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 . . .

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