Friday, March 16, 2018

HoGent visits montpellier - young people do appreciate the mainframe

I came across this on LinkedIn, the new place to be :-), and I just couldn't resist posting this over here as well. Do have a look at it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Happy Holidays and best wishes for Z018

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

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

IBM Z Benelux Study Tour 2018 - March 12 - 16

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

Here's his invitation to the study tour

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Make the most of your day with IBM Z

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

z Systems Operating Systems EOS dates

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

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mainframe Comparison Tool

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

Click on image for larger version

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

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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

General Introduction

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

Click on image for larger version

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

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


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

Click on image for larger version

Let's tackle some of the highlights now.

Models and sub-capacity settings

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

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

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

Memory : up to 32TB

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

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

Processor design improvements

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

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

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

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


And what are the upgrade scenarios ?

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

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

Pervasive encryption

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

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

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

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

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

New features : IBM Virtual Flash Memory

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

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

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

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

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

New features : Secure Service Containers

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Physical planning

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

Operating systems support

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

Software pricing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statements of Direction

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


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

Key dates

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

There's an accompanying youtube video as well

I'd say, stay tuned for more information !

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

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

Users Affected:

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


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

Recommended Actions:

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

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

IBM z Systems Study Tour Benelux 2017

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

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

Click on picture for larger version

    Wednesday, December 7, 2016

    Upcoming events, webcasts and live virtual classes

    It's almost the end of the year but here are still some upcoming events that might be of interest to you

    (GSE) Meetings in Belgium

    Tuesday December 13, 2016 - DB2 zOS working group meeting
    At De Voorzorg  Antwerpen - Kiel
    Information and registration
    This time the main focus is on Backup&Recovery with three customer testimonials.
    Agenda :
    13:00 – 13:30 : Registration
    13:30 - 14:30 : “Recent Changes in DB2 for z/OS Logging” by Steve Thomas – CA
    14:30 - 15:30 : “Recovery Tales from Experience” by Ken McDonald – BMC
    15:30 – 16:00 : coffee break
    16:00 - 16:20 : “Backup & Recovery@Colruyt”  by Steven Goedertier - Colruyt Group
    16:20 – 16:40 : “Backup & Recovery@Euroclear” by Mattia Michelazzo - Euroclear
    16:40 – 17:00 : “Backup & Recovery@NVSM”  by Stijn Vanden Bosch - NVSM
    17:00 – 17:30 : Panel discussion on Backup & Recovery
    17:30 - 19:00 : Networking & Drinks sponsored by CA Technologies

    Thursday , December 15, CICS GSE Event : Are you ready for the future
    At the IBM Forum Diegem
    Information and registration
    Agenda :
    12:30-13:20Hr      Welcome and Coffee
    13:20-13:30Hr      Introduction by Chairman Dirk De Schutter
    13.30-14:15Hr      Session 1  : New CICS functionalities in CICS TS 5.4 (Michael Jones)
    14:15-15:00Hr      Session 2 : New Direction in Session Management (Paul Carruthers)
    15:00-15:15Hr      Coffee Break
    15:15-16:30Hr      Session 3 : Application Discovery - aka EZSource (Agnes Ten Brink)
    16:30-17:15Hr      Session 4 : Java & Liberty (MichaĆ«l Jones - IBM Hursley Labs)
    17:15-18:00Hr      Networking and drinks.

    I'm not sure about the GSE z/OS Working Group meeting. It should take place at our own Realdolmen HQ in Huizingen on Wednesday December 14, 2016, but so far I haven't seen any invitation or agenda. 

    Accelerate with Storage : Webcast on DS8000
    Accelerate with IBM Storage: DS8000 Technical Update, December 13th 2016 at 5P.M. Brussels time
    Information and registration
    "Join this webinar to hear the technical details of the latest updates to the DS8000 family. A new generation of High Performance Flash provides better performance and lower operating costs. Greater synergies between DS8000 and z Systems as well as enhancements to Encryption, Copy Services management, and the user interfaces will be covered as well as a performance update."

    z/VSE Live Virtual Class
    CSI TCP/IP for VSE Update 
    Tuesday January 17, 2017 at 5 P.M. Brussels Time
    Information and registration
    This session will review recent changes, maintenance, and new features in the CSI TCP/IP for VSE product..

    Just one quick addition that might be interesting for planning your agenda in 2017. For Europe the IBM z Systems Technical University seems to be planned in October instead of the usual time frame in May or June. Have a look over here. Just go to the end of the list and click on 'Show More'.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2016

    Software withdrawal and statements of direction: IBM z Systems platform selected products

    Here's an annoucement with a list of softwares IBM has withdrawn or will withdraw from marketing in the near future : "Software withdrawal and statements of direction: IBM z Systems platform selected products - Some replacements available (ZP16-0639)". This is about withdrawal from marketing, not about ending the support.

    I just make a random pick of some of the softwares, but check the list, if you intend to order extra software in the future. Just to be sure you can still order it.

    IBM DB2 Query Management Facility™ for z/OS 11.2.1 will be WDFM on April 10, 2017 and will be replaced by IBM DB2 Query Management Facility for z/OS, V12.1.0.

    IBM Enterprise COBOL Developer Trial, Value Unit Edition and the Enterprise Edition for z/OS Version 5 are WDFM on September 11, 2017 and replaced by their Version 6 successors.

    IBM z/VM V6R3 was WDFM last month on November 7, 2016. It is being replaced by z/VM V6R4.

    For the entire list, please check out the announcement itself.

    Friday, December 2, 2016

    New : SCRT support - now using Service Request PMR process like other software programs

    This morning I received a mail from the SCRT team about a change in the support. And I think it's worth mentioning here as well.

    "IBM is pleased to announce a major change in the way SCRT is supported. Effective immediately: Support for the SCRT program is now using the standard IBM PMR service request process for reporting problems. PMR support for SCRT has been requested by many customers over the years. Please see the information below on the PMR process if you are unfamiliar."

    Mind you, the PMR service is for technical problems.

    "PMR service request process for technical problems with SCRT

    To open a service request, you must navigate to and sign in. Once signed in, select "New service request", then you must select "I am having a problem with software" from the list of options.

    z/OS Customers:
    When asked to select a product / component, enter SCRT, Sub-capacity Reporting Tool, or 5752SCRT2. Any of these keywords will locate the Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool.

    z/VSE Customers:
    When asked to select a product / component, enter VSE.

    You must then provide any additional information necessary and submit the request.

    If you have already supplied IBM with diagnostic information in your note to the SCRT id, please open the service request and forward the service request number to and The information you provided will be loaded into the service request on your behalf.

    For additional help opening a service request, please see:"

    Thursday, December 1, 2016

    A brief history of Software Pricing

    General Introduction

    It was about 13 years ago that they asked me if I was interested in doing the presales for mainframe business. I came from the ‘other’ side since I’d always been engaged in application development as a programmer, an analyst and a DB2 admin. So, at that moment I’d never seen any mainframe hardware whatsoever.  But we had an experienced mainframe sales person at the time who learned me everything there was to learn about ESCON, CHPIDs, OSA-Express cards, CECs etc. etc. And then there was this other part as well : if you wanted (and this hasn’t really changed) to work out a business case, you had to know something about software pricing too.

    I still vividly remember my first steps in ‘Software Pricing’ on mainframe or should I rather say my first stumbles. I just looked up the word in a dictionary.

    Stumble [stuhm buh l]
    1. the act of stumbling (to strike the foot against something, as in walking or running, so as to stagger or fall)
    2. a slip or blunder

    I can assure you, both meanings were very appropriate at the time.

    Just one year later, our experienced sales person took on another opportunity and, just as that, I was no longer the rookie but I was the most experienced mainframe (pre)sales guy in the company. A new sales was appointed for mainframe and of course I was the one introducing him to all this magnificent stuff. Don’t worry, he pulled through with flying colours and we’re still working together.

    Still, it’s a bit of a crazy story but we first met just a couple of hours before the official announcement of the z890 in April 2004 (yes, the 40th anniversary of the mainframe). There was a large IBM and BP event in Paris and he picked me up at my home for a 3-hour drive to Paris. Of course we started talking about the mainframe, comparing with the AS400 (now System i) he knew from his background. And, actually, we never stopped talking for the next three days. After each session new questions popped up and were, as good as possible, answered. Until finally we came to the subject of ‘software pricing’.  What could I say ? The only thing there was to say : “Well, you know, here’s where it gets a bit complicated”. Talking about a euphemism.

    And this remained a constant during the years to come. Talking to customers, the questions I most often heard about software pricing were : “Could you freshen up my memory about that, I’m a bit confused ?” usually followed by “Could you explain that once again, I don’t think I’m still following ?”

    I really would like to say, luckily things have gotten a lot less complicated over the years, but they haven’t.
    So, why am I telling you all this. On November 15, we hosted a meeting for the GSE Young professionals Working Group at our HQ. These are all young mainframers we desperately want to get or to keep aboard of the mainframe ship. And I thought it was a good opportunity to write them a 'short' article on the evolutions we’ve seen over the years in software pricing on the mainframe.

    General tendency

    To put things into perspective of what we are talking about. We, as a business partner, are often engaged into negotiations on the hardware price of a new system. Mainframe is expensive, remember ? But when the customer starts working out his business case, it’s always played on the software part. Usually software represents 70% or more of the cost when e.g. mapped out on a four year basis. So any decrease in software cost when going to a new generation of mainframe might already make up for the hardware cost.

    And this is the general tendency we have seen over the past years. Or should I say : tendencies. On the one hand IBM has always put effort into making the mainframe a competitive platform as compared to other, distributed environments. For a moment now, we’re ignoring all the benefits you get from the platform as is, but we’re purely focusing on the price, let’s say, on the CFO part of the business. You can make it competitive by making sure that the customer is only paying for what he is really using. On the other hand, IBM has made sure that with every new generation of the mainframe, prices were more attractive on the new system. This meant investing in new hardware paid off in the long run with economically more interesting software prices.

    And there’s one more tendency, that is predominantly directing software pricing : it is IBM’s intention that you will pay less for new workloads that you introduce to the mainframe rather than installing them on the ‘cheaper’ distributed systems. This is a key factor in remaining competitive with the distributed systems.

    Starting off with machine based pricing

    When browsing through my (old) documentation, I keep lingering at a document from 2004, the year of the introduction of the z890 : ‘z890 and z800 Software Pricing P-Guide’. One of the first pages headlines ‘What is Sub-Capacity Pricing ?’.  In 2004 sub-capacity pricing is a new term for a pricing mechanism that was introduced for the z900. I know I’m more than generalising throughout this summary in order to give you a clear view of the bigger picture.

    Up to then, software pricing was machine based. This meant there was a flat monthly pricing amount according to the model of e.g. your z800 box. But that was always a problem. You don’t buy a mainframe every year and so customers made a three or four year projection of what they needed in the next years and bought their systems accordingly. So, the first years, they only used e.g. 60% of what they had bought but they still had to pay for the entire machine.

    But before I continue with this I should give you some more terminology. Software pricing is/was mainly divided into two categories : MLC (Monthly License Charge) and OTC (One Time Charge) pricing.

    MLC pricing is a monthly charge you are paying in order to use IBM software. Examples of this is the operating system z/OS (OS/390 at the time) and lots of others like e.g. DB2, CICS, Cobol, IMS . . .  MLC software is paid in terms of numbers of MSUs (Million Service Units). It’s a measurement of the amount of processing work a computer can perform in one hour. This stands in close relationship to the MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second).

    OTC, now better known as IPLA (International Program License Agreement), stands for a One Time Charge. You actually buy the software and you can pay an additional Subscription & Support (S&S) fee that also gives you the right to implement future versions at no extra cost. Examples are the operating system z/VM and lots of ‘tools’ like TSM, DB2 Utilities . . .

    Enters Sub-capacity pricing

    With VWLC (Variable Workload License Charge) IBM introduced the sub-capacity pricing for MLC. This meant that you closely came to pay what you were really using at that moment. Let me elaborate a bit on this, since this hasn’t fundamentally changed since then.
    In order to detect what you are actually using, you need a reporting tool. That is SCRT (Sub Capacity Reporting Tool). It registers your usage for an entire month based on SMF records. Some softwares like e.g. z/OS and DB2 generate their own SMF records for this. Others take on the same level as e.g. z/OS. Out of that it will, per software, determine where your peak is for that software during that particular month. Now, you may argue, one test in acceptance that goes completely out of the roof might cause an enormous peak and then I’m penalized for that one moment during that month. Well, IBM took care of that.
    The SCRT report determines the peak on a 4 hour rolling average. This means that it always takes an average of the past four hours to determine the height of the workload, so extreme peaks are levelled out. This is illustrated on the graph below for two LPARs. And if you want to make sure, you’re not going above a certain level you can use a mechanism that is known as capping. You can indicate that a certain LPAR (or group of LPARs) must not go beyond a defined level.

    In this illustration, partition A’s peak rolling four-hour average is shown to peak at 73 MSUs, during the month. Let’s take z/OS as an example. When it would be running solely in partition A it would have its sub-capacity charges based on that 73 MSU value, although the machine capacity is at 100MSU.  Likewise, partition B’s peak rolling four-hour average is recorded at 52 MSUs. A product running solely in partition B would have its sub-capacity charges based on that 52 MSU value. But since z/OS is running in both LPARs, it will be charged at the combined peak for those LPARs i.e. 98 MSUs. Here we can also illustrate the capping mechanism again : if LPAR B is e.g. a test LPAR you might put up a capping of 45 MSUs and perhaps your combined peak might be lowered to 95 MSUs.

    As you can see, the reporting and therefore also the billing is based on MSU’s.

    The graph above, also shows you the pricing levels for the MSUs. It indicates that you pay a high price for the first MSU’s. This is an example for VWLC pricing when it was first introduced. The more MSUs you are reporting, the less you pay per MSU for the higher MSUs. As a matter of fact, there’s such a graph for every system and the steps for the smaller systems (z890, z114, zBC9 through z13s) tend to be much smaller. You have expensive 1-3 MSUs and from there on MSUs get less expensive in far smaller steps.

    IPLA softwares also have sub-capacity pricing although there are still some softwares that are machine based.  These softwares are usually related to the reporting of some MLC software. If you have a machine of 200 MSU and you report only 150 MSU for DB2, then it’s sufficient to have bought the equivalent of that 150 MSU for the DB2 Cloning Tools or for the DB2 Utilities. 

    General price decreases – Technology dividend

    So, the stage is set for the following evolutions. The first action taken by IBM is a general one and I already mentioned it before. Customers want to be on a current system, but on the other hand they often postpone buying new systems since there’s no real reason for that. So, with the z990, IBM introduced what is now commonly referred to as the technology dividend. In fact it’s a very simple maneuver that stimulates every customer to at least make the calculation whether it’s beneficial for them to go to the next generation.

    When I put ‘price decrease’ in the title, this is not entirely correct. For a specific generation, there’s a correlation between the number of MIPS on that machine and the number of MSUs. This used to be very static, not really changing over the generations. But for the last ten years, we started to call MSUs, software MSUs and the relation with MIPS became less evident. Let me just give you a small table and it will immediately be clear what we mean.

    Z9 BC
    Z10 BC

    For the first three generations from z890 to z10 BC, for the same amount of processing power, less MSUs were needed to cover it. So, when you had to pay for 32MSUs on a z890, this went down to 25MSs on a z10BC. And I can assure you, for a mainframe customer, this was a huge benefit on their software cost, well worth the investment in the new hardware. This technology dividend was more or less every time a 5% decrease.

    From then on, we see that the correlation between MSUs and MIPS stayed the same. But with the z114 a new pricing was introduced. With AEWLC pricing you payed less per MSU as compared to the EWLC pricing on the z10 BC. Another technology dividend but implemented in a different way. And for the last two generations, we saw the same pricing mechanism, but an extra reduction was given per technology step. So, if you look up the official price for 3 MSU for z/OS, it hasn’t changed since the introduction of the z114. But, for the z13s you will have approximately a price reduction on it of about 10%.

    General price decreases – New Workloads

    The above are pricing decreases every customer could/can enjoy when moving on to the next technology. But, as I already said, IBM is particularly keen on getting new workloads on the mainframe and has gone into great effort doing so.

    For those who are familiar with the terms, this started of with zOS.e and zNALC. zNALC is the best known of the two and is still in use nowadays. Let’s focus on that one. zNALC is a pricing mechanism for New Workloads that run on separate machines or in separate LPARs. The benefit is realized very simply : if you can prove that it’s a new workload on your mainframe, answering all the right criteria, your z/OS is only priced at a tenth of the normal pricing. This gives the customer a huge benefit on the software cost since z/OS is one of the most expensive softwares in MLC pricing.

    The major drawback of this, is that it has to be a completely isolated workload in a separate environment. Well, now, that was always a bit the weak point of this solution. Say, you have all your data on the mainframe, as so many customers do, and you develop, let’s go modern, an app for your customers who can consult their accounts. What about all the other applications, running in another LPAR, that also have access to that information. This is often very difficult to integrate into your existing environment.

    New Workloads – from separated to integrated

    That’s why, over the years, IBM has made a lot of efforts to give you the best of both worlds : a better pricing for new workloads, but integrated into the existing environment. One of those efforts was e.g. to bring out a new pricing option for certain softwares like e.g. CICS and DB2. It’s called the Value Unit Edition and it’s basically an equivalent of IPLA software for that product. You buy it once and you pay a Subscription and Support fee for the ‘maintenance’ and the upgrades of the product. This is something every customer has to investigate whether this is beneficial for them or not. The advantage of this, is that the workload remains integrated into your existing environment.

    Another initiative that could have impact on your software cost was the introduction of specialty engines. Here we can particularly focus on the zIIP. The zIIP (z Systems Integrated Information Processor) is an additional processor that is added to your system. Specific workloads are offloaded from z/OS to the zIIP. This can be specific DB2 workloads, Java, encryption or XML workloads (you can find a more extensive list over here). Here’s the illustration that is often used to illustrate how the zIIP is working

    As you can see, the workload on the general processor is reduced as part of it is now executed on the zIIP. There’s an important caveat to be made here : this will only have an influence on your software cost if this happens during your peak period of the month. If so, here’s another example of how the software cost can go down due to a hardware investment.

    New workloads today

    Let’s finish off by having a look at the enhancements we recently saw in sub-capacity pricing. The first one was announced about two years ago, the third about two months ago. They have in common that they, again, focus on New Workloads like Mobile or Cloud.
    -       Mobile Workload Pricing (MWP)
    Used when IBM programs such as CICS, DB2, IMS, MQ, or WebSphere Application Server are processing mobile transactions from phones or tablets,
    -       z Systems Collocated Application Pricing (zCAP)
    Used when net new instances of IBM programs such as CICS, DB2, IMS, MQ, or WebSphere Application Server are added in support of a new application not previously running on a mainframe server
    -       z Systems Workload Pricing for Cloud (zWPC)
    Used when IBM programs such as CICS, DB2, IMS, MQ, or WebSphere Application Server are processing transactions from net new public cloud applications

    The three have in common that they may reduce the cost of growth for these target applications by potentially reducing the reported peak capacity values for sub-capacity charges. This remains a constant throughout : it must have an impact on year peak reporting, otherwise you’ll see no benefit for your software cost.

    Integration of new workloads into your existing environment is one thing, distinguishing which of the workload is new (e.g. mobile “coming from phones or tablets”) is another thing. So, just in case you started to think that I exaggerated at the beginning and you think software pricing isn’t all that complicated, let me explain how Mobile Workload Pricing can influence your reported peak and how the workload is recognized as ‘mobile’ workload. This gives me the opportunity to illustrate all the mechanisms I talked about earlier.

    Here’s an illustration on MWP

    Click on image for larger version

    1. Let’s assume that we are talking about the 4hr rolling average peak for this LPAR. Normally your SCRT tool would report a peak 4hr rolling average of 1.500 MSU. That is, 1.500 for z/OS and 300 for CICS. Maybe this customer is using a zIIP which could already have an influence on the reported peak that would otherwise perhaps have been 1.800 MSUs.
    2. For CICS, as we already indicated, 300MSU is reported. That means that for z/OS you will pay for 1.500 MSUs and for CICS you will pay 300 MSUs. Other softwares like DB2 have their own reporting but let’s assume they have the same MSUs as z/OS.
    3. Now you have to determine which part of CICS is used for Mobile Transactions and which part is not. This can be a particularly difficult one, since the same transaction might be executed many times, but it can originate from a mobile app or perhaps also from a plain and simple terminal. This is something a customer has to agree upon with IBM and it’s based upon e.g. specific fields of SMF records
    4. Based on that, you come to the conclusion that 200 out of the 300 MSUs that are reported by CICS actually have a mobile origin.
      Well, you get a reduction of 60% on that part of the CICS workload reducing that part of 200 MSUs to 80 MSUs.
    5. The good news is that for that LPAR, all the software in that LPAR, including z/OS and DB2 get the same reduction. This means that the reported 1.500 MSUs is lowered to 1.380 MSUs.
    6. The rest is BAU (Business As Usual), you can use this to determine the peak for that month. It is e.g. possible that at another moment your z/OS reports 1.400 MSUs at a moment that no mobile workload enters the system. This would mean that for that month your peak will be at 1.400 MSUs.
    Well, this little example concludes our short walk through Software Pricing history. I might just add one source of information. There’s a very elaborate IBM internet page that explains you utterly everything about software pricing you ever wanted or, perhaps, didn’t want to know. It’s all there for you.

    (This was also published in our Realdolmen z Systems newsletter)

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Red Alert - IMS V12, V13 or V14 - potential for IMS to write incorrect log data

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


    IMS V12, V13 or V14 - potential for IMS to write incorrect log data and/or over-write 64-bit (key 7) common storage which might belong to another address space.

    Users Affected:

    Users of IMS that are on V12 or later,
    • who are using log buffers in above-the-bar storage (BUFSTOR=64), or
    • have callers who supply an above-the-bar log record to the IMS Logger, such as:
    •       IMS 64-bit Fast Path buffer manager
            Installation-written or vendor-written software


    The IMOVE macro (used by the IMS Logger) uses 32-bit instructions to advance the addresses of the source and target destinations. If the address being advanced is a 64-bit address which crosses a 4GB boundary, then the updated address is incorrect since only the low-half of the address is updated.

    The two areas of IMS that are exposed to this are the IMS Logger and the 64-bit Fast Path buffer manager.

    The IMS Logger is exposed to the problem if the storage allocated for the log buffers crosses a 4GB boundary. If this is the case, a log record will contain inaccurate data and an attempt will be made to inadvertently write to another location in memory. If this location is key 7, the data will be overwritten; if it is not, IMS will ABEND0C4.

    The 64-bit Fast Path buffer manager is exposed to the problem if its BPND5 area crosses a 4GB boundary. To encounter the problem, not only would the area have to cross a 4GB boundary, but log record data must exist in the location where the boundary is crossed.

    Recommended Actions:

    (1) Determine exposure from IMS Logger or 64-bit Fast Path buffer manager
    The IMS Support Center is shipping a diagnostic utility as a ++USERMOD which will determine the exposure of a given IMS system. This can help a customer gauge the urgency for which they should take action, if any. The utility runs as a stand-alone batch job and determines:
    1. If the log buffers are above the bar, and if the storage allocated for the log buffers crosses a 4GB boundary.
    2. If the 64-bit Fast Path buffer manager is enabled, and if the storage area which might contain a log record crosses a 4GB boundary
    To download the utility, obtain it from:
    Directory: fromibm/im
    File name: IM97624A.trs

    The file contains ++USERMODs for IMS versions 12, 13, and 14. Instructions for running the utility are in a ++HOLD card along with its return codes.

    If a customer cannot (or does not wish to) run the utility, instructions for determining the exposure via a series of /DIAGNOSE commands are in the ++HOLD card.

    (2) Determine exposure from other programs which invoke the ILOG macro:
    Installation-written or vendor-written programs can detect if they pass log records which reside above the bar by searching for the flag PRMLL64 which is set by the invoker of ILOG in the ILOG parameter list.

    (3) Apply PTF if exposure is identified
    If an exposure is identified, the exposed IMS should be:
    1. Brought down cleanly (for example, with the /CHE FREEZE or /CHE DUMPQ commands)

    2. Cold start IMS with the PTF applied for the appropriate version. The PTFs can be downloaded from ShopZ and are:
    3. V12: UI42725 (APRA PI71688)
      V13: UI42726 (APAR PI71701)
      V14: UI42685 (APAR PI71702)
      A cold start is necessary to prevent the reading of potentially inaccurate log data.

    4. After all previously exposed IMS systems in a data sharing group are successfully started with the PTF applied, if there is the possibility of needing to run a database recovery before regularly scheduled image copies will be taken, it is recommended that image copies be taken of all appropriate databases. This eliminates the possibility of reading potentially corrupt log data during a recovery.

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