Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fellow Bloggers : Mainframe Analytics

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a mainframe blog I hadn't seen before : Mainframe Analytics. Hey, a new mainframe blog, I mean, really new, because the first post was only written at the beginning of this year and it had this intriguing title 'What is a mainframe ?'. Now, finally, I was going to find out what a mainframe really was. Just kidding. Next in line 'Why do mainframes matter ?'. Hey, could we have a new advocate for the mainframe.

Well, as it turns out, yes and no. The writer of this blog is Reg Harbeck, which you may perhaps know from another blog I mentioned before : the CA Technologies' Exec I/O Mainframe blog. Come to think of it, most of the posts lately were by Marcel den Hartog and no longer by Reg Harbeck. Turns out Reg has left CA Technologies to start his own company. But, and we have an expression for this in Dutch, which I can only literally translate into (no doubt, bad) English : 'Blood crawls where it cannot go'. Meaning, if you have it in you, you won't be able to deny your own nature. So Reg, changed companies but not his fondness for the mainframe.

Do have a look at his blog. He's really setting up a nice introductory series on the mainframe. Could be interesting for anyone who wants to know more about the mainframe or for people who want to explain the strong points of the mainframe to others.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sampling Techdocs - November 2011-Janary 2012

Here I am again with another review of interesting TechDocs documents I came across while browsing through the latest publications. If you're completely unfamiliar to Techdocs, here's an introduction to it.
  • White paper : IBM System Storage DS8800 and DS8700 Performance with Easy Tier 3rd Generation
    Easy Tier 3rd generation "further expands Easy Tier to manage hybrid storage pools with up to three tiers including Solid State Drives (SSDs), Enterprise Disks, and Nearline Disks". But the paper is not only for people using hybrid pools : "Auto Rebalance has also been extended to include management of homogenous pools containing only a single tier of storage". Easy Tier 3 is available from DS8000 LIC Release 6.2.
  • Workshop material : WAS z/OS V8 Wildfire Workshop Material
    WebSphere Application Server for z/OS Version 8 was made available in 2011. It has many new features and functions associated with it, including updated open standard application interface specification support. This is the handout material of a 5-unit wildfire workshop on it. Units are 'Introduction and Overview', 'Administrative Model', 'The Split JVM Model', 'Accessing z/OS Data', 'WebSphere Optimized Local Adapters' and Hands-on lab instructions.
  • Technical Document : Using z/VM FBA Emulation in a Second-Level ID
    Starting point : "z/VM can access SCSI disks through the services of an I/O layer known as FBA Emulation, introduced with z/VM 5.1. FBA Emulation was added to z/VM to remove one of the \barriers to entry" for Linux on System z: ECKD DASD. With FBA Emulation, a site with no traditional mainframe installation can install and run z/VM and Linux guests without having to invest in mainframe DASD".
    "The z/VM FBA Emulation feature allows z/VM systems to access and use SCSI-over-FCPdisks via a SAN fabric. FBA Emulation is straightforward to use at a first-level system but complexity arises at second-level. This article presents a review of using FBA Emulation and the alternatives for using these disks in a second-level ID".
Well that's it for now. And, as I always say : just check them out !

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Try-before-you-buy edition of CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V4.2

I don't think I've seen something similar for CICS TS as offered in this new IBM announcement : 'IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS Developer Trial V4.2 delivers a 'try-before-you-buy' edition of CICS Transaction Server for z/OS (ZP12-0014)'.

As a matter of fact, it's nothing more or less than a try-before-you-buy license for CICS TS V4.2. Why would you want to do that ?
"It has a zero-cost license charge and does not initiate any Single Version Charging (SVC) period.

CICS TS Developer Trial is designed for customers who want to assess the value that could be gained from a CICS TS upgrade, before making an upgrade decision. This enables the evaluation of the latest CICS TS capabilities, in a non-production environment, without the prerequisite time and resources commitments required for a full production migration project".
This looks like a nice offer to me. And, to me, it seems to take away the pressure about getting into production before the end of your SVC period.

Of course "there are a number of imposed restrictions, in performance and capacity, licensing terms, and a fixed expiry date, that make CICS TS Developer Trial suitable only for use in non-production environments".
About the fixed expiry date, it provides "at least 90 days operation from the date of fulfillment. New releases can be installed to extend this period. There is no limit to the number of times CICS TS Developer trial can be reordered, installed and used". So this should be pretty flexible, no ?

Planned availability : January 27, 2012.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Webcast Series on the lastest Omegamon Technology from IBM

This looks like quite an interesting webcast series on Omegamon. I quote from the announcement page which you can find over here :
"Whether you’re an existing OMEGAMON® user, or you’re considering it, these webcasts will give you valuable information about greater visibility into the way services and applications are being executed across the enterprise. You’ll also learn how this helps you use fewer System z® resources and tackle enterprise-wide problems before they become outages. This webcast series is taught by subject matter experts from IBM Software Group who will share the most significant updates to the OMEGAMON product suite"
I'm just giving you the dates and titles of the sessions. Take a look over here for registration and more details on the content.

  • 2 February 2012, 11:00 am EST, 5:00 pm Brussels Time
    Get More From Your Mainframe with Proactive End-to-End Monitoring
    Speaker: Susan Rice, Tivoli Product Manager
  • 9 February 2012, 11:00 am EST, 5:00 pm Brussels Time
    Reduce Costs Based on Faster Problem Solving with Redesigned OMEGAMON
    Speaker: Richard Burford, Tivoli OMEGAMON Development
  • 16 February 2012, 11:00 am EST, 5:00 pm Brussels Time
    Tuning Tips Lower System z Costs with OMEGAMON Monitoring
    Speaker: Don Zeunert, OMEGAMON XE Performance and Tuning
  • 23 February 2012, 11:00 am EST, 5:00 pm Brussels Time
    Good News for Maintenance Windows: Install and Configure OMEGAMON Faster
    Speaker: Cecile Day, Tivoli Monitoring z/OS Installation and Configuration Developer
  • 8 March 2012, 11:00 am EST, 5:00 pm Brussels Time
    See Into the Heart of CICS and Resolve Problems Faster Across LPAR Boundaries
    Speaker: Mike Goodman, Software Product Manager, Tivoli Systems Management
  • 15 March 2012, 11:00 am EST, 5:00 pm Brussels Time
    The Critical Role of Service Management in Moving to Cloud on System z
    Speaker: Mike Baskey, Integration Architect and Chief Architect Management Standards
  • 22 March 2012, 11:00 am EST, 5:00 pm Brussels Time
    Shave Time Off Application and Service Delivery with Enhanced Event Management
    Speaker: James Moore, Product Manager, Tivoli Application Dependency Discovery Manager
This is an initiative from the IBM Systems Magazine.
As I always say, just check them out !

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A GSE z/OS Working Group Meeting through the eyes of students

Hogeschool Gent (HoGent) is one of the Belgian schools participating in the Academic Initiative program for System z. Teachers and students of the IT Department attended the latest GSE z/OS Working Group Meeting in December 2011 at our RealDolmen Headquarters (Presentations are here). Of course I was very curious to find out what their impressions were about such an event. A couple of them wrote down their experiences and their teacher, Angeline van Achter, was so kind to share them with me, and . . . allowed me to share them with you too.

Overall, the impressions are very positive. In general, the students had no real problems to follow the sessions. I thought, that e.g. 'Batch Modernization' would be a tough one but it was pretty understandable to them. I can only conclude from this that the course is quite thorough and really prepares them well for their future life in mainframe. And if you see through a presentation as not much more than a sales talk (which it actually was), you must be on the right track of becoming a real system engineer ;-)

Students also found a confirmation that mainframe is not dead at all and that it's adapting to modern life computing and even evolving more than they thought. But still more important to them were the contacts with this small but, as they stated, very open community, willing to share information and knowledge. People all know each other and where this was a bit intimidating at first, this really changed after a few coffee breaks, since many people engaged in conversations with them. Of course, they also were curious to find out why young people are choosing a mainframe career.

For most of them, the second half of the course is a practical training in a company. So they had a chance to meet their supervisors up front. They also found it interesting to meet other young people who did the same trajectory before them and who could already share their first year(s) of experience with them.

So, content and perhaps even more important, contacts with the people in the field, gave these students a good feeling about this event which bears repetition. So, I would say to them, feel free to come back and I'd also like to invite the other schools to join us at a future session . . .

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2012

Le nouveau Arcati Yearbook est arrivé and you can download it over here. It has every ingredient the previous issues had too : some articles, the usual vendor directory listing vendors, consultants and service providers in the mainframe world. The media guide points out some newsletters, magazines, blogs, user groups, twitter accounts and information resources. And the mips tables for the z114 are also already included along with some other technical information. And of course we have the annual User Survey too.

The articles I particulary liked (it's a personal choice, I know) were the ones by Simon Cooper (William Data Systems) on Network Management (ZEN), by Jeff Westerhaver (Serena) on application release management and by Tim Full (Software Diversified Services) on Secure FTP. I know (and Simon Cooper even points it out) that they are of course partial advertisements for their products. But still, I find they nevertheless contain quite some useful, informative content.

And if you don't bother about the annual survey, let me just give you two small fragments to tease you into reading it anyway. The first is a comment on the growth of cost of mainframe vs. the cost of distributed systems.
"Again this year, a substantial number of respondents felt that their Unix, Linux, and Windows user-support costs were increasing faster than the mainframe for an equivalent amount of capacity or support. Similarly, and particularly marked for Windows environments, their anticipated acquisition and maintenance costs were increasing faster than for the mainframe".
Read it in its context of course, because there's more about this in the text.
And here's the second fragment about the customer comments.
"No-one is ever happy about costs, but, usually, as long as they stay within the expected range, nobody gets too exercised about it. That doesn’t seem to have been the case this year, though".
You can read all the comments in the Yearbook itself, of course.

As I always say, just check them out !

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Upcoming events and webcasts

As it's the beginning of a new year, I thought this might be a good time to put some dates in your agendas. Which, by the way, reminds me of that hilarious video that circulated some time ago : "My Blackberry is not working". Don't tell me you missed that one ? Then I might just as well include it here. The date passes around 1'30''.

But now, let's get serious and pass on to the real dates. Oh well, you now what I mean.

Events in Belgium

April 26-27, 2012 - GSE Belgium Luxemburg Regional Conference 2012
Thermae Palace Oostende

GSE Belgium z/OS Working Group Meeting dates
RealDolmen Huizingen
  • Wednesday, March 14, 2012
  • Wednesday, June 13, 2012
  • Wednesday, September 12, 2012
  • Wednesday, December 12, 2012

September 18-20, 2012 - Total Solutions Event for System z 2012
IBM Forum Brussels
More information follows later.

IBM Webcasts

January 24 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
DB2 10 for z/OS – Justify your upgrade using the IBM Business Value Assessment Estimator Tool
"Join us for this (...) webcast and learn more about IBM DB2 10 for z/OS and a tool that can help you make a case for upgrading to it. DB2 10 is the latest release of the IBM flagship database. Its enhancements are designed to reduce operational costs, improve scalability and enhance productivity. This webcast will include an overview of the most significant potential financial savings offered by DB2 10. Then we’ll explore how these can be estimated using the IBM-internal DB2 10 Business Value Assessment Estimator Tool".
Information and registration

January 26 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Getting started with highly scalable clouds across your enterprise
"Topics include : Lowering cost of service delivery through automation and reduced skill requirements,Deploying IT services faste, Deploying IT services faster, Standardizing delivery for deployment and management of IT services, Enabling users to request, deploy, monitor and manage cloud computing services".
Information and registration

January 31 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Migrating to DB2 10? Get maximum CPU benefit with minimum impact
"Topics include : Identifying SQL statements that need attention before they impact performance in your DB2 10 environment, Estimating the cost of your SQL between different versions of DB2, Running “what if?” scenarios to determine optimum performance settings, including updat­ing catalog statistics and creating new indexes, Migrating and comparing access path statistics in DB2 V8 or DB2 9 to DB2 10 environment". Focus on the use of DB2 Tools.
Information and registration

February 14 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Coordinated Disaster Recovery for IMS and DB2
"In this teleconference we’ll descrbe storage-aware data management tools for IMS and DB2 that integrate storage-based fast-replication facilities with IMS and DB2 systems to provide fast and non-disruptive IMS and DB2 disaster recovery solutions".
Information and registration

February 15 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Boost performance, productivity and cost savings with IBM’s latest compilers for zEnterprise
"(...) learn how IBM’s latest compilers, middleware and tools can help you stay on the technology curve. In this webcast, Ray (Jones) and Kevin (Stoodley) will discuss best practices and approaches to plan and execute a successful compiler migration, alongside CICS, IMSand DB2 upgrades. They will also go over IBM’s strategy for compilers and tools on System z to help you better plan your overall development and upgrade efforts".
Information and registration

February 21 and February 22 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
IBM DB2 10 Migration Planning and Very Early Experiences – PART 1 & PART 2
"To help facilitate your migration, John Campbell will provide planning information about migrating to DB2 10 for z/OS from either DB2 9 or DB2 Version 8. This webcast will be a two part series on February 21st and 22 nd.. Join us for this webcast series which will share surprises, pitfalls and lessons learned; provide hints and tips; discuss enabling fast start; introduce and discuss some further enhancements; and share the latest news about migrations".
Information and registration

Other events

March 13-15, 2012 - Total Solutions Event for System z 2012
IBM Forum Amsterdam
Information and registration

May 14-18, 2012 - IDUG North America DB2 Tech Conference
Denver, Colorado, USA
Information and registration

November 4-9, 2012 - IDUG EMEA DB2 Tech Conference
Berlin Germany
Information and registration

DB2Night Shows

The third DB2Night Season is already on its way. You can already find the replay of the first z/OS session from Klaas Brant on 'Ten reasons to move to DB2 10 in 2012' over here.

For the moment there's just on other DB2 for z/OS session planned on January 23, 2012 by Cristian Molero on 'Data skew and big volumes in the real world data'. Details and registration over here. Normally all events are scheduled at 11 am EST, 5 pm Brussels.As I always say, just check them out !

If you want to check upcoming DB2Night shows, then have a look from time to time over here. There's an RSS feed available as well and they also have a blog now.

As I always say, just check them out !

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DASD or Disk Storage connected to the mainframe and StorWize

When I started this blog, disk storage was a very simple matter. I only considered the storage that was able to connect to the mainframe. I don’t think we even talked much about disk at the time. As you might remember one long time ago post on this blog (Mainframe Talk), real mainframers talk about DASD (dazz-dee) and not about disk. So the list of disk storage was very limited : DS8000 and that's about it.

But things have changed over the years. And our perspective of things has also changed. Mainframe has become more and more open. Look e.g. at the successes of Linux on System z. That’s one passage to, let’s call it, open storage. And in 2010 we had of course the introduction of the zBX, first allowing Power Blades and now Intel Blades with Linux and Windows too. These also need their proper storage. So that's an even clearer passage to open storage. But even our traditional operating systems have found their way to these new storage products.

So, the last couple of years, the scope of storage devices on my radar has broadened. There's e.g. ProtecTier, which was first an open systems solution only, until it introduced the TS7680 ProtecTier Gateway that connected ProtecTier to the mainframe. Next to that we had SVC. XIV followed in line. First it had to be connected via SVC but the "IBM XIV Storage System can now be attached through supported FC switches to z/VM for system use (e.g., paging, spooling, IPL, etc.)". (< IBM VM pages). Yes, you can IPL z/VM from an XIV. And "XIV Storage can also be accessed by z/VM guests through guest-attached FCP subchannels". But it hasn't stopped there. Look e.g. at the announcement of z/VSE 5.1 :
"IBM Storwize V7000 Midrange Disk System :
Storwize V7000 is a midrange disk offering built on IBM System SAN Volume Controller (SVC) technology. It can now be attached through Fibre Channel (FC) switches to z/VSE using Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) subchannels. z/VSE supports Storwize V7000 (SCSI) devices for system use (IPLable z/VSE system devices) and as data devices. z/VSE is designed to support Storwize V7000 devices in both an LPAR and a z/VM guest environment. z/VSE Storwize V7000 support is available with z/VSE V4.2 and later.
Or take a look at the Supported Hardware list for IBM StorWize V7000 :
"z/VM 5.3.0 and later supports Emulated Device (EDEVICE) attachment for all EDEVICE use including paging, spooling, minidisks, and system IPL.
z/VM 5.3.0 and later also supports guest attachment via dedicated FCP subchannels"
What's my point ? Well, I can no longer pretend to write about high-end storage attached to mainframe. There's a whole range of midrange storage devices that can also connect to this very mainframe and zBX. And with that I'm strangely enough back at my starting point that I only consider storage connected to the mainframe. Only, due to the changing evolution, it's no longer a simple matter because there's much more now. And as I already pointed out before, you have to be aware of what's around, because you will be confronted with situations where people ask you why you choose a DS8800 for your Linux on z environment, rather than e.g. an XIV or a StorWize. And perhaps they're right.

So I intend to also write more about these products in the future. A CIO told me some time ago that because of limited resources people are focused on doing their jobs and don't have any time left to take a step back and have a look at what's new in order to see the greater picture. So, information pointing them in the right direction was always welcome. Well, let me try and help you a bit with this.

And here's my first bit of information. IBM announced today that 'IBM Storwize V7000 introduces new 900 GB SAS drives (ZG12-0038)'. If you're still a completely isolated mainframer or you have been living on another planet the last year and you wonder what StorWize is, I'll come back to that in a later post with a brief introduction to it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

11 Reasons IBM Mainframe integration with Windows is a big deal

And you want to know why ? Or you want to explain to others why ?

Then here's a nice short eWeek presentation that does it for you. Apparantly it comes from Greg Lotko, vice president and business line executive for System z.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

IBM announces price changes on z/OS V1 and some other products

"Back to life, back to reality", you know the song (No ? Have a look over here), well it was the first thing that came to my mind, when reading the new IBM announcements.

First there's this one 'Price Changes on IBM z/OS V1 Operating System Software Program Products (ZA11-1053)'. It's a price raise for z/OS V1 and its features. But it's mainly for the larger companies as it only applies to VWLC and AWLC pricing. It does not apply to Entry Workload License Charges (EWLC), Advanced Entry Workload License Charges (AEWLC) or Flat Workload License Charges (FWLC). Depending on the pricing metric MLC charges will increase with 5% to 6%.

Another Price Change is on Subscription and Support (S&S) for some IPLA software (ZA11-1061). The selected products are :
  • IBM DB2 Automation Tool for z/OS Subscription and Support
  • IBM DB2 Cloning Tool for z/OS Subscription and Support
  • IBM IMS Batch Terminal Simulator for z/OS Subscription and Support
  • IBM CICS VSAM Transparency for z/OS Subscription and Support
  • IBM Tivoli Business Service Manager for z/OS Subscription and Support
  • IBM WebSphere Message Broker for z/OS Subscription and Support
  • IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Extended Edition for z/OS Media Subscription and Support
  • IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for z/OS Media Subscription and Support
  • IBM Tivoli Omegamon for z/OS Management Suite Subscription and Support

Do check out the announcement because price changes can vary quite a bit from country to country and from product to product.