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).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#XIV - Roundup of our executive briefing and Accelerate with ATS

Yesterday we had our Executive Briefing on XIV with an introduction from Eyal Zimran (CTO Storage IBM Europe) and a customer testimonial from Colruyt, an XIV customer of ours. And I can tell you, this was the most convincing part of the seminar. Let me give you a couple of quotes from their presentation
  • They came from DS8000 and the only thing they could conclude is that for their distributed systems, the performance of the XIV was way better than what they achieved with the DS8000.
  • The slide I liked the most was the one that wasn't there : Management. Since their statement was that this box absolutely has NO management effort whatsoever, the only thing they could've done was adding an empty slide on Management. 
  • And this also struck me : the savings they had on energy alone already paid back their investment
And, as you know, the customer is always right !

If you want to catch up with the most recent evolutions on XIV, here's your chance with a new 'Accelerate with ATS' teleconference. The content : "There are enhancements to how we view XIV Snapshot utilization that we would like to present. And we will also discuss the recent XIV announcements of 6TB drives, support for VMware VVOLs, and XIV Energy Star certification".

It's on June 18, 2015 at 6.00PM Brussels Time. Details and registration over here.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Forget Singapore, all mainframes are manufactured in my home town

I admit, this is just a fun post. I could have saved it for April 1, but it's a bit too obvious, but still, funny. I live in a small town in Belgium called Wielsbeke and there's a crossroads I'm passing by at least ten times a week and only last week my attention was suddenly drawn towards a couple of road signs that must have been there for really quite some time. I wasn't aware of it but apparantly the z13 is manufactured in my own home town. Here's the proof. And you can see, all the previous generations as well. But they definitely took another direction for the z13.

But there's more, and here's the real scoop, and you don't even have to sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) for it : they're already manufacturing the next generation as well. I can already give you the name : it will be a z14 ! Heading once again in a different direction.

Now all I still have to do is work my way into one of those factories !

Monday, May 25, 2015

DS8000 Code Recommendation

Last week, in my post about the new DS8870 features there was a reference to the minimum level of the bundle version that has to be on your system. This reminded me of the following page on DS8000 Code Recommendation over here.

The page helps customers in implementing a code update strategy. It lists out the various DS8000 models with their respective minimum, recommended and last code level. This is also how you can quickly see that the required "bundle version" mentioned in the announcement is not yet available for the moment and it will only become available for the DS8870 as code bundles for earlier DS8000 systems stopped already earlier.

Click through on the model e.g. DS8870 (R7.4) and you get all code bundle information available for this model. Page through down to the bottom, there's a wealth of information there !

Thursday, May 21, 2015

IBM #XIV introduces Real-time Compression

Last week IBM made a significant announcement on XIV Gen3 : ' IBM XIV Storage System Gen3 and IBM XIV Cloud Storage for Service Providers V11.6.0 deliver support for IBM Real-time Compression and disaster recovery with Microsoft Azure Site Recovery (ZP15-0250)'.

I think the real eye-catcher over here is the introduction of Real-time Compression. This is reflected in the overview of what's announced :
  • IBM Random Access Compression Engine (RACE) technology without need for extra hardware to scale performance and simplify compression management
  • Increased usable capacity per rack to lower cost per capacity
  • Faster replication of compressed data using less bandwidth to free up bandwidth for other uses
  • Continuous display of predicted or actual compression ratios for all volumes to increase performance
  • Nondisruptive conversion of uncompressed volumes to compressed volumes for faster data mobilization
  • Support for Microsoft™ Azure Site Recovery to seamlessly manage XIV replication for Microsoft infrastructures
Double your capacity ?
What does this mean in terms of usable capacity. Well : here's the maximum capacity for an XIV with 180 disks and disks of 1TB/2TB/3TB/4TB/6TB : 80TB/161TB/243TB/325TB/485TB (decimal TB that is). The announcement says this will "increase usable capacity per rack typically to one petabyte or more with IBM Real-time Compression™ (using a 15-module system with 6 TB disk drives)". Of course, as always, results will vary, but let's say capacity could be doubled with this inline compression.

"IBM Real-time Compression is a software license option that is only available for XIV Gen3 systems, including models 114 and 214, with XIV software V11.6.0, on new systems, or as an MES upgrade". "Compression is applied to individual volumes and snapshots. There is no limit however on the amount of usable capacity that is subject to compression. Compression need to be system-enabled before it can be applied to individual volumes. Mirroring requires that both primary and secondary volumes are compressed".

"IBM is offering current IBM Storage XIV Gen3 customers the opportunity to evaluate the new Real-time Compression capability at no cost for 45 days. (...) The 45-day evaluation period begins when the XIV Real-time Compression function is enabled. At the end of the evaluation period, customers must either purchase the required licenses for Real-time Compression or disable the function".

Did I see the word "purchase" over there ? Yes, Real-time Comrpession seems to be the first license on the XIV that does not come for free with the box. I must say that for the moment I haven't got any clue about the price setting of this feature. 

There's a nice little Redpaper called 'IBM Real-time Compression on the IBM XIV Storage System' available on the Redbooks site.

Planned Availability  is June 4, 2015.

IBM announcement : DS8870 enhancements

Here's another announcement from last week specifically for the DS8870, the latest generation of the DS8000 : ' IBM DS8870 delivers expanded connectivity and extends cloud enablement support with z Synergy for integration of z Systems and Storage systems (ZG15-0098)'.
Availability date is May 22, 2015 and all "announced features and functions are supported on the IBM System Storage® DS8000 series and require DS8000 LMC 7.7.50.xx.xx (bundle version, or later".

Here's an overview of the new features :

16GFC FC/FICON connectivity:
DS8870 supports 16GFC FC/FICON connectivity with an optional four-port host adapter card. Model 961 supports four adapter card pairs and Model 96E supports four additional adapter card pairs, enabling a total of sixty-four 16GFC FC/FICON ports.

New and improved z Synergy features:
  • FICON® Dynamic Routing: This feature supports Systems Business Class and Enterprise Class models and enables use of dynamic routing policies for cascaded directors in the SAN. Examples of dynamic routing policies include Brocade Exchange Based Routing (EBR) or Originator Exchange ID Load Balancing (OxID) across cascaded FICON Directors. The value of FICON Dynamic Routing is to help reduce cost by allowing Metro Mirror and FICON traffic to share the same set of ISLs. This can help reduce the number of ports required, fibers, and intercite bandwidth.
  • Forward error correction (FEC): This feature helps to correct I/O errors and improve the reliability of 16 Gbs links, encouraging the adoption of faster link speeds. This feature also protects DS8870 Metro Mirror links connected to 16GFC host adapters and FCP links connected to switches that support standard FEC negotiation protocols.
  • zHPF Extended Distance II: This feature delivers better zHPF large block write performance at longer distances (up to 100 Km) and improved FC fabric congestion management.
  • Fabric Priority for FICON, zHPF, and FCP: z Workload Manager (zWLM) will assign a fabric I/O priority for every I/O operation executed by z/OS® thus extending the scope of management into the SAN. The DS8870 exploits fabric priority by propagating it to the Metro Mirror traffic generated for write requests and by echoing back the priority to get the value on read requests. Fabric priority complements the FICON Dynamic Routing feature by insuring the FICON traffic and the Metro Mirror traffic are managed to a consistent set of policies.
  • Read Diagnostics Parameters (RDP) support: RDP enables new standard link services for obtaining diagnostic information including link speeds and power levels from FC end points and switch ports to aid in link fault isolation.
Heat Map Transfer for MGM environments:
With this release, heat map transfer supports MGM replication topology in addition to Metro Mirror/Global Copy/Global Mirror (MM/GC/GM) functions.

This release includes support for monitoring, configuring, and controlling aspects of the DS8870 system configuration by use of an industry-standard REST API.

Performance monitoring:
The improved DS8000® Storage Management GUI provides system performance monitoring in real time. A storage administrator can view performance metrics from up to one week earlier down to one minute intervals in order to troubleshoot a wide variety of issues. Supported graphs include the following:
  • I/O, bandwidth, caching, capacity, and power/temperature monitoring at a system level
  • Back-end I/O, back-end bandwidth, and capacity monitoring at a pool level
  • Front-end I/O and bandwidth monitoring at a pool level

Simplified encryption setup:
The improved DS8000 Storage Management GUI also provides simplified encryption setup and management through a simplified encryption paradigm matching other products. This enables a storage administrator to configure encryption within five minutes of finishing system setup.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

IBM Announcement - Preview of IBM z/VSE V6.1

I'm catching up a bit on IBM announcements. As a matter of fact, this one was already announced last week : 'Preview: IBM z/VSE V6.1 - Get ready for the new z/VSE version! (ZP15-0149)'. I wasn't aware of this, but z/VSE is actually celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015. IBM z/VSE V6.1 will become available in Quarter 4 of 2015 and will run on a z10 or higher. Fast Service Upgrade (FSU) to z/VSE V6.1 will not be possible.

Some highlights from the announcement. IBM z/VSE® V6.1 is designed to:

Exploit innovative IBM z13technology

  • Configurable Crypto Express5S for data encryption and SSL acceleration.
  • FICON Express16S supporting a link rate of 16 Gbps.
Support enhanced IBM System Storage® options
  • IBM System Storage TS7700 Virtualization Engine Release 3.2.
  • IBM System Storage DS8870 Release 7.4 (ECKD™ and FCP-attached SCSI disks).
  • IBM FlashSystem® V840 for use with FCP-attached SCSI disks.
Deliver CICS® TS for z/VSE V2.1
CICS TS for z/VSE V2.1 can only be used with z/VSE V6.1, and replaces CICS TS for VSE/ESA V1.1.1. New functionality includes:
  • Update and control capabilities to CICS resources for the CICS Explorer® system management tool.
  • New APIs to enable the transfer of large amounts of structured data between CICS applications to meet the needs of growing workloads.
Deliver TCP/IP for z/VSE V2.1
  • This new version replaces TCP/IP for VSE/ESA and is designed to include firewall functionality.
Deliver IPv6/VSE V1.2
  • This new release of IPv6/VSE will provide firewall functionality, increased network availability, and other enhancements.
Add trigger functionality for the WebSphere® MQ Client for VSE
  • The MQ Client Trigger Monitor will add trigger functionality for the WebSphere MQ Client for VSE to ease asynchronous message processing.
Selected enhancements are also available with PTFs for z/VSE V5.1 and z/VSE V5.2.