Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Happy Holidays and best wishes for Z018

I don't know what this new year will bring us but I surely wish every one the best for 2018 : A Happy New Year and good health to you and your family.

I know I haven't been blogging a lot this year and just picked out some highlights now and then. But still, thanks to all my readers for coming by at those moments, to all the people who referred to this blog via social media and to every one who gave me great support and feedback in 2017.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

IBM Z Benelux Study Tour 2018 - March 12 - 16

Hans Deketele, IBM Z Platform Leader Benelux, just announced a new Benelux IBM Z Study Tour. In the past those study tours often coincided with a new announcement. No guarantee this means we will soon see the announcement of a z14s, of course :-)

Here's his invitation to the study tour

Dear IBM Customer,
Following a longstanding tradition, we will again organize a Benelux IBM Z Study Tour to the USA in 2018. We will go to our briefing centers in Poughkeepsie (IBM Z & LinuxONE) & Yorktown Heights (IBM Research) from March 12 – 16. Mark your agenda!!!
During this Tour you will be updated on the latest information in the world of IBM Z and LinuxONE, along with the modern IT architectural views and insights on innovative technologies like quantum computing, IBM Watson and AI. You will be hosted by our best speakers, experts and executives. The program will cover main themes such as:
  • What the future brings for the IBM Z platform and LinuxONE
  • How to incorporate Big Data with IBM Z ?
  • IT Security: the IT-theme of 2018
  • Cloud: what flavor to choose and how to implement?
  • A full day on IT Innovation in the IBM Research briefing center, the home of Quantum Computing, where you will visit the IBM Q computer itself, alongside with sessions on Blockchain, Cognitive, AI & Watson
  • And of course, the networking with colleagues, peers and IBM experts!
The tour starts on Monday morning March 12. We are arranging group flights from Amsterdam and Brussels Airport. Return flight will be on Friday March 16, arriving on Saturday morning. 
Interested to join the Tour? Do let me know your interest so we can optimize the planning.
If you are interested in taking this tour, you can of course also contact me for further information.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Make the most of your day with IBM Z

Just a funny movie I came across via the LinkedIn page of Hans Deketele, z Systems & Power Platform Leader at IBM Benelux, and I just couldn't resist posting it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

z Systems Operating Systems EOS dates

I was catching up on my reading and came across this nice overview of the End Of Service dates of all the Operating Systems. There are some footnotes which I haven't included. You can find them in the z14 Technical Introduction Redbook.

You can always find an overview in our zSystems Newsletter as well. You can find the latest issue over here.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mainframe Comparison Tool

Here's a nice little page comparing the z14 with its predecessors. It's pretty straightforward, but it immediately gives you and idea of what to expect compared to your current machine.

Click on image for larger version

So let's say you have a z13 N30 and you're considering upgrading to a z14 M01 or perhaps even an M02. Well, just select the systems you want to compare and you immediately have to most important items : model id, memory, new functionalities like e.g. Java Garbage collection, security and crypto cards, connectivity, networking, coupling links etc. Strangely enough OSA cards are missing.

By the way, you can also select the Business Class but I must warn you : no z14s there . . . yet !

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

IBM z14 - designed to help you build leadership in trusted digital experiences

General Introduction

Yesterday on July 17, 2017, IBM announced the new z14 “IBM z14, designed to help you build leadership in trusted digital experiences” (ZG17-0017). Allthough the strategy that lead to the technical choices is really important, I’ll mainly concentrate on the technical aspects. But still, I want to share this slide, from a presentation on z14, that really sums up what it’s all about.

Click on image for larger version

Whatever platform you are using for your business, its core will always be your data and the applications you build around them.But some platforms might be more suitable to serve that purpose than others. And we all know that the mainframe has always been that kind of platform. With the new announcement of the z14 we see today, lots of attention goes to the data.
  • How can we protect our data ? Think about data breaches or compliance regulations like GDPR.
  • How can we use it to create business advantages ? Think about analytics and machine learning.
  • And how do we expand the reach of our business by providing transparent access to application developers using APIs ? Think about how anyone can develop and deliver z/OS-based assets in minutes via RESTful APIs. It’s really not a coincidence that 80% of the world’s data and transactions reside on or pass through the mainframe.

On to the technical aspects.
No suprises concerning the name : IBM z14. The model is 3906. Don’t ask why. The looks have pretty much stayed the same with a nice touch of blue added. And there’s the addition of thin covers. But more about that in the physical planning.
There’s the usual growth but once again there’s a really big increase on the memory side. We go from a maximum of 10TB to a maximum of 32TB. This means we go from 2.5TB per drawer to 8TB per drawer.


Here's an overview of the most important new functions and/or improvements

Click on image for larger version

Let's tackle some of the highlights now.

Models and sub-capacity settings

Similar to the z13 the new system has four regular models and one large sized model, but the naming is a bit different, or should I say, easier. No fooling around with numbers of engines and hexadecimal ingenuities. Just M01, M02, M03, M04 and the larger model M05. For the regular models, every drawer has 41 PUs and with the M05 each drawer has 49 PUs.

There are 2 designated spares per system. We have 5 SAPs per book. So if we take e.g. the M01 with 41 PUs, we subtract the 5 SAPs and the 2 spare processors, that leaves us with 34 PUs. Each system also has 1 IFP. And so we reach 33 usable processors for the first drawer. Consequent drawers have an additional 36 processors. As usual processors can be defined as Central Processors (CPs), ICFs, IFLs, zIIPs and optionally as additional SAPs. Here’s the overview of the PU allocation on the IBM z14. The z14 continues to support a 2 to 1 ratio for the zIIPs. zAAP are already out of the picture since the z13.

A full processor (the 701 or a specialty engine) has a capacity of 1.832 mips as opposed to 1.695 on the z13. We have again three sub-capacity levels (4-, 5-, -6) now for up to 33 CPs.

Memory : up to 32TB

As I mentioned already, the amount of memory in the system has again hugely increased. For the z13 the system minimum was 64GB and went up to 2.5TB per book and up to 10 TB for the entire system. Which was already pretty impressive. Now we see the following picture :

We start at a minimum of 256GB and go up to an amount of 8TB per drawer. An additional 192 GB of memory is reserved next to the customer purchased amount for the Hardware System Area (HSA). Next to that, more memory is in the box and is used for IBM Virtual Flash Memory (VFM) at which we will come back later on.

Processor design improvements

Processor speed
Last time we went down from 5.5GHz to 5.0GHz. Now we’re going up again to 5.2GHz.

CPC changes and cache
The z13 also saw the introduction of drawers with Single Chip Modules instead of Multi Chip Modules in previous versions. The 8-core chip has now become a 10-core chip. For the techies I add an illustration of a fully populated z13 CPC drawer compared to a fully populated z14 CPC drawer.

The main difference is that the two SC SCMs have been reduced to one per drawer on the z14. The on-core level 1 and level 2 caches have increased just as the on-chip level 3 cache. The level 4 cache has decreased a bit but this is countered by the fact that a single system controller means less latency.

Additional improvements
  • New instructions in the single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) facility offer a boost for traditional workloads using decimal operations (i.e. COBOL 6.2, PL/I 5.2) and new application like analytics (i.e. Apache Spark for z/OS).
  • The z14 delivers next generation simultaneous multithreading (SMT). SMT on the z14 improves throughput up to 25 percent for an IFL or zIIP to benefit exploiters. SMT has been extended to support the dedicated I/O processors called System Assist Processors (SAPs).
  • The new Guarded Storage Facility (GSF) will deliver ‘as good as’ pause-less garbage collection to enable enterprise scale Java applications to run with fewer and shorter pauses for garbage collection.
  • The compression co-processor in each core has been improved to use fewer CPU cycles for compression and expansion and to support DB2 index compression. These features enable further improvements in DB2 memory usage, data transfer, and storage efficiency.


And what are the upgrade scenarios ?

You can upgrade from any air cooled zEC12 and z13 model to any z14 model. Upgrading from a water cooled model goes only to a z14 water cooled model.

Another remark : Upgrading from a z14 model M01-M04 to a model M05 is not supported. The M05 is factory build only.

Pervasive encryption

This is an important one. In short, encryption should be pervasive, transparant and without performance nor application impact.
Therefore the z14 brings pervasive encryption at all levels as indicated in the illustration below. It’s set up in order to defend and protect your critical assets with encryption but without compromising transactional throughput or response times. And it requires no application changes.

By encrypting as much of your data and transactional pipeline as possible, you can reduce potential data breach risks and financial losses - and comply with complex regulatory mandates like GDPR. The IBM z14 gives you a transparent approach to encrypt virtually all of in-flight and at-rest data.

Further, pervasive encryption can dramatically simplify data protection and reduce the costs of regulatory compliance. Using simple policy controls, z14 pervasive computing streamlines data protection for mission critical DB2 for z/OS, IMS and virtual storage access method (VSAM) datasets.

The Central Processor Assist for Cryptographic Function (CPACF), standard on every core, supports pervasive encryption and provides hardware acceleration for encryption operations. It does this 2-6X faster than the z13 for data in-flight and at-rest.
And the new Crypto Express6S card gets a performance boost on z14. It gives on average a 1.5X to 2X performance increase over Crypto Express5S.
Combined, these two enhancements perform encryption more efficiently on the z14 than on earlier IBM Z servers.

Here’s an overview of the possibilities with the new Crypto Express6 card

New features : IBM Virtual Flash Memory

IBM Virtual Flash Memory (VFM) entirely replaces the Flash Express card and has the same use cases.
But . . . is more performant. Estimations give up to 10% end to end performance improvement and (yes) 1000X improvement in Read/Write latency. You might remember the picture that was often shown to illustrate the performance gain you had with Flash Express. Well, we go one step further up the ladder.

As far as capacity, you can go from 1.5TB up to 6TB, which means 1.5TB per drawer.

And you can compare VFM to HSA. It’s memory but it doesn’t take away any memory from the purchased user memory.

For those who already have Flash Express : during the upgrade there’s a feature conversion for it towards VFM. Additonal advantage : it saves you the two PCIe I/O drawer slots and there’s less power consumption.

And to be complete : the same will be happening with zEDC. Its functionality will also move to the CP in the next generation.

New features : Secure Service Containers

Apart from the name, I don’t think I should call this new. The first occurrence of this one was zAware introduced with the z12 back in 2012. 

You could call zAware a container like solution avant la lettre. But then again, what to say about Coupling Facilities. Later on with the z13, zAware was renamed to zACI or z Appliance Container Infrastructure. So now, Secure Service Containers is the new name for it. Containers have by now ‘conquered’ the world and it illustrates once again that the mainfame is quite a modern platform. For those not familiar with it, here’s a definition of Docker containers.
"Docker containers wrap up a piece of software in a complete filesystem that contains everything it needs to run: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries – anything you can install on a server. This guarantees that it will always run the same, regardless of the environment it is running in."
Software appliances are zAware, z/VSE Network Appliance and Operations Analytics for z Systems.

As we already talked about Pervasive Encryption, the Secure aspect is definitely important here. Here’s a couple of characteristics in favour of Secure Service Containers
  • Reduces tampering or malware risk by validating application code during appliance installation and runtime
  • Ensures confidentiality of data and code running within the appliance with automatic encryption – both at flight and at rest
  • Provides simplified mechanism for fast deployment and management of packaged solutions
  • Management provided via Remote APIs (RESTful) and web interfaces

You can find more information in Redbook SC28-6971 User's Guide. Not yet published at the moment this blog post was issued.


Here’s the new connectivity features
  • FICON Express16S+ (FC/FCP/zHPF)
  • 1 GbE OSA Express6S (LX or SX)
  • 10 GbE OSA Express6S (LR or SR)
  • OSA Express6S 1000BASE-T
  • 10GbE RoCE Express2 (new feature)
  • zHyperLink Express
Before I get to some of those, here’s a couple of graphs of what can be ordered on a new z14 and what can be carried forward. Everything that’s not mentioned like FICON Express8, Crypto Express4S and of course Flash Express cannot be ordered nor carried forward.

FICON Express16S+ should, in combination with zHPF, give a real performance boost for FICON as well as FCP performance.

zHyperlink Express is entirely new.and starts off where zHPF ends. For the moment it only works with DS8880.

zHyperLink is a short distance mainframe attach link designed for up to 10x lower latency than High Performance FICON. zHyperLink will initially speed DB2 for z/OS transaction processing and later improve DB2 active Log throughput and VSAM applications.

zHyperLink Express should give 7x faster read access and 10x faster writes of data.

Coupling Technology enhancements : Coupling Express LR
These are new Ethernet based Coupling Links using 10GbE RoCE technology. As a matter of fact, as you can read in the Statements of Direction, the IBM z14 will be the last z Systems high-end server to support HCA3-O LR fanout for 1x IFB (#0170). Customers should begin to think about a migration strategy for moving from 1X PSIFB to Coupling Express LR.
Another difference with its predecessor : this is a card taking up a slot in the PCIE I/O drawer. It’s the same adapter as RoCE Express2 but with Coupling Optics and firmware. The distance is 10 km unrepeated and up to 100 km with a qualified DWDM. The cabling utilizes the same 9u Single Mode fiber type as 1X IFB.
It becomes also available on the z13/z13s systems but it will require an IML before the first Coupling Express LR may be utilized. So a planned outage is necessary on those machines.

Physical planning

For the physical planning, nothing much has changed.
  • Floor space – No change unless ordering Thin Covers
  • Overhead I/O or Power – No change
  • Power – No change to typical power consumption
  • Environment – New ASHRAE A3 Classification (40C°/104F° maximum ambient temperature)
  • Customer Water – No change
  • Weight – Slight increase in weight depending on configuration
  • Airflow – No change
  • New Feature - Thin Covers : System depth for air cooled machines with thin covers is reduced by 14.7 inch or 37.33 cm and weight is reduced by 108 lbs or 49 kilo.

Operating systems support

z/OS Support Plan :
  • z/OS 2.3 Sept. 29, 2017 GA
  • z/OS 2.2 with PTFs
  • z/OS 2.1 with PTFs
  • z/OS 1.13 (compatibility only)
    • IBM Software Support Services purchase
    • September 2016, EoS
z/VM Support Plan :
  • z/VM 6.4 with PTFs
  • z/VM 6.3 with PTFs
z/VSE Support Plan:
  • z/VSE 6.2 Preview 4/11/17
  • z/VSE 6.1 with PTFs
  • z/VSE 5.2 with PTFs
    • October 31, 2018 = EoS
  • z/VSE 5.1
    • June 30, 2016 = EoS, limited toleration
  • Earlier releases can not IPL
Linux for System z Support Plan : Minimum Distributions
  • SLES 12 SP2
  • SLES 11 SP4
  • RHEL 7.3
  • RHEL 6.8
  • Ubuntu 16.04
One remark from IBM : “IBM cannot legally discuss z14 exploitation prior to GA from distributors”

Software pricing

MLC – AWLC pricing
The software pricing is again pretty straightforward this time. It remains the same for MLC : AWLC. Still, there’s a benefit of on average 5%. How is it realized ? Quite simple, there’s a reduction on some softwares depending on the MSUs of the machine, as also happened with the z13.

NEW : Container Pricing
IBM is introducing Container Pricing for IBM Z for qualified solutions running on IBM z13 and z14 servers. Container Pricing will provide simplified software pricing for qualified solutions.

Container Pricing can scale from collocated solutions within existing LPARs, through to separate LPARs, up to multiple-LPAR solutions, without directly impacting the cost of unrelated workloads.
Additionally, Container Pricing will simplify pricing and billing on the IBM Z platform, by superseding a number of existing price offerings and by fully automating the billing process.

One example : the Payments Solution will provide a "per payment" pricing option for IBM Financial Transaction Manager for z/OS deployments. This new offering directly ties operational cost to business value by basing the price on the number of payments processed, rather than capacity used to process them.

Container Pricing for IBM Z is planned to be available by year end 2017 and enabled in z/OS V2.2 and z/OS V2.3.

NEW : Sub-capacity pricing for z/VM and z/VM based programs
Sub-capacity pricing for the z/VM V6 operating environment is available to clients running z/VM Version 6 Release 3 or higher. Software pricing at less than full machine capacity can provide more flexibility and improved cost of computing as a client manages the volatility and growth of new workloads.Through the implementation of sub-capacity pricing for select z/VM programs, clients can pay for z/VM programs based on defined workload requirements and not necessarily the full engine capacity of the machine.

There are separate announcements for those new prcings at which I may come back later on.

Statements of Direction

  • Stabilization of z/VM V6.3 support:
    IBM z14 is planned to be the last z Systems server supported by z/VM V6.3 and the last z Systems server that will be supported when z/VM V6.3 is running as a guest (second level). z/VM V6.3 will continue to be supported until December 31, 2017, as announced in announcement letter # 915-025.
  • Future z/VM release guest support:
    z/VM V6.4 will be the last z/VM release supported as a guest of z/VM V6.2 or older releases.
  • Disk-only support for z/VM dumps:
    z/VM V6.4 will be the last z/VM release to support tape as a media option for stand-alone, hard abend, and snap dumps. Subsequent releases will support dumps to ECKD DASD or FCP SCSI disks only.
  • IBM z14 will be the last z Systems server to support FICON Express8S:
    IBM z14 will be last z Systems high-end server to support FICON Express8S (#0409 and #0410) channels. Enterprises should begin migrating from FICON Express8S channels to FICON Express16S+ channels (#0427 and #0428). FICON Express8S will not be supported on future high-end z Systems servers as carry forward on an upgrade.
  • IBM z14 will be the last z Systems server to support HCA3-O:
    IBM z14 will be last z Systems high-end server to support HCA3-O LR fanout for 1x IFB (#0170) and HCA3-O fanout for 12x IFB (#0171). Enterprises should begin migrating from HCA3-O channels to ICA SR and/or Coupling Express Long Range.
  • IBM z14 will be the last z Systems server to support zEDC:
    IBM z14 will be the last z Systems high-end server to support zEDC (#0420). In the future, z Systems high end server zEDC functionality will move from the zEDC adapter to the Central Processor (CP).
  • OSA-Express6S 1000BASE-T adapters:
    OSA-Express6S 1000BASE-T adapters (#0426) will be the last generation of OSA 1000BASE-T adapters to support connections operating at 100 Mb/second link speed. Future OSA-Express 1000BASE-T adapter generations will support operation only at 1000 Mb/second (1Gb/s) link speed.


There are some new and updated Redbooks available. They should all be grouped on a special page dedicated to z14 which is normally over here. Here's a short overview of a couple of them..
  • New – IBM z14 Technical Introduction, SG24-8450-00
  • New – IBM z14 Technical Guide, SG24-8451-00
  • New – IBM z14 Configuration Setup, SG24-8460-00
  • Updated – IBM z Systems Connectivity Handbook, SG24-5444-17
  • Updated – IBM z Systems Functional Matrix, REDP-5157-02
Of course you can also find all manuals in the Library section of Resource Link.

Key dates

Here's just a small selection of items and key dates.

July 17, 2017
  • Announcement day
  • First Day Orders for GA Systems
  • Resource Link support (e.g. Manuals available in Library section)

September 13, 2017
  • Features and functions for the IBM z14
  • GA for IBM z14 Models M01, M02, M03, M04 and M05
  • Upgrades from zEC12 and z13 models

December 15, 2017
  • z/VM Guest exploitation support for pause-less garbage collection
  • z/VM support for encrypted paging

December 31, 2017 :
  • MES features for Models M01, M02, M03, M04, and M05
  • IBM HMC Mobile for z Systems and LinuxONE
Well, that's about it for the moment, I'm planning some follow up posts and we'll also publish our Realdolmen z Systems eZine in the coming days.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Ready for something Big ? In the digital economy, trust is everything !

Here we go again, IBM seems to be announcing something big, it's close to my vacation, so people who frequently read my blog know already enough. Here's the page announcing an event with a countdown counter.

If I'm counting correcty, this event will take place at 11 p.m. in New York and that means at 5 a.m. here in Europe :-(

Here's the accompanying text : "Join us on July 17, 2017 as we reveal technological breakthroughs that will bring greater security, transparency and value to every interaction and transaction". One other piece of information we're getting : "300% performance advantage. Trusted companies outperform others by nearly 3x".

There's an accompanying youtube video as well

I'd say, stay tuned for more information !

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Red Alert : CICS TS for z/OS V5.3 - Unpredictable results when identical Unit Of Work ID (UOWID) passed to multiple CICS subsystems

Yesterday, IBM issued a Red Alert on CICS V5.3. Here's the info. I'm just taking over the text from the Red Alert.

Users Affected:

Users of CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V5.3 who are using any kind of subsystem that CICS connects to such as:
  • DB2
  • IBM
  • WebSphere MQ
  • Coupling Facility Data Tables (CFDT)
  • Shared Temporary Storage Server
  • Named Counter Server
  • Vendors like Oracle


Two or more CICS tasks obtain the same Unit Of Work ID (UOWID) and pass the ID to the respective subsystem. The subsystem may then experience unpredictable results because it thinks that it is being called out of sequence for just one unit of work. APAR PI82188 describes symptoms that have been observed, such as CICS DB2 applications abend or CICS CFDT records become locked due to two CICS tasks passing non-unique Unit Of Work IDs. However, this can affect any CICS subsystem, not just DB2 and CFDT. Please see APAR PI82188 for additional information.

Recommended Actions:

Apply PTF UI47871 for CICS TS for z/OS V5.3 APAR PI82188 as soon as possible to prevent unpredictable results.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

IBM z Systems Study Tour Benelux 2017

IBM Belgium is organizing another z Systems Study Tour to New York from May 15 until May 19, 2017. Should you have any questions, you can contact me or else Hans Deketele, who will no doubt make this once again a flawless organization ( Here's an extract from the invitation.

"Dear IBM customer,
Following a long-standing tradition, we have again organized a Benelux z Systems Study Tour and hereby, I have the pleasure to send you your invitation to join us during this year's z Systems Study Tour to New York City, USA taking place from May 15 to 19, 2017.
During this Tour you will be updated on the latest information in the world of IBM z Systems and LinuxONE, along with modern IT architectural views and insights from our best speakers and experts. The program will cover main themes such as:
  • Trends in Enterprise Architecture: how all IT platforms fit together in today's fast changing environments
  • z Systems roadmap: what the future brings ...
  • LinuxONE: Linux your way, Linux without risk and Linux without limits!
  • Cognitive Computing, Artificial Intelligence and Watson: capabilities and architectural considerations
  • Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud, Security & Digital Transformation
  • New EU regulations on Instant Payments and Data Privacy: the impact on IT
  • Quantum Computing explained: a sneak preview by IBM Research...
  • ... and of course the intense networking with colleagues, peers and IBM experts"
Here's the first draft of the agenda

Click on picture for larger version