Monday, April 29, 2013

Announcement : CICS Transaction Server for z/OS Value Unit Edition V5.1

Last week IBM announced CICS TS VUE pricing : 'IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS Value Unit Edition V5.1 offers a one-time-charge price metric for net new Java workloads (ZP13-0207)'.

We already have this type of pricing for DB2 for z/OS. It's not the simplest matter at hand and the best way to find out whether you qualify for this kind of pricing and whether it's financially interesting is to turn to your local IBM or BP representative. Belgian customers can surely turn to me for assistance in this matter.

What's it about ? Lots of softwares like e.g. z/OS, DB2 and CICS fall under MLC pricing and you pay for what's reported on your monthly SCRT report. Now, at a certain point in time, pricing for z/OS was reduced when people invested in New Workloads on System z. There were several pricing mechanisms that supported this but eventually we now still have zNALC pricing (New Application License Charge). As a rule of thumb you can say that z/OS costs about one tenth of the regular price in a zNALC LPAR.

Other initiatives followed to further encourage New Workload on System z. A couple of years ago DB2 for z/OS VUE (Value Unit Edition) was introduced. Instead of through MLC pricing, DB2 VUE was handled through IPLA pricing. IPLA pricing is perhaps still better known as OTC or One Time Cost pricing. It means you once buy a number of Value Units for that particular software. There are several exhibits and according to the applicable exhibit the Value Units represent a certain number of MSUs. You are then entitled to use that number of MSUs for this software. And that's it. No more monthly payments. Unless you're interested in support or a free upgrade path to future releases and versions. Then you can pay for Subscription & Support.

Well now, CICS TS VUE also follows this mechanism and it should be less expensive than the regular CICS TS pricing. But before you want to convert all your CICS TS licenses to CICS TS VUE you must know there are restrictions : it's for eligible workloads that are deployed in a qualified zNALC LPAR. "Eligible Workload is defined as net new Java workload that executes within the CICS TS VUE Java Virtual Machine (JVM) server environment, on condition that the workload is qualified and approved through the zNALC qualification process. The OTC price metric provides an alternative pricing model for new CICS Java applications and new CICS Java-based, service enablement workloads".
Further requirements are z/OS V1.13 and the minimum required level of Java is IBM 64-bit SDK for z/OS, Java Technology Edition, V7 SR1.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Announcement : IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS V5.1

As I'm coming from the application side (not the dark side) I've never been an assembler techie. As a matter of fact I hardly ever got into contact with Assembler. Cobol has always been my language. I learnt it in 1988 on an IBM course. I clearly remember migrating to VS Cobol II in the mid nineties. I kind of grew out of it when I became a DBA but I still recall a project about 10 years ago where lots of data had to be consolidated and they were imported via flat files. Cool:Gen turned out not to handle that very well, so I just wrote some Cobol programs for it. So, if any one says anything nasty about "that old rubbish", they'd better not say it to me. And recently I solemnly handed over my Syntax Reference to my son. It's clear that still a lot of companies are not into Rational Developer for System z and still writing native Cobol. And it's apparantly also a misconception that young people need a flashy interface to get them interested.

But enough reminiscing, let's talk about the announcement of COBOL for z/OS V5.1 : 'IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS , V5.1 allows you to generate your applications for higher levels of the z/Architecture and higher levels of performance optimization (ZP13-0179)'.

At a glance
"Enterprise COBOL for z/OS , V5.1 exploits the capabilities of the z/Architecture while adding a number of new features and enhancements:
  • A new compiler option (ARCH) to exploit and tune your code to run on your choice of the z/Architecture levels of the z/OS platform.
  • The enhanced compiler option (OPTIMIZE) to select from multiple levels of increasing optimization for your code.
  • Improved capability to process large data items to the full AMODE(31) capability.
  • Improved capability for modernizing business-critical applications through XML enhancements that gives you control over the form of XML documents.
  • Support for the latest middleware including CICS, DB2, and IMS.
  • Improved capability for programming with UTF-8 Unicode.
  • New pseudo-assembly listings (output from LIST compiler option).
  • Interoperability with Java7 to help you incorporate web-based applications as part of your business processes.
  • New DWARF/Common Debug Architecture interface to provide a consistent format for information that can be used by debuggers and program analysis tools."
If I just pick out a couple of things : "the new compiler option (ARCH) is made available to you for selecting optimization and processor architecture levels". ARCH(6) e.g. limits you to instructions available on the z990 and z890. At the other side of the scale ARCH(10) produces code that uses instructions available on the zEC12 in z/Architecture mode. This adds e.g. the Transactional-execution facility.

Another interesting thing : you'll no longer have to use the 'NO89 DD' statement in the SCRT JCL to indicate where your Cobol compiler runs. Cobol V5.1 can now automatically be tracked by SMF89 records and will be supported by SCRT V21.2.0.

Some more facts. GA will be June 21, 2013.
And there's one software requirement I'd also like to mention. You'll need z/OS V1.13 or later.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reminder : z10 End of Marketing on June 30. 2013

I've written about this before (here and here). The End of Marketing (EOM) of the z10 was announced in July 2011. There were actually two dates : one for hardware upgrades and one for microcode upgrades. Hardware upgrades are already EOM since June 30, 2012. This concerns mainly features like connectivity cards, memory and extra books.

Now, as of June 30, 2013 field install features and conversions that are delivered solely through a modification to the machine's Licensed Internal Code (LIC) will no longer be possible either. So if you still want to add a specialty engine (within the same book) or you want to do a microcode only upgrade or even downgrade, then I can only say : now is the time. After June 30, this will no longer be possible.

If your company has no intentions of upgrading soon, you might want to take a look at your Capacity on Demand records. If you have e.g. a z10 BC A01 CBU machine with CBU records, then you should check out the expiration dates of these records. Say you have a CBU record that expires on June 30, 2015 with 2 tests left. You can e.g. extend it by three years until June 30, 2018. This automatically includes three extra tests which come at a certain price of course. But it might give you some extra breathing space. Anyway, after that it's finished.

Monday, April 15, 2013

New GSE Working Group in Belgium : GSE Young Professionals

We have a new GSE Working Group and it's one I really like to put the spotlights on : 'GSE Young Professionals' !

Allthough it's rather obvious, I'll let them explain themselves what it's all about.
Young Professionals is a new group inside GSE (Guide Share Europe) founded for young ICT professionals and students.

The objectives of the Young Professionals User Group :
  • Creating a bridge between the students of the high schools/universities and the young professional s of the IT department of the (large) companies.
  • Sharing of experiences of the start of an IT career 
  • Learning about the possibilities within an IT career
  • Exchanging information about the organization of the IT department within a company
  • Exchanging information about the different roles within an IT department
In short, bridging the gap between school and professional life.

If you want to get into contact with them or follow their activities via the social media, they have a group site on LinkedIn, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Their first meeting is an all-day event on May 23, 2013 at Hogeschool Gent. The location is no coincidence as Hogeschool Gent has the most elaborate mainframe track for students here in Belgium.The focus for this event is on the banking sector. Participation is free and you find the full agenda over here. You can also register over there.

If you're a young professional or still a student, be sure to attend this meeting. And for every one else : here's a team of young professionals who really deserve our support. Be sure to do so via the social media I just mentioned . . . and IRL of course !

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sampling Techdocs - up to March 2013

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.
  • Cheat Sheet : IBM drives to storage systems cheat sheet
    It doesn't always have to be a long document to come in handy. This one-pager shows the currently offered drive types for current IBM storage systems.
    • Presentation : z/OS Workload Manager: What Are you Thinking?
      "This session will review many of the common definition mistakes seen by IBM. The session will provide recommendations for finding these mistakes and provide alternatives for better performance, or avoiding potential problems".
    Well that's it for now. And, as I always say : just check them out !

    Flash Alert : TS7700 Potential Performance Issue with R3.0 code and 3957 VEA/V06 models

    For those who are in this situation, you might have a look at this before upgrading to the R3.0 (8.30.x.x) release level. I'm taking over the info from the alert you can also find over here.


    TS7700 8.30.x.x levels may cause a performance degradation when installed on the TS7720 (3957-VEA) or the TS7740 (3957-V06) hardware model base.


    MachineType/Model affected: TS7720 (3957-VEA), TS7740 (3957-V06).

    It has been determined by IBM that TS7700 3.0 Release levels (8.30.x.x) may cause a performance degradation when installed on the TS7720 (3957-VEA) and the TS7740 (3957-V06) hardware model base. Customers considering an upgrade to the R3.0 (8.30.x.x) release level on these models, or installing a TS7720 expansion frame, 3952-F05 w/ FC 7332, are strongly advised to have a SCORE request submitted, allowing IBM to assess current performance requirements and to provide a recommended upgrade path. Environments that run performance-sensitive, or high-throughput workloads on VEA or V06 hardware platforms will require special consideration. Customers should contact their IBM sales team for assistance submitting the SCORE request so that the appropriate technical reviews can be completed.

    This does not apply to customers with TS7720 (3957-VEB) and/or TS7740 (3957-V07), who may upgrade to R3.0 without restriction.

    Thursday, April 4, 2013

    zEnterprise Newsletter

    I talked about Millennial Mainframer before. They have a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. I'm not sure what their relationship is with this 'Eastern US Region zEnterprise Newsletter', but they're always the first to talk about the new issue.
    Well, as far as I can see because the new issue is the sixth, but I only know it since last quarter. It appears every first of the quarter and this episode contains the following topics :
    • IBM EKMF (Enterprise Key Management Foundation)
    • zPCR
      This is the sizing tool (also available for customers) for when you plan an upgrade to a new system.
    • Advanced Analytics - : ILOG CPLEX on z/OS and Linux on System z
    • PureSystems Update
      This is mainly about the PureData Systems for Transactions, Analytics and Operational Analytics
    • WebSphere Compute Grid
      About its role in batch modernization : "With support for batch jobs alongside online transactions,  WebSphere Extended Deployment Compute Grid delivers a near real-time user experience while optimizing costs".
    • Some dates for 'Wildfire Education' and 'Education' in the States
    • Trivia Question !
    You can read it over here. If you click on the 'Archive' button on the right hand side, you can also read the previous issue. It has a nice article on 'Why SAP on System z ?'. If you need some arguments, do take a look at it.

    You can subscribe to it via a mail with zEnterprise Newsletter Mailing List as the subject to Hank Meetze (

    As I always say, just check it out !

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Announcement : General Price Action on System z Software

    Here's the annual EMEA announcement for the MLC software price changes. They become effective July 1, 2013 : 'General Price Action on System z, zSeries and S/390 Software Program Products (ZA13-1001)'. The same reason as always : "As a result of currency fluctuations over the past few years, the prices of some Program Products have become unaligned when compared between countries in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). In order to better harmonize pricing structures across countries within EMEA and also versus US prices, IBM has decided to adjust prices accordingly."

    There's a new element however. We do no longer talk about 'price changes'. "IBM is therefore announcing price decreases and increases in the Monthly License Charges for selected System z, zSeries, and S/390 Program Products and their features". A bit of a laconic explanation follows : "For each price point for which the price will be reduced, the applicable reduction will not exceed 2%. Likewise, for each price point for which the price will be increased, the price increase for the impacted MLC prices will not exceed 5%".

    The following softwares are excluded : IMS V9 through V12 and CICS TS V3 and V4.

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Announcement : IBM z/VSE V5.1 - Additional enhancements available

    z/VSE 5.1 has been generally available since November 11, 2011. Today some enhancements have been announced : 'IBM z/VSE V5.1 - Additional enhancements available (ZP13-0116)'.

    Here's an overview :
    These enhancements will be made available with PTFs for z/VSE V5.1 with a GA of June 14, 2013.

    I also see a couple of interesting Statements of Direction :
    "IBM intends to add functionality that allows initial installation of z/VSE without requiring a physical tape. Clients who use a tape for initial installation only may no longer be forced to include a tape in the z/VSE configuration. With this ease of use function IBM will fulfill client requirements.
    It is planned to reduce the AEWLC and MWLC list price of IPv6/VSE V1.1."
    If you want to know more about this, there's a Live Virtual Class today at 5 p.m. Brussels Time. You can register over here.

    IBM Flash Express


    Flash Express was introduced together with the zEC12. It became GA in December 2012. Let me start by recapitulating part of what I wrote about it back then in August 2012.
    Flash Express is used to deliver a new tier of memory, which is 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. The main application of internal Flash in the zEC12 is paging store for z/OS. The 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.

    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.

    IBM Mainframe Insights blog series

    I mentioned a series of articles on IBM zAware some time ago on the IBM Mainframe Insights blog. Well, now there's a similar series going on about Flash Express.It started with 'Flash Express' back in January giving you a general introduction to it. The second article was 'Getting Started with Flash Express on zEnterprise EC12'. It tells you how easy it is to define and configure Flash Express via a series of panels on the SE or HMC. The third article is 'Under the Covers of Flash Express - Implementation Highlights'. Topics covered are System overview, Virtualization, Redundant Components, Data protection, Data en key Encryption. I'm not sure whether more articles will follow but keep an eye on the Mainframe Insights Blog.


    If you can access them, there are a couple of presentations that were given at Share that give you some more information ànd test results on Flash Express. There was also a presentation by jean-Paul Goemaere on our recent GSE z/OS Working Group meeting. You can find it over here.

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