Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Well here's my last post for this year. If you missed my year review, just scroll down a bit.

I don't know what 2016 will bring us but I surely wish every one the best for 2016 : A Happy New Year and good health to you and your family. Or as one of my friends on Facebook put it : "Enjoy 2016 as if there is no 2017!". And, as a Prince fan I had to add of course "... and party like it's 1999".

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 support and feedback in 2015.

Looking back on 2015 - Year review

Personally, my year could've been a bit better. I had a hernia operation back in April and I was out for a couple of months from half September till November due to an unlucky fall, but apart from that, I still had a fruitful blogging year. And within a couple of months I can even celebrate my tenth blogging anniversary. But first, let us have a review of 2015.

January started off fiercely with the announcement of the z13. No more EC or BC model and the naming also changed from System z to z Systems. I'm still getting used to that. One of the main messages was : memory, memory, more memory. Customers are easily getting at least half a TB of memory. It's the only way to compete with all the in-memory big data analytics stuff that's out there. But of course it remains, as Ross Mauri (General Manager, z Systems, IBM) points out in relation to the LinuxOne, "an I/O monster". Yeah, we like that ! All compilers immediately bring a new version utilizing the new functionalities of the z13. We like that too. Fast responsiveness.

In February we start setting up our XIV campaign. Not all storage news turns out to be positive as Europe sees a price increase of 15% on all storage components. This seems to be due to the dollar-euro rate and, I must say, we see similar moves with other vendors as well.

The next months we remain focused on our XIV campaign. The RealTime Compression is announced and we also see the software defined version, Spectrum Accelerate, arriving (ZP15-0090). You cannot not have a software defined version in this modern world. And it opens perspectives for smaller customers as well.

In April IBM announces the 'z Systems Collocated Application Pricing for z/OS or in short zCAP (ZP15-0244). It's a new pricing mechanism for new z/OS workloads. In short it allows workloads that you would put in a separate environment for pricing reasons to be priced as if they are running in a dedicated environment while technically integrated with other workloads. I sometimes wonder why IBM is making this so complicated. Can't you just say e.g. if you grow 5% next year, we give you a reduction of 10% on your growth. But I guess this would be way too easy.

In May IBM announces RealTime Compression on the XIV and RealDolmen has its XIV event. We also publish a brochure on XIV : "Powerful Storage with IBM XIV'. You can still download it over here. There was also a preview of z/VSE 6.1 since, you can hardly believe it, z/VSE turn 50 in 2015. And before we have the announcement of the DS8880 later this year, we still have some enhancements to the DS8870 with e.g. the 16Gb FC cards.

In June we see the End of Marketing for z/OS 2.1 move from September to January 2016. Reason for me to also explain the difference between End of Marketing and End of Service. It's surprising how sometimes the most simple terms still create confusion. Perhaps I should start a series on the basics of software pricing. Actually, why not ? June was also the month I found out that the z13 was actually manufactured in my own home town. How about that ? I passed that sign hundreds of times and now all of a sudden it gets a new meaning.

Two interesting events in July. z/OS 2.2 is officially announced. But for those who are more into hardware, the one on the change to the start of the warranty period on IBM material is even more interesting. Before warranty started the first of the month following the installation of the CE. Now it either starts the business day following the completion of the installation or it starts 45 days following the shipment from IBM.

More software pricing news in August. IBM announces Country Multiplex Pricing (CMP) (ZP15-0318). CMP is a new sub-capacity offering that allows clients to use their z Systems capacity within a given country without the constraints of sysplex aggregation rules and many of the limitations of previous reporting methodologies. I'm not aware of any customers using this for the moment in Belgium, but then again we live in a rather small country.

What's more important, IBM also announced LinuxONE in August : a Linux only mainframe introducing new applications, even new operating systems (like Ubuntu) and even more important a new hypervisor : KVM. As I already told you in my article about this, it's a kind of two worlds meeting each other for the first time. Will mainframers be willing to embrace the open world and on the other hand will, let me call them disrespectfully, open world Linux people embrace the mainframe just because it's become a bit more open ? I really don't know, the future will tell us. Hey, that's already my conclusion for this year.

In September we have the new Mainframe Contest in the Benelux (and elsewhere of course) which will eventually lead to another worldwide contest among the best contestants as we saw with the announcement of the z13.
On the tape front we eventually see the announcement that ends direct attachment from mainframe to tape via the tape controllers. In the meantime the last generation, the C07, has become End of Marketing. It became too difficult to support newer generations of drives like the TS1150 or supporting more than 4TB in z/OS. The alternatives are TS7700 and ProtecTIER Mainframe Edition (ME).

In October there are announcements for IMS V14 (ZP15-0539) and for IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS 5.3 (ZP15-0495). But what especially caught my attention was of course the new generation of the DS8000 : the DS8880. More power, more performance, a new 19 inch footprint, a change to the HMCs and to the power requirements (only single phase) along with a completely new license pricing mechanism makes this quite an interesting announcement.

z/VSE 6.1 and CICS Transaction Server for z/VSE V2.1 were announced in November. For the first time in 16 years (that means since last century in 1999) we have a new version of CICS for z/VSE.

The last announcement I want to mention was already in November but became available in December : the new IBM XIV Gen3 model 314. The focus is on the improvement of RealTime Compression. Therefore CPU and SSD cache capacity are doubled. Playing advocate of the devil one might wonder how earlier models coped with this as IBM always told us RealTime Compression ran on those machines with no performance loss either ?

Well, that's it for 2015. Any predictions for 2016 ? Not really, or rather an open question from an open mind. Last year I mentioned that OpenStack was here to stay and I guess that is pretty much the case, but today I'm, let's say, a bit confused. We see a lot of change towards cloud or hybrid cloud not only in the market but we, at RealDolmen, as a service provider are also heavily investing in it. I'm no longer doing infrastructure, I'm part of the hybrid cloud team. And I'm glad about that, it's the way to go, but where does that leave the mainframe in a world of dockers, containers, software defined environments . . . ? I guess we'll just have to find out in 2016. Perhaps it will just disappear . . . disappear into the cloud . . . and . . . be used more then ever.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Intoducing IBM LinuxONE

Just watch the short video below, it looks (and even sounds) like a Walt Disney movie but it's reality.

Since I was preparing a new issue of our z Systems eZine, I guess LinuxONE was an obvious choice to have an article about. So let me also share its content over here.

The hardware
In short, LinuxONE is a mainframe machine with only Linux. And when we look at the hardware there are two models : the Emperor and the Rockhopper. And yes, they are named after a couple of penguin species.

The largest model is based on the z13, that was announced last January and the Rockhopper is based on the z12 BC. Since e.g. the LinuxONE Emperor inherits the characteristics of the z13, you have a machine with a possible 141 Linux engines and 10TB of memory. Or as Ross Mauri (General Manager, z Systems, IBM) puts it : "8.000 virtual servers on an Emperor, hundreds of thousands of containers in one system (...) 5Ghz microprocessors, 320 channels for I/O and each channel has two dedicated power processors, it's an I/O monster, up to 10TB of memory, a huge set of cache (...)". As we all know, being an 'I/O monster' is one of the biggest assets of these machines. If you have the time, you can find Ross Mauri's pitch in a 30-minute youtube video you find over here.

The message that accompanies LinuxONE is based on three 'slogans'.

Let me clarify them a bit for you

Linux Your way
"IBM LinuxONE allows you to choose the Linux distribution, hypervisor, applications and databases, management tools, and services" (*). This is not only a valid statement for people already running Linux on mainframe but perhaps especially for people who are running Linux on other platforms for the moment.
At the operating system level, this means we need more Linux distributions, so IBM announced the support for Ubuntu as well. But even more important to pull Linux people into the mainframe world is that they can use a familiar hypervisor. That's why next to PR/SM and z/VM, LinuxONE also supports KVM as a hypervisor. This means that people used to work on x386 platform can now far more easily make the step towards mainframe without having that steep learning curve that was there before.
But what also intrigues me : when I look at the announcement of KVM on z Systems (ZP15-0359) it indicates that it does not only run on the LinuxONE but also on z13, zEC12 and zBC12. So that would be on IFLs next to e.g. z/OS. And it also support ECKD volumes on the DS8000.
Then talking about programming languages, development and databases, just let me give you an extensive list, to give you an idea of what's cooking underneath all this.
Programming Languages: Python, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, R Language, GO, Scala, Clojure, PHP, Java, oCaml, Erlang
Development & Build Runtime Environments:  Node.js, Apache HTTP Web Server, Apache Tomcat, OpenJDK, LLVM, GCCGO, Zend Framework, Erlang native compiler  
Cloud Management: IBM Wave, IBM Cloud Manager, IBM Urban Code, Openstack, Docker, Chef, Puppet, VMware vRealize Automation 
Database: Oracle, DB2 LUW, Cassandra, CouchDB, MySQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, PostgreSQL
Analytics Tools with IBM Big Insights (Hadoop), DB2 BLU and Spark
This really opens up a whole new world for us, who are used to z/OS, DB2 and CICS. But it's also becoming a large part of the future of the mainframe. Even if we have to discover an entire new world. So, fasten your seatbelts and let's go. !

Linux without Limits
"This is the second pillar of LinuxONE. Lightning fast response times and virtually unlimited scale gives your applications the premium Linux experience they deserve." I think I already touched upon this, when I quoted Ross Mauri earlier with his description of the possibilities of the Emperor. Scale out at its best. But there's also the value of Scale up : you can support "the largest business applications within a single system, without having to spread transactions and data over multiple servers".

Linux without Risk 
"Ensuring that your data and services are fully protected and available when and where your clients need them with the industry’s most secure and resilient Linux system."
I don't have to elaborate too much on this one either : we're talking about availability, business continuity and definitely also security : "The LinuxONE systems provide isolation at multiple levels - applications, containers, virtual servers and partitions, allow for full encryption of the data (...). They allow for end-to-end security, identity and access control to protect your clients and your business reputation".

Pricing : Elastic pricing
This elastic pricing is also described as 'Cloud on Premise'. You have a kind of monthly licensing for what you are using during a specific month. So, you don't buy the hardware, you order the hardware that you need, you order the software that you need, it's in your data center, you use it and you're billed on your monthly usage. Since pricing is always a very sensitive matter, I'll quote Ross Mauri again : "This is like cloud like pricing but on prem. It's for hardware and software, you order what you need, you pay for what you use. Your usage can go up, it can go down, it's metered, you pay by the month". But we all know IBM pricing is never that simple. So contact your IBM or BP representative if you want to get a clear picture on all the details.

IBM zAware and Open Mainframe Project from the Linux Foundation
One extra item I want to mention in this context is the Open Mainframe Project of the Linux Foundation. The Linux Foundation is a "nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development.  In collaboration with the Linux Foundation, IBM will support the Open Mainframe Project, a collaboration of nearly a dozen organizations across academia, government and corporate sectors to advance development and adoption of Linux on the mainframe".
Now what about IBM zAware ? Along with the z13, we saw already that similar to z/OS, support for the analysis of Linux images on mainframe was announced. Now IBM zAware is becoming available on the LinuxONE machines for native and guest Linux images. But what's more, the largest contribution of source code IBM is making to the open source community is actually IBM zAware. Open source developers will be able to add their own code to it.

LinuxONE Community Cloud for Developers and students for free
And finally : do you want to have a go at LinuxONE at no charge. Then you should head over to the LinuxONE Community Cloud : you can obtain a LinuxONE virtual server for testing and piloting emerging applications for evaluation purposes. As a developer or student you can get a 90 day trial that includes up to 2 virtual CPUs, 2 GB memory and 40 GB of storage!

Some reference material
  • IBM announcement of LinuxONE
  • Information about some Open Source software for IBM LinuxONE (like e.g. MongoDB, Docker, MariaDB, Node.js and Spark)
  • Manual : KVM for IBM z Systems : Planning and installation guide.
  • Manual : KVM for IBM z Systems : Administration Guide.
  • FAQ about access, registration and use of LinuxONE Community Cloud
  • Redbook : Getting Started with KVM for IBM z Systems 

What I think will be the most difficult step to take is that every one who wants to take the step towards LinuxONE will have to leave their comfort zone. As mainframers, we're not familiar with KVM, MongoDB, OpenStack or containers like Docker, but it's a possible, real future for our (dare I say) beloved mainframe. For people familiar with all these things, it takes a leap of faith to leave the familiar x386 platform or whatever platform they're using for the moment and taking that step towards the mainframe. All in all, this could be a game changer for the mainframe.

After I wrote this conclusion I started browsing through the Youtube videos again and you know, just have a look at the two videos below. They just show what I tried to express in words.

(*) quote from the liner notes of a LinuxONE customer presentation. Any other quotes are from the same presentation unless mentioned otherwise

RealDolmen z Systems e-zine 23

 The 23rd issue of our RealDolmen z Systems Newsletter was sent out yesterday. You can download it over here. Just like the last times, there's just an English version. No more Dutch or French versions. Some of it has already been posted over here too.

The content ? There are three major topics. One about the new evolutions on the DS888x, I published earlier over here, one about LinuxONE and finally there's some extra publicity for the IBM Benelux Study Tour with a more elaborate agenda. I also focus on some announcements, as usual there are some hints and tips and of course the usual table of EOS dates of the operating systems is also present again.

Enjoy the reading !

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

IBM z/OS Hot Topics - issue 29

I must have missed this one and for those who did so too, there was a new release of IBM z/OS Hot Topics (issue 29) last August. You know, I sometimes envy the people of the Hot Topics Newsletter a bit, especially when I look at the list of about sixty contributors to this newsletter. This is one hell of an organization on its own. Surely when you know that for our RealDolmen z Systems eZine there's only the two of us. But then again, we're pretty independent and we can write what we want to. No need to worry about some or other strict guidelines. But let me stop pondering upon this and get back to the topic at hand.

The main theme of this z/OS Newsletter is "Putting Security into Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security (CAMSS)". If you're not that much into security, don't let you scare off, because only about the first half of the newsletter is about security :
  • the evolution of password controls
  • the most common security mistakes when configuring z/OS systems,
  • Drowning in digital certificates ? Here's a lifeline
  • . . .

There's also a reference to the IBM z Systems security Portal. On the 'Integrity' tab of the portal you can subscribe "to the automatic notification process to get access to the latest service information about security and system integrity APARs for z/OS and z/VM".

In the second part of the newsletter you find amongst others articles on :
  • The use of the "Mega memory on z13"
  • z/OSMF becoming part of the base of z/OS 2.2
  • Problem determination
  • The addition of Linux support to IBM zAware
  • Best practices for z/OS 2.2 documentation
  • . . .
As I always say, just check it out !

Monday, December 14, 2015

IBM DB2 12 for z/OS Early Support

I was thinking that there was little use in going through those older announcements I missed the last couple of months, but when I look at the information that's easily available, I have the impression that I'm reading announcements a bit differently than other people. So that's why I think some of you might nevertheless enjoy or get something out of my information.

So, October 6, 2015 IBM announced the early support program for DB2 12 : 'IBM DB2 12 for z/OS Early Support Program (ZP15-0504)'. A select group of customers will be stepping into this program that becomes available March 4, 2016. If you're interested in participating, contact your IBM representative.

CPU savings and performance improvements
IBM makes a lot of work on CPU savings while increasing the performance. A reverse trend of what we used to know in the past that seems to steadily continue. Some figures : "Compared to DB2 11, DB2 12 clients can achieve up to 5% CPU savings for various traditional OLTP, heavy INSERT, and SAP workloads. Select query workloads may see even more benefits, with up to 25% CPU savings. Read-intensive OLTP workloads may see up to 10% CPU savings with DB2 12. Decompressing data is much faster using DB2 12 with significant performance improvements, delivering up to 15% CPU savings when running the queries against compressed tables".
Since IBM did already a great job on improving the use of CPU resources in DB2 V10 and DB2 11, it's amazing they still succeed in improving it again. Would earlier DB2 coding really have been that lousy ? I guess not, it just wasn't a focus at the time, but the competition is fierce nowadays.
Some more stuff is also offloaded to the zIIP adding to a better price/performance rate.

Use of (much) larger memory in z13
What else ? I think it's only logical IBM is heavily using the new features of the z13. I particularly think of the memory that - as the announcement says it - has become "more affordable", when they just mean "much cheaper". Having a bunch of memory at your disposal (forget GB we're talking TB) eases a lot of things. One example : "enhancements to compression aids DB2 utility processing by reducing elapsed time and CPU consumption with the potential to improve data and application availability" or in-memory performance improvements like
  • Contiguous and larger buffer pools
  • Use of in-memory pipes for improved insert performance
  • Increased sort and hash in-memory to improve sort and join performance
That's why I think you will get the best benefit out of DB2 12 with a z13. Allthough the prerequisites are not that stringent of course
  • z/OS V2.1 Base Services, (5650-ZOS), or later
  • z196, or higher, processors running z/OS V2.1, or later
One other thing : back in 2012 I made the following little table when DB2 11 was pre-announced
  • V6 : GA 1998, EOS 2005
  • V7 : GA 2001, EOS 2008
  • V8 : GA 2004, EOS 2012 (support lasted an extra year)
  • V9 : GA 2007, EOS 2014 (back to normal)
  • V10 : GA 2010, estimated EOS 2017
This trend seems to continue. V10 is EOS in 2017. Announcement of DB2 11 was in 2013, so I guess the announcement of DB2 12 will be somewhere by the end of 2016. So, if you're still on DB2 10, you have some two years left to get to DB2 11. Don't wait until DB2 12 is out, because apparently no skip level migration will be available. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Introduction of IBM XIV Gen3 Storage System Model 314

Last week on December 4, 2015 IBM XIV Gen3 Model 314 became available. It was announced last month with a software (ZP15-0616) and a hardware announcement 'IBM XIV Storage System Model 314 delivers Real-time Compression with larger effective capacity and better performance' (ZG15-0268).

As you can see in the title of the announcement the focus is on the improvement of the Real-time Compression. It's the same RACE technology we also find in other IBM storage devives or SDS. How is it possible that this compression has little or no impact on the performance. Well, quite some extra capacity is reserved for the compression only. Here's a couple of specs.
"IBM XIV Storage System Gen3 Model 314 delivers:
  • 2 x 6-core CPUs per module (versus 1 x 6-core CPU per module in Model 214) with 1 x 6-core CPU dedicated to Real-time Compression
  • 96 GB RAM per module (versus 48 GB RAM per module in Model 214) with 48 GB of RAM dedicated to Real-time-Compression
  • 1 to 2 PB of effective capacity without performance degradation
  • Improved IOPS per compressed capacity
  • User-configurable soft capacity up to 2 PB
  • Reduced minimum compressible volume size from 103 GB to 51 GB"
The bold is mine indicating that the processing power has doubled but the extra power is dedicated to the Real-time Compression. You can also deduce from this that the Real-time Compression is executed by each of the 15 modules containing the RACE engine. Another implication is that you always have to include the SSD Flash Cache 'option' that has become mandatory on this model. And as you can see from the picture below, the compression is done before the data is put into the cache and SSD and is decompressed after it leaves them. Also data which is mirrored remains compressed, saving some bandwidth.

 And here are the workloads that benefit the most from compression.
Some documentation
First of all there's the IBM XIV page giving you lots of information on XIV. Mind you there are tabs (overview, product details, resources) and subtabs on that page.
if you want a general introduction on XIV, you can still download our RealDolmen XIV information brochure over here. it doesn't cover the newest stuff on the 314 model.
But hey, don't worry, there's a great presentation (ànd replay) available on the ATS site covering all this including the new features of IBM Spectrum Accelerate which is the Software Defined version of XIV.
And to conclude, here's a 100-page Redpaper on Real-time Compression : 'Implementing IBM Real-time Compression on the IBM XIV Storage System'.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Flash : TS7700 potential data loss issue with back-end disk cache 3956-Cx9

Here's a flash about potential data loss on a TS7700 with back-end disk cache controller 3956-CS9/CC9 and disk cache expansion 3956-XS9/CX9.Here's part of its content :

Certain model disk drives within 3956-CS9/CC9 model controllers and 3956-XS9/CX9 model enclosures are exposed to a rare issue that can result in data loss. The problem is related to an internal integrity checking mechanism contained within certain model disk drives. There is a rare condition in which an underlying disk drive scanning routine can corrupt a disk sector some time after content has been previously written. (...)

Drive Model and Firmware Details:
For 3956-CS9/XS9 configurations, 3TB drives with model ST3000NM0043 are exposed to this issue when down level firmware is present. Firmware level EC5C or greater contains a fix for this issue.
For 3956-CC9/CX9 configurations, 600GB drives with model ST600MM026 are exposed to this issue when down level firmware is present. Firmware level E56F or greater contains a fix for this issue.

Solution (Procedure):
Vtd_exec.154 v1.41 or above should be installed on all affected systems.
Note: An updated version of vtd_exec.154 is expected to be released mid December. It is recommended to utilize the updated version if possible.

Alternatively upgrade the TS7700 to latest released code level R3.3 (

Either of these solutions must be applied by an IBM Service Representative.

Do check out the full information in the flash itself.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Draft Redbook : DS8880 Architecture and Implementation Guide

At the beginning of the year I promised myself I would try to post some more and not wait until I had enough material for an elaborate post. Despite my absence of two months I already wrote more blog posts than last year. So, this seems to work alright for me.

So here's a quick one : the Draft for the IBM Redbook on 'DS8880 Architecture and Implementation' is out and can be downloaded over here. I don't think I have to explain the purpose of this redbook to you, so let me suffice by giving you the table of contents.
Part 1. Concepts and architecture
Chapter 1. Introduction to the IBM DS8880
Chapter 2. IBM DS8880 hardware components and architecture
Chapter 3. RAS on the IBM DS8880
Chapter 4. Virtualization concepts
Chapter 5. DS8000 Copy Services overview
Chapter 6. Designed for performance
Part 2. Planning and installation
Chapter 7. IBM DS8880 physical planning and installation
Chapter 8. IBM DS8880 Management Console planning and setup
Chapter 9. IBM DS8880 features and licensed functions
Part 3. Storage configuration
Chapter 10. Configuration flow
Chapter 11. Storage Management GUI
Chapter 12. Configuration with the DS Command-Line Interface
Part 4. Maintenance and upgrades
Chapter 13. Licensed machine code
Chapter 14. Monitoring with Simple Network Management Protocol
Chapter 15. Remote support
There you go, some free Christmas Holiday reading.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Upcoming GSE working group meetings in Belgium

It's a bit short notice but due to circumstances you know, I didn't have the time to mention them earlier. But here they are, four GSE meetings all taking place next week.

  • Wednesday December 9 - GSE z/OS Working Group
  • Thursday December 10 - GSE DB2 Working Group
  • Thursday December 10 - GSE CICS Working Group
  • Friday December 11 - GSE Enterprise Systems Security Working Group
More details below.

Let do them in sequential order and start with the GSE z/OS working Group on Wednesday December 9, 2015. It's an all day event taking place at our own RealDolmen headquarters in Huizingen and here's the agenda :
09:00 - 09:30 Coffee
09:30 - 09:35 Welcome by Renaud Colin (Chairman – Euroclear S.A.)
09:35 - 10:30 z/OS 2.2 by Jan T. (Client Technical Specialist - z Systems IBM)
10:30 - 11:00 Coffee break
11:00 - 12:00 Anonymize your system dumps and logs BEFORE …! Dr. Stephen Fedtke,
12:00 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 - 14:30 Analytics Accelerator V5 by Dirk Coomans (IBM)
14:30 - 15:00 Coffee break
15:00 - 16:00 Recent HW features (zEDC, RoCE, Crypto, ...) by Jan T.
16:00 - 16:05 Closing by Renaud Colin (Chairman – Euroclear S.A.)
You can register over here.

Next in line is the GSE DB2 Working Group meeting. This is on Thursday December 10, 2015 at Colruyt, Halle. The general subject is DB2 11 Mugrating User Experiences. Here's the agenda :
13:00 – 13:30 Registration
13:30 - 14:00 "11 Experiences migrating to DB2 11", Mattia Michelazzo - Euroclear
14:00 - 14:40 “DB2 V11 Migration@Colruyt”, Steven Goedertier - Colruyt
14:40 – 15:10 Q&A about DB2 11 : zparm settings, new features, performance measurements LRSN Conversion
15:10 – 15:45 Coffee break
15:45 - 16:15 DB2 Enhancements Requests : how to deal with them, Bart Steegmans - IBM
16:15 – 17u15 “System tuning : Resetting your Pain thresholds”, Andy Ward – CA Technologies
17:15 – 17:30 Planning next year
17:30 - 19:00 Networking & Drinks sponsored by CA Technologies
Registration over here.

But you will have to chose on that same Thursday December 10, 2015 because we also have the GSE CICS Working Group Meeting at the IBM Client Center Brussels (formerly IBM forum). The agenda looks extremely promising :
13:00-13:15 Welcome and Coffee
13:15-13:30 Introduction by Chairman Dirk De Schutter
13.30-14:15 Session 1 : CICS TS V5 Technical overview (IBM Hursley Labs)
14:15-15:00 Session 2 : Modernise your CICS applications (Syspertec)
15:00-15:15 Coffee Break
Session 3 : CICS cloud (IBM Hursley Labs)
Session 4 : CICS Cloud Deep Dive: Reducing Risk with Multi-versioning (IBM Hursley Labs)
Session 5 : CICS mobile and RESTful services (IBM Hursley Labs)
17:15-18:00 Closing and Reception
For registration, please send a mail to the chairman Dirk De Schutter.

And finally we have the Enterprise Systems Security Working Group meeting on Friday December 11, 2015 at the IBM Client Center Brussels (formerly IBM forum). The topic is z/Secure and apparantly the zSecure topic is an annualy recurring event. Here's the agenda :
09:00 – 09:30 Registration – Coffee
09.30 – 09.40 Introduction - Frank Ternest - Chairman GSE BeLux ESS Group
09:40 – 10:20 State of the Union of security on z Jamie Pease - Worldwide Product Manager for zSecure
10:20 – 11:20 What’s new in zSecure 2.2 part 1 - Hans Schoone, zSecure Chief Architect - In these sessions, the Chief zSecure Architect will share details of what is planned for the next release.
11:20 – 11:35 Coffee
11:35 – 12:30 What’s new in zSecure 2.2 part 2
12:30 – 13:15 Lunch offered by IBM
13:15 – 14:00 zSecure Alert Update & Demo - Jamie Pease
14:00 – 14:45 What’s new in zSecure 2.2 part 3 - Compliancy / Governance
14:45 – 15:00 Coffee
15:00 – 16:00 A trip down memory lane - Jamie Pease
16:00 – 16:30 Tell us your requirements - Hans Schoone
16:30 – 16:40 Wrap up and close - Simon Caus - Secretary GSE BeLux ESS Working Group
Registration over here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An introduction to the DS8880 - The Next Generation of the DS8000

About a month ago, IBM announced the new generation of the DS8800 : 'IBM DS8880 delivers faster performance than the previous DS8000 models with the reliability and availability to support digital business'. As usual there's one announcement about the software licences (ZG15-0234) and four announcements depending on the duration of the warranty : 1 year (ZG15-0235), 2 years (ZG15-0238), 3 years (ZG15-0236) and 4 years (ZG12-0237). And as they become available by the end of the week, this is a nice opportunity to give you an update on the DS8000.

As you can see the successor of the DS8870 is the TS8880 and the '8' indicates that we are moving on from the Power7 processor to the Power8 processor. No more Business and Enterprise Model but two plain different models : DS8884 and DS8886, DS8884 being the smaller model and DS8886 being the larger model. And to annoy you with some more 'numbers', they both have the same Machine Type 238x (x ranging from 1 to 4 standing for the duration of the warranty) but the base frame model numbers (981 for the DS8886 and 980 for the DS8884) and the expansion frame model numbers (98E for the DS8886 and 98B for the DS8884) are different. There will also be an all Flash model announced in the first half of 2016 being the DS8888.

But do let's have a look at the boxes themselves. I cannot touch on everything but let me give you a bit of an overview of the new elements that caught my attention. Here's what I'll be talking about
  • The new form factor of 19''
  • Performance improvements
  • New HMC(s)
  • New Power characteristics
  • Changes in Licensing !
  • Replacement of TPC-R
  • Changes in Call Home functionalities 

The new form factor

The new DS888x no longer has a specific form factor but it complies to the industry standard 19'' rack. This does not mean however that you can order your own rack. The rack is still a dedicated DS8000 rack and it's always delivered along with the DS888x. But it should make planning in the data center somewhat easier of course. On the picture you see a DS8886 with one extra frame that can also contain host adapters. So, apart from its different shape, it looks pretty much familiar for those who have already an older version of the DS8000. Apart from the HMC perhaps, but I'll come back to that in a minute.

Performance improvements

Performance is always a tricky one, so I only give you one example of performance improvement on Sequential Reads. Sequential writes even show an improvement of two times compared to the DS88870. What are the main elements that contribute to this improvement ? First of all the new, more powerful Power8 engine of course and for the larger systems the mere fact that you can now have a maximum of 24 cores instead of 16. But there's also the use of the simultaneous multithreading (SMT) mode which enables "the POWER8 processor to maximize the throughput of the processor core and to offer more threads than competing processor technologies". Internally, the connectivity to the I/O Bay Enclosures (to the host adapters) is now evolved from PCiE Gen 2 to PCiE Gen 3, which gives your throughput an extra boost.
Overall this should generally give a doubled I/O throughput and 50% more IOPS.

New HMC(s)

The laptop PC as we knew it, is replaced by a mini PC at the bottom of the rack. On the picture you can see how the keyboard and display slide out from the rack. You can also order a second HMC within the same frame. Mind you, this has two implications. It means that a secondary HMC as an external HMC is no longer an option. This also implicates that you can no longer share a second, remote,  HMC between DS8000s, as some customers do nowadays.

New Power characteristics
I guess this one is particulary important for our European market since we tend to have 3-phase power. Don't shoot me if I say anything stupid about power, because, just like math, this is a blind spot in my brain. And falling from the stairs didn't actually help me here to suddenly see the light (pun not intended). But serious now, from now on, there's only a single power option available on the DS888x and a possible input voltage between 200 V and 240 V. More info in the Introduction and Planning Guide.

Changes in Licensing !

The licensing has ondergone a quite drastical change with the new DS888x series. You only have three licenses left of which two are optional. Here's an overview of how the licenses are split up.
  • Base function license
    • OEL
    • Thin Provisioning
    • Easy Tier
    • Database Protection
    • Encryption
    • I/O Priority Manager
  • Copy Services license (optional)
    • FlashCopy
    • Metro Mirror
    • Global Mirror
    • Metro/Global Mirror
    • Multi-Target PPRC
    • z/OS Global Mirror (XRC)
    • z/OS Global Mirror Resync
  • System z synergy license (optional)
    • FICON
    • System z High Performance FICON (zHPF)
    • PAV and HyperPAV
    • IBM z/OS Distributed Data Backup
You can compare the Base function license with the former OEL function. It is required for the entire raw capacity of the box. But there's no extra choice for e.g. 'Thin Provisioning'. It's immediately included in the Base fucntion license as well as all the other components mentioned in the overview.
As far as pricing is concerned you buy this license via Tiers. You have 10 Tier1 'units' I'll call them each of which is worth 10TB for the range from 1TB to 100TB. A machine with e.g. 81TB requires 9 Tier1 units. Then we have Tier2 units which are worth 15TB and this goes up to Tier7 units with a value of 500TB. So for a box with 192TB, you'll need 10 Tier1 units and 7 Tier2 units. Actually, to me it looks a lot like the tiering we also find in MLC pricing. And yes, also on the pricing level.

For the Copy Services the license is pretty straightforward : the license includes all copy services and the pricing follows the same tiering mechanism as with the Base license. However, there's one major difference, it is not based on raw capacity but on usable capacity. And the amount of TB you are buying is the sum of the amount of FB and CKD storage that's really involved in some copy services. So in our 192TB example, if you have 96TB CKD storage and 96TB of FB storage and only 25TB of usable capacity of CKD storage and 30TB of FB storage is involved in copy activities, then you only order 55TB which will be rounded to 6 Tier1 units representing 60TB. So this is far more flexible than the previous licensing.

The System z Synergy license is bought for the total amount of physical capacity that is configured for CKD. So that is again physical capacity instead of usable capacity.

Replacement of TPC-R
The Copy Services Manager (CSM) is a new product based on the TPC-R product technology and replacing it. It has at least the same functionalities as TPC-R and there's a migration possible towards CSM. Existing TPC-R customers are entitled to CSM. They will have to order CSM though. The migration has the following phases : Install CSM, Export TPC-R data base, Import the data base into CSM and then Stop TPC-R. For first time users there's a try&buy option so you can test the product for a limited time frame.

Changes in Call Home functionalities 
Internet VPN Support and Modem (AT&T) support are withdrawn and are no longer supported. For outbound call-home functions you have Internet SSL, Assist OnSite (AOS) or FTP (for bulk data only). For inbound call-home functions you have Internet SSL and Assist OnSite (AOS).

And let me conclude with some documentation.
The DS8880 IBM webpage is over here. From the products details tab you can engage on a DS8880 3D Product tour or just read the Datasheet. There's also a 30-page Draft Redbook called 'IBM DS8880 Product Guide' that gives you a good general technical introduction.

General Availability : December 4, 2015.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Flash - DS8000 with zHPF enabled and SyncSort MFX 2.1 failures

This is a flash for all current DS8000 systems ranging from DS8300 to DS8870. The DS8880 system only becomes available by the end of this week. You can find the flash over here. Below, I'm taking over the content of this flash.


Running with zHPF enabled on a IBM System Storage DS8000®, can lead to host hangs, looping jobs and recursive errors on the IBM System Storage DS8000®system. 


IBM System Storage DS8000® when running in a z/OS environment with zHPF enabled can result in:

1. In certain cases customers have experienced hosts to become unresponsive after sense is off-loaded from the DS8000 with zHPF enabled. This was seen only with SyncSort MFX 2.1. SyncSort is recommending APAR TY01136 for this issue. Until the APAR is applied, SyncSort is recommending the customer disable zHPF for SyncSort MFX 2.1 (use parameter LBPZHPF to bypass zHPF usage for an individual job and installation option SCOS=(204) to turn off all zHPF usage for SyncSort).
Licensed SyncSort MFX customers can reference Knowledge Base Article 46965 for more information about PTF TY01136.

2. In other situations customers have encountered repeating warmstarts, after software issues a zHPF Multi-Track Read command when the tracks are configured with more than 55 records per track, and there are multiple tracks to transfer. This results in the DS8000 incorrectly surfacing a Microcode Logic Error (MLE) which requires a warmstart to clear. This has been seen only with SyncSort MFX 2.1 software, although other software implementing similar chains would be exposed. After the MLE, software re-drives the command chain, resulting in repetitive MLEs that can result in system access loss. There is a DS8000 microcode fix in test scheduled for a near term release. In the interim, IBM is recommending that customers disable zHPF for SyncSort MFX 2.1 until the DS8000 fix is applied.

Examples of errors seen:

Message to Operator (WTO) notices WER529A and WER999A.
Missing Channel End and/or Missing Device End.
Host hangs/unresponsiveness.
DS8000 Microcode bundles containing the fix