Friday, December 27, 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 . . .

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