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'.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

IBM Enterprise COBOL Developer Trial for z/OS

Next to the announcement of Enterprise Cobol V5.2, there was also an announcement last week of a Developer Trial version : ‘IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, V5.2 delivers support for the latest IBM z13 processor architecture (ZP15-0007).
I think the conditions speak for themselves if you want to try this version : “IBM Enterprise COBOL Developer Trial for z/OS, V5, an evaluation edition of Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, is no charge and does not initiate a Single Version Charging (SVC) period.” This is nice, of course. Because you really get the “full set of Enterprise COBOL compiler features and functions. This includes the code generation and optimization technology in Version 5”.
The limitations are that it has an expiry date and that you are only permitted to use it in a non production environment.
Enterprise COBOL Developer Trial for z/OS, V5 is available from IBM through ShopzSeries as a standard offering and is available from March 27, 2015. It requires at least z/OS 1.13 or later. It does not require the IBM z13, it runs on previous models too going back as far as the z890.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Compiler announcements along with the IBM z13

On January 14, 2015, along with the announcement of the new IBM z13, there were also announcements of some new compilers. I give you the links where you can find all the announcement details
  • IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, V5.2 delivers support for the latest IBM z13 processor architecture (ZP15-0034)
  • It’s all about the new functionalities I talked about in my previous post on the new IBM z13. IBM gives us the following comment about this new Cobol compiler : “Enterprise COBOL for z/OS V5.2 provides Day1 support for the new z13 processor, using the new Vector Facility for certain COBOL statements, and expanding the use of Decimal Floating Point Facility for Packed Decimal calculations. Enterprise COBOL V5.2 provides significant performance improvements over the GA release of Enterprise COBOL V5.1. “ 
  • IBM Enterprise PL/I for z/OS, V4.5 offers new function and improved performance (ZP15-0015)
  • The comment for PL/I is almost identical : “Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.5 is enhanced to fully exploit the new z13 architecture. It uses the new Vector Facility to improve code for certain functions and expands the use of Decimal Floating Point Facility for Packed Decimal calculations. Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.5 provides significant performance improvements over Enterprise PL/I V4.4.” 
  • New, high-performance IBM XL C/C++ for Linux on z Systems, V1.1 compiler now delivered for Linux on z Systems (ZP15-0005)
    “This is a brand new C/C++ product designed to improve the performance of applications running on Linux on z Systems. XL C/C++ for Linux on z Systems V1.1 runs on RHEL (6 and 7); and SLES (11 and 12). It is based on brand new technologies. This new compiler is built on Clang and advanced IBM optimization framework shipped in IBM Java and Enterprise COBOL V5. This combination not only provides easy migration of C/C++ applications from distributed Linux systems to Linux on z Systems, it also optimizes the performance of applications on IBM z Systems, latest z13.”
The new Vector facility that is mentioned each time is the new SIMD function. There should be a RedPiece about it over here, but for some or other reason I just can't seem to download it. But there's also some information about it in the new Redbook IBM z13 Technical Guide.

The General Availability is even earlier than the new IBM z13 : February 27, 2015 for the COBOL and PL/I compilers and February 16, 2015 for the C/C++ compiler.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

z13 - The New Generation of IBM z Systems

General Introduction

Today, January 14, 2015 IBM announced its new generation of the mainframe. The announcement has a really short title 'The IBM z13 (ZG15-0001)'. I know I should give you some marketing talk on CAMS and stuff but I think I'll just concentrate on the technical aspects. And I'm pretty sure that's exactly why you came here for. The new system is simply called IBM z13. Let’s have a look at the name. No more zEC, just plain ‘z’ with a number. And yes, after version 12 comes version 13. So we have our new IBM z13. Looking at the specifications below, this might just be our lucky number ;-) Furthermore we do not longer talk about IBM System z, this has now become IBM z Systems. The model is 2964 and not perhaps the expected 2837. The looks – particulary of the back - have changed in order to gain in functionality. But I’ll come back to that later on.

When we want to summarize the new z13 in a few words, I’d say : a lot, and I mean, A LOT more memory and, for the first time,  the absence of books. Everything has become drawers now. And allthough this might be new for the Enterprise customers, the Business Class customers are already familiar with the concept for some time now. On the BC level, with the drawers came also the Single Chip Modules (SCMs) instead of the Multi Chip Modules (MCMs). Well, it’s no different to the new generation that’s announced now. And of course, we’re curious why IBM dropped the ‘EC’ in the name. Will we fall back to just one model ? Perhaps, instead of a ‘BC’ model, we’ll just have a GA2 announcement later this year with a one frame, one drawer model and more subcapacity settings for that first drawer. But let’s not speculate on the future and let’s have a look at the model that’s been announced just now.

Overview


Here's an overview of the most important new functions and/or improvements divided into three categories. I don't know about you but my eyes aren't getting any better, so you know you can always click on the images for a larger version.


Let's tackle some of the highlights now.

Models and sub-capacity settings

Similar to the zEC12 the new system has four regular models and one large sized model : N30, N63, N96, NC9 and NE1 (the ‘C’ an ‘E’ being hexadecimal representations so that they have 129 and 141 engines. For the regular models, every drawer has 39 PUs and with the NE1 each drawer has 42 PUs.
There are 2 spares designated per system. We see 6 SAPs per book. So if we take e.g. the N30 with 39 PUs, we subtract the 6 SAPs and the 2 spare processors, that leaves us with 31 PUs. Each system also has 1 IFP. And so we reach our 30 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 z13. You may notice the zAAPs are gone. The z13 is indeed the first system that doesn't support them any more. But as you know, since the z12 we have a 2 to 1 ratio for the zIIPs.


A full processor (the 701 or a specialty engine) has a capacity of 1.695 mips as opposed to 1.514 on the zEC 12. We have again three sub-capacity levels (4-, 5, -6) now for up to 30 CPs.

Memory memory memory

In general we have the same RAIM Memory design as introduced on the z196. But, as I mentioned already, the amount of memory in the system has hugely increased. For the zEC12 the system minimum was 32 GB and went up to 768 GB per book and up to 3 TB for the entire system. Now we see the following picture :


We start at a minimum of 64GB and go already up to an amount of 2.5TB per drawer. There is quite a simple message behind this : the more you can store in memory, the faster your system will operate. Think e.g. about In-Memory Databases where you can have a significant reduction in response time by avoiding I/O waits.
And the good news about this is that memory has become a lot cheaper on the IBM z13. Look at it as with the MSUs on the MLC pricing : the more you buy, the cheaper it becomes.

Processor Speed

There is a slight reduction to the processor speed from 5.5GHz to 5.0GHz. On the one hand this is simply due to environmental considerations like heat generation and power consumption. As we all know there's a limit to this. On the other hand IBM has tackled this with an improved cache structure, the increase of memory and some new functionalities. Eventually this leads to a more powerful processor than we had on the z12 EC.


Here’s a comparison between the zEC12 and the IBM z13 cache. Mind you, for the z13, you only see half of one CPC drawer node.

I won't go into further detail here, but just one example : if the workload was slow due to a high number of cache misses, it's surely expected to run better on the z13.

Upgrades

In short you can upgrade from any z12 EC and z196 to an IBM z13.

Under the covers

But let’s have a closer look at the changes under the covers. Here’s a picture of how an air cooled model looks like on the inside.

Drawers and SCMs

The zEC12 and previous models all used to have Multi Chip Modules (MCMs) with a number of PUs (Processor Units) and SCs (Storage Control) chips. Each PU chip had 4, 5 or 6 cores active. For the zEC12 this meant 27 active processors per MCM on the regular models.


As you can see on the picture, the z13 has four drawers. The z13 N30 has one drawer and let’s have a closer look at such a drawer.

Here we have a top view of the drawer : as a matter of fact we have 8 Single Chip Modules (SCMs) in one drawer. There are two SC SCMs and there are six PU SCMs. These are 8 core chips with 6. 7 or 8 cores active. That way, we get the 39 active processor units per drawer for the regular models. The reason for this evolution : cooling is definitely one of them. The possibility perhaps to consolidate to one single model instead of an EC and a BC model ?

While we have the under the covers picture still in sight : the Support Elements are no longer notepads but have become 1U System x Servers. And we just have display and keyboard where the support elements used to be. And while I’m at it : the HMC comes in two flavours : it’s a mini tower (FC0092) or else there’s also a 1U rack mounted option (FC0094). As a matter of fact, it then is the same x3550 M4 server as the support elements.

More new features

Simultaneous Multi Threading (SMT)

Simultaneous multithreading allows instructions from more than one thread to execute in any given pipeline stage at a time, helping to improve overall throughput. This will be enabled on IFLs and zIIPs only. The goal is to boost performance for Linux, Java, and zIIP workloads.

Up to two active execution threads per core can dynamically share the caches, TLBs and execution resources of each IFL and zIIP core. SMT is designed to improve both core capacity and single thread performance significantly. 
  • Simultaneous multithreading allows instructions from more than one thread to execute in any given pipeline stage at a time
  • When the SMT is not enabled, a core executes  a single Hardware Thread
  • When the SMT facility is enabled, the Hardware Threads within a core share certain hardware resources such as execution units and caches
  • When one Hardware Thread in a core is waiting for other hardware resources (typically, while waiting for a storage access), second Hardware Thread in the core can utilize the shared resources in the core rather than remain idle
  • SMT helps address memory latency, resulting in overall throughput gains
Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD)

SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) provides instruction level parallelism to aid in the performance of complex database operations and provides the ability for a single instruction stream to processmultiple data streams simultaneously rather than one at a time. I gather the illustration below clearly shows the benefit of SIMD.


Another way to demonstrate what is happening is shown in the next illustration


SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data)  represents a vector  processing model providing instruction level parallelism.  It provides much needed extensions to aid in the performance of complex database operations and provides the ability for a single instruction stream to process multiple data streams simultaneously rather than one at a time  SIMD can enable applications to scan billions of rows of data per second  This helps accelerate  response times significantly

Workloads that may benefit from Data Parallelism (SIMD)
  • High Data Intensity (i.e. data volume)
  • High Compute Intensity (i.e. operations on a given byte of data)
  • Predictive IT analytics, Advanced Security/Crypto, BI reporting, Prescriptive Analytics, Next-Gen Data Warehousing
Here’s a couple of compilers that will be able to exploit SIMD from the beginning : IBM Java, Enterprise COBOL and Enterprise PL/I.

IBM zAware
IBM zAware improves quite a bit with several new functions like heat maps, improved sorting filtering and tree tables.  This allows you to see more information at once with less scrolling. The most important feature however that is added to IBM zAware is the support for Linux on System z.

Connectivity

The IBM z13 offers a new generation of PCIe Gen3 I/O drawers. This also means the internal bus interconnect speed goes up from 8GBps for PCIe Gen2 to 16GBps for PCIe Gen3. A newly configured system can only contain these new drawers.



Older InfiniBand and PCIe Gen2 drawers can be carried forward, allthough there are specific rules how many of them can be carried forward.


I guess the colours give a pretty good impression of what’s going on here.

Mind that the FICON Express16S card only auto-ngotiates downwards to 4Gb. That’s why FICON Express8S is still available in the new build, but there's an SOD that mentions : IBM plans not to support FICON Express8 on the nex high-end System z server !

The new part for the RoCE card is that the 2 ports are supported now and that it can now support up to 31 logical partitions.

Physical planning

For the physical planning, nothing much has changed. The replacement of the books by drawers does not have any significant impact on the weight of the z13. However there have been made quite some efforts to get better control of energy usage.  IBM has upgraded cooling systems compared to zEC12 with N+2 pumps and blowers. And you know, I mentioned at the beginning that the look and design of the machine had somewhat changed. This was done for the same reason. The zEC12was always blowing its hot air in the same direction. The rear cover has now been redesigned so that you can now control the front to rear airflow. The rear door is designed to allow air flow upwards or rather downwards.

Oh, and by the way, the doors of the z13 can now be locked as well. All 4 doors (front/rear) will arrive with the lock installed. It comes as a standard feature on every z13.It's your choice to use it or not. If locks are used, customer is responsible to open doors for service.



Operating systems support

z/OS Support Plan :
  • z/OS V2.1 with PTFs (Exploitation)
  • z/OS V1.13 with PTFs (Limited Exploitation)
  • z/OS V1.12 with PTFs (End of service support 9/30/2014.)
z/VM Support Plan :
  • z/VM V6.3 with PTFs – Exploitation support
  • z/VM V6.2 with PTFs – Compatibility plus Crypto Express5S support
  • Note: z/VM 5.4 – NOT Compatible even though still in service
z/VSE Support Plan:
  • z/VSE V5.2 with PTFs -  Compatibility plus Crypto Express5S (up to 85 LPARs)
  • z/VSE V5.1 with PTFs – Compatibility
Linux for System z Support Plan : 
  • SUSE SLES 11 (Later releases:  GA support TBD by SUSE.
  • Red Hat RHEL 6 (Later releases: GA support TBD by Red Hat.)

zBX and hybrid computing

I think I can be quite short about the zBX. It can now be placed a bit further from the zSystem itself and it has its own HMC. So, far the good news. The 'other' news : you can still upgrade a Model 002 or a Model 003 to a Model 004 but you are not able to buy a new Model 004. Thsi is what IBM so elegantly calls 'investment protection'. If you have invested in a zBX you can keep it and you can upgrade it. But that's it. Sounds to me like IBM is phasing out its zBX project . . .

Software and maintenance 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 zEC12.

It’s also clear that mobile workload pricing is becoming a very interesting pricing model. I'm not going to elaborate on this again as I treated this already in some previous posts.

Next to the software pricing, there’s also the usual reduction of 2% on the hardware maintenance.

Statements of Direction

Removal of support for auto-negotiation to 2Gbps (FICON Express8S):  IBM z13 EC will be the last high-end server to support FICON Express8S and will be the last high end server to offer ordering of FICON Express8S. FICON Express 8S will not be supported on future high end z Systems servers as carry forward on an upgrade.

Stabilization of z/VM V6.2 support:  The IBM z13 server family is planned to be the last z Systems server supported by z/VM V6.2 and the last z systems server that will be supported where z/VM V6.2 is running as a guest (second level). This is in conjunction with the statement of direction that the IBM z13 server family will be the last to support ESA/390 architecture mode, which z/VM V6.2 requires. z/VM V6.2 will continue to be supported until December 31, 2016.

Product Delivery of z/VM on DVD/Electronic only:   z/VM 6.3 will be the last release of z/VM that will be available on tape.   Subsequent releases will be available on DVD or electronically.

z/VM support for Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD): In a future deliverable IBM intends to deliver support to enable z/VM guests to exploit the Vector Facility for z/Architecture (SIMD).

IBM intends to deliver a GDPS/Peer to Peer Remote Copy (GDPS/PPRC) multiplatform resiliency capability for customers who do not run the z/OS operating system in their environment. This solution is intended to provide IBM z Systems customers who run z/VM and their associated guests, for instance, Linux on z Systems, with similar high availability and disaster recovery benefits to those who run on z/OS.

And here’s a really, should I say, surprising one. Or perhaps not.
KVM offering for IBM z Systems: In addition to the continued investment in z/VM, IBM intends to support a Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) offering for z Systems that will host Linux on z Systems guest virtual machines.

So, this means that KVM will be on the same level as z/VM but will only support Linux images. This is perhaps a smart move from IBM : it will reduce cost as well as learning curve to port Intel workloads to the z Systems platform. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Documentation


Redbooks
There are some new and updated Redbooks available. They should all be grouped on a special page dedicated to z13 which is normally over here. Here's a short overview of a couple of them..

  • New – IBM zNext Technical Introduction, SG24-8250
  • New – IBM zNext Technical Guide, SG24-8251
  • New – zNext Configuration Setup, SG24-8260
  • Updated - IBM System z Connectivity Handbook, SG24-5444
  • Updated – IBM System z Functional Matrix, REDP-5157-00
Of course you can also find manuals and stuff in the Library section of Resource Link.
I'll surely come back to the documentation and reference materials in a future post.

Key Dates

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

January 14, 2015 :
  • Announcement day
  • First Day Orders for GA Systems
  • Resource Link support (e.g. Manuals available in Library section)

March 9, 2015 :
  • Features and functions for the IBM z13
  • GA for IBM z13 Models N30, N63, N96, NC9, and NE1
  • Upgrades from z196 and zEC12 models

March 13, 2015
  • z/VM V6.3 exploitation support for Simultaneous multithreading (SMT)

June 26, 2015 :
  • MES features for IBM z13 Models N30, N63, N96, NC9, and NE1
  • z/VM V6.3 support for Multi-VSwitch Link Aggregation
  • Support for 256 Coupling CHPIDs
  • IBM zAware support for Linux on z systems
Let me just finish this with two videos. The people of Redbooks give us a short summary on Youtube of 7 highlights of the new z13.



And if you got through all this, here's a last one, delivering the message to you on a somewhat lighter tone.



Or, hang on, this wasn't the only announcement today, so come back to check for more . . .

Monday, January 12, 2015

Reference Architectures for Mobile on System z

I introduced IBM Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS some time ago and I also wrote a follow-up post on how to use the IBM Mobile Workload Tool, but now there's also a nice set of documents on TechDocs that I like to share with you. They're not about pricing, but they're about the real mobile workloads and how you can set them up. The documents are grouped under the common denominator : 'Reference Architectures for Mobile on System z' and you can find them over here.


The first 'System z Mobile Reference Architecture' provides information on standard architectures and configurations that can be used to create the infrastructure for mobile applications on System z. Some topics are Components of a mobile architecture, Mobile topology choices, MobileFirst Platform in production, MobileFirst Platform in dev/test, Scalability and performance considerations ...

The second 'System z Mobile Connectivity Guide' provides an overview and some detail on the ways mobile applications can connect to System z and System z transactions. Some topics are Summary of z mobile connectivity options including MobileFirst Platform Foundation, Details about Push Notification, IBM API Management, CICS, IMS, DB2, WMB ...

The third 'Mobile Security Guide and Security Reference Architecture' provides information on creating secure mobile application infrastructures on System z. It covers the MobileFirst security products and how those can be used to secure mobile applications on System z. This guide is meant to identify the key security components of a mobile solution, where they all run, and how they interact. It also shows examples of some specific mobile environments and how their security requirements can be met.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Accelerate with ATS : upcoming DS8000 webcasts

I didn't blog that much the last few months, so I think I'll try it a little bit differently at the start of this new year. Usually I tend to gather information and try to elaborate a bit on a subject. So sometimes I put things aside until I have enough information to write something useful about it. Well, maybe I should be a little bit more spontaneous and instead of bookmarking things until I have enough material, just throw it in here. So, here we go. Let me know what you think about it. It won't stop me from treating certain subjects more in depth of course.

I told you (a long time ago already) about the Accelerate with ATS blog and their webcasts. Well, there are two upcoming webcasts about DS8000 that I'd like to mention here.

The first is on January 27, 2015 6pm Brussels time and is about 'DS8000 and zOS Synergy'.
A little extract from the contents
"This session explores all of the latest z/OS and DS8870 Synergy items. Topics will include DB2’s exploitation of zHPF, eliminating DB2 and IMS Backup windows and letting zWLM manage workload’s quality of service on an end to end basis including its I/O. The session also discusses how Easy Tier ensures that the right data is dynamically placed in the right place in the storage tier to optimize price/performance and much more".
Register over here.

The second is on February 26, 2015 also at 6pm Brussels time and is about the 'New DS8000 Storage Management GUI. The contents :
"Join this webinar for an in-depth presentation of configuration and monitoring enhancements introduced by the new DS8000 Storage Management GUI, including and a demonstration of how to use the GUI to easily provision and manage storage".
Register over here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

z Systems : The Movie Trailer

Here's a little addition to yesterday's post. Nice trailer summarizing the strong points of System z. Or has the naming changed and has it become z Systems now, as it is mentioned in the title. Bottom line : register for the entire movie on January 14, next Wednesday, over here.



And while you're watching movies, they added another one that's about the people involved in making these zSystems called 'Systems Design Trailer'.



As I always say, just check them out !

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Redefining Digital Business : IBM zNext

Here's an invite on the IBM site for an event on January 14, 2015 that leaves little to your imagination.

I'm just taking over the content


"You are cordially invited to join IBM on January 14 from 2:00pm – 4:30pm Eastern Standard Time (US) when IBM will share a whole new generation of IBM z Systems™ built to meet the needs of your digital business.
Join us and learn how IBM z Systems are designed to:
  • Support the transaction growth and needs of the mobile generation and the internet of things
  • Integrate data, transactions and analytics, for in-transaction insights and right-time actions
  • Provide secure, trusted and efficient cloud services with new economic models
  • Exploit new modern, open development environments, tooling and skills for greater returns
At this live streaming event, you will hear from a remarkable group of business and technology leaders who will share success stories, best practices and the exciting technology innovations and capabilities of the new generation of IBM z Systems."

Brussels Time for this event should be 8:00pm to 10:30pm. Oddly enough when I put it in my Outlook Calendar it is set to 6:45pm to 10:00pm. Oh well, we'll see.

Registration can be started at the same page.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year


 Thanks to all my readers for coming by so regularly, to all the people who linked to this blog, to those who kindly retweeted me and to every one who gave me great feedback during 2014.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Looking back on 2014 - Year Review

Can you imagine, no mainframe announcement in 2014, the year the mainframe turned 50. Would that suggest this was a boring year. Not at all.

January started out with a warning for every one still on z/OS 1.12 or even lower. You're way behind if you still have to order z/OS 1.13 and January 17 was the last day it could be ordered. Next to that there were a couple of Flashes concerning problems with DS8000 boxes. But of course right from the start of the year we paid a lot of attention to the anniversary of the mainframe turning 50.

In February IBM announced IBM Wave for z/VM : it's a "virtualization management software product that provides management, administration, provisioning, and enables automation of Linux virtual servers in a z/VM environment" making your life a lot easier. Next to that there was this one : "As a part of IBM maintenance services, maintenance charges will now apply for processing capacity activated through On/Off CoD". That wasn't the case until then. I was less impressed by the IBM Redbooks mobile app. I don't know what it is, I tested it back then, tested it again a couple of weeks ago, but I personally prefer my redbooks on my laptop. Call it a personal preference.

In March and April the tension is mounting for all kinds of anniversary festivities. Memorial coins were handed out, but of course the star of the show was the mainframe itself. We could not stay behind and we came with a special anniversary edition of our System z Newsletter. One of the articles I wrote and also published in this blog was about OpenStack. If you've never heard of OpenStack, have a look at it. I think the article is still relevant, allthough I wrote it myself. And certainly OpenStack itself is.


In May I once again pointed out the two-phased End of Marketing for the z114 and the z196. One tends to forget it, but be aware : after June 30, 2015 not one upgrade nor downgrade is still possible for those machines. IBM also announces its next generation, let me call them, DS8870 Flash Systems. At the beginning of the month, IBM also announced its new Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS. It's a new subcapacity pricing giving you reductions on softwares when you are running Mobile trasactions on the mainframe. It was one of the topics that certainly drew a lot of attention during the System z technical university in Budapest.

In June I pointed out that as of z/OS 1.12 there was no longer the well-known lifecycle extension. It was kind of replaced by the new 'extended support' : a "fee-based corrective service to users who have not completed their migration to a newer z/OS release" for a period of 3 years. There were a number of GSE Working Group meetings in June and I must say the working groups thrived throughout the year. The Young Professionals group stays very active as well. A pity we didn't see anything from the earlier announced 'Ladies' group. Or they just didn't tell it to us ?

July is traditionally a busy month for big announcements the last couple of years. This year however, no new mainframe was announced. IBM must've heard my complaint that I have to postpone my holiday each time because of these announcements :-) . In the meantime I took the opportunity to dig a little bit deeper into the new Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS and had some great assistance for this by David Chase from IBM. You can read all the details about it over here.

On the storage front, in August an announcement confirms officially what had already been clear for a while now : IBM will no longer sell its nSeries or NetApp equipment via OEM. StorWize should replace these offerings.
There were also some hardware and software witdrawals in August. Regarding hardware, anything related to attachment to zBX from the z196 and z114 is withdrawn from marketing. From a software point of view IBM announces EOS dates for z/VSE 5.1.1 (6/30/2016) , DB2 10 (9/30/2017) and a new one for z/VM 5.4 (ZP14-0382).

I must admit my blogging frequency dropped significantly after August, but of course there's a reason for this. I'm not solely involved in mainframe business at my company. I also assist in making larger propositions and we had a couple of really big ones taking up most of my time for the latter part of the year. But don't worry. Allthough I haven't blogged about everything, I can still give you the big picture for the last part of the year.

September comes and look, it's the first time I mention price changes (ZA14-1142) this year. VWLC, AWLC, EWLC, AEWLC and PSLC pricings will increase by about 4% from January, 1 2015 onwards. z/OS version 1 will be aligned with version 2 and this means an increase of about 5%.
And in September a new Master the Mainframe contest is finally announced again for the Benelux. The contest is running for the moment and ends on January 14, 2015. You can follow it on Facebook as well.

We have quite interesting storage announcements in October. First of all there's the announcement of the new TS1150 Tape Drive (ZG14-0272) with a native capacity of 10TB as opposed to 4TB for the TS1140. We can only repeat it over and over again : tape is not dead.The TS1150 is of course also supported by the new tape library that was announced already in May as the successor of the TS3500 : the TS4500 (ZG14-0114). In short this library has up to 3.3X the slot density of a TS3500, up to 2.2 PB native capacity in a single frame, two I/O Stations and it can now grow left or right of the base frame.
Last but not least there's also a new release of the DS8000 with some exciting features (ZG14-0280,ZG14-0281). There had been talk about before, but now it's there : the Multiple Target Peer to Peer Remote Copy where a single volume can be the source for more than one remote copy relationship. Other highlights : Easy Tier version 7 and zHyperWrite which reduces up to 43% of the DB2 log write time. And The DS8870 is also enabled for cloud with OpenStack support.
 
November was a quiet month and I only note some price changes. There's a 7% increase for '5648-054 - IBM CICS Transaction Server for VM/VSE' from March 15, 2015 onwards. Another one is for '5655-W41 - IBM DB2 Sort for z/OS S&S', '5697-DUS - IBM DB2 Utilities Solution Pack for z/OS S&S' and '5698-Z10IBM Tivoli Advanced Storage Management Suite for z/OS S&S'. Have a look at the announcement : some price increases are considerable.

In December there's an announcement indicating that the TS7700 offers support for up to 496 virtual tape drives in a single system in Release 3.2. And that's about it for 2014.

Conclusion ?

I see it everywhere and not only in the mainframe world, albeit sometimes in vendor specific offerings, but I can tell you, OpenStack is here and it's here to stay. We've all seen how Linux started off, how it was looked at in the beginning and where it's standing now. Well, I predict a similar trajectory for OpenStack. I think IBM did a good thing to embrace it from the very beginning. Will I be right about this ? Well come and see next year when I blog more about it . . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Security Bulletin: POODLE vulnerability in SSLv3 affects IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer

Here's a security bulletin. I'm taking over some of its content. Just take a look over here for all the details, workarounds and mitigations.

Summary

SSLv3 contains a vulnerability that has been referred to as the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) attack. This vulnerability affects all versions of IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer.

Vulnerability Details

CVE ID: CVE-2014-3566

DESCRIPTION: IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer could allow a remote attacker to obtain sensitive information, caused by a design error when using the SSLv3 protocol. A remote user with the ability to conduct a man-in-the-middle attack could exploit this vulnerability by using a POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption) attack to decrypt SSL sessions and access the plaintext of encrypted connections.

CVSS Base Score: 4.3
CVSS Temporal Score: See http://xforce.iss.net/xforce/xfdb/97013 for the current score
CVSS Environmental Score*: Undefined
CVSS Vector: (AV:N/AC:M/Au:N/C:P/I:N/A:N)

Affected Products and Versions

This vulnerability affects all versions of IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recent security vulnerabilities

OK, I admit, you haven't heard much of me lately but I've been too busy with other stuff that was not all that mainframe related. Still, I couldn't help noticing that there were quite some security issues lately. So, I thought I'd put up a couple of links that might be helpful. And I hope I'll find the time to blog a little more again from now on.

  • Security Bulletin: Vulnerability in SSLv3 affects IBM Virtualization Engine TS7700 (CVE-2014-3566)
    SSLv3 contains a vulnerability that has been referred to as the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) attack. SSLv3 is enabled in IBM Virtualization Engine TS7700.
  • Security Bulletin: Vulnerability in SSLv3 affects TS3500 (CVE-2014-3566)
    SSLv3 contains a vulnerability that has been referred to as the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) attack. SSLv3 is enabled in TS3500.
  • Security Bulletin: POODLE vulnerability in SSLv3 affects IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer (CVE-2014-3566)
    SSLv3 contains a vulnerability that has been referred to as the Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE) attack. This vulnerability affects all versions of IBM Explorer for z/OS and IBM CICS Explorer.
  • Security Bulletin: A Security vulnerability has been discovered in Apache Struts which impacts the DS8000 GUI (CVE-2014-0114)
    A security vulnerability has been discovered in Apache Struts which impacts the DS8000 GUI



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Master the Mainframe contest - BeNeLux edition

I ventilated my 'annoyance' you might say, a couple of times because the Master the Mainframe contest was (apart from one time) never held in Belgium or in the BeNeLux. But here it is now. I'm taking over some of the content of the site.

"In the Fall semester of 2014, IBM is running its annual Master the Mainframe Contest for University College students across Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
No experience with Mainframes is necessary. In fact, the contest is designed for students with little or no Mainframe experience, with increasing difficulty as the contest progresses. Students just need to bring drive, curiosity and enthusiasm! (...) Anyone who is currently a student at the university or college level can compete (18 years of age or older)".

Registration opens on September 19th! That's next Friday. The contest runs from October 20th until January 14th.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hot Topics Newsletter - Issue 28

The good part : there's a new Hot Topics newsletter and it's stuffed with good articles. The bad part : it's clear now that there will be only one release per year. Be tempted, good people of the newsletter, to give us a February release again as well ! You can download the new issue over here and although I see Facebook more as a medium for private matters, Hot Topics thinks otherwise and you can keep up to date with them on Facebook as well.

As I said, it's stuffed with good articles. The focus is on z/OS 2.1 and on the role of the mainframe in the world of CAMS(S) : Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security. Let me pick out just a few, but by all means, do read the rest as well.
There's a good summary about 'System z in a mobile world' with particulary also a closer look on the role of CICS and DB2.
z/OSMF seems like it's here to stay : we learn about some APIs like e.g. the z/OSMF Jobs Interface (aka SubmitAPI) and there's a good introduction to 'z/OSMF Resource Monitoring-Reloaded'.
'Not all quiet on the consoles front' tells us about the possibility "to allow consoles to be dynamically added and deleted".
There's an intriguing (to me at least) article on z/OS Fixed Block Architecture services with z/OS Distributed Data Backup (ZDDB). Let me give you a little quote
z/OS Distributed Data Backup (zDDB) is a no-charge licensed feature. When you install zDDB on DS8000 devices, distributed host systems that are attached through Fibre Channel connection (FICON®) interfaces can access logical unit number (LUN) devices containing fixed block data. Typically, FBA LUN devices are connected to Linux®, Windows®, and UNIX® operating systems.
With zDDB, two views of the disk devices are presented, one for z/OS and one for the distributed system, as shown in Figure 2.
Here's this Figure 2

There's also a great deal of attention to the new z/OS 2.1, its migration and to recent innovations like zAWARE, zEDC, the RoCE card and so on.

So, as I always say, just check it out !

Monday, August 18, 2014

Red Alert - z/OS 2.1 DFSORT records out of sequence

I know I'm a bit late with this one but I still want to mention it, just in case you might've missed it.

Red Alert : z/OS 2.1 DFSORT records out of sequence

Abstract:

There is a potential exposure for out of sequence records with DFSORT for users on release z/OS 2.1.

Description:

At z/OS 2.1 code levels, DFSORT is intermittently returning records out of sequence. There is no data loss, but records may be returned out of sequence to the DFSORT output file. If VERIFY=YES is set at the installation level, out of sequence conditions are already being detected. This problem only occurs in z/OS 2.1. No prior releases of DFSORT are affected.

Please see APAR PI22817 for more details and latest information.

Users affected :

All z/OS 2.1 DFSORT (HSM1L00) users who SORT data with DFSORT using the performance path may be affected if there is insufficient virtual storage below the line at the time of execution. In other words the potential for error exists for all users of DFSORT SORT function on z/OS 2.1, but not all users will experience the problem.

Recommended Actions:

Enable VERIFY=YES at the installation level to detect out of sequence conditions. Affected jobs can be rerun with DEBUG $NOPFP$ to circumvent the issue.

In addition, a ++APAR is available to disable the affected performance path, as a temporary circumvention, using a new DFSORT installation option.

See APAR PI22817 for details. 


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