's surely worth a look when you'll be installing a zEC12.
Chapter 1. Channel Subsystem
Chapter 2. Configuration Planning
Chapter 3. I/O Autoconfiguration on IBM zEnterprise EC12 processors
Chapter 4. Upgrading from an IBM System IBM zEnterprise 196 to an IBM zEnterprise EC12
Chapter 5. Replacing an IBM System z10 EC/z196 with an IBM zEnterprise EC12
Chapter 6. Installing a new IBM zEnterprise EC12
Chapter 7. Installing an additional IBM zEnterprise EC12
Chapter 8. Server Time Protocol Setup
Chapter 9. Crypto Express4S Configuration
Chapter 10. Reserved logical partitions
Chapter 11. Preparing the IBM zEnterprise EC12 for the zEnterprise BladeCenter® Extension (zBX)Model 003
Next to that I'd also like to mention that the inevitable IBM System z Connectivity Handbook has also been updated for the zEC12.

As I always say, just check them out !
And you know what, if it comes down to reading a good Redbook : you're not alone.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

IBM Linux on System z Cloud Test Drive

I could tell you a lot about Cloud on System z. When I walk through some IBM presentations, they tell me that a U.S. Bank reduced provisioning time from 45 days to 20 minutes or that there's 79% less TCA vs. leading public cloud or that IBM System z represents both the lowest TCO coupled with industry leading Qualities of Service for deploying private and/or hybrid clouds. Conclusion : "with solutions from Tivoli to automate provisioning and provide broad spectrum of key cloud capabilities, the time is now to start deploying your cloud on System z".

I know, lots of theory and I hardly dare saying it 'marketing talk'. But suppose that you could really take a test drive that offers you
  • A free hands on experience using Cloud and Linux on IBM System z powered by z/VM for virtualization, Tivoli Provisioning Manager (TPM) for deployment, and a selection of 5 system images based on SUSE or Red Hat.
  • With server images that will provide application server function (WebSphere) and database capabilities (DB2 or Oracle)
  • Simple remote access over the internet to IBM Systems in Maryland
  • Guided exercises for training, then up to 90 days of free access to up to 3 Linux servers running under z/VM
Well you can, it's available now ànd it's free.

You can experience Cloud on System z in different roles. You can access a user self service interface sample application remotely from office or home and deploy, operate, and delete up to three Linux on System z virtual guests. As an administrator you have hands on access to Tivoli Provisioning Manager (TPM) screens.

If you're interested you can apply via your IBM or BP representative or you can contact Mich Green at IBM. You'll see his e-mail address at the end of the terrific demo on Youtube he gives about this offering.

By the way : this is a worldwide offering.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

IMS V13 Release Planning Book and Information Center

The IMS 13 QPP (Qualtiy Partnership Program) was announced at the beginning of this month. Hereby a number of IMS customers will be able to use IMS 13 before General Announcement.

If you're interested to learn more about IMS 13, you might want to have a look at the following sources. They were listed out by Dean Meltz from IBM on the IMS-L Digest list. You can find the archives over here.

First of all there's the general IBM IMS 13 page that you can find over here.

Then there's the first edition of the IMS V13 Release Planning book (RPG). "As always, this book will be updated and republished when the product becomes generally available". You can see the IMS V13 RPG here. A first part focuses on General planning information for IMS Version 13. "These topics provide an overview of the new functions and enhancements, describe how these new functions might affect your installation, and provide general migration considerations. IBM IMS Tools that support IMS Version 13 are also described". The second part treats the Planning for IMS Version 13 enhancements. "Planning for the IMS Version 13 enhancements includes understanding how the following areas are affected: installation, system definition, administration, troubleshooting and reference".

You see that from there on you can move to the Information Center for IMS 13. But there's more. Dean also points out that there's not only an online version of the Information Management Software for z/OS Solutions Information Center. This information Center covers DB2, IMS and Infosphere products. There's also an installable version of this Information Center that runs on Windows XP and Windows 7 which you can use without an internet connection. All information about it can be found over here. Be sure to have a good look at the readme file because there are a couple of options for installing and running the product.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Upcoming events and webcasts

I thought I might give you a summary of some events scheduled for the next month(s).

GSE Meetings in Belgium

December 6, 2012 - DB2 User Group Meeting
AXA Antwerp
This meeting will focus on customer experiences from Colruyt, KBC and BNP Paribas Fortis on migrating to DB2 10. Next to that SD Worx will tell you about the implementation of Temporal Data.
Information and registration

December 12, 2012 - GSE z/OS Working Group Meeting
RealDolmen Huizingen

December 13, 2012 - GSE Security Working Group Meeting (z/OS Oriented)
IBM Belgium
Information and registration

IBM Events in Belgium

November 7, 2012 - PoT - Enterprise Application Transformation with RDz and RTCz
IBM Forum Brussels
"This Proof of Technology (PoT) session provides attendees with basic skills and hands-on exposure to the major features of the Rational Enterprise Modernization Accelerator for Developers, providing an integrated development solution, consisting of the Rational Developer for System z (version 8), Rational Team Concert (version 3) and Rational Asset Analyzer (version 6) tools."
Information - Registration

November 14, 2012 - PoT - Discovering the value of IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5
IBM Forum Brussels
Information - Registration

IBM Webcasts

November 6 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Follow the business rules to succeed in modernizing your IMS Applications
Information and Registration 

November 7 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Hey! Who closed my batch window?

"Addressing shrinking batch processing windows, while maintaining an 'always on' responsiveness to online transactions". 
Information and Registration

November 8 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
CICS V5.1: Operation efficiency and service agility through cloud enablement
Information and Registration

November 13 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
International DB2 Users Group (IDUG) shares DB2 10 upgrade experiences from USERS

About : DB2 10 cost savings right out of the box,Reducing CPU and improving performance,Reducing business risk and overhead by staying current.  
Information and Registration

November 29 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Mainframe Compiler Experts Panel: Strategies and Best Practices for Successful Compiler upgrades
Information and Registration

December 11 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
DB2 for z/OS Migration - Query Performance Considerations
Information and Registration

And there are still some more. If you want to see all upcoming webcasts, have look over here. For all upcoming teleconferences, you can take a look over here.

z/VSE Live Virtual Class

October 30, 2012 at 4 pm Brussels
VSE/POWER - all the news since z/VSE V4.2
Information and Registration

As I always say, just check them out !

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sampling TechDocs - up to October 2012

It's been some months, but here I am again with an overview of interesting TechDocs documents I came across while browsing through the latest publications. If you're completely unfamiliar to Techdocs, here's an introduction to it.
  • Document : IBM Mainframe Life Cycle History
    I've mentioned this one before but it has been updated to include the zEC12. So far, none of the System z systems, starting with the z900 in 2000 have become end of support. But you may also know that IBM has become a lot stricter in applying its end of marketing strategy. Marketing for the z10 BC lasted less than 4 years, with a grace period of one year for microcode upgrades. I have the impression that smaller customers do not like this (and you may call this an understatement).
    • White paper : IBM z/OS Data Corruption Trends & Directions
      I cannot add anything to the introduction : "The nightly backup window has been with computing since disk and tape were invented. The good news is that with all of the synchronous and asynchronous data replication techniques available in the marketplace, data can be mirrored across the world in seconds. The bad news is that all copies of the data can and will be corrupted within seconds as well. Data Replication has not replaced the need to backup data to protect it from logical data corruption scenarios. Over the last 20 years, Data Backup techniques have improved and for z/OS this paper will explore many of the innovations in the backup/restore arena".

    Well that's it for now. And, as I always say : just check them out !

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Catching up on my reading : Hot Topics, IBM Systems Magazine and Enterprise Tech Journal

    Finally, I found some time to catch up with some reading.

    Hot Topics, a z/OS Newsletter (August 2012)

    Let me start with the Hot Topics Newsletter. Unfortunately enough, it will only appear once in a year from now on. You know, I just make a random selection of articles I particularly liked, but of course all the rest is worth your while. And that also goes for the other magazines.
    I have the impression that z/OSMF is for many customers still a great unknown and people are hesitant to use it. Well, the article 'Don't just emulate it!' on the z/OSMF ISPF feature might be a good entry point. It describes how you can use z/OSMF to open one or several ISPF sessions in your browsers, use split screens or tabbed displays, you can even have several, parallel TSO/E user sessions at once.
    Another article on the new GRS support of FICON CTC communication shows you how much your GRS configuration might be affected and how much planning you might have for migration.
    Furthermore : hints and tips on migrating to z/OS 1.13, learn how z/OS 1.13 SPOOL migration lets you merge/consolidate volumes to new volumes in a non-disruptive manner within a few hours, an article on learning how to obtain new mainframe skills directing you to the Academic Initiative but also to (quite interesting) online course materials

    IBM Systems magazine (September-October 2012)
    Online Version - PDF Version

    This issue focuses on data analytics in the broadest sense but I think the title of the intro by Greg Lotko sums it up nicely : 'Transforming Data Into Value' ! Of course this also implies there's a lot of attention for the new zEC12 including the cover article. There's a good article on Data Marts. Data Marts are great but tend to have some issues like rapid multiplication, a lack of architecture, administrative complexity and so on. This article shows how the zEnterprise can play a role in tackling these problems.
    Ever heard about millicode ? Well, just check out Bob Rogers' article on the evolution of microcode and millicode. Great reading material.
    At the end of this issue, you can also find the 2013 Mainframe Buyer's Guide listing a bunch of IBM partners. And, there's also an issue about Women in Technology which is not included in the .pdf version.

    Enterprise Tech Journal (October-November 2012)

    The Enterprise Tech Journal also focuses on the new zEC12 in its cover article but puts the emphasis on workload optimization. In other words : software performance is of the essence. I'm just not sure that when there's e.g. a forecasted performance improvement of 45% for Java Workload that this is already the case for the moment. Some of the new features like the new transactional execution facility is implemented but I have the impression it's not being used by any software for the moment. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    Furthermore : a good introduction to the RMF Device Activity Report as well as to 'Rational Developer for z/OS', there's an interesting article on how backup strategies are important as they can have a significant influence on your recovery processes, Willie Favero helps you plan your upgrade to DB2 10, Marcel den Hartog (re)introduces us to "the dying art of performance management" for speeding up the mainframe and of course there's a lot more there to enjoy.

    As I always say, just check them out !

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Free BMC mainframe of mind t-shirt

    It do not always have to be super serious announcements. This is what I found on the twitter account of @BMCMainframe :

    Did you get your free of Mind t-shirt? Check out our newsletter & request one here:

    It's about this beauty :

    I think it looks quite nice, so I've ordered one. But of course, before you go over there, I think you might want to start following @BMCMainframe on Twitter, no ?

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    DS8800 Base Frame withdrawn from marketing

    This was to be expected of course : now that the DS8870 is announced, the DS8800 will be withdrawn from marketing effective February 1, 2013 : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM System Storage DS8800 (MT 242x) Model 951 - Replacements available (ZG12-0290)'.

    Don't panic, as you can see, it's only the base frame that is WDFM. This means that you can no longer order new DS8800 machines but you can still order any additonal features, including extra expansion frames, after February 1, 2013.

    But why would you want to order new DS8800s. The DS8870 is perfectly compatible with the DS8800 as was also indicated in the announcement of the DS8870 last week : "The remote mirror and copy solutions (...) are compatible with previous generations of DS800".

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Red Alert : Unpredictable task failures and/or system outages with OMEGAMON XE on z/OS

    Here's a new Red Alert:

    Unpredictable task failures and/or system outages with OMEGAMON XE on z/OS

    There is an exposure for storage overlays in common and private storage that can cause unpredictable task failures and/or system outages. All users of the OMEGAMON XE on z/OS product versions V420 or V510 with the following PTFs for OA39579 applied are affected:
    • HKM5420 - UA66217
    • HKM5510 - UA66218
    The PTFs for OA39579 introduced the two problems described below. The PTFs for OA40262 resolved only the first problem. Fixes for OA40497 are also required to address the complete problem.
    1. Random storage overlays due to an incorrect register used in an instruction. One symptom of this problem is many LOGREC entries for ABEND0C4 in module KXDWLCON. The overlay contains the character string 'AIO'.
    2. An incomplete modification to an ENF exit causes ECSA storage overlays when a WLM policy switch is done.
    Recommended Actions:
    Apply the appropriate PTFs for OA40497 which will ensure both problems are resolved:
    • HKM5420 - UA66779
    • HKM5510 - UA66780

    If you want to have an 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.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    IBM System z software announcements : IMS 13

    Here's my last of System z sotware announcements from this week I wanted to tell you about. IBM also announced the IMS 13 (ZP12-0477) Quality Partnership Program. IMS 13 should provide, as the title mentions, extremely high performance and availablility.

    Here are the hightlights :

    IMS™ 13 Database Manager enhancements
    IMS™ 13 Transaction Manager enhancements
    The Quality Partnership Program implies that IBM plans to ship IMS 13 to customers already selected as participants in the QPP process. This will be done as of December 14, 2012.
    General availability of IMS V13 will be announced at a later date.

    IBM System z software announcements : DB2 11 for z/OS ESP

    The latest versions of DB2 for z/OS have known a three year release cycle with an end of support 7 years later. Just a small recap :
    • V6 : GA 1998, EOS 2005
    • V7 : GA 2001, EOS 2008
    • V8 : GA 2004, EOS 2012 (support lasted an extra year)
    • V9 : GA 2007, EOS 2014 (back to normal)
    • V10 : GA 2010, estimated EOS 2017
    So today, IBM announced an Early Support Program for DB2 11 (ZP12-0467). Apparently we're on schedule for a GA by the end of 2013.

    DB2 11 for z/OS seems to be focusing on the following 4 areas. I'll each time give you a couple of examples.
    An ESP implies that IBM intends to make this version available to a select group of clients in a closed Early Support Program which becomes available on March 7, 2013. z/OS V1.13 is a prerequisite.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    IBM System z software announcements : CICS

    I told you lots of announcements were made on October 3, so here's some more. There were also announcements around DB2, IMS and CICS. So let me start out with the CICS announcements.

    First of all there's the announcement of CICS Transaction Server V5.1 (ZP12-0422). CICS V5.1 is mainly focusing on two areas : driving operational efficiencies, while increasing service agility.

    Driving Operational Effeciencies focuses on four areas :
    • Greater capacity is delivered through significant vertical and horizontal scalability enhancements.
    • Managed operations are provided through the introduction of policies, which deliver automated control over critical system resources
    • Increased availability enhancements reduce the need for planned outages
    • Deeper insight into performance and compliance information can help to tune and audit system usage
    Increasing service agility also focuses on four key areas :
    • First-class applications enable the creation of agile services from existing assets
    • First-class platforms enable the creation of agile service delivery runtimes
    • Modern interfaces enable customers to build rich web experiences for critical applications
    • Foundational enhancements extend the core CICS capabilities in a number of areas
    Planned availability is December 14, 2012.

    There will also be a CICS TS Developer Trial V5.1 and that one will be available from January 11, 2013. As you know the Developer Trial version was first introduced with CICS TS 4.2. That trial version can still be ordered until January 8, 2013.

    There were a couple of other CICS related announcements :
    • IBM CICS Transaction Gateway V9.0 (ZP12-0420)
    • IBM CICS Tools for z/OS V5.1 (ZP12-0478) : these include CICS Interdependency Analyzer for z/OS, CICS Deployment Assistant for z/OS, CICS Configuration Manager for z/OS, CICS Performance Analyzer for z/OS, CICS VSAM Recovery for z/OS and a plug-in for CICS VSAM Transparency for z/OS.
    If you want to have more details on these announcements, links to webpages, datasheets and so on, then do have a look at the new CICS Portfolio eNewsLetter which you can find over here. Again, they did a great job at gathering all the relevant information around these new announcements.

    IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS V3.1

    Yesterday was a prolific announcement day for IBM. Rumours of improvements for the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) were already heard before the summer, but now they're officially announced : "IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS V3.1, together with related prerequisite hardware, is a high-performance software offering that delivers fast analytic query responses (ZP12-0503)". We're of course talking about the Netezza technology which replaced the Smart Analytics Optimizer last year.
    In short, DB2 tables are offloaded to the Netezza box. When a query is launched DB2 decides whether to fetch the data in its own tables or to go and get them from the Netezza box. The IDAA has proven to be way more performant than queries executed on the mainframe itself. It makes analytical queries possible which were unthinkable of in the past. This happens all transparently to the user or application program launching the queries.

    So, what's new with this new version ?

    The IDAA can now function as a High-performance storage saver : "this feature stores a DB2 table partition or full table of data solely on the accelerator, reducing the need for host storage. This feature removes the requirement for the data to be replicated on both the DB2 storage and the Accelerator storage. Tables can now be divided between traditional database resident partitions on DB2 for z/OS and high-performance storage saver on the DB2 Analytics Accelerator". The implication is of course that you have data which is only stored in one place. In case the IDAA is unreachable, you don't have access to those data. On the other hand, it could be a great solution to put archived data not only on tape with rather slow access, but also keep them on the IDAA for fast access when needed. In other words : another opportunity to improve and speed up your analytical queries.

    Another complaint that was sometimes heard was that customers needed (even for their Data Warehouse) near real-time accessability. This was not possible until now as you always had to copy at least on a partition level. Now we have the incremental update feature. "With the new incremental update capability, tables within the accelerator are continually updated throughout the day. This technology reads the log of the database residing on DB2 for z/OS and applies those updates to the DB2 Analytics Accelerator. With this feature enabled, queries off-loaded to the DB2 Analytics Accelerator operate on a near real-time version of the data". Of course you still control the timing for those updates yourself. Nice improvement !

    Also the UNLOAD of the data has been changed via what's called Unload lite. "With UNLOAD Lite, the data conversions are done on the accelerator and not on z/OS". This implies that you can save some MSUs with this.

    The DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS software requires :z/OS 1.11, or later,DB2 V10.1 for z/OS, DB2 Utilities Suite for z/OS V10.1, XML Toolkit for z/OS V1.10, IBM Ported Tools for z/OS V1.2.0.

    This new version will become available on November 30, 2012.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    IBM's new DS8870 promises up to 3x performance increase over the DS8800


    Well, here it is, the new DS8000 generation, with a new look.

    And I know what some people will say : yet another generation of that old technology. Well, let me make just one silly analogy. Do you know when the DS8000 series was first announced ? No ? It was October 12, 2004. Indeed, quite a long time ago. Another question : do you know when Lionel Messi made his debut in the first team of FC Barcelona ? No ? Its was October 16, 2004. Well, I can tell you one thing : I wouldn't kick (pun not intended) Messi out of my team yet. So, I can just advise you, don't throw the DS8000 out of your data center either.

    There is an announcement per warranty period for the following models : 2421-961 (ZG12-0261), 2422-961 (ZG12-0293), 2423-961 (ZG12-0291) and 2424-961 (ZG12-0292). So, the 2421 has one year of warranty and so on for the other models. There's a separate announcement (ZG12-0263) discussing the software licences.

    Technical specifications

    But let's concentrate on the facts now. It is clear that the DS8870 strongly builds upon the DS8800 technology (hence, I assume, no DS8900). Let me summarize some of the improvements that were already introduced with R6.3 last April : New 400GB SSDs, self-encrypting drive options FDE for all drive tiers, Easy Tier (4th generation) support for encryption and enhanced Thin Provisioning. Next to that the DS8870 has the same number of host adapter, maximum host adapter slots, maximum physical capacity. Mind you : a couple of features are no longer available on the DS8870 like e.g. the 450GB drives and the 300GB SSD drives.

    But, let's concentrate on the new stuff !

    Overall there should be an up to 3x performance improvement. This is first of all realized through the introduction of the Power 7 processor. Where the DS8800 had a maximum of 4 cores, you can now have configurations with 2, 4, 8 and even 16 cores. The cache has also considerably been increased from maximum 256GB to 1TB. Just pay attention : there's a close relationship between the number of cores and the amount of cache. One example : you could have a 4-way DS8800 with 256GB of cache. On the DS8870 you'll need an 8 core for this.
    If you want to see more details about the performance, you can have a look at the SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks. Results should be available quite soon.

    Next to that, there are also improvements regarding power consumption. The "DS8870 provides dc uninterrupted power supplies to replace the current primary DS8800 power supplies". This should result in a reduction in energy use of up to 20%. For a fully equipped box the base frame consumes 6.0 kW (7.6 kW for the DS8800) and 5.6 kW for the first expansion frame (6.2 kW on the DS8800).

    Full disk encryption drives are now the standard. As a customer you still have the possibility not to purchase this, but since there is no performance impact, why shouldn't you. Your data will always be safe, even if the system or some disk drives leave your data center.

    As a side note, the DS8870 is also RoHS compliant in that it meets the 2013 European Union requirements for restricting hazardous materials.

    The DS8870 will be available on October 19, 2012 and upgrades will be possible on December 14, 2012.

    Documentation and education

    Let's start with a demo of the new machine showing you how it looks on the outside as well as on the inside.

    The IBM DS8870 web page is over here with a.o. link to the data sheet which also shows you a brief comparison with its predecessors.

     I'll let you know when the redbooks become available.

    There's also a webinar on Tuesday October 30 at 5 p.m. Brussels Time  :

    And let's conclude with, what else at new announcements nowadays, a Youtube video summing it all up.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Price changes for some OTC softwares

    Yesterday IBM made the following announcement : 'Price Changes on Selected System z and zSeries Software Program Products (ZA12-1059)'. This is a price increase for OTC softwares and their associated Subscription and Support (S&S) recurrent license charges (monthly and annually).

    As far as I can see this is just an EMEA announcement and Belgian customers should expect an increase of 3%. This will be effective "with the billing period that starts on or after January 1, 2013".

    The products ? I see lots of Websphere products, some DB2 tools and some other like IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication for System z, IBM Tivoli System Automation for z/OS and IBM ISPF Productivity Tool for z/OS.
    For the entire list you'll have to take a look at the announcement itself.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    RealDolmen System z e-zine N° 19

    The 19th issue of our RealDolmen System z Newsletter was sent out yesterday. You can download it over here. We decided to switch to just one English version from now on instead of the Dutch and French versions.

    If you don't receive our system z e-zine yet, you can subscribe over here. If you have subscribed, but for some reason no longer receive it, please let me know.

    The main topic of this issue is of course the zEC12. As a matter of fact, it's pretty much the same as what I wrote earlier over here. But if you want a neatly printed version of it, you can find it here. Next to the zEC12 we also discuss the new release schedule of z/OS.

    And as usual there are also some hints, tips, links, an overview of recent announcements, EOS dates of operating systems and an agenda for mainly Belgian events.

    Enjoy the reading !

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    A couple of videos on zEC12

    In my presentation of the zEC12 I referred to a video that walked you through all the components of the new system. I just found out I included the wrong one over there. So, here it is now with Nick Sardino, IBM System z specialist walking you through the interior of the system.

    And while I'm at it, there's another video that popped up since with IBM experts discussing new features like Flash Express and IBM zAware :

    Price changes for some CICS and IMS versions

    On September 1, 2012 IBM announced some price changes. The first one is for CICS : ‘Price Changes on IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V3 and V4 Software Program Products (ZA12-1058)’. Effective with the billing period that starts on or after July 1, 2013, the monthly license charges (MLC) will increase for the following programs and its features : CICS Transaction Server for z/OS Version 3 and CICS Transaction Server for z/OS Version 4. In the meantime IBM also makes the intention to keep supporting CICS TS V3.2 until at least 3Q 2014 and CICS TS V4.2 until at least 3Q 2017.
    In general, EMEA prices for these recurring charges (MLC) will increase by 9%.

    Another announcement was about IMS : ‘Price Changes on IBM IMS V9 and V10 Database Manager and Transaction Manager Software Program Products (ZA12-1054)’. Effective with the billing period that starts on or after January 1, 2013, the monthly license charges (MLC) will increase for the following programs IMS V9 Database Manager, IMS V9 Transaction Manager, IMS V10 Database Manager, IMS V10 Transaction Manager. IMS V9 will be priced consistent with the price of IMS V10 today, and IMS V10 will be priced consistent with the price of IMS V11.
    “Average VWLC and AWLC increases for a 500 MSU configuration will be within a bandwidth of +9% to +11%, depending on the program product and the country. Average EWLC and AEWLC increases for a 150 MSU configuration will be within a bandwidth of +8% to +10% depending on the program product and the country” (< EMEA Newsletter).

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Red Alert : potential exposure for loss of data or data set corruption for DFSMS VSAM/RLS users on z/OS 1.13

    Well, life goes on, even after the announcement of a new system. Here's a new Red Alert:

    Potential exposure for undetected loss of data or data set corruption for DFSMS VSAM/RLS users on release z/OS 1.13

    Users affected:
    All zOS 1.13 (HDZ1D10) VSAM/RLS users who are sequentially erasing records from a KSDS while simultaneously updating records via a concurrent request.

    Products affected:
    zOS 1.13 DFSMS VSAM/RLS (HDZ1D10)

    It is possible for an inserted or updated record to be unintentionally erased or down leveled if concurrent RLS access of a KSDS has sequential erase activity and inserts/updates taking place at the same time. In order for data to be lost, at least one sequential erase must remove all records in a CI, such that CI reclaim is initiated for that CI. Subsequent sequential requests may then overlay other updates to the data set, causing the previously updated records to be lost. The job that updated the record may not receive an error indication, or may receive unexpected logic errors such as record not found. EXAMINE may also report key sequence errors.

    Please see APAR OA40253 for additional information and actions to determine exposure.

    Recommended Actions:
    Apply ++APAR for OA40253.

    If you want to have an 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, August 28, 2012

    The new IBM zEnterprise EC12 - A technical introduction

    General Introduction

    Ok, ok, I’ll anticipate a bit. I’m sure some of you will remark when they’ve read through this : is that all ? Does that justify a new System z announcement ? IBM zAware, Flash Express, some kind of discount on the MLC pricing and … oh, that’s it ? Well, I guess it is. Or not ? It's definitely not what people at IBM will tell you when you make this remark. They really invested a lot of money and people into this system and it really has a lot more to offer than you would think at first sight.
    Well, you know what, let me walk you through it and at the end you can let me know which side you are choosing.

    The new system that’s being announced today is the zEnterprise EC12 or zEC12 (machine type 2827) : ‘The IBM zEnterprise EC12 - proven hybrid computing designed to manage multiple workloads, with the simplicity of a single system (ZG12-0262)’. Although dimensions haven’t really changed, the zEnterprise has a completely new look.

    Click on image for larger version

    What about the name ? If you follow the logic of the zEnterprise z196, this should be the zEnterprise z2A1, but it isn’t. It’s the zEnterprise EC12. zEnterprise is clear, this is the new brand name since it was introduced in 2010. Apparently EC pops up again for the Enterprise Class Models. And we seem to have picked up the count again where we left off after the z10, skipping 11 and now resuming at 12. Hence : zEnterprise EC12 or zEC12. Thank God IBM keeps its naming conventions transparent.

    I’ll first give you the general technical details. Then we’ll have a look under the covers with some special attention to connectivity and physical planning. Then we move on to the new features : Flash Express and IBM zAware. Other topics covered are Operating Systems, zBX, the HMC, software pricing, Statements of Direction, documentation and some key dates.

    Technical specifications

    Let’s start by giving you an overview of the most important technical specifications with all new elements indicated in blue.

    Click on image for larger version

    Models and sub-capacity settings

    Similar to the z196 the zEC12 has four regular models and one large sized model : H20, H43, H66, H89 and HA1 (the ‘A’ standing for ‘10’, so ‘A1’ stands for ‘101’). For the regular models, every book has 27 PUs with the HA1 each book has 30 PUs.
    There are 2 spares designated per system. We see 4 SAPs per book. So if we take e.g. the H20 with 27 PUs, we subtract the 4 SAPs and the 2 spare processors, that leaves us with, hey, 21 PUs. Well, each system has 1 PU which is reserved for future use. And, no, don’t ask, I really don’t know what it will be used for. As usual processors can be defined as Central Processors (CPs), ICFs, IFLs, zAAPs zIIPs and optionally as additional SAPs.
    A full processor (the 701 or a specialty engine) has a capacity of 1.514 mips as opposed to 1.202 on the z196. We have again three sub-capacity levels (4-, 5, -6) now for up to 20 CPs.

    The zEC12 supports two different internal I/O infrastructures : the InfiniBand I/O infrastructure first introduced on the z10 supporting the 6 GBps InfiniBand I/O interconnect and the PCI Express Generation 2 (PCIe Gen2) I/O infrastructure introduced with z196 and z114 supporting the 8 GBps PCIe I/O interconnect. Only the last one is available on new systems.


    In general we have the same RAIM Memory design as introduced on the z196. The system minimum is 32 GB and goes up to 768 GB per book and up to 3 TB for the entire system. This means the same maximum as on the z196. You can go up to 1 TB per LPAR. The fixed HSA is now set at 32 GB.

    Where are the improvements ?
    First of all the Out of Order core execution has become more performant than on the z196. There’s the introduction of 2 GB page frames, increasing efficiency for DB2 buffer pools, Java heap and other large structures. Decimal format conversions enable broader exploitation of Decimal Floating Point facility by COBOL programs.

    And there’s the improved cache, too. A small comparison :

    • L1 private 64k i, 128k d
    • L2 private 1.5 MB
    • L3 shared 24 MB / chip
    • L4 shared 192 MB / book
    • L1 private 64k i, 96k d
    • L2 private 1 MB i + 1 MB d
    • L3 shared 48 MB / chip
    • L4 shared 384 MB / book

    And next to that, there’s the additional Flash Express, which I will discuss later in this post.

    Processor speed

    Processor speed has now gone from 5.2GHz on the z196 to 5.5GHz on the zEC12

    Click on image for larger version


    In short you can upgrade from any z10 EC or any z196 to a zEC12.

    When a z196 with a zBX is upgraded to a zEC12, the zBX Model 002 is converted to a Model 003. Mind you, this takes a considerable amount of additional planning. So be sure to walk this through with BP or IBM Subject Matter Experts.

    Under the covers

    Here’s a picture of how an air cooled model might look like on the inside

    Click on image for larger version

    The cooling has been changed for this new system. As far as I understand it for the moment, you have ‘fill and drain’ kits for both air and water cooled models. The radiator is filled with some kind of cooling fluid which is used for cooling the cores in the book. This fluid is cooled with water in the water cooled models and with air in the air cooled models. It’s an entirely new system which is completely incompatible with the z196.

    Drawers and connectivity

    Must I remind you of the fact that ESCON is no longer supported ?
    Let’s have a look at the other card types.


    Well, nothing spectacular concerning FICON. The FICON-Express8 card can be carried forward and the FICON-Express8S card for the PCIe drawer was already available. There is some improvement with zHPF as the 64k byte limit is eliminated allowing the card to fully exploit its available bandwidth.


    There’s now also a new OSA-Express4S 1000Base-T card for the PCIe I/O drawer.

    The card has 2 ports accounting for 1 CHPID.

    There’s nothing much to tell about the other OSA-Express cards. It’s pretty straightforward as already saw on the illustration above.


    The new Crypto Express4S card has one adapter per feature and you initially have to order two features. There are three configuration options for this PCIe adapter, but only one configuration option can be chosen at any given time. Switching between configuration modes will erase all 'card secrets'. The three options are : Accelerator, Secure IBM CCA coprocessor (default) and IBM Enterprise PKCS #11 (EP11) coprocessor, which is new.

    Just a final remark on connectivity in general : there are limitations on carrying forward I/O cages and drawers. A maximum of 45 Non-PCIe Feature Cards can be carried forward following strict rules. So, do your planning carefully if you still have a lot of these cards.

    Physical Planning

    Measurements, weight, clearance

    As far as I can see, as good as no changes regarding the footprint. There will apparently be identical floor cutouts for the zEC12 as for the z196 with no significant increase in weight. The depth of the system with covers will increase by 64 mm or 2.52 inches.

    Top exit power cabling and non-raised floor option

    The overhead Power option is shipped separately and installed on-site to allow for door clearance. In some cases this can avoid ordering the machine with height reduction saving the IBM CE some extra work.

    The only thing for which there is no overhead support is for the water supply on water cooled systems. So it also speaks for itself that for the new non-raised floor models, only air cooled systems will be available.

    Let’s move on to the really new features now.

    Really New 1 : Flash Express

    As a picture tells more than a thousand words, I guess this illustration shows you immediately what Flash Express is about :

    Flash Express is used to deliver a new tier of memory, which is indeed slower than real memory but which is a lot faster than external disk. So, Flash Express introduces Solid State Drive (SSD) technology to the zSeries family. An operating system, such as z/OS, will be able to access blocks of flash storage as storage locations within a logical partition.

    The main application of internal Flash in the zEC12 GA-1 is paging store for z/OS. z/OS paging subsystem will work with a mix of internal Flash and External Disk. This leads to improved paging performance realized through a simplified configuration. That way Flash Express can improve availability and reduce latency during transition periods and spikes. It helps accelerate start of day processing. It enables faster snapshots of diagnostics (e.g. SVC dump, standalone dump).

    With pageable large (1MB) pages it can improve performance of DB2 and Java making it also ideal for applications with random read access and high read/write ratios.

    Flash Express is implemented via NAND Flash SSDs (Solid State Drives) mounted in PCIe Flash Express feature cards.

    They plug into PCIe I/O drawers in pairs. They are cabled together to form a Raid 10 Mirror for redundancy thus providing 1.6 TB of storage.

    A maximum of 4 pairs is allowed per system.

    Internal Flash is accessed using the new System z architected EADM (Extended Asynchronous Data Mover) Facility, an extension of the ADM architecture used in the past with expanded storage. Definition in IOCDS is not required.

    You assign flash memory to partitions like main memory by minimum/maximum memory amount, not by feature. Each partition’s flash memory is isolated like main memory. You can dynamically increase the partition maximum amount of flash or dynamically configure flash memory into and out of the partition.

    For the moment Flash Express is only used by z/OS 1.13 (4 GB LPAR or larger) plus PTFs. In the future it may also be exploited by Linux on System z … For availability, check the key dates below.

    Really New 2 : IBM zAware

    IBM zAware grew from the awareness (no pun intended) that systems are changing very fast and are gradually getting more and more complex. It becomes a real challenge to detect problems soon enough before they cascade and lead to system failures at some or other point. The challenge lies in the ability to identify the causes of system anomalies and other problems proactively and repair them as quickly as possible, within SLA conditions before the system lets you down. That’s why IBM developed IBM zAware (IBM System z Advanced Workload Analysis Reporter).

    Here’s an illustration of how IBM zAware monitors your sysplex(es).

    Click on image for larger version

    Let’s have a look at the several components on this picture. IBM zAware is running in its own LPAR (on a CP or an IFL), kind of acting as e.g. a coupling facility does. Therefore it is also defined from the HMC. So it needs its own memory as well and this is estimated to start at 4GB and an additonal 200MB per monitored system. It also requires its own DASD and connectivity via HiperSockets or OSA ports. It can monitor any System z Server running z/OS 1.13 + PTFs. However, it can only run on a zEC12.

    IBM zAware goes through massive amounts of OPERLOG messages (including all z/OS console message, ISV and application generated messages) and turns this into useful information. It creates a 90 days baseline. Starting from this baseline it performs machine learning, pattern recognition, and statistical analysis on the new streaming messages. It looks for unexpected patterns detecting unusual behavior of z/OS images in near real time.
    The results are presented in a single browser based view showing the health of your Parallel Sysplex via a relative weighting and color coding as you can see in the example below.

    The colors give you an indication on the timeline of possible problems with their weight and you can drill down on any problem (color) in order to get more details about it.
    IBM zAware can also provide information in XML format that can feed other processes or tools.

    There are some overlaps with other products like e.g. z/OS Health Checker, z/OS PFA and z/OS RTD. Still it goes one step further because it’s a self learning pattern based message analysis tool able to diagnose complex z/OS problems across your sysplex reporting problems that might bring down your system(s).

    IBM zAware is a fee-based feature based upon the number of z/OS images it is monitoring. The good news : IBM zAware licenses for DR machines are included in the base purchase, so no extra cost there.

    Operating Systems

    z/OS Support Plan :
    • z/OS V1R10 with PTFs (Toleration, Lifecycle Extension Required)
    • z/OS V1R11 with PTFs (Toleration, Lifecycle Extension required)
    • z/OS V1R12 with PTFs (Exploitation of some functions like e.g. Crypto Express4S)
    • z/OS V1R13 with PTFs (Exploitation of most functions plus Flash Express and IBM zAware Support)
    • z/OS V2.1 with Full Exploitation in base
    z/VM Support Plan :
    • z/VM 5.4, 6.1, and 6.2 will support zEC12 in compatibility mode with PTFs
    • Exploitation support to be provided with z/VM 6.3 (to GA after zEC12)
    z/VSE Support Plan:
    • z/VSE plans to provide compatibility support at zEC12 GA1 for:
    • z/VSE 4.3 with PTFs
    • z/VSE 5.1 with PTFs
    Linux for System z Support Plan :
    • IBM intends to support zEC12 with the following distributions:
    • SUSE SLES 10 and SLES 11
    • Red Hat RHEL 5 and RHEL 6

    zBX and hybrid computing


    When you take a look at the zBX Model 003, apparantly there was no money left to do a restyling for this box too. As a matter of fact, when you take a closer look at new functionalities or features, there’s nothing much that really accounts for introducing a new model at all. There’s no big deal happening under the covers either. To put it bluntly : no new types of blades (not even for the DataPower XI50z), just some extra connectivity for redundancy and throughput reasons, and that’s about it. Does that justify the extra amount of planning and work it takes for the forced upgrade from model 002 to model 003 when upgrading to a zEC12. I’m just not sure about it.

    So what ís new here ?
    For the Unified Resource Manager dynamic discovery and configuration of storage is added. There’s a fulfillment of the statement of direction to implement new Unified Resource Manager APIs to enable discovery, monitoring and management of ensemble resources using external tools. As an example, IBM Tivoli is using these APIs.

    For connectivity the 10 Gb cables between BladeCenter 10Gb switch and 10 Gb TOR (Top of Rack) switch are doubled enabling a potential of 20 Gb Ethernet bandwidth via link aggregation.

    By the way, if you should have a IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer (ISAOPT), it is no longer supported on the Model 003. You will have to migrate to the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) which is the separate Netezza box. If this was all you were running on the zBX, you probable won’t even need a Model 003.

    I’ll finish this part with a spark of good news : at least there is no cost for upgrading from Model 002 to Model 003 and transferring zManager from z196 to zEC12.

    And of course the zEnterprise keeps its enormous wealth of possibilities that were already introduced since it's first announcement back in 2010.

    Operating system support on zBX

    Support for Linux environments on System x blades in zBX
    • 64-bit version support only
    • Red Hat RHEL 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 6.0 6.1
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 (SP4) and SLES 11 SP1
    Support for Windows environments on System x blades in zBX
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (SP2)
    • For either Windows the Datacenter Edition is recommended
    Support of AIX environments on POWER7 blades in zBX
    • AIX: AIX 5.3 Technology Level 12 or higher,
    • AIX 6.1 Technology Level 5 or higher, AIX 7.1


    It’s simple : only HMCs with feature code FC0091 are allowed on the zEC12. When carrying them forward previously supplied FC 0091 consoles are upgraded to the newly required 16 GB with Driver Level 12 adding an additional 8GB to them. FC0091 shipped prior to zEC12 have only 8GB.

    For those still using dial up connections : HMC application LIC for zEC12 and zBX Model 3 will NOT support dial modem use. Modems on installed HMC FC0091 hardware will no longer work and future HMCs will no longer have modem hardware.

    Another point of attention : the HMC LAN switch (FC0070) which could be supplied with former systems is no longer provided. They can be carried forward or the customer must acquire the switches separately to implement the required HMC LAN connectivity.

    Related announcement : 'Hardware Withdrawal: Hardware Management Console (HMC) (ZG12-0244)'

    Software Pricing

    The software pricing is pretty straightforward this time. It may come as a surprise, but the pricing metric remains the same for MLC : AWLC. Still, there’s a benefit of on average 5%. How is it realized ? Quite simple, there’s a reduction on some softwares depending on the MSUs.

    Let me give you an example. You have a zEC12 with a machine capacity of 1.500 MSUs and your SCRT reports 1.300 MSUs for z/OS and in a smaller partition 300 MSUs for Cobol. Well, it’s not the reported MSUs that count. Since your machine has 1.500 MSUs, you’ll get a reduction compared to the z196 of 5% on those softwares. So, no need to make elaborate calculations starting with 2% on the first 45 MSUs, then 4% from 46 to 315. No, plain and simple 5% because the machine has 1500 MSUs. You see, even software pricing can be easy from time to time.

    More information on software pricing can be found in a separate announcement : 'Technology Update Pricing for AWLC offers price-performance advantages for IBM zEnterprise EC12 servers (ZP12-0418)'. Here you also find the list of software to which the reduction is applicable. Transition offerings are available for mixed sysplex environments.

    Statements of direction

    The zEC12 will be the last high server to support connections to an STP Mixed CTN. This includes the Sysplex Timer(R) (9037): After zEC12, servers that require time synchronization, such as to support a base or Parallel Sysplex(R), will require Server Time Protocol (STP), and all servers in that network must be configured in STP-only mode.    

    Removal of support for Ethernet half-duplex operation and 10 Mbps link data rate: The OSAExpress4S 1000BASE-T Ethernet feature is planned to be the last copper Ethernet feature to support halfduplex operation and a 10 Mbps link data rate. The zEC12 servers are planned to be the last IBM System z servers to support half-duplex operation and a 10 Mbps link data rate for copper Ethernet environments.   

    Removal of ISC-3 support on System z: The zEC12 is planned to be the last high-end System z server to offer support of the InterSystem Channel-3 (ISC-3) for Parallel Sysplex environments at extended distances. ISC-3 will not be supported on future high-end System z servers as carry forward on an upgrade.  
    The same applies for OSA-Express3 support and FICON Express4 support.

    IBM System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) and IBM System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) simplification: IBM zEnterprise EC12 is planned to be the last high-end System z server to offer support for zAAP specialty engine processors. IBM intends to continue support for running zAAP workloads on zIIP processors ("zAAP on zIIP"). This is intended to help simplify capacity planning and performance management, while still supporting all the currently eligible workloads. In addition, IBM plans to provide a PTF for APAR OA38829 on z/OS V1.12 and V1.13 in September 2012 to remove the restriction that prevents zAAP-eligible workloads from running on zIIP processors when a zAAP is installed on the server.


    IBM Announcement page.
    Here you'll also find more product details, the data sheet and an elaborate FAQ, which also gives you an idea of some price features

    The Technical manuals will be available in the Library section of Resourcelink.

    Two redbook drafts are available : the IBM zEnterprise EC12 Technical Introduction and the IBM zEnterprise EC12 Technical Guide.

    I'll come back with a larger overview as soon as all documentation is fully available.

    Key Dates

    August 28, 2012 :
    • Announcement Day
    • First Day Orders for GA Systems
    September 4, 2012
    • zEC12 Models H20, H43, H66, H89, and HA1
    • z10 EC and z196 upgrades
    • z196 with zBX model 002 upgrades to zNext with zBX model 003
    • IBM zAware
    • Flash Express - orderable August 28, 2012, and deliverable September 19, 2012. Planned availability of z/OS exploitation of functionality is December 14, 2012
    December 7, 2012
    • Model conversions for IBM zEnterprise EC12
    December 14, 2012
    December 31, 2012
    • MES features for Models H20, H43, H66, H89, and HA1
    • zBX model 003 move from one zNext to another zNext
    • z/OS support for 2 GB large pages and dynamic reconfiguration for Flash Express
    And to wrap things all nicely up, here's a video that walks you through all components of the new system