Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Accelerate with ATS : What’s new with XIV - IBM Spectrum Accelerate

Here's another interesting webcast communicated via the Accelerate with ATS blog about XIV and its newly announced SDS version : IBM Spectrum Accelerate.

The webcast will focus on this IBM Spectrum Accelerate, "a software defined storage offering (...) based on our proven XIV integrated storage system. The same ease of management with the XIV GUI, the same hotspot-free performance, predictable scaling, enterprise capabilities such as remote mirroring and flash caching, and much more".

In short IBM Spectrum Accelerate is the very same software that runs on the XIV box, but as a customer you can (within some boudaries) decide which hardware you put underneath it. You get all the advantages and functionalities as with an XIV box, but you can create a smaller entry point starting from just a few x86 servers.

Let me give you some technical requirements :
Hardware requirements
x86 servers running VMware ESX Hypervisor with a VM configured according to the following specifications.

Minimal VM requirements:
CPU cores: 4 nonvirtualized CPU cores
Memory: 24 GB physical memory
Network: 2x 10 GbE ports
Disks: 6 to 12 hard-drives, 1, 2, 3, or 4 TB in size
SSD (optional): One 500 GB or 800 GB SSD

Recommended VM requirements:
CPU cores: 4 nonvirtualized CPU cores
Memory: 48 GB physical memory
Network: 4 to 8 10 GbE ports
Disks: 6 to 12 hard-drives, 2, 3, or 4 TB in size
SSD: One 800 GB SSD

Software requirements
VMware ESX v5.5 only, is required on every node.
Be sure to follow this webcast to put this in the right perspective :
Date: Thursday March 26th 2015
Time: Noon New York, 5 p.m. London, 6 p.m. Brussels, 17:00:00 GMT
Duration: 1.5 hours

Register over here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Security Bulletin: Multiple vulnerabilities impact DS8000 HMC

Here's a new security bulletin on the DS8870 (and above). You can find it over here.
I'm not taking over all its content because it's a bit too elaborate but here's the summary


There are multiple vulnerabilities in the DS8000 HMC which are covered in this bulletin and include the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) SSLv3 vulnerability (CVE-2014-3566). This bulletin also covers several items which were updated to address other vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability Details

Before applying the patches or versions noted in this advisory, please read the additional notes - there are potential impacts to clients which connect to the updated servers since SSLv3 is disabled. You should verify that disabling SSLv3 does not cause compatibility issues.

While this advisory covers mainly CVE-2014-3566, product updates included also address the list of CVEs"
CVEs are concentrating on Open SSL, IBM Java and NTP.

Affected Products and Versions are DS8870 R7.2 and above, DS8800/DS8870 R6.3 SP 9 and above.

The fix is available as a full update as well as patch. You find all the necessary details in the bulletin itself.

Monday, March 9, 2015

We're share - cool video

I came across this via the IBM- Main list and it's too cool not to share it with you !

As Ed Jaffe points out : "Besides the drummer and singer, all folks featured are SHARE. In order of appearance: Ed Jaffe, Sandra Pancoast, Buzz Woeckener, James Vincent, Harry Williams, Justin Bastin, Marty Zimelis, Aron Eisenpress, Jerry Seefeldt, Martha McConaghy, Debbie Beatrice, most of whom are more formally pictured here: http://www.share.org/p/cm/ld/fid=6"

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Europe : 15% increase on all IBM System Storage hardware products

I overlooked this one as it was announced last Thursday instead of the regular Tuesday announcements. Perhaps Friday 13 would've been a better date for this announcement : 'Price changes: IBM System Storage hardware products (ZA15-1104)'. It's a short one, so I can keep it short too as I have no additional information about it either.
"IBM announces a 15% increase on all IBM System Storage hardware products."
This is applicable to Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia and effective as of February 12, 2015.
For the UK it is only 10%.

I haven't found a similar announcement for other parts of the world so I guess it has mainly to do with the dollar - euro rate.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Upcoming events

Here's a selection of upcoming events that might be of interest to you

BeNeLux : March 30 2015 - IBM z13 Technical Workshop

"The course participant will learn how to exploit the IBM z13 hardware and software infrastructure to effectively run modern mainframe workloads/solutions. The 1-day workshop will provide a detailed description of the new features and functions of the z13 and the IBM z Systems BladeCenter Extension (zBX) Model 004, thereby enabling clients, BPs, and IBMers to plan, implement, and operate the system environment in an expedited manner."
I already mentioned this workshop, so you can find the contents over there, but I wasn't aware there was a session held in Amsterdam as well. The price is 600€ but these sessions are usually well worth their money. You can enroll over here.

EMEA : May 18-22, 2015 - System z Technical University

The System z Technical University is taking place in Dublin for EMEA. You can find all information about attending, agenda, registration etc. over here. There's an early bird reduction until April 3, 2015. There's also an extra reduction code when you're a GSE member. While registering, check the box “I have received an IBM rep code” on the tab “Track info & activities” and fill in the code you received together with the GSE invitation.

Belgium: March 9, 2015 - Get More from your Storage, the new Era
at DOLCE La Hulpe (afternoon event with lunch)
"In order to help you get more from your Storage we will present several solutions around Software Defined Storage(SDS), FlashSystem, VersaStack and Tivoli
We will demonstrate
Info and registration over here.

(GSE) Meetings in Belgium

March 3, 2015 - GSE Architecture Working Group about 'Business Analytics'
IBM Client Center in Brussels
You can find the agenda as well as register over here. "Business Analytics is “The systematic leverage of cross functional business information and the resulting optimization of business decisions and processes”. It is one of the five big ICT paradigms (Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Security, and Social Media) that many organizations are exploring and adopting as part of their business strategy, in order to stay competitive or even in order to survive!"

March 26, 2015 - GSE DB2 Working Group meeting
Volvo Gent
You can register over here. The agenda covers SYSLGRNX - From Darkness to Light, Autonomic Utility Processing for DBA Maintenance Activities, Discussion panel on Utility database maintenance operations. And if you can spare the time in the morning, you're in for a real treat as Volvo Gent invites you for a guided tour in the Truck assembly Factory !

Online events

February 18, 2015 - z/VM Live virtual class at 5:00PM Brussels Time
How z/VM Live Guest Relocation is used by GDPS - Introduction and Demo

"With z/VM 6.2, z/VM supports Single System Image (SSI) and Live Guest Relocation (LGR). With GDPS 3.10, GDPS can handle and control such setups. The presentation covers:
  • a short introduction to LGR, GDPS and xDR
  • GDPS maintenance scenarios which make use of LGR
  • introduction to LGR concepts and how GDPS can control LGR
  • a short demo
  • best practices"
You can find all info and a registration link over here.

February 24, 2015 - z/VSE Live virtual class at 5:00PM Brussels Time
Mobile access to the existing z/VSE application

"The first z/VSE webcast in 2015 will demonstrate how to create a mobile application with access to existing applications running under z/VSE. We will start with a short overview of the IBM MobileFirst practice, followed by the necessary tools and knowledge to start mobile development for z/VSE and the step-by-step process of creating mobile applications. "

You can find all info and a registration link over here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Security Bulletin: GNU C library (glibc) vulnerability affects DS8000 and XIV

IBM issued some security bulletins referring to all models of the DS8000 and the Gen2 and Gen3 of the XIV.

In general, here's what it's about :


GNU C library (glibc) vulnerability that has been referred to as GHOST affects DS8000


The gethostbyname functions of the GNU C Library (glibc) are vulnerable to a buffer overflow. By sending a specially crafted, but valid hostname argument, a remote attacker could overflow a buffer and execute arbitrary code on the system with the privileges of the targeted process or cause the process to crash. The impact of an attack depends on the implementation details of the targeted application or operating system. This issue is being referred to as the "Ghost" vulnerability."

For more information and fixes, please refer to the appropriate flashes.
For DS8000 : link.
For XIV Gen2 : link.
For XIV Gen3 : link.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Redbook : IBM z13 Configuration Setup

When introducing the new IBM z13 I also listed out some documentation including some redbooks. At that time one of them, the Configuration Setup redbook, wasn't available yet. You can now download a first draft from the 'deploy' section of the page specifically dedicated to IBM z13 I also mentioned previously.

The abstract of the Redbook :
"This IBM® Redbooks® publication helps you install, configure, and maintain the IBM z13. The z13 offers new functions that require a comprehensive understanding of the available configuration options. This book presents configuration setup scenarios, and describes implementation examples in detail.

This publication is intended for systems engineers, hardware planners, and anyone who needs to understand IBM z Systems configuration and implementation".
The table of contents :
Chapter 1. Introducing the IBM z13
Chapter 2. Channel subsystem
Chapter 3. Configuration planning
Chapter 4. Upgrading from an IBM zEC12 to IBM z13
Chapter 5. Replacing an IBM zEC12 with IBM z13
Chapter 6. Installing a new IBM z13
Chapter 7. Installing an extra IBM z13
Chapter 8. Server Time Protocol (STP)
Chapter 9. Crypto Express5S and Crypto Express4S configuration
Chapter 10. Logical partitions
Chapter 11. Preparing IBM z13 for zBX Model 004
Chapter 12. Flash Express
Chapter 13. Configure Open System Adaptor (OSA) and RoCE Express
Appendix A. Additional features and functions
I don't think it needs any more recommendations. If you're going to install a new IBM z13, this is a good place to start.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Webcast : Bob Rogers on Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT)

I'm not exactly sure anymore how I came across this webcast from Bob Rogers, but it's definitely worth mentioning it. It's on the zExchange page of the New Era site. I didn't know New Era but apparantly its "an industry leader in the repair, recovery, data erasure and integrity of z/OS systems".

If you want to know each and every detail on how SMT works and how it's implemented on the new IBM z13, the advantages and disadvantages of it and you don't mind to spend an hour of your time listening to the flamboyant Bob Rogers style, we all know, then just go over here. I, for one, certainly don't. I'm not pretending I understand every detail of it, but I got a pretty good picture of what it's about and what it means for your z shop.

Have a look at the rest of the page as well. I see there are two lectures from Marna Walle on 'Migrating to V2R1 with "look ahead" information on V2R2' on March 10 and March 12.

So, definitely worth a little visit if you want to grasp the value of SMT for the IBM z13.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

IBM XIV Storage System support for vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOL)

I already told you some time ago that my action radius has become a bit larger than just mainframe. So, as a technical presales I'm also covering the entire IBM System Storage spectrum. Hey, we're not that big ! Of course, I'm mainly focusing on the high end market and so XIV and e.g. Flash are likely candidates to have my full attention.

So, about a week ago I wrote about a new XIV announcement and about the support for vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOL). And now here's a video by IBM Redbooks specifically about this. If you're even slightly interested, have a look. It not only shows the ease of use of the XIV but also what VVOLs are and how they are supported by XIV.

And as I told you last time, at RealDolmen we will have a firm focus on XIV in the coming months. So, stay tuned for more communications, news and events from our part in the near future . . .

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

z Systems Software withdrawals

It's still some getting used to : z Systems instead of System z but we'll get used to it. Yesterday IBM announced some End of Service dates for z Systems software : 'Software withdrawal and support discontinuance: IBM z Systems platform selected products (ZP15-0054)'.

I guess you'd best browse through the list to see whether any of your software products are still present. Some of the softwares get no replacement.

I just want to point out one : z/VM 6.3 (5741-A07) will be be withdrawn from service on December 31, 2017. This is good news, I guess, since it's more than half a year later than what was first communicated. The z/VM End of Service Chart still mentions April 30, 2017. Obviously, no replacement is mentioned for the moment.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

DS8800 expansion frame withdrawn from marketing

Today IBM announces the withdrawal from marketing of the expansion frame of the DS8800 : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM System Storage DS8800 Expansion Unit Model 95E and select features - Some replacements available (ZG15-0056)'.

If you still want to order any expansion frames or most of the other features still available on the DS8800, then do it before September 16, 2015. You still have some time left and of course you can always move on to the next generation : the DS8870. But keep in mind you cannot add a DS8870 expansion frame to a DS8800 base unit.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

XIV - 6TB drives and VMWare Virtual Volumes

Yesterday, IBM made two announcements about XIV. There's a hardware announcement 'IBM XIV Storage System Gen3 Model 214 with software version 11.5.1 delivers support for 6 TB self-encrypted drives (ZG15-0037)' and a software announcement : 'IBM XIV Storage System Gen3 and IBM XIV Cloud Storage for Service Providers V11.5.1 deliver support for 6 TB self-encrypted drives and VMware Virtual Volumes (ZP15-0091).

It's been a while since I wrote about XIV, but I'm going to try and pick up the pace here as well. If there's one product acquisition IBM hit the bull's eye with then, to me, it was definitely XIV. I still find this a marvellous product. Just to give you a couple of examples : the data are spread alike over all disks making tiering absolutely superfluous. And this without having to do any concessions with regards to performance. Another example : there's quite some talk about rebuild times in Raid configurations especially when we each time get larger disks. Well did you know that XIV never had this problem and even with the new 6TB drives it achieves an average rebuild time of under the hour for a 6TB disk.

What's new today ? Well, as I already mentioned : XIV now supports 6TB disks. This gives us a maximum capacity of 485TB as compared to 325TB with the 4TB disks. However performance levels are sustained with these larger disks.
Next to that XIV now also has the Energy Star certification. You can find more information about Energy Star over here. If you're interested in the XIV data, go over here, click on 'filter' and add a filter with 'Model name' equals 'XIV'.
Another important item is built-in XIV support for VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOL). "VVOL are designed to enable upcoming VMware vSphere environments to easily automate XIV provisioning, offload snapshots and cloning, and instantly reclaim space, all at the virtual-machine level. Systems will benefit from XIV hotspot-free performance predictability and extreme capacity utilization, delivered efficiently through the IBM Storage Integration Server". As 70% of XIV customers are Vmware users this can have a great impact on most of the XIV customers.
For more information, here's a solution overview to VMWare's Virtual Volumes.

Planned availability is February 12, 2015.

By the way, if you're interested in XIV and you want to find out what RealDolmen can do for you in this area, be sure to come back here regularly. There's definitely more to follow about XIV in the coming weeks, months . . .

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

IBM z13 Technical IBM Redbooks Workshop

Here's a promising 1-day workshop from Redbooks, introducing nearly every technical aspect of the new IBM z13.

The workshop objectives
"The course participant will learn how to exploit the IBM z13 hardware and software infrastructure to effectively run modern mainframe workloads/solutions. The 1-day workshop will provide a detailed description of the new features and functions of the z13 and the IBM z Systems BladeCenter Extension (zBX) Model 004, thereby enabling clients, BPs, and IBMers to plan, implement, and operate the system environment in an expedited manner."
Here's a list of the main topics, but go to the workshop page itself for the full agenda.
Overview of the z13
z13 technical details
zBX Model 004
Software : Operating Systems support
z13 environmentals
z13 connectivity
STP enhancements
Planning and implementation considerations
Installation and migration
Physical Planning
Statements of Direction
There's a worldwide coverage of the workshop and of course I'm looking for places near to Belgium and I think the most obvious choices would be London on Monday February 23, 2015 or Paris on Friday February 27, 2015. In Paris the workshop is given in French. The fees are 500£ for London and 600€ for Paris.

Monday, January 26, 2015

RealDolmen System z e-zine 22

The 22nd issue of our RealDolmen System z 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. Most of it has already been posted over here too.

The content ? Here's the introduction that was sent along :
The year has only just begun and IBM already surprises us with an early announcement of a new high-end mainframe : the IBM z13.

IBM comes with some bold statements regarding its intentions with the IBM z13. It's intended to become the world's premier data and transaction engine enabled for the mobile generation, the integrated transaction and analytics system for right-time insights at the point of impact and the world's most efficient and trusted cloud system that transforms the economics of IT. Or as someone summarized it : IBM launches a new mainframe . . . for Smartphones. You can read all details in this newsletter.

Next to this main topic of our newsletter, we also present you an overview of last year and we'll shed some light on some of the announcements that accompanied the IBM z13 announcement like e.g. the preview announcement of z/OS 2.2.

Finally, we still have our usual entries with recent announcements, interesting blog entries, EOS dates and some hints and tips.

Enjoy the reading !

Friday, January 23, 2015

Preview of z/OS 2.2

z/OS 2.2 is due to become available in September 2015. But here’s already a preview announcement :
‘Preview: IBM z/OS Version 2 Release 2 -- Fueling the new digital enterprise (ZP15-0006)’. It’s too much to sum it all up but let me quote you the highlights from the announcement itself :

"This z/OS V2.2 Preview announcement describes many capabilities designed to support:

  • Exceptional service levels with:
    • Simultaneous multithreading on zIIP specialty engines on z13 processors for higher overall throughput
    • Up to 141 configurable processors or up to 128 processors per LPAR on z13 processors when running in SMT mode
    • Improved autonomics for health-based workload routing in a Parallel Sysplex® with new z/OS Workload Manager (WLM) and XCF functions to help improve availability
  • Analytics enablement with information management, storage, and delivery capabilities:
    • Support for up to 4 TB of RAIM memory per LPAR to improve performance of IBM DB2® and other data-intensive processing workloads
    • Fabric I/O Priority, extending Workload Management into the SAN fabric to prioritize your most important workloads and help improve service levels
    • 16 Gb FICON® links to help reduce I/O latency
    • A new IBM zHyperWrite™ capability that helps you achieve better DB2 log write performance when using Metro Mirror (PPRC) in a HyperSwap-managed environment
  • A trusted and resilient system of record:
    • Faster data encryption to handle increased transaction volume with both a new Crypto Express5S cryptographic adapter and improved compressor-based, on-chip cryptography
    • Digitally signed SMF records designed to provide a trusted audit repository
    • Improvements to secure communications, additional support for ciphers, RACF® enhancements, and more
  • Capturing the potential of the mobile enterprise:
    • System SSL's new OCSP support is designed to help reduce risk and improve the security of mobile and other transactions by checking certificate revocation status over the network.
    • Mobile Workload Pricing programs help you reduce software costs during periods of peak mobile transaction workload processing.
    • The z/OS Connect software interface between mobile and backend systems is designed to help you easily integrate your z/OS systems into your mobile computing environment.
The z13 server with z/OS V2.2 enables a new tier of innovation that can catalyze your ability to reach new markets and capture new revenue opportunities".

There is also some news about z/OSMF : “Starting with z/OS V2.2, z/OSMF, previously a separate product, is planned to become a base element of z/OS, delivered with the operating system. This will remove the need to order z/OSMF separately”.

While I'm at it, I think this post on Marna Walle's blog might also be of interest to you : 'z/OS V2.2 FIXCATs are starting to appear'.