Friday, December 27, 2013

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 2014 : 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 2013.

Looking back on 2013 - Year Review

Well here we are. Another year's gone. And this is already my seventh Year Review for this blog. Let's find out whether there were some eye-catching or surprising evolutions during 2013.

January started out rather calmly but at least there was some good news about the IBM System z revenue. The last quarter of 2012 showed a revenue increase for mainframe server products of 56% compared to the year before.

In February we have a preview of z/VM 6.3 and there's a pre-announcement of z/OS 2.1. You know with the new release scheme you still have quite some time before you really have to be on z/OS 2.1. But perhaps you shouldn't feel too comfortable about that because since the announcement of the zBC12 we see that lots of functions become only fully available when you are on z/OS 2.1. So don't stay too long on z/OS V1 as it might become a showstopper for you.
Also in February there was an announcement on XIV bringing the SSD read cache at 6TB. By the end of the year this will even be increased to 12TB with 800GB SSD disks. Next to that the 10GbE ports were introduced.
I just want to point out some withdrawals from support : z/VSE 4.3 and one that's still in the pipeline COBOL for z/OS V4.1 (5655-S71) support ends April 30, 2014.

March passed by rather quietely but in April we had at least a couple of interesting annoucements. IBM Enterprise Cobol for z/OS V5.1 is announced.  And of course a year review wouldn't be complete without any reference to price changes from IBM. We begin with the usual, annual price changes. And at the end of the month there's some good news too in that matter : IBM announces CICS TS for z/OS Value Unit Edition (VUE) V5.1. It's a kind of OTC or IPLA software mechanism instead of the MLC pricing. It should help you lower your CICS TS cost, provided that it turns in a zNALC LPAR.
Other good news : in Belgium we see a new GSE working group : GSE Young Professionals. By now it has had two successful meetings.

In June we had the 30th anniversary of DB2. This, deservedly, gets quite a lot of attention. On the other hand, some interesting End of Supports amongst which the most notorious must be IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for z/OS V5.5 (5698-A13). On the storage side there's release 7.1 which is announced for the DS8870. Lots of attention goes to Easy Tier. Easy Tier Application gives the administrator some influence over the Easy Tier automatic processes as he can sort of overrule them for specific cases. Easy Tier Heat Map transfer helps you keep the same performance on your D/R box. Definitely some nice new features.
As of June 30, the z10 is now completely End of Marketing : no more MES upgrades to these systems. The only way is up to the next generations.

July is traditionally a busy month for big announcements the last couple of years. This time was no exception. As expected, the zBC12 was announced on July 23 along with zEC12 GA2. How can you summarize this ? Some new stuff : two new cards : the RoCE and the zEDC card. A new processor, IFP, though transparant for the customer.  Lower software pricing with a price reduction of 4% to 5% on the most important softwares. And there's a new 2:1 ratio for zIIPs and zAAPs.
Together with this hardware announcements there were also some software announcements. Finally, there's the official announcement of z/OS 2.1, z/VM 6.3 and PL/I for z/OS 4.4.
End of Marketing was also announced for the z196 and the z114. In short : no more hardware upgrades after June 30, 2014 and no more MES upgrades after June 30, 2015. You might know by now I'm not always entirely happy with those short End of Marketing ranges for the latest generations of mainframes.

In August I pointed out some interesting documents that are still relevant. The first one was the z/OS 2.1 Migration Guide. Who wouldn't want to bookmark this one for future use ? The second one was the return of the Hot Topics Newsletter with also lots of information on z/OS 2.1.

In September I mentioned BMC's 8th Annual Global Mainframe Survey. The key takeaway is that "the mainframe will continue to play a critical role as a scalable platform delivering crucial computing power in a world where business users expect access anytime, anywhere, without regard to the data volume and velocity required behind the scenes".
There was another DS8000 announcement with the withdrawal of some hardware features. Bottom line it meant that the DS8100 and the DS8300 were End of Marketing on all fronts, which left them at least a (nice marketing) life span of 9 years.
One other thing that kept surfacing time and again was the importance of Openstack for IBM. One example : the Unified Resource Manager was attributed an important role in managing the z/VM hypervisor and the virtual servers it supports for z/VM 6.2. For z/VM 6.3 things are already quite different : zManager is stabilized (we know what this means) and Openstack comes fully in the picture. z/VM V6.3 is "the first System z operating environment that can be managed with these open cloud architecture-based interfaces". I have the impression that Openstack is here to stay and that we'll see more of it in 2014.

Quite interesting announcements in October too. IBM announces DB2 11 and IMS 13. What's nice about those (next to the technical features of course) is that they get the same pricing as their predecessors. How about that ? No more whining about price increases. And you actually win twice. IMS follows DB2 in its efforts to increase functionalities with new releases and still drop the processor utilisation. And DB2 has proven with DB2 10 that this is more than just marketing talk. Our customers actually see the difference.

In November there's another DS8000 announcement with release V7.2 for DS8870. The DS8870 ships from now on with the Power7+ processor. This provides the DS8000 once again with a significant performance enhancement. With release 7.2 we also see the introduction of an all flash drive configuration. There are also two new disk models : the 1.2TB 10k rpm SAS drives and the 4TB 7.2k rpm nearline SAS drives. At the same time these disks are the replacements for the 900GB and the 3TB disks that are withdrawn from marketing and by now already no longer available.

In December there's yet another new GSE Working group here in Belgium : the GSE ladies. The primary objective of this group is to take away all the prejudices that people still have about ICT ladies and show young women the way to a career in IT. There were not that many announcements but I put up a bunch of reference materials to all kinds of information.

Well, that's all folks. Stephen L. Blinick from IBM gave me a wonderful description of the DS8000 a couple of months ago. It has actually remained the very same machine for 10 years. And yet it has tremendously evolved over those same 10 years adapting to the new IT world and its demands. Well, I think you can say the same for the mainframe. But then for a bit longer period. You know we celebrate its 50th anniversary on April 7 next year. For its 40th anniversary there was the announcement of the z890 on April 7, 2004. I wonder whether IBM has something up its sleeve for the 50th anniversary.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The reliability of an IBM mainframe wins the heart of a Sicoob spouse

What did I tell you a couple of weeks ago : a post a day until Christmas. Well, that's about it, no ? I finish with a feelgood story from Sicoob, a Brazilian company that migrated to mainframe and some not so obvious consequences of this. Well, just have a look and . . . Merry Christmas.

If you want to know more about the actual implementation, the next video gives you some more insight.

And do come back after Christmas for my year review of 2013.

Monday, December 23, 2013 homepage history in screen shots

There's one E. Costello I do know but up to a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Ed Costello before. As it turns out, Ed Costello was " IBM’s first Corporate Webmaster, managing and a variety of other web sites for IBM from 1994 through 1999". But why do I now write specifically about him ? Well he has a page that shows a nice history of the homepage through the years. And what's interesting about it, is that he also tells the stories behind the different pages.

A couple of examples. This one from 2001 still looks quite familiar

But this one is already a bit further in time (1999)

And this one is the very first version dating back to 1994

The overview ends in 2011 with version 17. So do have a look at it and try to remember how far your memories of the IBM homepage go back. I think mine only start somewhere around 1998.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Installation of an IBM TS3500 tape library

Here's another nice video I came across. The credit for pointing this one out goes to Roger Luethy with his nice and comprehensive storage blog. "In the movie you may follow the different phases of the installation of the tape libray, from the positioning of the first frame up to the loading of the tapes".

Intriguing, isn't it ?
And lots of respect for the people who are doing this. Let this be my little tribute to every IBM CE because we too often take them for granted but we really rely on them on a day to day basis.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

You Can Build A Mainframe From The Things You Find At Home

You know that near the end of the year I like to throw in some funny or suprising posts mainly with some videos from Youtube. Well, here's the first one. I have no idea how I came across this, where it was recorded or what was the original purpose of it. Still, listen until the end or you'll miss the plot. And people, it's fiction of course. Don't take yourselves too seriously !

If you want the text of the song, it's over here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

System z Newsletters

Once again, not sure where I picked this up the first time. It might've been some retweet from Ken Graff (@kgcanes) on Twitter. RealDolmen is not the only company publishing a System z Newsletter. Ken Graff from IBM is also composing one sometimes every month, sometimes with some larger interval. The last one was in November and Ken told me it's not likely there will be one in December. But I'll keep you posted about it via Twitter.

You can find previous editons over here. Every issue starts out with an overview of past announcements. I have the impression it focuses more on the software announcements. Which I tend to forget from time to time, so this may be a nice addition. There are a lot of references to information pages, new articles, white papers and so on. When you browse through it, there's always some or other link catching your attention. This all falls under the header of 'News'. Two other headers are 'Education and Events' and 'Teleconferences'. I guess it's pretty obvious what these are about, no ?

As I always say, just check it out !

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Counting down towards April 7, 2014

You might have noticed I have this counter running at the right side of my blog.

If you wonder what it's doing there : I'm counting down towards April 7, 2014. I still vividly remember the day I read the S/360 announcement on April 7, 1964 and how excited I was about it. No, just kidding, as a three year old toddler I had other problems and joys than that at the time. But if you want to have a look at the announcement, it's over here in the IBM Archives. It strikes me that it's way much shorter than recent announcements. But, that was then . . . 

I myself started out just half way in 1988 with an IBM mainframe training. The very first courses were assembler (!), Cobol, JCL, DASD ...  But I do remember April 7 so well because in 2004 it marked the 40th anniversary of the S/360 ├ánd the announcement of the z890. It was the first announcement I attended in the presales function I'm doing now. So, we're almost ten years later and those ten years were quite exciting ones.

I'm not sure what 'festivities' will be held next year but I can see on Twitter that IBM (mainly marketing) people are more and more referring to the event. So just to warm you up, I have this nice document from Chuck Boyer called 'The 360 Revolution' that you can find over here. It was written back in 2004 and it focuses mainly on that sixties era. I can tell you, it's a great document. The pictures alone are worth a look. So let me share a couple of them with you.

And let me finish with the most famous quote about System/360 from Tom Watson Jr.
"[System/360] was the biggest, riskiest decision I ever made, and I agonized about it for weeks, but deep down, I believed there was nothing IBM couldn’t do".

Monday, December 16, 2013

Introducing : GSE Ladies

We have a very active GSE community with lots of Working Groups here in Belgium. At the beginning of this year I already introduced you to the Young Professionals Working Group. And now I'm very pleased to announce you yet another group : the GSE Ladies.

Take a look at the logo : diamonds are a girl's best friend ! But that's the only stereotype you'll hear from me today. I had a talk with Nathalie Kempenaers, the chairwoman of this group and she gave me some information about their plans. So, let me introduce you to a couple of initiatives they will develop in the coming months. One is very clear : take away the stereotypes and prejudices that are still running around about women and ICT. And I believe it's really necessary. There's a shortage of IT personnel and only a small percentage of them are women. And as you all know, I can assure you that the mainframe world is no exception to this. On the contrary.

So the first initiative is organizing, let me give you the Dutch name first : 'snuffelstages'. Let's say, the equivalent is something like 'tag along training'. The goal is to give young women, who are about to go to college, the opportunity to tag along with a 'real' ICT lady in the field. So they can learn about the job, the challenges, the career opportunities in order to overcome their prejudices. The ultimate goal is of course to convince them to choose a training and career in IT. If you should be interested as a company, be sure to contact me.

I mentioned career opportunities and linked to that we (or rather women) are often still confronted with the glass ceiling. Therefore in the first quarter of 2014 they are organizing an event with as most renowned speaker Nelly Croes. Nelly Croes is the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda. Yes, a bit of a strange term, but as a member of the European Commission she is responsible for media and information issues such as telecoms and IT in the European Community.

So, lots of reasons to support this GSE Ladies working group and I'll sure keep you posted on their future activities.

Friday, December 13, 2013

DB2 for z/OS reference material

I've mentioned these ones before, but I thought it's worth referencing them again. BMC Software as well as CA Technologies offer some reference material for DB2 for z/OS.

Here's a view of one of the posters BMC is offering

For DB2 10 (and even still for DB2 9) you can order the Reference Guide for z/OS, the Catalog Table for z/OS poster and the Explain Table for z/OS poster over here. Call me oldfashioned but they're sent to you by snail mail, so you can still actually hold the book in your hands. And don't let 'snail mail' fool you, I received mine within two weeks.

CA is also offering a PDF version of their Reference Guide. The content is of course as great as the BMC reference. There are 7 large topics : SQL, utilities, commands, system tables, user tables, return codes and miscellaneous sytem information like SQLCA, SQL and DB2 limits, DSNZPARM information, IFCIDs and so on. Here's the link to it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Volvo IT - Mainframe The First 50 Years - New way of working

Let's make this a birthday post. After all it's my birthday today and I'm in good company since I share it with Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra and Sheila E. So, let me give you a present in the form of a very important message : take the mainframe seriously. But I'll wrap it in an agreeable form with two videos from Volvo IT. So all the credit actually goes to them of course. I really admire the way they position the mainframe, not as an old, large, costly box but as a new way of working. After all it's celebrating its 50th birthday next year.

Have a look at their evolution for the last 50 years.

But I promised two videos. So, the second one positions the mainframe at Volvo IT and also in general. The mainframe is at the heart of so many companies and people (employees, customers ...) don't even realize it. I recently came across the term 'the Alsop myth' and we all know the guy was completely wrong, but we also must admit : the myth lives on and is strong within many people (hey, Star Wars reference not intended). Well, this video from Volvo IT can only help us in countering it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DBA Rules of Thumb

I wrote this before, you can retweet something when you find it interesting but from time to time I wish there was some kind of re-blog function. I totally enjoyed the series of 'DBA Rules of Thumb' that Craig Mullins has been posting the last couple of weeks. It's so recognizable and still I'm sure you have to build up some experience first to realize how true it all is what he's writing. I'm not sure we learn a lot from other people's mistakes or experience. Still, if you're a beginning, or whatever, DBA, this is solid advice worth taking into account.

The first five posts so far :
  • Write everything down (link)
  • Automate and don't reinvent the wheel (link)
  • Share your knowledge (link)
  • Analyze, Simplify and Focus (link)
  • Don't Panic (link)
I can't resist quoting from the Don't Panic post :
A calm disposition and the ability to remain cool under strenuous conditions are essential to the makeup of a good DBA. Problems will occur—nothing you can do can eliminate every possible problem or error. Part of your job as a DBA is to be able to react to problems with a calm demeanor and analytical disposition.
I might come up with quite a number of other professions that fit this description but none more than that of a DBA of course ! Since it's almost the end of the year, let's get lyrical (no reference to O.N.John intended) and summarize it with a rhyme
If sh*t hits the Fan
You are the Man
These are my own words, not those of Craig.
So, have a look at these posts and check out for new entries at the DB2Portal Blog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

GSE DB2 Working Group presentations online

If I write about all those GSE working group events that are taking place, I might as well give feedback on some of them. Last week I attended the DB2 Working Group. Not surprisingly since I added 'lifelong Cobol and DB2 addict' to my profile on our corporate portal. I'm no longer really active in DB2 (for the moment) but I do keep an eye on its evolutions.

Once again there was a good mix of content with two user presentations. And you know how it goes, it's hard to get good user presentations or people who want to present for a group of other people. But these were spot on with some surprising facts. Both user experiences were about native stored procedures and how to implement them in your environment. Do have a look at them, I'm sure you'll get some valuable practical tips on how to implement and manage them. And the surprising fact ? The impact they have or don't have on the zIIP. You'll have to take a look if you want to know the outcome.

The other presentations were on Big Data (good introduction by Andy Ward from CA) and Trends in Database Management Systems from an IBM DB2 perspective by Namik Hrle from IBM. It points out the evolution from a traditional landscape to a visionary landscape. Of course the Analytics Accelerator is highlighted here as well.

The presentations :

What'sBig AboutBig Data? The Volume? The Size? The Value? Andy Ward, CA Technologies
SQL StoredProcedures @ NVSM/UNMS Bart Verboven - NVSM/UNMS
Stijn Vandenbosch -NVSM/UNMS
Native SQL StoredProcedures at Allianz Belgium: a practical case Phillipe De Backer - Allianz
Trends in Database Management Systems - The DB2 Perspective Namik Hrle - IBM

If you want to have a look at the presentations from previous events, you can find them over here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

What System z Can do that Intel Systems Cannot !

Here's a presentation that I came across nearly by accident. A couple of days ago, I saw an item on the IBMVM ListServ list on Hillgang presentations. The only Hillgang I knew until now was the Sugarhill Gang, but apparantly that's something completely different.
The Hillgang is a Washington DC area mainframe user group focusing on z/VM and zLinux. So I took a look at some of the September presentations on z/VM 6.3 and zBC12. And I saw you can also page to previous presentations.

And so I found this one, which, of course, really caught my attention : 'What System z Can Do that Intel Systems Can't Do' by Bob Barnett from IBM.You can download it from this page. This is mandatory for every one who needs the right technical arguments for a comparison between System z and Intel. Bob Barnett focuses on six topics and I hope I don't spoil the fun too much by mentioning them over here : Transaction processing at scale, Perfect Workload Management, Greater Core Density, Spare Capacity for Growth, Comprehensive Disaster Recovery and Runs Longer without Stopping.
When I started googling this I found out there's also a version of this presentation by David Rhoderick (IBM) which you can find over here. David also adds Tougher Security to the list.

As I always say, do check it out !
And see you tomorrow for more !

Friday, December 6, 2013

Being a reference: What’s in it for me ?

Hey, I told you these would be some random items I saved up over time. Here's actually a reference (pun not intended) to a PureSystems blog post by Debbie Black (Senior Marketing Manager for IBM PureSystems). But I think it's valid for System z as well. It talks about the concerns of becoming a client reference like
  • Do I need to get approval from our PR or external communications department?
  • Our company has a policy against endorsing any vendor.
  • Will I overstep my personal boundaries within my company?
  • I’m not sure I’m ready to be a reference.
But I think the last question is the most important one
  • What’s in it for me?
Well, more than you would think. How about
  • Growth of your personal network
  • Expanding your skills and knowledge base
  • Influence inside your organization
You can find more detail on this in the blog post itself. And I would add one more which I even find more valuable
  • Respect inside and outside of you organization
So next time, you're asked to become a reference : think twice !

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Disaster Recovery Journal

This is an interesting journal that catches my attention every time again with interesting articles, presentations, webinars, white papers and so on. You can guess what it's all about of course. By just browsing the home page you'll come across some great content.

But let me give you a couple of examples of some interesting content.There's of course the journal itself. You can find a digital version of the latest issue and back issues over here. The latest issue deals e.g. with social media, mobile devices . . . 

Here's a couple of free white papers with topics like 'A Practical Guide to Cost–Effective DR Planning', 'Service Outages: Is Your Monitoring Strategy Working?', 'Five Things You Need to Know Today about DR Planning' and 'Cost-Effective DR Options For Mission-Critical Applications'.

There are also lots of links to the IBM site like e.g. to this presentation on 'Reputational Risk and IT' that you can download over here. Topics covered are : Why reputational risk is a critical issue, What IT risk factors most impact reputation, Six key recommendations for effective reputation and IT risk management. You can also download two more white papers on the subject : 'Apply the economics of IT Risk' and 'The Economic Impact of IT Risk'.

So, you see how one link can lead to lots of different interesting information.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Arcati Mainframe User Survey 2014

I guess it's been quite busy lately or perhaps I should admit I just didn't feel like blogging much lately. But from time to time I come across something of which I think it might be worth blogging about. So when I took a look at my bookmarks, I really saved up some nice stuff. So I think I'm going to share it with you during the next couple of weeks. Some, you might've seen passing by already, but I know not every one is constantly scanning the internet for valuable information. So, here I go : one post a day until Christmas, followed by my year review.

Let's start with the Arcati Mainframe User Survey. You still have two days to fill it out. So go over here and just do it. I see there's always a large discrepancy between the number of downloads (20.000) and the numbers of respondents (100 in 2013). So, do yourself a favour and make this survey as representative as possible. The survey is "asking users to give some details about their installation and technical challenges, as well as their plans for the mainframe within the broader IT infrastructure".

If you've never heard about the Arcati Yearbook, the current edition is still available at Each year it contains this annual user survey, an up-to-date directory of vendors and consultants, a media guide, a strategy section with papers on mainframe trends and directions, a glossary of terminology, and a technical specification section.

As I always say, do check it out !
And see you tomorrow for more !

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Upcoming GSE Working Group Meetings

You'll have a busy time this and next week if you want to attend each GSE Working Group Meeting and you'll have to be at two places at once as well. Since I'm on neutral territory I cannot allow myself to favour one or other meeting. Oh, what the heck, since Pieter Rogge from the Young Professionals Working Group asked it so gently, if you pick one, take the Young Professionals session. Don't be misguided by the name : it's open, and it's free for every one. Here's an overview of upcoming GSE meetings :
  • Thursday December 5, 2013 : CICS Working Group Meeting at IBM Forum Brussels
    Topics covered : Mobile and CICS TS 5.1 by Peter Siddell (IBM Hursley), New feature packs for CICS TS 5.1 by Peter Siddell, User presentation - CICS Web Service Implementation at Colruyt by Lieven Haesaert (Colruyt) and Business Rules executing within a CICS JVM by Paul Carruthers (IBM Hursley)
  • Wednesday December 11, 2013 : z/OS Working Group Meeting at RealDolmen Huizingen
    This is an all day event and topics are Euroclear mainframe disk migration to VMAX with FAST VP by Renaud Colin (EOC), Mainframe Cost Optimization by John Dormon (BMC), Why running ELS for Linux by Hendrik Desmedt (IRIS) and zAware by Jan Tits (IBM).
    Information and registration
  • Wednesday December 11, 2013 : Architecture Working Group Meeting at Abis Leuven
    The session starts in the afternoon and covers Integrating Big Initiatives into Enterprise Data Architectures – the case of NoSQL by Kris Van Thillo (ABIS), Big Data for Big Pharma by Davy Suvee (Datablend), An Enterprise Big Data Platform by Falke van Onacker (IBM Belgium) and Disruptive Change by Semantic Technologies in Life Sciences by Hans Constandt (Ontoforce)
    Information and registration
  • Friday December 13, 2013 : Enterprise Systems Security Working Group at IBM Forum Brussels
    A couple of topics that are covered : "During Years, we believed that the Mainframe was "Untouchable" for hacking tentatives. But are we protected for real attacks?
    We all have experiences with programs that harmed our Business because they were (accidentally?) put in Production, before a final go, despite all our Change Management Rules, supported by System Software. How can we block the execution of these modules?
    Digital Certificates became crucial in z/OS. But do we have the necessary skills to deploy them on an adequate way and are we ready for z/OS 2.1? "
    Information and registration 
  • Friday December 13. 2013 : Young Professionals Working Group at Colruyt Halle on Retail&IT
    This is an all day event on Retail&IT, so no wonder Colruyt is hosting this. Topics covered are : Service management (ColruytGroup), Security in Retail (IBM), E-commerce & certification (BE-Commerce) and Logistic automations at Colruyt (ColruytGroup). This is a unique opportunity for students and young professionals to get a good overview of this sector and its relation with IT. A practical tip : for those familiar with Colruyt, don't go to Wilgenveld, it's at Hellebroek Kantoor.
    Information and registration, Twitter, Facebook