Friday, September 11, 2015

Master the Mainframe Contest Benelux

Here's the poster of the new Master the Mainframe contest for the Benelux. Mind you, the Master the Mainframe contest is happening in lots of other countries as well. You can find all details and information on how to subscribe over here. Registration starts from September 14, 2015 and the contest runs from October 5 until December 31, 2015.

Students as well as non-students can participate, but only students can win some fantastic prizes (Apple Watches, a Raspberry Pi kits and a “Master the Mainframe” T-shirt).

The contest consists of three parts
Part one: Breaking the ice
IBM will provide contestants with screenshots and directions to guide students on exactly what to do. This helps acquaint each contestant with navigating the mainframe user interface, introduce them to basic mainframe concepts, and get each student more comfortable with different aspects of the mainframe.
Part two: Practical experience
Utilizing the skills each contestant learned in Part One, the students will perform extensive programming (advanced commands, system setup, and advanced system navigation) and application developing (C, JAVA, COBOL, assembler and REXX) tasks, as well as hands-on experience with multiple operating systems (Linux on z Systems, z/VM, z/OS, z/TPF).
Part three: Real-world challenge
This is the most challenging stage and requires the contestants to work over weeks and months. Tasks from this stage are taken from real life situations encountered by experienced systems programmers, along with challenges designed to identify the contestants with the most drive and determination.
 And there's even more : you might have read about the World Championships that followed the contest in 2014. Here's a brief summary of it. Well, in 2016, winners of the country contests will be invited to participate in the 2016 World Championship. Now that's something to look forward to!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

ProtecTIER Solution for mainframe alive and kicking

You might remember that in my post about the End of Marketing of the 3592 C07 Tape Controller, I told you IBM proposed ProtecTIER ME (Mainframe Edition) as a possible replacement. My reaction to this
"Well, I think you can forget about the ProtecTIER ME solution, because as far as I know that one went End of Marketing somewhere in 2012 (ZG12-0339), unless I missed something . . ."
Apparently I did miss something, as Art Tolsma, CEO of Luminex points out to me. here's his comments on this matter.
"Hello Marc,

I noticed your blog posting last week regarding mainframe tape. I have been an avid reader for a long time and appreciate your industry updates and insights.

You wondered whether you had “missed something” with regards to the Protectier ME product mentioned by IBM. As you know IBM discontinued their first attempt at providing a Protectier-based solution to deduplicate mainframe data. However, over the past few years IBM has chosen to partner with Luminex to deliver Protectier for this important mainframe market, and have called it Protectier ME (Mainframe Edition). It uses the indpendent and commercially standard products from both IBM and Luminex without requiring the resources to develop and manage custom solutions. IBM has presented this solution at SHARE on several occasions, and below is one link I found directly from IBM that mentions this, as well as more detailed information available on the Luminex website.

Luminex is dedicated to supporting the mainframe customer community and provide options and solutions for data centers of all sizes."
Well, I think that's clear enough. Thanks, Art, for the update.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

30/9/2015 : Real Solutions IBM Mainframe - LinuxOne event in Luxembourg

Those who know the Benelux market a bit, know that Luxembourg has always been a fairly closed market. Though I originally included 'Belgium' in the name of my blog, we're also active in Luxembourg through our partner company Real Solutions. Now, they are organising an interesting event around LinuxOne on September 30, 2015. I'm including the invitation (in French) here. If you want to subscribe, just click here.


REAL Solutions est heureuse de vous annoncer son partenariat sur Luxembourg avec IBM pour la plateforme Mainframe (natif et Linux). Afin d'officialiser cette représentation locale, nous souhaitons vous inviter à notre “SPEED EVENT” autour du thème IBM zSystems.
C’est un rendez-vous important qui s'inscrit dans notre politique de promotion et de valorisation de l’infrastructure informatique. IBM profitera de l'occasion pour vous présenter les nouveautés IBM Mainframe.


10:30 Accueil

10:45 Roadmap IBM zSystem
Alain POQUILLON - zSystems CAMSS Sales Leader - IBM Systems Europe

11:20 Quels nouveaux workloads pour z series (LinuxOne)?
Alain POQUILLON - zSystems CAMSS Sales Leader - IBM Systems Europe

11:55 IBM Security zSecure
Marc MASQUELIER - IBM zSystems Software Sales Representative

12:25 Conclusion

Rejoignez-nous dans notre session d'information suivie d'un déjeuner convivial.
 Mercredi 30 Septembre 2015 de 10:30 à 14:00
suivi d’un lunch.
 Schéiss aux Arquebusiers Sarl
142, Val Sainte Croix
L-1370 Luxembourg

You'll receive some more information about the location and parking in the area once you're registered.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Annual price change announcement for some z Systems MLC software

For those who missed the notice they received from IBM : here's the annual price change announcement 'Price Change(s):Price Changes in Monthly License Charges (MLC) on Selected IBM System z Software Programs (516-001)'.

As of January 1, 2016 there will be a price increase of about 4% for a list of MLC softwares. You can find the list in the announcement, but it's pretty much all the important MLC softwares that are around ranging from DB2, CICS, IMS over COBOL, PL/I up to z/OS itself.

There's a special mention for the zOS V2 SDSF feature (5650-ZOS) (so only z/OS V2) that will " increase by approximately 20%, effective January 1, 2016 and apply to all software billing metrics. This increase reflects the additional functional enhancements described in the z/OS Version 2 Release 2 Announcement letter, ZP15-0369, and planned to be available beginning September 30 2015".

Friday, September 4, 2015

End of Support for IBM z Systems selected products

Here's an announcement for some IPLA (OTC) and ICA (MLC) softwares that will no longer supported : 'Software withdrawal and support discontinuance: IBM z Systems platform selected products (ZP15-0387)'. You should really check the list to see if anything applies to your shop, but here's a couple of them.

There's e.g. IBM Wave for z/VM V1.1.0 that will no longer be serviced after November 6, 2016. As of September 30, 2016 z/OS V1.13 will no longer be supported, but that was already known of course. Time to plan your upgrade to z/OS V2. The same goes for IBM Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.2 which is replaced by IBM Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.5.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Directly attaching mainframe to tape drives is entering its last phase

What did I tell you in my last post : all's quiet on the aunnouncement front, time to take some holiday . . . just until I turned my back on my screen. Some End of Marketings, some price changes and of course also the LinuxOne announcement. I hadn't seen that one coming. So, Ive got a lot of catching up to do now.

Let me start with the End of Marketing of the 3592 C07 controller which you need to attach your mainframe environment directly to the tape drives : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM 3592 Tape Controller Model C07 and select features - Some replacements available (ZG15-0177)'.

First of all, let's make it clear from the beginning : this only indicates that effective November 13, 2015 you will no longer be able to buy any additional 3592 C07 Tape Controllers. This certainly does not mean they are no longer supported. For the moment no End of Support date has been announced.

So what's the alternative :
"Available options to replace Tape Controller Model C07 for connectivity in mainframe environments are TS7720 and ProtecTIER® Mainframe Edition (ME). TS7720 offers the flexibility of tape-less and tape-attach configurations. For very small mainframe environments, ProtecTIER ME is a premiere solution, delivering the best performance to price ratio with a reduction in storage costs".
Well, I think you can forget about the ProtecTIER ME solution, because as far as I know that one went End of Marketing somewhere in 2012 (ZG12-0339), unless I missed something . . .
Of course, as we know the lifespan of tape libraries, it's very likely that you can go on with your current configuration as long as you want, if you don't need newer generations of tape drives.
But the alternative is a TS7700 virtual tape library so you can either go tapeless or you can still write to tape for e.g. off site tape storage.

The TS7700 has the advantage that it also support the TS1150 from now on : 'IBM TS7700 R3.3 introduces support for the TS1150 tape drive and for external key management of disk-based encryption (ZG15-0174)'. The 3592 C07 does not support the TS1150 as there are no plans to enhance z/OS to support more than 4TB. This would require quite some modifications and besides, IBM claims that a TS7720 configuration for small clients will turn out to be less expensive than a 3592 C07 configuration with some native tape drives.

Friday, July 31, 2015


I've had, in my mind at least, lots of years where IBM launched a new system just when I was leaving for my summer holidays. Well, not so this year. No new z13 BC or z14 on the horizon and all's quiet. Time to sneek out for a couple of weeks.I'll see you all back in September. Now I've just got only one key to press . . .

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

IBM z/OS V2R2 officially announced

On Tuesday IBM announced z/OS 2.2 : 'IBM z/OS Version 2 Release 2 -- Fueling the digital enterprise (ZP15-0369)'. Let me give you some general statements about this new release and it's obvious you will get the most out of it when you're on a z13.
"Exceptional service levels for scalable environments and clouds
z/OS enhancements leverage the new z13 chip multithreading design, vector processing, and huge amounts of memory to help with throughput, performance, and latency

Enable analytics with information management, storage, and delivery
Data serving is promoted to a new level with new I/O capabilities designed for throughput and autonomics, enhanced vector processing support, and memory scalability designed to improve performance

Deliver a trusted and resilient system of record
With its legendary security and support for the most highly regulated industries, z/OS V2.2 is designed to help you build public key infrastructure services, serves as your secured data vault, helps you meet regulatory requirements, and can help reduce operational risk

Capture the potential of the mobile enterprise
With new capabilities on near real time, you can understand customer sentiment, analyze information for more targeted insight, conduct transactions with a mobile device, and serve customers across the globe"
 z/OS 2.2 together with the z13 is positioned as thé modern platform ready for future innovations at your shop.

When we look at the prerequisites, you have to be on z10 or later in order to be able to run z/OS 2.2.

z/OS 2.2 becomes available on September 30, 2015. If you're on z/OS 1.13 or z/OS 2.1 you can upgrade directly to z/OS 2.2 with full coexistence, migration, and fallback support. If you're on z/OS 1.12 you will have to pass through z/OS 2.1. You can still order z/OS 2.1 (as I already pointed out in a previous post) until January 25, 2016.

And for all the fascinating technical details, just check out the announcement itself !

Monday, July 13, 2015

Change to start of warranty period for IBM-installed hardware

Last week IBM made the following announcement : ' Change to start of warranty period for IBM-installed hardware (ZG15-0164)'. I'll be focusing on the situation in Belgium which is the same for most European countries. Otherwise, be sure to check the announcement itself.

How was it before the announcement ?
If I look at System z I think the installation was the criterium for starting the maintenance. Once the installation was finished, maintenance started on the first of the following month.

How will it be now ?
"On July 7, 2015, IBM will begin a new process for starting the warranty on new IBM Systems hardware sales that require IBM installation. Once implemented, the warranty for machines that require IBM installation will commence upon the earlier of the business day following the completion of the installation by IBM, or:
  • 45 days following the shipment from IBM for all countries within the Europe IOT (excluding Russia)"
So, you have two options : either it starts the business day following the completion of the installation or it starts 45 days following the shipment from IBM. The first mentions 'business days', the second just mentions 'days'. And I also think that shipment date is the same as delivery date, or at least I hope so.

This is valid for
  • IBM z Systems servers
  • IBM Power systems
  • IBM System Storage
  • IBM WebSphere appliances (MQ, DataPower, XC10, and Cast Iron)
  • IBM PureApplication Systems

Thursday, July 9, 2015

FLASH: Info Letter: Changes to ECC broadband callhome server IP addresses

This Flash concerns the call home function of the TSSC (TS3000 System Console), which is the console that's used for IBM tape products like the TS3500 Tape Library (3584), the TS7700 Virtualization Engine, the TS7650 Deduplication product(s) ... If you want a clear introduction to the TSSC and the Electronic Customer Care & Assist On Site, you can find a very good presentation by Joachim Müller over here.

ECC is used "to provide broadband connectivity for both Dial-in and/or Dial-out for the attached Tape Products. While TS3000 supports modem attachment for Dial-in and Dial-out as well, broadband connectivity is the recommended method in todays infrastructure".

Now, what's the Flash about ? I'm taking over most of the content

The IP addresses for some of the ECC target server are being changed. 

As documented in the IBM Data Protection & Retention (DP&R) System Connectivity and Security Whitepaper v2.10 from 4/16, one server will be discontinued and replaced by a new server, for both basic ECC callhome as well as ECC Edge callhome.
--> This link doesn't seem to work, so try V2.20 of the document over here.

Solution (Procedure):
Customer network configuration may need to be updated in order to allow the ECC client running on TSSC to be able to connect to the new server IP address through the customer firewall or proxy server.
Failure to update firewall/proxy rules may eventually result in failure to successfully call home.
Note: No changes are required to TSSC configuration itself. Updated ECC configuration is downloaded by the callhome process automatically.

For completeness, here are the products that are affected
  • TS3500 Tape Library (3584)
  • TS7700 Virtualization Engine)
  • TS7650 Deduplication Appliance (3958-AP1) ProtecTIER Appliance Edition
  • TS7650G Deduplication Gateway (3958-DD1-5) ProtecTIER Enterprise Edition

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Red Alert for IBM DB2 V10 and DB2 V11 users

Here's a new Red Alert. I'm taking over part of the content.

For DB2 V10 and DB2 V11 users: DB2 log records may be written with invalid control information in certain rare cancel window situations and cause unpredictable results 

DB2 log records may be written with invalid control information in certain rare cancel window situations. This could cause log read errors, data replication issues, recovery issues, or even potential data loss. Both DB2 10 and 11 systems are affected, although the exposure is higher for DB2 11 systems that have not converted BSDS data sets to use 10 byte RBA values. DB2 9 and prior releases are not affected.

There's an entire description in the Red Alert itself. Let me just give you the recommended actions.

Recommended Actions for DB2 11 customers:
  1. Install APAR PI41630 (PTF UI28315). This fix will prevent log records with LRSN value of 'FFFFFFFFFBAD'x being created.
  2. Install APARFIX for PI42170 (AI42170) or PTF when available. This fix will prevent log records with invalid values being created, and it contains toleration code to recognize and recover from the incorrect values, including LRSN value of 'FFFFFFFFFBAD'x.
Recommended Actions for DB2 10 customers:
  1. Install APARFIX for PI42170 (AI42170) or PTF when available. This fix will prevent log records with invalid values being created, and it contains toleration code to recognize and recover from the incorrect values, including LRSN value of 'FFFFFFFFFBAD'x if the system fallback from DB2 11.
 If you haven't signed up to the Red Alerts by now, you really should do it. Just go over here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The value of the mainframe - The IBM z Systems Conversation Hub

Already a couple of years ago I started to label some of my posts with 'Mainframe going strong'. The initial idea was (and still is) to give you the necessary arguments to advocate the mainframe to the non-believers or to those who really don't have a clue about the advantages of the mainframe. Well, the posts have gotten quite numerous over the years. Have a look by following this link.

And here's another great site that can help you promote the value of the mainframe within your own company : the IBM z Systems Conversation Hub. The starting point is the following
"You know that IBM z Systems can enable your company to make better-informed decisions, meet more robust business goals, build a single source of truth and design the most personalized customer experiences.

Now it's time to convince your business.

Explore the topics below for direct conversations you can use to build a business case for z Systems in your organization".
It's built around six topics and each time you get a quick view or you can 'read more' which gives you some sort of microsite about that specific topic. The topics are :
  • The benefits of a system built for data
  • Make your business mobile-enabled with z
  • Point of impact analytics with z
  • Why z is the best cloud platform
  • Protect the business with z
  • Open flexibility with z
Don't expect white papers, but I think this might actually be a good thing. Call it whiteboarding or elevator pitching but I've experienced that you are sometimes much better of with two or three well-prepared short messages than with elaborate argumentations. So e.g. for 'Mobile' these are the cliffhangers
  • Our mobile apps need core data from z Systems
  • Now we can handle a flood of mobile transactions and sensor data
  • Mobile customers won’t wait
  • We can increase mobile access without the risk
  • Mobile apps integrate fast with z Systems
If you have some convincing to do, here's the place to get started !

Thursday, June 18, 2015

IBM Interactive 3D Product Catalog

This is a really fun way to explore some of IBM's hardware products in detail. The IBM 3D Product Catalog does exactly what it says. You can explore lots of hardware in a 3D fashion. You might remember that for the latest mainframe releases, there was also a 3D demo. Well, it's the same concept or they regrouped each and every demo over here.

There are 5 categories (each with some subcategories)
  • Systems and servers (Power and z Systems, Linux)
  • System Storage (Disk, Tape, Flash, Storage Solutions)
  • System Networking (Rack and Fiber Channel Switches)
  • Solutions (like the DB2 accelerator)
  • Integrated Solutions
You can click on a system, perform some actions, zoom in on cards or other features and you each time get some contextual information.Here's e.g. some info on the single chip module.

There's also an app of this, but unfortunately (at least for Android) a lot of the content does not seem to be available. Well, don't let that spoil the fun !

Friday, June 12, 2015

End of Marketing - End of Service

Last week some one asked me the difference between End of Marketing - End of Service and End of Support. Perhaps it's interesting to share that information with you as well.

End of Marketing is the date IBM stops selling a product. This is always announced well beforehand through, yes, the announcements, or as it's also called, the IBM Offering Information Page. Mind you, most of the time, withdrawal of marketing is announced at a feature level. Take e.g. the DS8000, you've seen pass by a lot of announcements regarding e.g. the DS8300. They do not withdraw THE DS8300 all at once. And I must admit, sometimes it's a bit of a puzzle. Can I still order the base frame, an expansion frame, this kind of disks or that kind of adapter. You sometimes really have to dive into the announcements. When you don't find the answer on my blog, that is, of course.

I don't find any real evidence about this but I'm pretty sure End of Service and End of Support are the same. I think the official term is End of Service. This means you can no longer get the official support from IBM for a specific product. A product can mean hardware or software of course.

So, there's a couple of places where you can look for End of Marketing and End of Service information. Officially it's always in the announcements. Allthough I must say that I usually go looking in the 'Sales Manual' which you can also look for on the same Offering Information Page. At the beginning you always find the 'Marketing Withdrawn' and 'Service Discontinued' dates. Be sure, however, to look in the right region. Because there are differences.

There are some pages where you can also find information for specific products.
  • z/VM has its own IBM page where you can find a summary.
  • z/VSE also has it, but pay attention, it's split into two : there's a page for the supported versions and a page for the unsupported versions.
  • Or you can find our latest newsletter. There's always an overview of the latest operating systems as well, including z/OS.
  • Another important one is the Support Lifecycle page where you can find lifecycle information for all softwares.
  • And there's another document I sometimes refer to where you can find information on the mainframe lifecycles. You can find it on TechDocs.
Because of the Mainframe Lifecycle document I must repeat my caution that you really have to check things for your own region. I had a look at the document and was quite suprised to find out that the z900, the z800 and the z990 were already End of Service as of December 31, 2014. So I had another look at the Sales Manuals only to find out that this was only the case for the North American Region and that for EMEA no End of Service was announced yet !

Thursday, June 4, 2015

End of Marketing of z/OS 2.1 is January 25, 2016

In the past, the marketing of one z/OS release stopped at the moment that the new release became available. Over recent years this was always in september. But for z/OS 1.13 there was an exception as z/OS 2.1 became available in september 2013 and you could still buy z/OS 1.13 up to January 2014.

Well, the same is now happening with z/OS 2.1. I already wrote about the preview announcement of z/OS 2.2 in my blog and now there's an announcement of System z Softwares and their End of Marketing date : 'Software withdrawal: IBM z Systems platform selected products -- Some replacements available (ZP15-0188)'. As the preview states, planned availability for z/OS 2.2 is September 2015. The announcement this week indicates that z/OS 2.1.0 (5650-ZOS) will be withdrawn from marketing as of January 25, 2016. And of course z/OSMF as well.

Have a look at the announcement to check out any other softwares you might be using (or wanting to use).