Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year

Well here's my last post for this year. I won't be posting for a couple of days, but my year review is still there for those in need of some extra reading material.

We don't know what the next year will bring us but I surely wish every one the best for 2011 : A Happy New Year and good health to you and your family.

Thanks to all my readers for stopping by so regularly, to all the people who linked to this blog and to every one who gave me great feedback during 2010.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Come Together

Here's a little video from youtube to close down the year. It's been there for a while already, but it was the first time I noticed it. Just have a look, it'll give you a good feeling to close the year . . . and start again in 2011 . . . with System z or zEnterprise ! ! !

Monday, December 27, 2010

Looking back on 2010 - Year Review

Well, another year's gone by and it's time to take a last look back on 2010. To us mainframers, I guess the main event was the announcement of the new zEnterprise this summer as it introduces a whole new concept to the (not only) mainframe world. Still the year started out rather calmly as we did not really see any significant announcements or things happening in January. Or we could mention the ever continuing legal saga between Neon and IBM over Neon's zPrime (you can find a little update over here).

But February already makes up for lack of interesting news. First of all, DB2 10 goes beta and there's a preview announcement of z/OS 1.12 and also an enhanced z/OSMF 1.12. Then there's ProtecTIER Deduplication Gateway, the virtual tape solution that emulates tape drives and writes the data to an attached disk array, which now comes available for System z as well. And, strangely enough I also pay some attention to the Power7 engine, allthough I didn't know then, it would become part of a new mainframe announcement, later on this year. Next to that, we see the first signs that the DS8100, DS8300 as well as the DS6000 will gently be replaced by the DS8700 in 2010.

If you want to read some more on ProtectTIER deduplication for mainframe, I payed some more attention to it in a March post. In that month there was also the creation of the new GSE Belux site, which is now used by almost every working group and contains lots of interesting information. We also see that z/OS 1.12 will no longer be available on 34xx tapes.

In April there are quite some storage announcements. In the year of its 10th anniversary, LTO comes with the fifth generation with 1.5TB of native capacity and up to 140 MB/sec native transfer rates. We also have a new DS8700 announcement with 600GB FC drives, 2TB SATA drives. But certainly the most important part of the announcement is Easy Tier with its automatic and manual modes. It takes care of automatic relocation of hot data to SSD drives and it also makes lots of volume migrations non-disruptive. Next to that ProtecTIER now offers many-to-one replication and XIV introduces 2TB SATA drives hereby doubling its capacity.

May shows us it's becoming a habit to add 2 years of extra (priced) support called Lifecycle Extension to the z/OS version that will go out of support in September, so this time for z/OS 1.9. It's also becoming clear that DS6800, DS8100 and DS8300 will be phased out. By the end of 2010 limited upgrades and disk types remain available. And as most of the customers are starting to pay (heavily) on maintenance by now, the message is clear, no ? We see a steady capacity growth of the TS7740 en TS7720 Virtualization Engines, too. BMC also did some catching up with the announcement that quite some additional products (focusing on DB2 utilities) will start using the zIIP from now on.

In June we learn about a new APAR (APAR PM12256) that should allow you to improve the redirection of DRDA workload over TCP/IP to the zIIP from some 45%-50% to about 60%. And you know what : it actually did ! Furthermore VTFM (Virtual Tape Facility for Mainframe Systems) is now also supporting zIIP for most of its workload. VTFM acts as a virtual tape library kind of like CA-VTape that already supported the zIIP pretty much from the beginning. IBM also announced the End of Marketing of their smaller TS3400 Tape Library without offering a replacement.

In July IBM managed to re-arrange my vacation plans by announcing the zEnterprise on July 22, 2010. A small offer for "A new dimension in computing". The zEnterprise did not only bring us a new mainframe (z196), it also introduced the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) and the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager. Together they form the zEnterprise System. For the moment the zBX contains Power7 Blades and/or the Smart Analytics Optimizer. The goal is to use the mainframe as a central system to manage the heterogeneous platforms which are connected to it. In the beginning we will be mainly talking about managing, setting up, monitoring and automating these systems. But in the end we should be talking about a common policy based Workload Management. This will be realized through the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager. Oh, and there was also a new MLC pricing especially for the z196 : AWLC (Advanced Workload License Charge). The larger the customer, the higher the benefit. There's no longer a so-called technology dividend.

August and September were pretty calm after all the announcements in July. I even forgot to mention software announcements on z/OS 1.12, z/OSMF 1.12, z/VM 6.1, DS8700 (z/OS Distributed Data Backup) and PL/I for z/OS V4.1. Some of them were discussed in our latest Realdolmen System z e-zine which also came out in August. PL/I for example should now use less resources than its predecessor as it's using the new instructions on the z196. This seems to become a goal for IBM when launching new software : better performance without increased CPU usage. Which often used to be the opposite in the past.
The Total Solution event for System z organized at the IBM forum was a success and will surely be repeated in 2011.

October was also quite eventful this year. First there were some software announcements like z/VSE 4.3 and the IMS 12 Quality Partnership program (QPP). But the most important software announcement was of course the announcement of DB2 10. And here I continue the story I started with PL/I : "Just by REBINDing you should obtain out-of-the-box CPU savings ranging from 5% to 10% for traditional workloads up to 20% for some specific workloads". Read all the further details over here. Oh, and it's possible to migrate straight from DB2 V8.
On the hardware part there's more exciting news : the DS8800 is announced. I would summarize by saying : faster processor, faster connectivity and larger capacity on a smaller (hence more cost-efficient) footprint. But the message is clear : despite everything said and written, the DS8000 is here to stay for quite some time. Continuity prevails.
Less exciting news on the other hand : zBX will not become available for the z10.

Actually, November and December were rather quiet months. There was an announcement of a price increase for DB2 V8. Next to that there were also some updates on the status of the zPrime and TurboHercules cases, not that there was suddenly anything spectacular to mention.

Conclusion ?
Well, actually just some general remarks. First of all not only LTO had its 10th anniversary this year. Linux on z was also introduced ten years ago in 2000. And I think, when we see the zEnterprise today, that it's partially building on the success of the IFL and the other specialty engines. I'd say Smart Analytics Optimizer is the first System z specialty engine out of the box. So I can only fully support the direction IBM is taking with this zEnterprise. And of course the question raises : will we see a zEnteprise BC next year ? I guess so.

Second, what about cloud ? In your blog, not very present it is, Yoda would say. Well, it actually is, I think, I just don't like the term itself and I still have the feeling it's just a new name for things we've been doing for years (decennia). So I'd like to repeat a quote from James Governor's blog on this : "The next time someone tries to take you through 30 slides explaining the cloud you can just nod sagely, and say… “ohhhh. you mean servers, middleware and apps. Yeah I get it".”

And thirdly I would like to conclude with a trend I certainly like a lot. IBM has shown over the past year that it's thinking cross-brand and cross-product more than ever. Take e.g. StorWize : it introduces Easy Tier from the DS8000 and it takes the easy-to-use graphical interface of the XIV. Taking the strong points of one technology and not being afraid to use them in another product may continue to deliver some promising results in the future. Need I mention the zEnterprise in this context ?

Well, that's it for 2010. Looking forward to 2011 and I hope you will join me in the coming year too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

IBM Real-time compression

If I got this correctly this is how it went :
  • IBM develops a storage product, tries to find a name for it and finds out the name is already taken by another company
  • In the mean time IBM is interested in the compression technology of Storwize and takes over the company
  • Hey, Storwize was the name they had in mind from the beginning for their newly developped product. Now they can actually use this name
  • IBM launches StorWize V7000 and guess what, this has absolutely nothing to do with the former Storwize real-time compression.
  • What about the former Storwize realtime compression then ? Well, how about a new name for this one : IBM real-time compression. What do you think of that ? A new name for the product formerly known as Storwize (*) which has absolutley nothing to do with the new Storwize. Got it ?
So IBM has made two announcements lately on real-time compression : 'IBM Real-time Compression Appliance supports IBM Compression Software (ZG10-0406)' and 'IBM Compression Software provides Random Access Compression Engine (RACE) function for the IBM Real-time Compression Appliance (ZP10-0587)'.

This is some information you can find on the IBM Real-time compression Appliance STN6500 page :
"IBM Real-time Compression is a new storage efficiency solution for primary, active data

IBM Real-time Compression Appliances are the only storage compression solutions that can shrink primary, online data in real time, without performance degradation. By significantly reducing storage requirements, organizations can keep up to five times more information online for analytics, use the improved efficiency to reduce storage costs, or achieve a combination of greater capacity and reduced cost.

By transparently compressing primary data by up to 80 percent, IBM Real-time Compression helps control the growth of storage, reducing the amount of storage to be managed, powered and cooled".
You can find more information on the IBM Real-time compression page and (why not) on the former Storwize site. Or here's a nice introductory video, too :

(*) OK, for those not getting the reference : still remaining a Prince fan too. Prince refused to use his name for a couple of years due to troubles with record companies. So, people referred to him as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince or TAFKAP. Confusing ? Not at all !

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No more SSDs on DS8100-DS8300

End of the year is always a busy period when you're in the IBM business. Allthough I guess it's everywhere pretty much the same. So I finally found the time to have a look at the December announcements from IBM and here's a first : 'Hardware withdrawal: Select IBM System Storage DS8000 series features and Licensed Machine Code 5.0 - Replacements available (ZG10-0400)'

Summarizing : all 73GB and 146GB Solid State Disk Drives are withdrawn from marketing. As of today, they can no longer be ordered on any DS8000 machine. On the DS8700 the drive sets and half drive sets will be replaced by the 600GB SSD drive sets. For the DS8100 and the DS8300 no replacements are offered. That means that on these machines the only drives you can still order are the 300GB and the 450GB Fiber Channel drive sets.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Redbooks, Redpapers, Redpieces, drafts, there's not just Redbooks, as you all know of course. But have you heard already about Redguides ? Perhaps not.
"IBM Redguides focus on the business view of technology that solves business issues, provides business value, or enables competitive advantage by applying existing technologies or exploring a roadmap for emerging technologies."
Redguides are more written from a business perspective and it's already indicated in the subtitle : 'for business leaders'. They also start each time with an 'executive summary'. Does that make them less valuable for the technical guys ? No, just the opposite as it puts everything into a broader business perspective. On the one hand, it takes a step back from the really technical aspects but on the other hand it gives you a good general introduction to the topic which is discussed. So, you can use them as introduction to fields you're not particularly familiar with or it might give you extra, non-technical arguments when you have to convince your management about a certain technology.

Is this all too theoretical for you ? I'll give you a couple of examples of Redguides.
  • Using IBM System z As the Foundation for Your Information Management Architecture
    I already mentioned this redguide when talking about the Smart Analytics Optimizer. Just take a look at the content and you'll know what I mean : Information management challenges, Strengths of IBM System z for information management, Exploring the IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer for DB2 for z/OS V1.1. As I said : less technical, good overview.
You want some more, then have a look at these ones : IBM Cognos Business Intelligence V10.1: Intelligence Unleashed, Ready to Access DB2 for z/OS Data on Solid-State Drives and IBM System Storage Business Continuity Solutions Overview.

As I always say : just check them out !

Friday, December 10, 2010

Interactive DB2 for z/OS Catalog Reference

In the days I was still a DBA, every DBA had one right behind his back up on the wall : the DB2 Catalog Poster. The last one I've seen was one for DB2 V8. But lately I came across some references to this interactive, online poster, apparantly from zSystems. So here are the links : DB2 catalog V8 and DB Catalog V9. You can swith from one to another if you want to compare certain catalog tables or columns. I guess, hope, there'll soon be a Version 10 too.

Curious to know whether there is still a paper version, I started googling about a bit and came across these pages.
  • CA Technologies still has a CA Catalog Poster for DB2 9 for z/OS page where you can order the poster for DB2 9.
  • BMC mails you a poster and a cd with a DB2 9 for z/OS Catalog Tables Interactive Guide. You can request them over here.
I haven't seen any references to DB2 10 posters yet, but I'll keep you informed as soon as I come across them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sampling Techdocs - October/November 2010

Here we are with some new documents from TechDocs I recently came across or found while browsing through the latest publications.
  • White paper : DS8000 FlashCopy usage in DFSMSdss
    This White Paper shows some usage examples for FlashCopy in a z/OS environment using DFSMSdss. It contains lots of illustrations and examples. Definitely worth a look.
  • Presentations : IBM® zEnterprise™ System Network Virtualization, Management, and Security (Parts 1 and 2 - Overview and Details)
    In fact I can be very short on this one : everything you always wanted to know about networking on the zEnterprise. Or as the abstract says : "Part 1 presents a high-level overview of the networking topics surrounding the new architecture. (...) Part 2 presents a more detailed view of the underlying architecture, its routing and security structures, and some of its software definitions. Part 2 is suitable for a technical audience that wants to understand more about the design, positioning, and implementation of the new architecture."
  • White paper : Beginners Guide to Coding Java Batch Jobs
    This white paper introduces you to programming Java Batch applications, it explains the differences with COBOL batch and gives you a step by step example for coding a 'Hello World' Java Batch application.
Well that's it for now. As I always say : just check them out !

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Status on zPrime and TurboHercules

Ok, I just mention this for people who are interested in these legal cases. Let's say I'm just watching this from a distance. Still, I start wondering, are some of you people actually using these products for the moment. Or, as one of the articles says, is time really on IBM's side ?

Here's the article on zPrime : 'Neon zPrime, IBM battle in Limbo'.
The article discusses the lawsuit in the States, the situation in the EC (which might be more favorable to Neon) and the fact that the genie is out of the box. The author indicates that even if Neon loses the battle with zPrime, others will follow and will eventually have a chance to be more successful.

Here's the TurboHercules article : 'Microsoft Quietly Invests in IBM Emulator TurboHercules'.
Well, the title says it all. As Microsoft earlier supported T3, it now also (financially) support TurboHercules. You can find all the details in the article itself.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fellow bloggers

It's easy to follow blogs when you subscribe to their feeds and follow them via Google Reader or Outlook or a desktop application like FeedDemon. Over the last couple of months I added some to my list and I just wanted to tell you about a couple of them, because I think they give some really good information on the subjects they're writing about. I must say most of them are storage-related and not all of them focus on mainframe or mainframe related storage. But hey, we've got to keep an open mind, no ?
  • DancingDinosaur - Mainframe computing in the 21st century
    This is a blog by "Alan Radding (...) a 20-year IT industry analyst and journalist covering mainframe, midrange, PC, web, and cloud computing". The latest posts are mainly about the z196. Don't expect any technical posts (hey, that's why I'm here for) but Alan writes about new workloads, Linux on mainframe, IBM's strategy concerning mainframe ...
  • The Storage Buddhist
    "Philosophical ramblings on storage by a guy who would really rather be sailing. Jim Kelly is a storage architect currently working for IBM New Zealand, in the mighty Pacific Ocean". Don't get this wrong : here are some very good posts with recent subjects like where and when to use SSDs, StorWize, Easy Tier, Quality of Service on StorWize and SVC ...
  • Anthony's Blog: Using System Storage - The view from down under
    "Anthony Vandewerdt works for IBM Australia as a Storage Solutions Specialist. His goal is to share his knowledge and experience of using IBM Storage solutions and learn more along the way"
    I like this one, along with the next one, a lot ! Anthony writes about his own experiences and this definitely includes quite some posts on (installing) XIV. Another nice feature is that we regularly get updates from the IBM support site on every kind of storage.
  • Storage CH Blog - an (IBM) Storage-related Blog
    This blog is by Roger Luethy, Storage Specialist at IBM Switzerland. The focus is mainly on providing information on anything storage related. It has a very wide coverage on redbooks, installations, announcements, other interesting blog posts, competition ... Roger is quite prolific following everything very closely.
So, as I always say : do check them out !