Thursday, August 27, 2009

Putting a new face on z/OS

I borrowed the title of this post from an article on z/OS in a CCR2 newsletter dating from 2005. Oddly enough, that almost exactly matches the title of the announcement of z/OSMF : 'IBM z/OS Management Facility V1.11 -- A new face for z/OS (ZP09-0276)'. I can't resist to give you a quote from that article.
"z/OS users today must master an assortment of user interface (UI) styles: TSO command line, ISPF panels, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), even Web-style UIs. To complete a task such as applying service, they often must interact with different UIs while flipping through a variety of publications. That's today. On the horizon is a new z/OS management console that will be headquarter central for z/OS management tasks".
So, the goal was "to simplify and modernize z/OS management for 'zNextGen' - the new generation of IBM System z9 and eServer zSeries IT professionals" in order to "make life easier for z/OS novices and experts alike".

A year later we had the announcement of 'IBM's Five year march to Mainframe Simplification'. The goal was "to enable technology administrators and computer programmers to more easily program, manage and administer a mainframe system -- as well as to increasingly automate the development and deployment of applications for the mainframe environment". Areas on which to focus were automated configuration checking, modernizing the mainframe user interface, improving software asset management technologies and modernizing the mainframe's development environment with visual tools. If we look at these targets wen can definitely say that progress has been made. Look e.g. at the development environment. But there's still room for improvement.

So, now, here's z/OSMF (z/OS Management Facility). It's "a new product for z/OS that provides support for a modern, Web-browser based management console for z/OS (...) The z/OS Management Facility is intended to enable system programmers to more easily manage and administer a mainframe system by simplifying day to day operations and administration of a z/OS system. More than just a graphical user interface, the z/OS Management Facility is intelligent. Automated tasks can help reduce the learning curve and improve productivity". It surely offers some interesting features and is definitely worth trying out. An example ? "Tasks taking up to 20 minutes, such as collecting and sending dump data, can now take as little as 30 seconds (or 8 key clicks) with z/OS Management Facility". This looks impressive and as far as I've heard, it actually is.

Here's an image of the browser user interface :

Click on picture for larger view in new window

For the moment you see four functionalities on the tree menu on the left :
  • Configuration contains the Configuration Assistant task which provides a guided interface for configuring TCP/IP policy-based networking functions.
  • Problem Determination contains the Incident Log task which provides a consolidated list of problems, along with the details and the diagnostic data captured and saved with each problem. It also facilitates sending the diagnostic data for further diagnosis
  • Links contains links to sites for system management tools and information. Some initial useful links are provided
  • z/OSMF Administration contains administrative tasks that allow you to manage z/OSMF users, roles, and links
I took this from the latest z/OS Hot Topics Newsletter which has several introductory articles on z/OSMF. There's also a z/OSMF Web page and at the bottom of it you'll also find the Program Directory and the User's Guide.

Oh, and have I told you that it's completely free. It's sold as IPLA software with a cost of zero dollars and a yearly S&S of also zero dollars, which is pretty much the same in euro. So, there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't give it a try !

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The zPrime discussion - Violation vs. Exploitation ?

Here's an interesting blog entry at Data Direct which was brought to my attention by Mike Nelson : 'Violation vs. Exploitation: IBM Clarifies Authorized Use of IBM Specialty Engines/Processors' by Gregg Willhoit, Chief Architect at Progress DataDirect.

There was already a letter form Mark Anzani (IBM) circulating regarding IBMs position towards zPrime, which you can also find on the DataDirect blog. Apparantly Gregg Willhoit asked for more information and he now reproduces a new letter by Mark Anzani on his blog. You can read it over here.

I think the message remains the same : "non-Eligible Workload running on the Specialty Engine will cause the software running on the Specialty Engine to be chargeable" (first letter) allthough perhaps a little bit more explicitely stated in the second letter : "To be clear, if customers use Specialty Processors/Engines to process workloads beyond the IBM authorizations, then customers must pay the hardware, software and maintenance pricing associated with full CP capacity". In addition Mark Anzani says "In particular, IBM sells (...) MES upgrades for customers who wish to convert Specialty Engines/Processors to CP capacity in order to execute general purpose workloads".

Still, I'm curious how this will turn out in the long run. Aren't you ?

IBM Announcement - Enterprise Cobol for z/OS V4.2

Almost two years after Enterprise Cobol for z/OS V4.1 IBM yesterday announced 'IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, V4.2 (ZP09-0281)'. It becomes available on August 28, 2009. Emphasis is on enhancements to XML parsing and usablility improvements.

The highlights
  • Further enhancements to XML parsing using the z/OS XML System Services parser
  • A new facility that lets users customize message severity
  • A new compiler option, BLOCK0, lets programs take advantage of system-determined block size for QSAM output files
  • COBOL user-defined words such as data names and program names can now include the underscore character (_)
  • Compiler listings display CICS options in effect
  • Enterprise COBOL applications using object-oriented syntax for Java interoperability can now run with Java 5 or Java 6
Enterprise Cobol V4.2 requires z/OS 1.9 or later.

Customers running on earlier versions should know that V3.3 was End of Support as of April 30, 2007. The versions 3.4 and 4.1 haven't been given an End of Support date yet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Red Alert for z/OS 1.8, 1.9 and 1.10 with fix and HSM PATCH enabled for OA22507

Here's a new Red Alert :

Possible data loss for z/OS 1.8, 1.9 and 1.10 with fix and HSM PATCH enabled for OA22507


Only users of HSM with the PATCH enabled for APAR OA22507 to change GDG scratch processing during migration are affected. With this function enabled HSM may erroneously invalidate data sets which would prevent the data sets from being moved to a new tape volume during RECYCLE processing. The data may be lost if no backup exists.

Please see APAR OA30149 for additional information and actions to determine exposure.

Recommended Actions:
Please remove the PATCH to prevent the problem until fix for OA30149 is available and can be installed.

If you want to have en overview of all past Red Alerts, then take a look over here. You can also subscribe on the same page so you'll be notified by mail of any future Red Alert.

Monday, August 24, 2009

z/OS V1.11 - Smart, adaptive, trusted, efficient

Last week IBM announced z/OS V1.11 : 'z/OS V1.11 - Smart, adaptive, trusted, efficient (ZP09-0277)'. I'm not going through all the details here as it's far too extensive. So I will focus on a couple of details I find interesting and give you some links to more information.

First of all there's quite some attention to simplified management which seems to be a new step in the Five Year March to Simplification which was announced in 2006. However, I'll come back to that in a next post about the new z/OS Management Facility.

There's a couple of things to tell about the specialty engines too. First "DB2 utilities sorting fixed-length records using IBM's memory object sorting technique, especially LOAD, REORG, and RUNSTATS utilities, will have a portion of the workload offloaded to a zIIP". But there's more : "z/OS V1.11 is enhanced with a new function that can enable System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) eligible workloads to run on System z Integrated Information Processors (zIIPs). This function can enable you to run zIIP- and zAAP-eligible workloads on the zIIP". Yes, that's right, if you have no specialty engines for the moment or you only have a zIIP, you can run zIIP-eligible ànd zAAP eligible workload by acquiring or using just one zIIP. That might be good news for smaller customers. It makes you wonder about the difference between zAAP and zIIP and whether the zAAP will eventually be phased out ?

Also take a look at the statements of direction. There are quite some of them. I just want to point out one, which will not affect that many customers, but still, I see some customers that will be affected : its the one stating to "discontinue delivery of software on 3480, 3480 Compressed (3480C), and 3490E tape media". There are alternatives of course with IBM strongly recommending to switch to Internet delivery when ordering z/OS products. If this is not an option IBM also intends to deliver on DVD media.

z/OS 1.11 will become available on September 25, 2009 and can be ordered from September 11, 2009 onwards. Last possible order date for z/OS 1.10 CBPDO or ServerPac is October 13, 2009.

And here are some additonal links to more information on z/OS 1.11

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mainframe going strong

OK, I know I don't have to convince you readers of this blog of the strengths of the mainframe. An often heard comment during presentations or meetings is "I wish my management knew about this" or "tell that to my management". And that's exactly one of the difficulties we're often facing. More and more managers do not have a mainframe background any more. They definitely do not take it for granted to take the mainframe along in the equation. But the best advocates for the mainframe are the mainframe people themselves who have the most contact with their managers.

I think it still boils down to the remarks Marcel den Hartog made a couple of years ago in his presentation '10 Reasons to fall in love with the mainframe' which you can still download over here : 'Nice, but how do we tell the others ?'. I quote some of it :
This is all nice but . . .
  • New applications are often NOT developed on Mainframe
  • Mainframe people are not replaced when they retire
  • We do more with less, and less and less
  • We must promote our box AND ourselves more and better
  • We must emphasize the good things and make sure the “bad” things are seen in context (expensive is not always expensive…)
  • We have to think like “them”….
This is a nice starting point if you have to convince the 'others'.

So I thought I might also try and help a bit myself. In the three years I've been blogging now, I've also tried to put the mainframe strengths in the spotlight from time to time. So, all of my posts that might help you in your struggle to convince others about the mainframe are now labelled 'Mainframe going strong'. You can find all labels at the right hand side of the blog. Or just click here.

How did I come to this ?
Well, I saw two different sources telling me how great the mainframe is and how much it is still used and what an important workload is still running on the mainframe. And my reaction was, you don't have to convince me ! So I thought, why not put this all together so it can help you to convince your management with valuable arguments. The two sources ?
The first one is @MainframeZone on Twitter. OK, yes, I'm taking my daily look at Twitter too, nowadays. @MainframeZone has posted, euh, tweeted about some very nice positive articles etc. on the mainframe.
The second one is yet another survey from CA (next to the ones I mentioned before). Here's the title of the press release summing up the content of this survey : "Survey Reveals Mainframe Persists as Cornerstone of Multi-Tier Enterprise Computing - Respondents Cite Reliability, Resilience, and Security Among Platform’s Most Compelling Advantages". The survey results can be found over here.

And while I'm at it : don't forget this all time favorite : 'The Dynosaur Myth'. If you don't know this one, you surely have to check it out. The last update is from five years ago, but lots of it is still very relevant.

Well, I hope this will help some people convincing their management to re-think the role of the mainframe. Go on, go tell the others now !

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Update Joint IBM - RedHat - RealDolmen event

Hi, I'm back in Blogtown after a couple of weeks of vacation. And I'm starting with an update on my last post.

I told you about the joint IBM - RedHat event about 'Server consolidation on IBM System z with Red Hat Enterprise Linux' on September 3, 2009. RealDolmen was already involved but now it's officially an event 'in collaboration with RealDolmen'.

You can find the new RealDolmen invitation over here.

Since my last post was three weeks ago, I see that I have some catching up to do. I'm definitely going to talk about z/OS 1.11 and z/OSMF. I'm also going to put the agenda up to date as soon as possible.