Thursday, December 31, 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.

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