Tuesday, June 26, 2007

IBM Redbooks in Second Life: Meet the Authors event

I wrote about Second Life a couple of weeks ago and this might be a nice occasion to pick up the thread again - or to step in. This is the second 'Meet the Authors' event in a couple of weeks. What's it about ? IBM brings out a new Redbook, in this case still a draft : 'WebSphere Portal for z/OS Version 6'. Up to now the Redbooks were announced in the Redbook Newsletter, you could read a short description at the page of the book itself and decide whether or not to read the book. With this particular redbook IBM is presenting "IBM WebSphere Portal Enable for z/OS Version , which is a combination of all the rich functionality provided by IBM WebSphere Portal for Multi Platforms and the Qualities of Service provided by the z/OS platform. The information in this book is based on experiences gained during an ITSO Proof of Concept in which we installed and configured WebSphere Portal on z/OS in a high available and secure environment".

What's new : you can now have a chat with the authors of the redbook in Second Life : "At this informal, online event in the Second Life virtual world, you can ask questions and discuss WebSphere Portal and Redbooks topics with subject matter experts while experiencing the unique atmosphere of the new virtual IBM Support Library in Second Life. You’ll also receive a free special edition T-shirt for your avatar and other freebies". Unfortunately you can't wear the T-shirt IRL (in real life). Still, I'm looking forward to attend one of these events, even if it's only out of shere curiosity. What's attractive is that the threshold to get into contact with the authors is lower than it would normally be. So I guess this might turn out te be a nice initiative.

The details : it takes place June 28, from 10:00 to 11:00 EDT (4PM-5PM in Belgium) in the IBM Support Library in Second Life. Check out all the details over here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Five Year March to Simplification ?

Last october IBM announced its Five Year March to Simplification with an investment of $100 million "to enable technology administrators and computer programmers to more easily program, manage and administer a mainframe system (...)".
Yesterday there was a press release that you might very well call the first visible result of this initiative : 'IBM Simplifies the Mainframe With New Consolidation and Security Software'. The subtitle indicates that this is an initiative that's intended to go beyond the scope of current mainframe shops. IBM "Launches "IBM Destination z" to Speed Migration to the Mainframe".

The announcement is twofold. Firstly, there's the 'software simplification' part, mainly focusing on enterprise management and security. It's e.g. the Consul suite announced as the Tivoli zSecure V1.8.1 suite. There's 'IT Value Based Analytics (ITVBA)' which is some kind of charge-back management ("relating IT costs to business services") software. And there's once again the positioning of z/VM as THE virtualization platform. I must admit, at first sight I'm not immediately seeing the benefit of these in terms of simplification towards "managing and administering a mainframe system".

Secondly, there's IBM Destination z. IBM calls it "an online meeting place (available at www.ibm.com/systems/destinationz) for customers, systems integrators, IBM Business Partners, software vendors and academic institutions to connect with each other and with mainframe experts, access development tools and the latest mainframe solutions. IBM Destination z provides links to platform economics -- such as total cost of ownership tools -- and case histories that reveal financial and business benefits (...)".

Again the focus is much more on 'simplifying' your 'IT environment' in terms of consolidating distributed systems to the mainframe platform and offering information to the SMB companies about the assets of using the mainframe platform. It's a valuable initiative, that's for sure. But I personally expected the simplification initiative to cover other grounds. I expected to see some real simplification in terms of mainframe system administration like e.g. the promised new versions of 'msys for setup' and 'msys for operations' - as was announced at first. You can read some quotes of that first announcement over here. I have the impression IBM is starting off with the second step of the process, which would've been lots easier and more attractive if they had first implemented their initial promises. Correct me if I'm wrong !

Monday, June 18, 2007

Webcasts and Teleconferences

I would like to draw your attention to some Webcasts and Teleconferences - especially because there are a couple of them about IMS and IMS is not that often in the spotlights. IBM actually has a page listing upcoming webcasts and upcoming teleconferences. About the timing, most mention EDT, which has a six hour time difference with Belgium and its neighbouring countries. Most of the time they are organized in the morning so that it's late afternoon over here. Here they are :
For most of those you'll also find a replay.
So it might be interesting to check out previous webcasts and teleconferences.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Redbook : DB2 9 for z/OS Technical Overview

I don't know if all readers of this blog are familiar with the work of Frank Zappa. No, he's not a system engineer or a mainframe guru, but a musician. Every time I start a topic on DB2, one particular song of his comes to my mind : "You are what you is". That's exactly the reason why I'm paying more attention to DB2 than e.g. to Websphere. I've been into DB2 programming and DB2 adminstration for almost 20 years now. So, allthough most of my time goes to System z presales, I'm still 'dba-ing' from time to time and following the scene closely.
So here's 'DB2 9 for z/OS Technical Overview' a redbook (draft) giving you an overview of the new DB2 version for z/OS. "Its scope is to help DB2 for z/OS users understand the functions offered by DB2 9, justify their investment in installing or migrating, and start planning for prerequisites in exploiting the key new capabilities". As I was writing this post, I saw Willie Favero had already covered it too in his blog, and according to him it's not a draft anymore, as it's nowhere mentioned in the book itself.
Well it's nearly 600 pages but it looks quite thorough. I've just browsed through the XML section and it gives lots of useful information and examples going through every detail. I think, this will become a valuable work of reference.

Redbook : Implementing Rexx Support in SDSF

Dolmen is hosting the three-monthly meeting of the Belgian GSE (Guide Share Europe) zOS working group. The latest was last week and we also had a 'z/OS 1.9 Preview' presentation. If you're interested you can find it (amongst some other presentations) on the download page of the Belgian GSE z/OS Working group site. One of the things that was mentioned was the new System REXX. You can now run REXX outside of TSO via programming interface or operator command. One of the uses of System REXX is that the Health Checker now support checks written in System REXX.
The redbook 'Implementing REXX support in SDSF' (still a draft) how REXX support has been added to SDSF in z/OS 1.9. "This function provides the ability to access SDSF panel data through REXX variables. In addition, the data can be modified in a manner similar to SDSF action characters and overtypes. SYSOUT data sets can be browsed using EXECIO or printed using SDSF functions. This book describes the new support and provides sample REXX execs that exploit the new function." The Redbook provides lots of samples so that you can immediately (well, not before september) try out lots of "real-world tasks related to operations, systems programming, system administration, and automation".

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Software withdrawal IBM System z Products

Yesterday IBM announced a list of products that will be withdrawn from marketing (WDFM).
Regarding the operating systems z/VSE 3.1 will be WDFM on May 31, 2008. But perhaps more important : z/OS.e 1.8 - as you know this is the last version of z/OS.e - will be WDFM October 22, 2007. If I'm not mistaken, that's about a month later than z/OS 1.8 itself. So what's the planning for z/OS.e ?
  • March 31, 2007 : Withdrawal from service of z/OS.e V1.4 and z/OS.e V1.5
  • September 30, 2007 : Withdrawal from service of z/OS.e V1.6
  • September, 2008 : Planned withdrawal from service of z/OS.e V1.7
  • September, 2009 : Intended withdrawal from service of z/OS.e V1.8
As we all know, time flies by : so there's about 2 years left to transfer to zNALC pricing.

Monday, June 4, 2007

IBM and Second Life

A couple of weeks ago IBM published a press announcement about opening a Business Center in Second Life, where you would be able to go through the whole purchasing process up to the point where the contracts are signed. Are mainframers supposed to know what Second Life is ? Well, I’ve got two adolescent sons walking around the house and it’d been in the news a couple of times. So, until now, I was at least aware of its existence.

In short Second Life is a completely virtual world, which, as I came to find out, is really huge. People are leading – as the name suggests – a ‘second’ completely virtual ‘life’. And leading such a virtual life seems to be very attractive as about 6 million people are signed up in Second Life and there are usually some 30.000 people online. So, why not put up a virtual Branch Office of IBM.

But why did IBM put up a Business Center in a world I mainly associated with free time and gaming ? My mistake, I found out that lots of companies are having locations in Second Life and that IBM really has a vast representation over there. Name a lab, it’s there : Hursley, Boeblingen . . . Name a country : IBM Italy, IBM Benelux . . . it’s all there. So, IBM must have a solid belief that Second Life is really adding value to their business. And more than 200 IBMers are active in Second Life.

Of course I had to go and see for myself and perhaps meet with the IBM staff of this Center in person. So I made an account (MarcW Writer – you have to pick your lastname from a list) and I set off for my first virtual journey. Actually that wasn’t so difficult. The announcement gives the SLURL (Second Life URL) for this Business Center. You’re immediately teleported (hey, it’s a virtual world) to the entrance of the Business Center. I had some trouble finding my way at first, but after a while I arrived at the heart of the center. Indeed, some IBM people were present. I had a little chat with Takeshi Sautereau, who showed me around a bit and whose task it is to help clients, answer their questions, give them the necessary information . . . So say hello from me to Takeshi when you get over there. He complimented me on my blog, by the way. So even in virtual life, my reputation was already running ahead of me ;).

I went back a couple of times wandering through the Redbook library, a virtual museum, the meeting rooms and even some large conference rooms, but you cannot say it was very crowded at those places. I didn’t meet any Benelux people in the Benelux area. So, though I can see the potential of it all, I’m still puzzled at where this will lead to. I also talked to Maximiliano Ducatillon (IBM) and he pictured the center as an alternative means to meet customers. He will invite me to the next conferences because I really would like to see some more people over there. I’ll keep you informed.

What can I say, I’ll have another go at it, but for the moment I’m mostly confused and wondering whether ‘real’ clients with ‘real’ IBM contacts, will really find it a benefit to go and do business or even find information in this ‘virtual world’ ? But then again, it also took quite some time for the internet to get incorporated into business life.

I’m sure I will get back to this subject, when I’m virtually grown up – no pun intended ;), I think.

So, if you didn't get the message :
just register and go and take a look for yourself !
Any comments about experiences are welcome !

Friday, June 1, 2007

Mainframe emulation : a sequel

'Gaming and mainframing on a PS3' might've been a bit of a provocative title, but this mainframe emulation problem is something that really concerns all mainframe developers ànd users. Even if you, as a user, have no intention to use a FLEX-ES system, the problem might still come back and haunt you.
Just as I had published my post last Wednesday, I received Cheryll Watson's free 'Cheryll's List'. If you don't receive it, you can subscribe to it over here. Cheryll gives a comprehensive insight view to the matter. When IBM doesn't offer a solution soon, then I'm afraid that one of her conclusions will be more than correct : "So you might ask, "What does this have to do with me?" If IBM continues on this path, small software vendors will either have to raise their prices considerably or will leave the software business. That will provide less competition and fewer choices for all z/OS users. These negative consequences will be bad for the entire platform, no matter how large or small your operation".
You can read the entire article over here.