Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year

 Thanks to all my readers for coming 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 2014.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Looking back on 2014 - Year Review

Can you imagine, no mainframe announcement in 2014, the year the mainframe turned 50. Would that suggest this was a boring year. Not at all.

January started out with a warning for every one still on z/OS 1.12 or even lower. You're way behind if you still have to order z/OS 1.13 and January 17 was the last day it could be ordered. Next to that there were a couple of Flashes concerning problems with DS8000 boxes. But of course right from the start of the year we paid a lot of attention to the anniversary of the mainframe turning 50.

In February IBM announced IBM Wave for z/VM : it's a "virtualization management software product that provides management, administration, provisioning, and enables automation of Linux virtual servers in a z/VM environment" making your life a lot easier. Next to that there was this one : "As a part of IBM maintenance services, maintenance charges will now apply for processing capacity activated through On/Off CoD". That wasn't the case until then. I was less impressed by the IBM Redbooks mobile app. I don't know what it is, I tested it back then, tested it again a couple of weeks ago, but I personally prefer my redbooks on my laptop. Call it a personal preference.

In March and April the tension is mounting for all kinds of anniversary festivities. Memorial coins were handed out, but of course the star of the show was the mainframe itself. We could not stay behind and we came with a special anniversary edition of our System z Newsletter. One of the articles I wrote and also published in this blog was about OpenStack. If you've never heard of OpenStack, have a look at it. I think the article is still relevant, allthough I wrote it myself. And certainly OpenStack itself is.

In May I once again pointed out the two-phased End of Marketing for the z114 and the z196. One tends to forget it, but be aware : after June 30, 2015 not one upgrade nor downgrade is still possible for those machines. IBM also announces its next generation, let me call them, DS8870 Flash Systems. At the beginning of the month, IBM also announced its new Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS. It's a new subcapacity pricing giving you reductions on softwares when you are running Mobile trasactions on the mainframe. It was one of the topics that certainly drew a lot of attention during the System z technical university in Budapest.

In June I pointed out that as of z/OS 1.12 there was no longer the well-known lifecycle extension. It was kind of replaced by the new 'extended support' : a "fee-based corrective service to users who have not completed their migration to a newer z/OS release" for a period of 3 years. There were a number of GSE Working Group meetings in June and I must say the working groups thrived throughout the year. The Young Professionals group stays very active as well. A pity we didn't see anything from the earlier announced 'Ladies' group. Or they just didn't tell it to us ?

July is traditionally a busy month for big announcements the last couple of years. This year however, no new mainframe was announced. IBM must've heard my complaint that I have to postpone my holiday each time because of these announcements :-) . In the meantime I took the opportunity to dig a little bit deeper into the new Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS and had some great assistance for this by David Chase from IBM. You can read all the details about it over here.

On the storage front, in August an announcement confirms officially what had already been clear for a while now : IBM will no longer sell its nSeries or NetApp equipment via OEM. StorWize should replace these offerings.
There were also some hardware and software witdrawals in August. Regarding hardware, anything related to attachment to zBX from the z196 and z114 is withdrawn from marketing. From a software point of view IBM announces EOS dates for z/VSE 5.1.1 (6/30/2016) , DB2 10 (9/30/2017) and a new one for z/VM 5.4 (ZP14-0382).

I must admit my blogging frequency dropped significantly after August, but of course there's a reason for this. I'm not solely involved in mainframe business at my company. I also assist in making larger propositions and we had a couple of really big ones taking up most of my time for the latter part of the year. But don't worry. Allthough I haven't blogged about everything, I can still give you the big picture for the last part of the year.

September comes and look, it's the first time I mention price changes (ZA14-1142) this year. VWLC, AWLC, EWLC, AEWLC and PSLC pricings will increase by about 4% from January, 1 2015 onwards. z/OS version 1 will be aligned with version 2 and this means an increase of about 5%.
And in September a new Master the Mainframe contest is finally announced again for the Benelux. The contest is running for the moment and ends on January 14, 2015. You can follow it on Facebook as well.

We have quite interesting storage announcements in October. First of all there's the announcement of the new TS1150 Tape Drive (ZG14-0272) with a native capacity of 10TB as opposed to 4TB for the TS1140. We can only repeat it over and over again : tape is not dead.The TS1150 is of course also supported by the new tape library that was announced already in May as the successor of the TS3500 : the TS4500 (ZG14-0114). In short this library has up to 3.3X the slot density of a TS3500, up to 2.2 PB native capacity in a single frame, two I/O Stations and it can now grow left or right of the base frame.
Last but not least there's also a new release of the DS8000 with some exciting features (ZG14-0280,ZG14-0281). There had been talk about before, but now it's there : the Multiple Target Peer to Peer Remote Copy where a single volume can be the source for more than one remote copy relationship. Other highlights : Easy Tier version 7 and zHyperWrite which reduces up to 43% of the DB2 log write time. And The DS8870 is also enabled for cloud with OpenStack support.
November was a quiet month and I only note some price changes. There's a 7% increase for '5648-054 - IBM CICS Transaction Server for VM/VSE' from March 15, 2015 onwards. Another one is for '5655-W41 - IBM DB2 Sort for z/OS S&S', '5697-DUS - IBM DB2 Utilities Solution Pack for z/OS S&S' and '5698-Z10IBM Tivoli Advanced Storage Management Suite for z/OS S&S'. Have a look at the announcement : some price increases are considerable.

In December there's an announcement indicating that the TS7700 offers support for up to 496 virtual tape drives in a single system in Release 3.2. And that's about it for 2014.

Conclusion ?

I see it everywhere and not only in the mainframe world, albeit sometimes in vendor specific offerings, but I can tell you, OpenStack is here and it's here to stay. We've all seen how Linux started off, how it was looked at in the beginning and where it's standing now. Well, I predict a similar trajectory for OpenStack. I think IBM did a good thing to embrace it from the very beginning. Will I be right about this ? Well come and see next year when I blog more about it . . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Security Bulletin: POODLE vulnerability in SSLv3 affects IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer

Here's a security bulletin. I'm taking over some of its content. Just take a look over here for all the details, workarounds and mitigations.


SSLv3 contains a vulnerability that has been referred to as the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) attack. This vulnerability affects all versions of IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer.

Vulnerability Details

CVE ID: CVE-2014-3566

DESCRIPTION: IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer could allow a remote attacker to obtain sensitive information, caused by a design error when using the SSLv3 protocol. A remote user with the ability to conduct a man-in-the-middle attack could exploit this vulnerability by using a POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption) attack to decrypt SSL sessions and access the plaintext of encrypted connections.

CVSS Base Score: 4.3
CVSS Temporal Score: See http://xforce.iss.net/xforce/xfdb/97013 for the current score
CVSS Environmental Score*: Undefined
CVSS Vector: (AV:N/AC:M/Au:N/C:P/I:N/A:N)

Affected Products and Versions

This vulnerability affects all versions of IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recent security vulnerabilities

OK, I admit, you haven't heard much of me lately but I've been too busy with other stuff that was not all that mainframe related. Still, I couldn't help noticing that there were quite some security issues lately. So, I thought I'd put up a couple of links that might be helpful. And I hope I'll find the time to blog a little more again from now on.

  • Security Bulletin: Vulnerability in SSLv3 affects IBM Virtualization Engine TS7700 (CVE-2014-3566)
    SSLv3 contains a vulnerability that has been referred to as the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) attack. SSLv3 is enabled in IBM Virtualization Engine TS7700.
  • Security Bulletin: Vulnerability in SSLv3 affects TS3500 (CVE-2014-3566)
    SSLv3 contains a vulnerability that has been referred to as the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) attack. SSLv3 is enabled in TS3500.
  • Security Bulletin: POODLE vulnerability in SSLv3 affects IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer (CVE-2014-3566)
    SSLv3 contains a vulnerability that has been referred to as the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) attack. This vulnerability affects all versions of IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer.
  • Security Bulletin: A Security vulnerability has been discovered in Apache Struts which impacts the DS8000 GUI (CVE-2014-0114)
    A security vulnerability has been discovered in Apache Struts which impacts the DS8000 GUI

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Master the Mainframe contest - BeNeLux edition

I ventilated my 'annoyance' you might say, a couple of times because the Master the Mainframe contest was (apart from one time) never held in Belgium or in the BeNeLux. But here it is now. I'm taking over some of the content of the site.

"In the Fall semester of 2014, IBM is running its annual Master the Mainframe Contest for University College students across Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
No experience with Mainframes is necessary. In fact, the contest is designed for students with little or no Mainframe experience, with increasing difficulty as the contest progresses. Students just need to bring drive, curiosity and enthusiasm! (...) Anyone who is currently a student at the university or college level can compete (18 years of age or older)".

Registration opens on September 19th! That's next Friday. The contest runs from October 20th until January 14th.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hot Topics Newsletter - Issue 28

The good part : there's a new Hot Topics newsletter and it's stuffed with good articles. The bad part : it's clear now that there will be only one release per year. Be tempted, good people of the newsletter, to give us a February release again as well ! You can download the new issue over here and although I see Facebook more as a medium for private matters, Hot Topics thinks otherwise and you can keep up to date with them on Facebook as well.

As I said, it's stuffed with good articles. The focus is on z/OS 2.1 and on the role of the mainframe in the world of CAMS(S) : Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security. Let me pick out just a few, but by all means, do read the rest as well.
There's a good summary about 'System z in a mobile world' with particulary also a closer look on the role of CICS and DB2.
z/OSMF seems like it's here to stay : we learn about some APIs like e.g. the z/OSMF Jobs Interface (aka SubmitAPI) and there's a good introduction to 'z/OSMF Resource Monitoring-Reloaded'.
'Not all quiet on the consoles front' tells us about the possibility "to allow consoles to be dynamically added and deleted".
There's an intriguing (to me at least) article on z/OS Fixed Block Architecture services with z/OS Distributed Data Backup (ZDDB). Let me give you a little quote
z/OS Distributed Data Backup (zDDB) is a no-charge licensed feature. When you install zDDB on DS8000 devices, distributed host systems that are attached through Fibre Channel connection (FICON®) interfaces can access logical unit number (LUN) devices containing fixed block data. Typically, FBA LUN devices are connected to Linux®, Windows®, and UNIX® operating systems.
With zDDB, two views of the disk devices are presented, one for z/OS and one for the distributed system, as shown in Figure 2.
Here's this Figure 2

There's also a great deal of attention to the new z/OS 2.1, its migration and to recent innovations like zAWARE, zEDC, the RoCE card and so on.

So, as I always say, just check it out !

Monday, August 18, 2014

Red Alert - z/OS 2.1 DFSORT records out of sequence

I know I'm a bit late with this one but I still want to mention it, just in case you might've missed it.

Red Alert : z/OS 2.1 DFSORT records out of sequence


There is a potential exposure for out of sequence records with DFSORT for users on release z/OS 2.1.


At z/OS 2.1 code levels, DFSORT is intermittently returning records out of sequence. There is no data loss, but records may be returned out of sequence to the DFSORT output file. If VERIFY=YES is set at the installation level, out of sequence conditions are already being detected. This problem only occurs in z/OS 2.1. No prior releases of DFSORT are affected.

Please see APAR PI22817 for more details and latest information.

Users affected :

All z/OS 2.1 DFSORT (HSM1L00) users who SORT data with DFSORT using the performance path may be affected if there is insufficient virtual storage below the line at the time of execution. In other words the potential for error exists for all users of DFSORT SORT function on z/OS 2.1, but not all users will experience the problem.

Recommended Actions:

Enable VERIFY=YES at the installation level to detect out of sequence conditions. Affected jobs can be rerun with DEBUG $NOPFP$ to circumvent the issue.

In addition, a ++APAR is available to disable the affected performance path, as a temporary circumvention, using a new DFSORT installation option.

See APAR PI22817 for details. 

If you haven't signed up to the Red Alerts by now, you really should do it. Just go over here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Get started with the IBM Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS

A couple of months ago I wrote about the announcement of the new Mobile Workload Pricing mechnanism for z/OS. I also told you that this was going GA in July but so far I didn't see much of it on the IBM Software Pricing page I usually turn to when I'm looking for information on z/OS pricing.

So I started asking about a bit and David Chase from IBM who gave such a clarifying presentation about the topic during the System z Technical University in Budapest pointed me in the right direction. And yes, the Users Guide and the tool itself are already online. You can find the 'IBM Mobile Workload Tool' (mwrtool.exe) over here. And the 'IBM Mobile Workload Reporting Tool Users Guide' can be found over here. The Users Guide explains step by step how you have to set up the tool (on a Windows 7 64-bit), how you collect the necessary input, how you use the tool and how you submit your report to IBM.

Of course there's a bit more to this. Before you can start submitting the report be sure that you fulfill the requirements. Have a look at my previous post and the announcement to refresh your memory. And then there remains one more question : how do you separate the mobile workload from the rest. This will of course be different per customer. As a matter of fact, you are the only one who knows your shop and can determine this. And this is exactly how it will be done. You will make up a list of your mobile workload and how you can trace it. This will be the basis for an agreement you sign with IBM after a meeting with your IBM representative.

Then one more thing : what will be the benefits ? This is how I understand it for the moment. Suppose you have an LPAR running z/OS and CICS reporting 400 MSU for billing purposes. You will measure the CICS usage and let's say this is 200 MSU. The mobile part of that is e.g. 50% of that 200 MSU. You can subtract 60% from that mobile use. 60% of 100 MSU is 60 MSU so you keep 40 MSU for you mobile workload. 100 MSU plus 40 MSU means you keep 140 MSU of the original 200 MSU. But here comes the beautiful part of the system. You can subtract the 60 MSU from your billing total. So, of the originally reported 400 MSU you only keep 340 MSU for that partition. So where SCRT calculated the Rolling 4-Hour Average, MWRT will make an adjustment to that. As a matter of fact, MWRT will make this adjustment by the hour and then calculate a new Rolling 4-Hour Average. This also implies that it's not only e.g. CICS that benefits from this pricing but z/OS and other softwares as well.

So, as I said in the title of the post : Get Started !

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Exit Lifecycle Extension - Enter Extended Support

In our last newsletter I already mentioned that after z/OS 1.11 there would no longer be the possibility to get Lifecycle Extension support. And you also know that z/OS 1.12 is Out of Support by the end of September. Up to now we only saw some graphs indicating that after the End of Support, you would immediately get into 'Extended Support', as you can see below.

Click on image for larger version

Now there's an announcement making this official 'IBM Software Support Services - service extension offers defect support for IBM z/OS V1.11 and V1.12 beyond the z/OS end-of-service date (ZS14-0025)'. It's a "fee-based corrective service to users who have not completed their migration to a newer z/OS release" for a period of 3 years. z/OS 1.11 is an exception as it gets only 2 years after the Lifecycle Extension period.

As for the content : "IBM Software Support Services - service extension provides corrective service (a fix, bypass, or restriction to a problem) for your z/OS V1.11 and V1.12 operating systems". The ordering pretty much resembles that of the Lifecycle Extension : "Service extension support for both V1.11 and V1.12 requires a minimum three-month purchase and offers flexibility in support of your individual migration plans, either for single machines or for machines configured within a Parallel Sysplex".

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

BMC Intelligent Capping for zEnterprise and MLC pricing

I don't really have a habit of putting third party software in the spotlights but this one caught my attention, so I thought I might give you the heads up as well. I don't think I have to tell you a lot about the challenges companies are facing when it comes to MLC pricing - on whatever level through the organisation.

There's a nice video about the product but I don't know how to embed a FlashPlayer video, so click here to go and see it. It's actually quite nice with references to some sci-fi series I kind of like. A clue about the series ? If you implement this you'll live long and prosper. But let's get back to the product itself. I quote the description from the datasheet.
"BMC Intelligent Capping for zEnterprise dynamically automates and optimizes defined capacity settings to help lower mainframe MLC costs by 2 percent to 5 percent or more, while mitigating risk to the business. The solution analyzes, simulates, and automatically manages changes to defined capacity settings based on workload profiles, enabling IT staff to confidently lower costs. BMC Intelligent Capping for zEnterprise removes the manual effort from managing capping limits, while optimizing capacity usage across LPARs. The solution dynamically aligns workload allocations based on utilization needs, workload importance, and customer policy profiles".
Some features to make it a bit clearer ?
  • "Capacity management – Adjusts capacity across LPARs and WLM capacity groups intelligently and automatically
  • Zero balancing – Balances any increase in a capping threshold necessitated by a high-priority workload with an equivalent decrease in other LPARs or WLM groups with excess capacity
  • Minimal implementation risk – Offers gradual automation and control of capacity settings with three modes: Observe, Message, and Manage
  • Audit logs – Enable you to see exactly what changes are recommended and actions that are implemented over time"
Looks like an interesting product to me. If you want more information you can start over here or contact your local BMC representative. And before you ask, no, I have no commercial links to BMC. Just passing on information of which I think might be interesting to System z shops . . .

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tapeless initial installation of z/VSE

If I'm not blogging that much about z/VSE, then there's a good reason for that. There's some one doing such a great job in this area I barely or rather I cannot add anything useful to it. I said this before, you have the retweet function in Twitter but there should be something like a reblog function too. I'd reblog quite a few of Ingolf's z/VSE Blog. If you haven't discovered this one yet, add it to your must follow blogs now.

This is how I came across this next Live Virtual Class or Webcast on z/VSE. It's on June 24, 2014 at 9AM Brussels time.
"This LVC provides an overview on how to perform tapeless initial installation of z/VSE - a feature introduced with z/VSE 5.2. It covers how to create a z/VSE installation disk in LPAR and under z/VM and how to perform initial installation from such a installation disk in both environments".
I'm mentioning this nonetheless because you should also take a look at the future Live Virtual Classes. There's a 'Z/VSE for beginners' planned at a later date, so be sure to stay tuned.

And while I'm at it, I would also like to mention another event : the 8th European GSE/IBM Technical University for z/VSE, z/VM and Linux on System z which is taking place in Dresden, Germany from October 20 until October 22, 2014. You can find more information over here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sampling Techdocs - up to May 2014

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.
  • FAQ : z/OS 2.1 Frequently Asked Question
    This FAQ is a collection of questions that were raised by customers during several presentations on z/OS 2.1 that have been answered by subject matter experts. Too many diverse topics to sum them all up, so just have a look.
  • Technical Document : IBM drives to Storage Systems cheat sheet
    I'm sure I mentioned this one before but here's an update on this one-pager showing the currently offered drive types for current IBM Storage Systems including of course DS8000 and XIV.
    • Tool : IBM Storage Tier Advisory Tool Charting Utility
      You surely know about the DS8000 Storage Tier Advisor Tool (STAT). Data from the monitoring process by Easy Tier  is included in a summary report that you can download to a Windows system. The STAT application allows you to view the data when you point your browser to that file. Now - on top of this - the Charting Utility does exactly what its name says. This Utility will format some of the data provided and create charts like
      • Skew Chart - Workload activity by percentage of capacity
      • Movement Chart - Easy Tier data movement activity
      • Workload Chart - Capacity utilization by extent pool 
    • Technical Document : IBM System Storage Easy Tier Quick Start
      Ok, ok, I'm cheating a bit here, this one is not on Techdocs but I came across it while following a link on the charting utility. "This publication introduces the IBM® System Storage Easy Tier Quick Start, which helps you get started with Easy Tier functions using the IBM System Storage DS Storage Manager". If you have to set up Easy Tier, this is a document you're surely going to like.
    Well that's it for now. And, as I always say : just check them out !

    Friday, June 6, 2014

    Upcoming GSE meetings Belgium

    You know it's difficult to report on each and every interesting meeting that passes by, so I sureley missed some in the past but here are three upcoming GSE meetings with very promising agendas :

    • Weddnesday June 11, 2014 :  z/OS Working Group Meeting at RealDolmen Huizingen
      This is an all day event with also a couple of customer testimonials and that we always like of course. Topics are OMEGAMON @ Colruyt by Geert Lips (Colruyt), Access the Mainframe: Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device by SysperTec with customer testimonial from P&V Verzekeringen, Fulfilling Retail Expectations with Mobile - a UK costomer case by Bart Gyselinck (IBM), The Evolution of Analytics and Big Data Integration on System z by Eric Michiels (IBM)
      Information and registration
    • Thursday June 12, 2014 : DB2 Working Group Meeting at IBM Forum Brussels
      This is also an all day event with a track for DB2 on z/OS and one for DB2 LUW.
      "During the DB2 for z/OS break-out sessions  we explore some of the topics that DB2 11 is bringing. Some of  the changes with the biggest impact will be thoroughly explained by DB2 expert Timm Zimmermann, and our own Bart Steegmans.
      In the DB2 for LUW break-out sessions, Dirk Coppieters and Frederik Engelen present on migrating from Orable to DB2 and using Ansible for DB2 configuration management. You also have the opportunity to get answers to all your burning questions from the DB2 for LUW Experts panel.
      Is the next stage of Information Technology one without SQL? Kris Van Thillo lets you take the first plunge into NOSQL databases during our closing session."
      Registration here or here.
    • Friday June 20, 2014 : Enterprise Systems Security z/OS meeting at KBC Brussels
      Several sessions about/by The Rocket Software Company, Improving the Integration between Distributed Security and CICS (Nigel Williams - IBM), Secrets of IMS Security and Surviving an IMS Security Audit (Maida Snapper - IBM). Scroll down to the end of the registration page to find the agenda in .pdf.
      Information and registration

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    IBM Benelux System z Study Tour USA 2014 Edition

    Hans Deketele from IBM Belgium is planning another IBM Benelux System z Study Tour USA. The tour usually takes you to Poughkeepsie and the agenda contains Lab visits, Reference companies, Premium speakers, Cutting edge technology, System z trends & directions ...

    Here's his invitation to the Benelux customers
    "Dear customer,

    In the year of the Mainframe 50 event the focus is heavily on the IBM System z and of course we are again planning a System z Study Tour to the US, probably in early October.
    Maybe you already joined us in one of the previous tours or maybe you always wanted to but never did: this is an early message that we have started planning for the next edition of this event.

    Please reply to this email before May 30 if you are interested to join us. Of course this is by no means a commitment that you will actually be able to join.

    We plan the tour to be all about System z and the relevant software that you need to generate success in the areas of Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social, Security, Linux, Storage...
    So, just send an email to Hans if you're interested or you can always contact me too of course.

    Friday, May 23, 2014

    Reminder : Hardware End of Marketing for z196 and z114

    I wrote about this in a previous post along with the announcement of the zBC12, but I think a quick reminder may be in place. Last year IBM announced the two-phase end of marketing dates for the z196 and the z114.

    A little recap
    • June 30, 2014
      Past this date any upgrades towards a z196 or a z114 will no longer be possible. Nor will you be able to do any model conversions or hardware MES features. Roughly speaking this means that any upgrade which involves hardware changes will no longer be possible. The practical consequences mainly involve connectivity cards and memory. Up to June 30, 2015 you will still be able to activate that zIIP or an IFL or do a microcode upgrade (as long as you don't need an extra book) or even a downgrade. But if that involves adding memory, FICON- or OSA-cards, which is not that imaginary, then you must add them before June 30, 2014. 
    • June 30, 2015
      "Field install features and conversions that are delivered solely through a modification to the machine's Licensed Internal Code (LIC) will continue to be available until June 30, 2015" meaning that everything which is already in the machine will be able to be activated during the next year like, as I already said, zIIPs, IFLs and Plan ahead Memory.
      Capacity on Demand and CBU offerings will be usable until their expiration date. Something to keep in mind when you're planning to use a z196 or z114 after June 2015.
    So, if you are not immediately planning an upgrade and you might have some extra workload(s) in the future, do your planning carefully in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

    Monday, May 19, 2014

    DS8870 announcement - Flash optimization II

    This is an announcement from last week : 'IBM DS8870 next-generation flash systems deliver high availability and better performance for critical environments (ZG14-0119)'. However last week I was at the IBM Technical University for System z in Budapest and I wanted to have a closer look at the announcement before writing about it. And, by sheer coincidence, this is the first time in my life that I actually saw the real machine before I even read the announcement as we visited the DS8000 plant while in Hungary.

    IBM fulfills an earlier statement of direction about the use of a "new high-density flash storage module for selected IBM disk systems, including the IBM System Storage DS8000". Now you might say : didn't they already announce an all flash box last year. Well, yes and no. They announced an all SSD box. Now you may argue again : isn't SSD the same as flash. Well, yes and no. It's more or less the same type of disks, or let's say, flash cards. Let's make a little detour to get a better understanding of this.
    IBM has its FlashSystem 840 for open systems which comes from a recent acquisition of Texas Memory Systems. It aims purely at performance and promises extremely high performance and extremely low latency. How does it reach that : well, by concentrating solely on getting the data as fast as possible without any software functionality or storage controller in between that does e.g. compression, deduplication . . . And that's, to me at least, the main distinction between what IBM calls Flash and SSD. As a result the announcement says "it will help to increase IOPS by up to 4 times as compared to SSDs and up to 30 times as compared to spinning drives".

    This is realized with new High Performance Flash Enclosures (HPFEs). This "high-performance flash enclosure is directly attached to the PCIe fabric, enabling increased bandwidth and transaction processing capability. The 1U enclosure contains a pair of powerful redundant RAID controllers".

    Here's a configuration with just HPFEs in the box.

    To the left side, you can see that 4 HPFEs fill the empty slot that was intentionally there from the beginning of the DS8870. ("Intentionally left blank" you might say). One enclosure contains 30 1.8'' flash drives of 400GB giving you a raw capacity of 12TB. If you only use the upper left slot for HPFEs, they can be combined with other types of disks in the regular disk slots.

    The box you see here is an "all-flash, single rack system configured with only flash and up to 96 TB of capacity (73.6 TB of usable capacity) in a 8U of space". This all flash box also "provides twice as many I/O enclosures and up to twice as many host adapters as the standard DS8870 single frame configuration" See the extra host adapters in the green square.

    Let me also give you a brief summary of the other functionalities that were announced :
    General availability : June 6, 2014. Some field availability is only in September.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

    IBM Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS

    Today IBM officially announced the pricing mechanism it already revealed during the April 8 z Anniversary event : 'IBM Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS can reduce the cost of growth for mobile transactions (ZP14-0280)'. Before giving you the details I'd like to share this video about the First National Bank of South Africa because it illustrates so clearly what mobile is all about.

    Combining mobile and mainframe is answering some real concerns or requirements of companies and people using the applications. Mobile is a rapidly growing market generating lots of transactions on lots of data. And as you could see in the video the data must always be up to date. We can no longer afford to offer copies of data, so what's better than to incorporate mobile with the company's primary data. Data that's residing on the mainframe . . . where it always has been.

    Now, this new pricing mechanism makes sure you're not penalized for following just that strategy. "This enhancement to sub-capacity reporting can mitigate the impact of mobile workloads on sub-capacity license charges, specifically in the cases where higher mobile transaction volumes may cause a spike in machine utilization. This can normalize the rate of transaction growth and reduce the reported peak capacity values used for sub-capacity charges".

    There are some prerequisites of course : it's limited to AWLC and AEWLC pricing which means to zEC12 and zBC12 or environments that have at least one zEC12 or zBC12. You also need to install a new reporting tool that will, in this case, replace SCRT : Mobile Workload Reporting Tool (MWRT). It's use, data collection and timing of reporting is very similar to SCRT. What's the difference ?
    "MWRT will calculate the 4-hour rolling average of the reported mobile transaction general purpose processor time consumed by the Mobile Workload Pricing Defining Programs and subtract 60% of those values from the traditional sub-capacity MSUs for all sub-capacity eligible programs running in the same LPAR(s) as the mobile workloads, on an hour-by-hour basis, per LPAR. The program values for the same hour are summed across all of the LPARs (and any z/OS guest systems running under z/VM®) in which the program runs to create an adjusted sub-capacity value for the program, for the given machine, for each hour. MWRT will determine the billable MSU peak for a given program on a machine using the adjusted MSU values".
    You can find all additional details in the announcement itself. And . . . you have some time to figure out how things work as MWRT becomes available on June 30, 2014 and the first report can be submitted as of July 2, 2014.

    Monday, May 5, 2014

    Openstack and System z

    Openstack and system z ? ? ?

    I wrote a piece on Openstack in our System z Newsletter a couple of weeks ago. I thought I might share it over here as well.

    People who read my blog know that I’ve mentioned Openstack already a couple of times. By the end of last year it was becoming quite clear that OpenStack is going to play an important role in the overall IBM strategy on Cloud ànd also in the System z world. So I started wondering : what is it ? What makes it so special ? And quite specifically : what does it mean for System z ? So I thought, let me try and understand this for myself and then make an attempt to explain this to my readers as well. And I can start by telling you that at te beginning I was quite sceptical about it. But therefore, let me take you a couple of years back.

    It started out when I saw this chart for the first time at one or other mainframe presentation talking about System z Unified Resource Manager or zManager. It must’ve been somewhere halfway 2012 around the announcement of zEC12. The zManager part was clear to me, but why dragging in the Flex Systems, System x, Power and even VMWare for heaven’s sake ? Why sure, yet another layer on top of the rest ! And why this tight interlink with the distributed environments. No, this will never happen.

    But then, as I mentioned already, in 2013 the name OpenStack popped up time and again. With the announcement of the zBC12 the graphic had undergone some changes : the OpenStack layer was added, z/VM was no longer under the umbrella of zManager but was put directly under OpenStack. And IBM told us that z/VM, as of z/VM V6.3, would be “the first System z operating environment that can be managed with these open cloud architecture-based interfaces”. Hey, where’s this going at ? Did I miss something ?

    Let me tell you what we were missing : we’re looking at it from the wrong angle. We’re taking the bottom – up look. I have my own mainframe and I’m managing it. I’m managing its storage as well. And yes, perhaps zManager was a step forward : I could now manage several aspects from one, let’s call it, dashboard. But another layer on top of that ? That’s surely overkill. But you know what, take a step back and take a look at this from a business perspective instead. That’s just the opposite : you’re now looking from the top to the bottom. And frankly, at that point, you don’t even care whether you see the bottom. It’s like swimming in the sea : you just know there’s water all the way down. You won’t fall into some or other empty space and that’s exactly what OpenStack is going to do for you. You must be thinking in terms of business, resolving problems, analyzing data, getting ahead of the competition and all of this with more or less reliability, performance or security depending on what kind of workload you want to run. And let the technical guys take care of all the rest.

    Switching roles again, as a technical guy, you can also make that step upwards. The constructors will take care of pretty much everything that’s underneath the OpenStack layer. You can move up to get close to the business people. You won’t be talking about LPARs or SSDs or Hypervisors. You’ll be talking their language about solutions and you’ll be implementing them on a totally different level. But it’ll work !

    How on earth will that be possible ? Well, I think it’s time to tell a little bit more about OpenStack and IBMs (and lots of other companies’) commitment to it.


    But first let me explain where OpenStack is actually playing within the entire Cloud spectrum where anything can be delivered as a Service (AAAS - Anything As A Service).

    For those who are completely unfamiliar with this we usually see these four levels presented : At the bottom we have the hardware, next up are the Infrastructure Services (IAAS – Infrastructure As A Service), then come the Platform Services (PAAS – Platform As A Service) and at the top level we have the Business Applications as Compononts (SAAS – Software As A Service).

    Below you see how these levels can be filled in :

    Click on the image in order to see a larger version
    I deliberately chose illustrations with no specific vendor products as we’re talking open source here. Each of those layers has significant open source elements driving out a coherent way of approaching cloud computing today : private, public or hybrid. The objective is to help build out this open cloud architecture from the hardware all the way up to how people access it on any device interacting with an application. This leads the way to build out an architecture in such a way that it is open, that allows for innovation but also allows us to move the workloads where appropriate and to have a choice of application infrastructure as we start to build these things out.

    Coming to OpenStack : OpenStack plays at the IAAS level. “OpenStack is a global collaboration of developers and cloud computing technologists that seek to produce a ubiquitous Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds. The idea is to have portability of a workload, a VM image … across different types of infrastructures.

    OpenStack was founded by Rackspace Hosting and NASA jointly in July 2010. IBM joined Openstack in February 2011. By now IBM is a Platinum member meaning that it is a part of the body responsible for OpenStack governance. But why such a dedication to an open cloud software ?

    Just as operating systems and virtualization technology come in both proprietary and open source versions, so does cloud platform software. The main reasons open source operating systems and virtualization technology have taken hold in the data center are usually cited as avoiding any vendor lock-in while at the same time optimizing on cost and performance. This trend has continued with cloud software technology solutions, where several proprietary and open source solutions are available on the market. However, without an open-standards approach, organizations will be locked in to a proprietary or point solution that doesn’t interoperate well or that is too costly over the long term. That’s why IBM is investing significantly in sponsoring and supporting open source solutions like OpenStack.

    The lifeblood of any open source project is the community that contributes to it. This is important in terms of the basic usefulness of the project (and hence, product!) and the rate at which the project group accelerates new functionality.

    The OpenStack community has close to 300 companies working together to develop an open source platform that is rich with cloud services. As an example, the latest release—Havana—had some 400 new features added by over 900 individuals from 145 different companies. These features include the core infrastructure-as-a-service layers (compute, network, and storage) and other key capabilities, which include automation, security, and a portal, just to name a few. (* - For this part of my text, I borrowed heavily from the ESG White Paper ‘IBM Storage with OpenStack Brings Simplicity and Robustness to Cloud’ from Mark Peters, Senior Analyst and Wayne Pauley, Senior Analyst)

    This whole idea is reflected in the following illustration of OpenStack with the three core infrastructure-as-a-service layers (compute, network, and storage).

    So, where does that all come together ? And how does it fit in with System z and its related Storage.

    Openstack and System z . . . and more ! ! !

    Therefore we go back to where we started : Openstack and System z. The starting point to me was z/VM 6.3 managed through OpenStack. In an article by Daniel Robinson System z Director Kelly Ryan commented on this : "Whatever cloud computing layer the client is running, whatever tools are pushing down on OpenStack, they can now push down on to z/VM and do the provisioning through it. You can envision a picture where you have your System z pieces, your PowerVM pieces, some VMware pieces, anything that ties up to OpenStack, available in a consistent manner".

    The illustration below shows how that complete picture, including System z, will then look like. As you can see, it’s not only System z, it’s not only IBM distributed platforms, but it’s also 3rd party hypervisors and hardware. You can now service your business or let your business service itself from the grey layer. As a matter of fact all these companies contributing to the OpenStack project make sure that OpenStack is the one communicating with the lowest layer taking care of the provisioning of compute, networking and storage resources  . . . as I promised in the beginning.

    We’ve seen how this already works for z/VM, but let me give you another example with the DS8870. You can find all the details about it in this redbooks Solutions Guide ‘Using the IBM DS8870 in an OpenStack Cloud Environment’ that you can find over here. It also contains some more technical details on OpenStack.

    IBM wrote an IBM Storage Driver for OpenStack enabling OpenStack clouds to access the DS8870 storage system. This OpenStack driver provides an infrastructure for managing volumes and is the interface to the DS8870.
    The dashboard provides a web-based user interface for managing OpenStack services for both users and administrators. So, the OpenStack cloud connects to the DS8870 storage system over an iSCSI or Fibre Channel connection. Remote cloud users can issue requests for storage volumes from the OpenStack cloud. These requests are transparently handled by the IBM Storage Driver. The IBM Storage Driver communicates with the DS8870 storage system and controls the storage volumes on it. Functionalities include such abilities as provisioning, attaching, snapshotting, basic backup, encryption, and quality of service (QoS). In the future, it will grow to include replication management and the changing of service level agreements (SLAs).
    I describe this for the DS8870 but this is also already applicable to the XIV and the StorWize family.

    Is OpenStack visionary, is it already reality ? As you can see for the moment it’s a bit of both but I’m nevertheless convinced that it’s becoming a reality that’s here to stay.

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    (Not) affected by the heartbleed vulnerability

    Let me start by quoting Wikipedia to define what the heartbleed vulnerability is about : "Heartbleed is a security bug in the open-source OpenSSL cryptography library, widely used to implement the Internet's Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. This vulnerability is due to a missing bounds check in the handling of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) heartbeat extension. A fixed version of OpenSSL was released on April 7, 2014, at the same time as Heartbleed was publicly disclosed. At that time, some 17 percent (around half a million) of the Internet's secure web servers certified by trusted authorities were believed to be vulnerable to the attack, allowing theft of the servers' private keys and users' session cookies and passwords. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Ars Technica, and Bruce Schneier all deemed the Heartbleed bug "catastrophic". Forbes cybersecurity columnist Joseph Steinberg wrote, "Some might argue that [Heartbleed] is the worst vulnerability found (at least in terms of its potential impact) since commercial traffic began to flow on the Internet."

    Does it have any impact on our mainframe or IBM storage environments ?
    Well, if you do a search on the Support site, you get more than a hundred hits on 'heartbleed'. I see that practically all indicate 'not affected by the OpenSSL heartbleed vulnerability'. Let me give some of them :
    • TS7650, TS7650G, TS7680
    • TS7700, TS7720, TS7740
    • TS3500, TS11x0, 3592-C07
    • XIV Gen2
    • CICS Transaction Server for VSE/ESA 1.1.1, CICS Transaction Server for z/OS 
    • DS8100, DS8300, DS8700, DS8800 and DS8870 prior to Release 7.2 
    • OpenSSH for z/OS
    The only one I found so far that is affected is XIV Gen3.
    "XIV management and CIMOM uses SSL to provide confidentiality and integrity of management communications. This vulnerability means that an attacker can potentially compromise management communication, gaining access to user credentials and thereby to unauthorized management access of an exposed system. Since storage management is usually on an internal and separate network, exposure to this vulnerability is limited to users with access to the management network.
    The impact is limited to management communication only, as XIV does not use SSL encryption in the data path".

    Affected products and versions are : "XIV Gen3 systems running microcode versions 11.4.1 or 11.4.1.a are vulnerable via management and CIMOM ports. Versions 11.3.0, 11.3.0.a and 11.3.1 are vulnerable only via the CIMOM port. XIV Gen3 systems running older microcode versions are not affected. XIV Gen2 systems are not affected".

    You can find all additional information for XIV Gen3 over here.

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    RealDolmen System z e-zine 21 : Anniversary edition #mainframe50

    The 21st issue of our RealDolmen System z Newsletter was sent out yesterday. You can download it over here. Just like the last time, there's just one English version. No more Dutch or French versions. Do go and take a look at it. There's some contect that hasn't been on the blog. perhaps I'll put my contribution on OpenStack here as well in the coming days.

    The content : here's the introduction that was sent along :
    Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mainframe. IBM announced the S/360 mainframe on this very day emerging from a 5 billion dollar investment initiated by its former president Thomas Watson Jr. And just like with any anniversary you can do two things. On the one hand you can reminisce about the past, celebrate important achievements and tell heroic stories. On the other hand it’s always the perfect moment to look towards the future and determine future strategies in order to hold your place in a competitive world. Of course today we will do a bit of both since one can learn a lot from the past and we need to keep an open mind towards the future. You can read all details in this newsletter.

    We’ll give you an overview of some sites, happenings and social media which are giving a lot of attention to this anniversary. But we will also point out a couple of solutions and trends that are definitely positioning the mainframe in the future. One of those items we already mentioned a couple of times in our blog is OpenStack. This is also becoming a very relevant platform for our mainframe. Next to that we’ll also introduce IBM Wave for z/VM to you. These solutions point towards some future accents like ease of use, bridging the knowledge gap and open standards with software defined environments.

    Finally, we still have our usual entries with recent announcements, interesting blog entries, EOS dates, hints and tips and our agenda.

    Enjoy the reading !

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    Announcement : Price change - selected DS8870 disk drives

    Today IBM issues the following announcement : 'Price change: Selected DS8870 Disk Drives (ZA14-1121)'. Effective today "IBM announces a list price decrease on Selected DS8870 Disk Drives".

    So this is a price reduction for the following disk drives on the DS8870 : 146 GB 15krpm FDE disk drive, 300 GB 15krpm FDE disk drive, 600 GB 10krpm FDE disk drive, 1.2 TB 10krpm FDE disk drive, 4 TB 7.2krpm FDE disk drive.

    Did I already tell you that it's effective as of today. You never know but I just wonder whether I'll have to add a little comment to this tomorrow ?

    Friday, March 28, 2014

    White Paper (eBook) - DB2 11 : The Database for Big Data & Analytics

    This is the fourth edition of this eBook and it's as valuable as ever. It's divided into four sections with an introduction by Surekha Parekh :
    • 'DB2 11 for z/OS : Unmatched Efficiency for Big Data and Analytics' by Julian Stuhler,
    • 'Improved Query Performance in DB2 11 for z/OS' by Terry Purcell,
    • 'IBM DB2 Utilities and Tools with DB2 11 for z/OS' by Haakon Roberts and
    • 'How DB2 for z/OS Can Help Reduce Total Cost of Ownership' by Cristian Molaro 
    Regarding its contents I don't know really where I should start. There's so much interesting information that I can only say, download the book and read it. You won't be disappointed. I can tell you I wasn't.

    Since the title puts the focus on Big Data perhaps I can tell you a bit more about that part. As Surekha Parekh states in the introduction : "There has been an enormous explosion of data: 90 percent of the world’s data has been created over the past two years! We have also seen a rapid growth in the volume, variety, and velocity of data due to the explosion of smart devices, mobile applications, cloud computing, and social media. New technology innovations, hunger for data, and the thirst for business analytics signal that we are entering a new era of computing —Smarter Computing — the era of Insight for Discovery (...) Much of this data growth has been in unstructured data" (think in terms of Facebook, Twitter, Google searches, Youtube) "IDC estimates that by 2020, business transactions on the Internet - business-to-business and business-to-consumer - will reach 450 billion per day. This phenomenon of data explosion is called big data, and smart organizations are looking for innovative ways to collect, analyze, and turn this data into actionable insights and make predictions.". So where does DB2 (structured data) comes into play here ?

    As Brian Proffitt states in this article : "You can't have a conversation about Big Data for very long without talking about Hadoop. But what is Hadoop, and what makes it so important?". Do read the article. It's a good introduction to Hadoop. And if you want the short definition, here's one from the Webopedia :
    Hadoop, formally called Apache Hadoop, is an Apache Software Foundation project and open source software platform for scalable, distributed computing. Hadoop can provide fast and reliable analysis of both structured data and unstructured data. Given its capabilities to handle large data sets, it's often associated with the phrase big data.
    Returning to our white paper here's how the structured (DB2) and unstructured worlds get connected. "In response, a number of tools and techniques have emerged centered on the open source Hadoop framework, including IBM’s InfoSphere® BigInsights™ technology.

    While these technologies address many of the challenges inherent in analyzing big data, they also introduce new ones for organizations wanting to gain new insights by integrating the analysis of big data with core operational information. As shown in" the figure below "DB2 11 delivers some highly significant new features to allow DB2 and Hadoop/BigInsights to work together and better leverage each platform’s respective strengths. This capability lets data flow in both directions between DB2 and BigInsights, as follows".

    There's more detail about how data goes from DB2 to Infosphere BigInsights and the other way round but therefore you'll have to turn to the eBook itself.

    As I always say, just check it out !

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

    A couple of DS8000 announcements

    You know what, I'm always struggling with all those feature codes from the DS8000 family. And if the announcement has a wrong title, it's only adding up to the trouble. Here's e.g. 'Revised availability: Select IBM DS8700 MES features and feature conversions (ZG14-0135)'. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out this is actually about the DS8870 because it's about the 2421-961 up to the 2424-961 and not the 941 which is the DS8700. But the announcement is actually good news. Field upgrades from a P7+ core to another P7+ core will be possible as from today instead of June 6, 2014. On a DS8870 of course. GA for field upgrades from a P7 to P7+ remains on June 6, 2014 as was announced already last year over here (ZG13-0298).

    But there is also news about the DS8700 in the following announcement : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM System Storage DS8700 Expansion Unit and select features - Some replacements available (ZG14-0059)'. Let me try to translate some of the feature codes for you. First the DS8870. In April you will only be able to order a DS8870 with LMC R7.2 and as of July 7 only P7+ cores can be ordered. For the DS8700, as of October 1 no more expansion units can be ordered. And if I read the rest correctly you cannot longer order any host adapters, memory, cables nor 300GB, 450GB or 600GB disk drive sets. Since the 1TB drives were already withdrawn, there's nothing much left to order on a DS8700. I guess you might still be able to order some SSD drives, but I'm not too confident about that.

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    Upcoming events

    I thought I might give you a new summary of some upcoming events.

    (IBM) Events

    Worldwide : April 8, 2014 - z Anniversary NY event

    I already blogged about this earlier : "IBM will be hosting a landmark event that will celebrate the first 50 years of the mainframe by looking into the next 50 years. The event will highlight the strategic role that the mainframe will play in the future."
    There's a livestream of the event which takes place from 2.00 p.m. until 4.30 p.m. ET. This should correspond with 8.00 p.m. until 10.30 p.m. in Brussels (CET).You can find all information over here.

    Benelux : April 10, 2014 - IBM Mainframe 50 year anniversary
    This one is specifically for the Benelux with an event in Zwijndrecht (NL) that lso celebrates the 50th anniversary of the mainframe. You can of course still register over here. The agenda is also known by now. Speakers are Mrs. Kelly Ryan, IBM Director System z Client Care, Mr. Toine Straathof, Executive Vice President Rabobank and Mr. René Boender, Brain Agent, Trendteller & Bestseller author. We conclude with a festive toast on the future of the Mainframe and Walking Dinner.

    EMEA : May 12-16, 2014 - System z Technical University

    The System z Technical University is taking place in Budapest for EMEA. You can find all information about attending, agenda, registration etc. over here. If you register this week you can still have the early bird reduction. There's also an extra reduction code when you're a GSE member.

    Belgium : May 8-9, 2014 - GSE Regional Conference
    This years GSE regional conference is in Hotel Thermae Palace in Oostende and its theme is 'SmartSourcing'. Some of the presentations are :
    • The different Flavours of Sourcing (Marnix Gillis, IBM)
    • Sourcing Policies (Igor Prozenko, BNP Paribas Fortis)
    • From Infrastructure Outsourcing to IaaS (Dominique Thireau, CSC)
    • A Model for Smartsourcing (Guido Dedene, K.U.Leuven)
    • Application Development Outsourcing (Henri Arnold, NRB)
    • TCO before and after (Wim Vancluysen, IBM)
    • Project Management in an outsourced Context (Rigo Breesch, CeGeKa)
    • Sourcing Trends and Directions (Gerrit Liebens, Gartner)
    You should've received an invitation in order to register. Normally all information will become available here as well.

    (GSE) Meetings in Belgium

    March 27, 2014 - GSE Architecture Working Group with Round Table about Cloud Deployment Experiences
    KBC Leuven
    You can register over here. "We know that this 'Round Table' formula is a challenge, but we dare to tackle it, because a Cloud Computing Subject Matter Expert and an experienced Moderator will be our guides and allow you to benefit maximally from your precious time investment."

    March 27, 2014 - GSE DB2 Working Group meeting
    NRB Herstal
    You can register over here. Presentations are
    • Euroclear : ‘DB2 Connectivity at Euroclear’, 
    • KBC : ‘Our challenges with managing distributed access to DB2 for zOS’, 
    • Ludovic Janssens – Infocura: ‘Java Application Performance on DB2 for zOS’, 
    • Cristian Molaro : ’Distributed access to DB2 for zOS: state of the art’ and 
    • BMC Software : ‘Understanding Distributed Processing Inside DB2 for zOS’.

    April 2, 2014 - DB2 LUW User Group BeLux Event
    IBM Forum, Brussels
    You can register over here. There are presentations by Klaas Brant with “HADR, a prime” and “Lighting fast BI: Meet BLU” and Cristian Molaro with “DB2 pureScale hot update” and there will be two additional sessions by people from the IBM DB2 Ireland Labs (subjects still to be determined).

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Sampling Techdocs - Up to February 2014

    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.
    • Technical document : DS8000 Host Ports and Installation Sequence
      Here's a nice document on the "DS8000 host adapters installation sequence, port usage, naming conventions and best practices for host connection". Lots of practical tips.
    • Presentation : DS8000 HyperPAV presentation and demonstration
      This is kind of a recap but it still contains some practical tips for people starting with HyperPAV. It's a "presentation that explains HyperPAV and compares HyperPAVs to Dynamic and Static PAVs. There is a demonstration that shows the performance benefits of changing from no PAVs, to Dynamic PAVs and ultimately HyperPAVs."
      • Presentation : zEnterprise z/OS Usage of SMC-R RoCE
        "SMC-R and RoCE provide high throughput with low overhead communications. This paper is developed to detail the SMC-R and RoCE support in z/OS V2.1." This presentation talks about RDMA and SMC R, SMC R Configuration, Management Commands, CP Usage, Switch Ports, SMC R Details, OSA vs. HiperSockets vs. RoCE ... And I can assure you, not one detail is omitted here.
      • White paper : Absolute Capping for zEnterprise LPARs
        Here's an interesting one : "Absolute Capping is a new control which was made available in 2013 supporting the zBC12 and zEC12 GA2 CPCs. It is enabled on zEnterprise via licensed internal code Version 2.12.1 at Driver Level 15 or higher.
        Absolute Capping is available to any LPAR but is of particular interest for non z/OS LPARs such as z/VM and Linux on z that cannot make use of z/OS Workload Manager capacity management functions.
        Unlike traditional LPAR Capping, this enhancement is designed to provide a physical capacity limit enforced as an absolute (versus relative) value that is not affected by changes to the virtual or physical configuration of the system. "
      Well that's it for now. And, as I always say : just check them out !

      Thursday, March 13, 2014

      #mainframe50 : Benelux Event April 10 in Zwijndrecht, Netherlands

      Yesterday I told you about a #mainframe50 event in the Benelux. Well, here it is. Just click on one of the pictures below to register.



      I hope lots of you will be able to join us.

      Wednesday, March 12, 2014

      Livestream : Making the extraordinary possible - IBM #Mainframe50

      Information about the 50th anniversary of the mainframe is really pouring in now. So here's the information about a livestream that you will be able to follow on April 8, 2014. Here's the announcement :

      On April 8, 2014, IBM will be broadcasting via Livestream a landmark event that will take place in New York City and make a series of announcements to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mainframe. The event will highlight breakthroughs in business, industry and society driven by the Mainframe, and the strategic role it will continue to play in the future.

      Join this great lineup of speakers as they share new announcements, research projects, best practices and breakthrough business innovation enabled by the IBM Mainframe.

      Speakers include:
      • IBM Senior Vice Presidents Steve Mills, Colleen Arnold, Tom Rosamilia, and John Kelly, and IBM General Manager for System z Pat Toole
      • Client speakers from Visa, CitiBank and Business Connexion
      • Researchers from Yale University
      • Students, the future generation of IT

      The event will highlight the strategic role of the mainframe and its evolution in enabling:
      • Industry-changing missions that make the extraordinary possible
      • Reinvention to transform your business
      • Secure data and the exponential growth of data and transactions
      The time is from 2.00 p.m. until 4.30 p.m. ET. This should correspond with 8.00 p.m. until 10.30 p.m. in Brussels (CET).

      You can find some more information and RSVP to receive an e-mail notification at the event site.

      And there's other news for the Benelux that I just received from Hans Deketele (IBM Mainframe Platform Leader Benelux) : there will be a celebration event on April 10, 2014 in Zwijndrecht (NL) for the Benelux. I'll keep you posted as soon as I have more news about this.

      Tuesday, March 11, 2014

      #mainframe50 and BMC

      I'm following the twitter account of BMC (@BMCMainframe) and they're handing out a commemorative coin at SHARE in Anaheim for the mainframe's 50th anniversary . Well, it's such a beauty that I was feeling a little pity for myself that I couldn't attend the event.

      But lo and behold, the BMC Mainframe blog 'Mainframe Revolution' has the following topic : 'BMC Mainframe 50 Commemorative Coin Available Online'. And you can actually request your own coin online . . . "as long as supplies last". So I'm not going to give you the link here. Just pay a visit to the blog and while you're there, have a look around, there's lots of interesting contect over there.
      Take a look e.g. at this post : '14 Reasons To Celebrate Mainframe 50 with BMC Software at Share'. If you're attending SHARE you'll surely find some interesting sessions to follow. Or what about this tweet : "BMC Cost Analyzer for zEnterprise... Find out how to save up to 20% of your MLC costs! #SHAREorg booth 511". Isn't that triggering your attention ?

      As I always say, just check it out.
      But be quick, or you might not have the chance to see this message :

      Friday, March 7, 2014


      "To boldly go where no man has gone before", I know I'm ripping this out of its context, but I think it's fitting for the mainframe as well. Many will say that this was definitely the case 50 years ago, by now some will argue that the mainframe is a thing of the past (remember the Mainframe is Dead saga) but I'm convinced (and lots of others with me of course) that it is still the case today. People have absolutely no idea how strongly our lives are intertangled with the mainframe. Have a look at this video.

      And here's another one.

      Well, you know why I'm writing about this : the mainframe is turning 50 and you're still going to hear and see A LOT about it. Just let me give you some places to go to when you want to celebrate with us.

      IBM has created two new sites for the occasion. The first is over here. There also a tumblr site that you can find over here. It has weekly themes and this week's theme is mobile. There are also lots of interesting infographics. Further, you will see (on this site and others) a lot of attention for the IBM Master the Mainframe World Championship. It's "a first-of-its-kind, premiere enterprise computing competition. Students from over 20 countries around the world will compete in a series of challenges, which will culminate on April 7, 2014 at IBM in New York City". Check out it's own site over here.

      If you want to follow everything on Twitter these are the hashtags to use : #mainframe50 and if you're in for it also #MainframeMemories. Of course, at an anniversary, we have to look forward but we can learn from our past and there will be lots of reminiscing about the good old times as well. Here's an example I came across today : the Mainframe Memories by Neale Ferguson (@NealeFerguson).

      I can tell you one more thing : over the last years I regularly heard voices coming up to abandon the term 'mainframe'. "Call it a large enterprise server" or whatever, but I've always stuck to the mainframe terminology as such and so I'm still proud my blog is called the MAINFRAME Watch.

      So, let's get started on those next 50 years !

      Thursday, February 27, 2014

      The new IBM Redbooks Mobile App

      I was going to write a blog post about this new mobile App for Redbooks but the introducing video is so self explaining I won't bother you with my texts. So, here it goes

      And if you're really a dummy, here's the App explained for dummies allthough they prefer to call it 'Hands-on with the new IBM Redbooks mobile app'

      Where to get it ? Here for iOS and here for Android.

      Wednesday, February 26, 2014

      IBM Hardware Maintenance Services - System z On/Off Capacity Usage

      Yesterday IBM made the following announcement : 'IBM Hardware Maintenance Services - System z On/Off Capacity Usage (ZS14-0012)'. Up to now there was no extra hardware maintenance for the additional capacity when activating On/Off Capacity on Demand (On/Off CoD) on a System z. "On/Off CoD provides the capability to temporarily increase Central Processor, Integrated Facility for Linux, Internal Coupling Facility, System z Application Assist Processor, or System z Integrated Information Processor capacity on System z servers to help address peak workload requirements".

      "As a part of IBM maintenance services, maintenance charges will now apply for processing capacity activated through On/Off CoD, provided the activated capacity is not under warranty and the machine is under an IBM hardware maintenance service agreement".

      There had already been a similar EMEA announcement about a month ago, but then most Western European countries were not included (like e.g. Belgium). But now they are.

      General availability is May 30. 2014.

      Tuesday, February 25, 2014

      IBM Wave for z/VM - Nice introductory video

      Well, yesterday a couple of links weren't working, but the Data Sheet and the Redbook (draft) on installation, implementation and exploitation of IBM Wave for z/VM are available by now. And I must say, the redbook looks pretty impressive covering every thinkable topic on IBM Wave. Here's a small summary of its contents
      • Part 1. Architecture and installation
        • Chapter 1. Introduction to IBM Wave for z/VM
        • Chapter 2. IBM Wave for z/VM architecture
        • Chapter 3. Planning and design
        • Chapter 4. Installation and configuration
      • Part 2. Using IBM Wave for z/VM
        • Chapter 5. How to manage and operate the user interface environment
        • Chapter 6. How to manage z/VM
        • Chapter 7. How to manage the Linux virtual machines
      There's also a great introductory video on IBM Wave on that same page. I don't think the authors will mind my embedding it here.

      So, lots of good materials to give you an introduction or to get you started on IBM Wave for z/VM.

      Monday, February 24, 2014

      IBM Wave for z/VM - Empowered Virtualization Management

      Today IBM announces IBM Wave for z/VM with the following announcement : 'IBM Wave for z/VM Version 1.1 simplifies management of z/VM and Linux guests with intelligent visualization (ZP14-0036)'. Actually IBM Wave comes from the acquisition IBM did last year of CSL International with its product CSL-Wave. "IBM Wave for z/VM is an intuitive virtualization management software product that provides management, administration, provisioning, and enables automation of Linux virtual servers in a z/VM environment". The scope of IBM Wave can span multiple logical partitions (LPARs), SSI clusters, and servers.
      It should help lowering the threshold for companies who see the benefits of Linux on System z but do not have the necessary skills in that area. Wave makes a complete analysis of an existing environment or it helps to setup a new environment with its interactive GUI.
      The following video gives you a good idea of what you can do with IBM Wave for z/VM.

      You can find several resources about IBM Wave
      • IBM page for IBM Wave for z/VM
      • Another IBM page directing you to several resources
      • A redbook : IBM Wave for z/VM - An introduction
      • The FAQ. In this FAQ you also find some references to demos on the CSI International webpage on Automatic Detection, Automation and Simplification, Enhanced Server Farm Administration, Network Management, Provisioning . . .
      • Here's a nice brochure also from the CSL site : 'CSL-Wave - Get z Power without z Learning Curve'.
      • The Datasheet
      • A second redbook : IBM Wave for z/VM- Installation, Implementation and Exploitation

      The key prerequisites : you need an IBM System z server (starting from a z10) using a currently supported release of z/VM (5.4, 6.2 or 6.3).
      General availability is February 28, 2014.
      IBM Wave is IPLA software with Subscription and Support (S&S). And as far as I can see, it follows the same logic for its Value Units as z/VM. It's determined by number of cores and the Value Units needed decrease when you have more cores. E.g. for 1 to 3 cores you need 10 Value Units per core, for cores 4 to 6 you need 9 Value Units per core. So for 4 cores you'll need 39 Value Units.

      I can't resist by closing with one example of what's the difference between using IBM Wave or not. How to clone a virtual machine.

      Without IBM Wave
      1. Determine if required resources exist
      2. Create clone VM definition
      3. Define clone VM resources
      4. Create copies of private VM resources (server)
      5. Create copies of private VM resources (disk)
      6. Customize clone VM
      7. Authorize clone VM access / VSwitch Access
      8. Add clone to management groups
      9. Activate clone
      10. Configure the network
      11. Run middleware configuration scripts
      12. Monitor and report on cloning operation.
      With IBM Wave
      1. Open the “Clone” form
      2. Fill in the needed information
      3. Press the “Go” Button