Wednesday, October 31, 2012

IBM Linux on System z Cloud Test Drive

I could tell you a lot about Cloud on System z. When I walk through some IBM presentations, they tell me that a U.S. Bank reduced provisioning time from 45 days to 20 minutes or that there's 79% less TCA vs. leading public cloud or that IBM System z represents both the lowest TCO coupled with industry leading Qualities of Service for deploying private and/or hybrid clouds. Conclusion : "with solutions from Tivoli to automate provisioning and provide broad spectrum of key cloud capabilities, the time is now to start deploying your cloud on System z".

I know, lots of theory and I hardly dare saying it 'marketing talk'. But suppose that you could really take a test drive that offers you
  • A free hands on experience using Cloud and Linux on IBM System z powered by z/VM for virtualization, Tivoli Provisioning Manager (TPM) for deployment, and a selection of 5 system images based on SUSE or Red Hat.
  • With server images that will provide application server function (WebSphere) and database capabilities (DB2 or Oracle)
  • Simple remote access over the internet to IBM Systems in Maryland
  • Guided exercises for training, then up to 90 days of free access to up to 3 Linux servers running under z/VM
Well you can, it's available now ànd it's free.

You can experience Cloud on System z in different roles. You can access a user self service interface sample application remotely from office or home and deploy, operate, and delete up to three Linux on System z virtual guests. As an administrator you have hands on access to Tivoli Provisioning Manager (TPM) screens.

If you're interested you can apply via your IBM or BP representative or you can contact Mich Green at IBM. You'll see his e-mail address at the end of the terrific demo on Youtube he gives about this offering.

By the way : this is a worldwide offering.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

IMS V13 Release Planning Book and Information Center

The IMS 13 QPP (Qualtiy Partnership Program) was announced at the beginning of this month. Hereby a number of IMS customers will be able to use IMS 13 before General Announcement.

If you're interested to learn more about IMS 13, you might want to have a look at the following sources. They were listed out by Dean Meltz from IBM on the IMS-L Digest list. You can find the archives over here.

First of all there's the general IBM IMS 13 page that you can find over here.

Then there's the first edition of the IMS V13 Release Planning book (RPG). "As always, this book will be updated and republished when the product becomes generally available". You can see the IMS V13 RPG here. A first part focuses on General planning information for IMS Version 13. "These topics provide an overview of the new functions and enhancements, describe how these new functions might affect your installation, and provide general migration considerations. IBM IMS Tools that support IMS Version 13 are also described". The second part treats the Planning for IMS Version 13 enhancements. "Planning for the IMS Version 13 enhancements includes understanding how the following areas are affected: installation, system definition, administration, troubleshooting and reference".

You see that from there on you can move to the Information Center for IMS 13. But there's more. Dean also points out that there's not only an online version of the Information Management Software for z/OS Solutions Information Center. This information Center covers DB2, IMS and Infosphere products. There's also an installable version of this Information Center that runs on Windows XP and Windows 7 which you can use without an internet connection. All information about it can be found over here. Be sure to have a good look at the readme file because there are a couple of options for installing and running the product.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Upcoming events and webcasts

I thought I might give you a summary of some events scheduled for the next month(s).

GSE Meetings in Belgium

December 6, 2012 - DB2 User Group Meeting
AXA Antwerp
This meeting will focus on customer experiences from Colruyt, KBC and BNP Paribas Fortis on migrating to DB2 10. Next to that SD Worx will tell you about the implementation of Temporal Data.
Information and registration

December 12, 2012 - GSE z/OS Working Group Meeting
RealDolmen Huizingen

December 13, 2012 - GSE Security Working Group Meeting (z/OS Oriented)
IBM Belgium
Information and registration

IBM Events in Belgium

November 7, 2012 - PoT - Enterprise Application Transformation with RDz and RTCz
IBM Forum Brussels
"This Proof of Technology (PoT) session provides attendees with basic skills and hands-on exposure to the major features of the Rational Enterprise Modernization Accelerator for Developers, providing an integrated development solution, consisting of the Rational Developer for System z (version 8), Rational Team Concert (version 3) and Rational Asset Analyzer (version 6) tools."
Information - Registration

November 14, 2012 - PoT - Discovering the value of IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5
IBM Forum Brussels
Information - Registration

IBM Webcasts

November 6 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Follow the business rules to succeed in modernizing your IMS Applications
Information and Registration 

November 7 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Hey! Who closed my batch window?

"Addressing shrinking batch processing windows, while maintaining an 'always on' responsiveness to online transactions". 
Information and Registration

November 8 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
CICS V5.1: Operation efficiency and service agility through cloud enablement
Information and Registration

November 13 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
International DB2 Users Group (IDUG) shares DB2 10 upgrade experiences from USERS

About : DB2 10 cost savings right out of the box,Reducing CPU and improving performance,Reducing business risk and overhead by staying current.  
Information and Registration

November 29 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
Mainframe Compiler Experts Panel: Strategies and Best Practices for Successful Compiler upgrades
Information and Registration

December 11 at 4 pm GMT, 5 pm Brussels
DB2 for z/OS Migration - Query Performance Considerations
Information and Registration

And there are still some more. If you want to see all upcoming webcasts, have look over here. For all upcoming teleconferences, you can take a look over here.

z/VSE Live Virtual Class

October 30, 2012 at 4 pm Brussels
VSE/POWER - all the news since z/VSE V4.2
Information and Registration

As I always say, just check them out !

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sampling TechDocs - up to October 2012

It's been some months, but here I am again with an overview 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.
  • Document : IBM Mainframe Life Cycle History
    I've mentioned this one before but it has been updated to include the zEC12. So far, none of the System z systems, starting with the z900 in 2000 have become end of support. But you may also know that IBM has become a lot stricter in applying its end of marketing strategy. Marketing for the z10 BC lasted less than 4 years, with a grace period of one year for microcode upgrades. I have the impression that smaller customers do not like this (and you may call this an understatement).
    • White paper : IBM z/OS Data Corruption Trends & Directions
      I cannot add anything to the introduction : "The nightly backup window has been with computing since disk and tape were invented. The good news is that with all of the synchronous and asynchronous data replication techniques available in the marketplace, data can be mirrored across the world in seconds. The bad news is that all copies of the data can and will be corrupted within seconds as well. Data Replication has not replaced the need to backup data to protect it from logical data corruption scenarios. Over the last 20 years, Data Backup techniques have improved and for z/OS this paper will explore many of the innovations in the backup/restore arena".

    Well that's it for now. And, as I always say : just check them out !

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Catching up on my reading : Hot Topics, IBM Systems Magazine and Enterprise Tech Journal

    Finally, I found some time to catch up with some reading.

    Hot Topics, a z/OS Newsletter (August 2012)

    Let me start with the Hot Topics Newsletter. Unfortunately enough, it will only appear once in a year from now on. You know, I just make a random selection of articles I particularly liked, but of course all the rest is worth your while. And that also goes for the other magazines.
    I have the impression that z/OSMF is for many customers still a great unknown and people are hesitant to use it. Well, the article 'Don't just emulate it!' on the z/OSMF ISPF feature might be a good entry point. It describes how you can use z/OSMF to open one or several ISPF sessions in your browsers, use split screens or tabbed displays, you can even have several, parallel TSO/E user sessions at once.
    Another article on the new GRS support of FICON CTC communication shows you how much your GRS configuration might be affected and how much planning you might have for migration.
    Furthermore : hints and tips on migrating to z/OS 1.13, learn how z/OS 1.13 SPOOL migration lets you merge/consolidate volumes to new volumes in a non-disruptive manner within a few hours, an article on learning how to obtain new mainframe skills directing you to the Academic Initiative but also to (quite interesting) online course materials

    IBM Systems magazine (September-October 2012)
    Online Version - PDF Version

    This issue focuses on data analytics in the broadest sense but I think the title of the intro by Greg Lotko sums it up nicely : 'Transforming Data Into Value' ! Of course this also implies there's a lot of attention for the new zEC12 including the cover article. There's a good article on Data Marts. Data Marts are great but tend to have some issues like rapid multiplication, a lack of architecture, administrative complexity and so on. This article shows how the zEnterprise can play a role in tackling these problems.
    Ever heard about millicode ? Well, just check out Bob Rogers' article on the evolution of microcode and millicode. Great reading material.
    At the end of this issue, you can also find the 2013 Mainframe Buyer's Guide listing a bunch of IBM partners. And, there's also an issue about Women in Technology which is not included in the .pdf version.

    Enterprise Tech Journal (October-November 2012)

    The Enterprise Tech Journal also focuses on the new zEC12 in its cover article but puts the emphasis on workload optimization. In other words : software performance is of the essence. I'm just not sure that when there's e.g. a forecasted performance improvement of 45% for Java Workload that this is already the case for the moment. Some of the new features like the new transactional execution facility is implemented but I have the impression it's not being used by any software for the moment. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    Furthermore : a good introduction to the RMF Device Activity Report as well as to 'Rational Developer for z/OS', there's an interesting article on how backup strategies are important as they can have a significant influence on your recovery processes, Willie Favero helps you plan your upgrade to DB2 10, Marcel den Hartog (re)introduces us to "the dying art of performance management" for speeding up the mainframe and of course there's a lot more there to enjoy.

    As I always say, just check them out !

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Free BMC mainframe of mind t-shirt

    It do not always have to be super serious announcements. This is what I found on the twitter account of @BMCMainframe :

    Did you get your free of Mind t-shirt? Check out our newsletter & request one here:

    It's about this beauty :

    I think it looks quite nice, so I've ordered one. But of course, before you go over there, I think you might want to start following @BMCMainframe on Twitter, no ?

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    DS8800 Base Frame withdrawn from marketing

    This was to be expected of course : now that the DS8870 is announced, the DS8800 will be withdrawn from marketing effective February 1, 2013 : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM System Storage DS8800 (MT 242x) Model 951 - Replacements available (ZG12-0290)'.

    Don't panic, as you can see, it's only the base frame that is WDFM. This means that you can no longer order new DS8800 machines but you can still order any additonal features, including extra expansion frames, after February 1, 2013.

    But why would you want to order new DS8800s. The DS8870 is perfectly compatible with the DS8800 as was also indicated in the announcement of the DS8870 last week : "The remote mirror and copy solutions (...) are compatible with previous generations of DS800".

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Red Alert : Unpredictable task failures and/or system outages with OMEGAMON XE on z/OS

    Here's a new Red Alert:

    Unpredictable task failures and/or system outages with OMEGAMON XE on z/OS

    There is an exposure for storage overlays in common and private storage that can cause unpredictable task failures and/or system outages. All users of the OMEGAMON XE on z/OS product versions V420 or V510 with the following PTFs for OA39579 applied are affected:
    • HKM5420 - UA66217
    • HKM5510 - UA66218
    The PTFs for OA39579 introduced the two problems described below. The PTFs for OA40262 resolved only the first problem. Fixes for OA40497 are also required to address the complete problem.
    1. Random storage overlays due to an incorrect register used in an instruction. One symptom of this problem is many LOGREC entries for ABEND0C4 in module KXDWLCON. The overlay contains the character string 'AIO'.
    2. An incomplete modification to an ENF exit causes ECSA storage overlays when a WLM policy switch is done.
    Recommended Actions:
    Apply the appropriate PTFs for OA40497 which will ensure both problems are resolved:
    • HKM5420 - UA66779
    • HKM5510 - UA66780

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

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    IBM System z software announcements : IMS 13

    Here's my last of System z sotware announcements from this week I wanted to tell you about. IBM also announced the IMS 13 (ZP12-0477) Quality Partnership Program. IMS 13 should provide, as the title mentions, extremely high performance and availablility.

    Here are the hightlights :

    IMS™ 13 Database Manager enhancements
    IMS™ 13 Transaction Manager enhancements
    The Quality Partnership Program implies that IBM plans to ship IMS 13 to customers already selected as participants in the QPP process. This will be done as of December 14, 2012.
    General availability of IMS V13 will be announced at a later date.

    IBM System z software announcements : DB2 11 for z/OS ESP

    The latest versions of DB2 for z/OS have known a three year release cycle with an end of support 7 years later. Just a small recap :
    • V6 : GA 1998, EOS 2005
    • V7 : GA 2001, EOS 2008
    • V8 : GA 2004, EOS 2012 (support lasted an extra year)
    • V9 : GA 2007, EOS 2014 (back to normal)
    • V10 : GA 2010, estimated EOS 2017
    So today, IBM announced an Early Support Program for DB2 11 (ZP12-0467). Apparently we're on schedule for a GA by the end of 2013.

    DB2 11 for z/OS seems to be focusing on the following 4 areas. I'll each time give you a couple of examples.
    An ESP implies that IBM intends to make this version available to a select group of clients in a closed Early Support Program which becomes available on March 7, 2013. z/OS V1.13 is a prerequisite.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    IBM System z software announcements : CICS

    I told you lots of announcements were made on October 3, so here's some more. There were also announcements around DB2, IMS and CICS. So let me start out with the CICS announcements.

    First of all there's the announcement of CICS Transaction Server V5.1 (ZP12-0422). CICS V5.1 is mainly focusing on two areas : driving operational efficiencies, while increasing service agility.

    Driving Operational Effeciencies focuses on four areas :
    • Greater capacity is delivered through significant vertical and horizontal scalability enhancements.
    • Managed operations are provided through the introduction of policies, which deliver automated control over critical system resources
    • Increased availability enhancements reduce the need for planned outages
    • Deeper insight into performance and compliance information can help to tune and audit system usage
    Increasing service agility also focuses on four key areas :
    • First-class applications enable the creation of agile services from existing assets
    • First-class platforms enable the creation of agile service delivery runtimes
    • Modern interfaces enable customers to build rich web experiences for critical applications
    • Foundational enhancements extend the core CICS capabilities in a number of areas
    Planned availability is December 14, 2012.

    There will also be a CICS TS Developer Trial V5.1 and that one will be available from January 11, 2013. As you know the Developer Trial version was first introduced with CICS TS 4.2. That trial version can still be ordered until January 8, 2013.

    There were a couple of other CICS related announcements :
    • IBM CICS Transaction Gateway V9.0 (ZP12-0420)
    • IBM CICS Tools for z/OS V5.1 (ZP12-0478) : these include CICS Interdependency Analyzer for z/OS, CICS Deployment Assistant for z/OS, CICS Configuration Manager for z/OS, CICS Performance Analyzer for z/OS, CICS VSAM Recovery for z/OS and a plug-in for CICS VSAM Transparency for z/OS.
    If you want to have more details on these announcements, links to webpages, datasheets and so on, then do have a look at the new CICS Portfolio eNewsLetter which you can find over here. Again, they did a great job at gathering all the relevant information around these new announcements.

    IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS V3.1

    Yesterday was a prolific announcement day for IBM. Rumours of improvements for the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) were already heard before the summer, but now they're officially announced : "IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS V3.1, together with related prerequisite hardware, is a high-performance software offering that delivers fast analytic query responses (ZP12-0503)". We're of course talking about the Netezza technology which replaced the Smart Analytics Optimizer last year.
    In short, DB2 tables are offloaded to the Netezza box. When a query is launched DB2 decides whether to fetch the data in its own tables or to go and get them from the Netezza box. The IDAA has proven to be way more performant than queries executed on the mainframe itself. It makes analytical queries possible which were unthinkable of in the past. This happens all transparently to the user or application program launching the queries.

    So, what's new with this new version ?

    The IDAA can now function as a High-performance storage saver : "this feature stores a DB2 table partition or full table of data solely on the accelerator, reducing the need for host storage. This feature removes the requirement for the data to be replicated on both the DB2 storage and the Accelerator storage. Tables can now be divided between traditional database resident partitions on DB2 for z/OS and high-performance storage saver on the DB2 Analytics Accelerator". The implication is of course that you have data which is only stored in one place. In case the IDAA is unreachable, you don't have access to those data. On the other hand, it could be a great solution to put archived data not only on tape with rather slow access, but also keep them on the IDAA for fast access when needed. In other words : another opportunity to improve and speed up your analytical queries.

    Another complaint that was sometimes heard was that customers needed (even for their Data Warehouse) near real-time accessability. This was not possible until now as you always had to copy at least on a partition level. Now we have the incremental update feature. "With the new incremental update capability, tables within the accelerator are continually updated throughout the day. This technology reads the log of the database residing on DB2 for z/OS and applies those updates to the DB2 Analytics Accelerator. With this feature enabled, queries off-loaded to the DB2 Analytics Accelerator operate on a near real-time version of the data". Of course you still control the timing for those updates yourself. Nice improvement !

    Also the UNLOAD of the data has been changed via what's called Unload lite. "With UNLOAD Lite, the data conversions are done on the accelerator and not on z/OS". This implies that you can save some MSUs with this.

    The DB2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS software requires :z/OS 1.11, or later,DB2 V10.1 for z/OS, DB2 Utilities Suite for z/OS V10.1, XML Toolkit for z/OS V1.10, IBM Ported Tools for z/OS V1.2.0.

    This new version will become available on November 30, 2012.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    IBM's new DS8870 promises up to 3x performance increase over the DS8800


    Well, here it is, the new DS8000 generation, with a new look.

    And I know what some people will say : yet another generation of that old technology. Well, let me make just one silly analogy. Do you know when the DS8000 series was first announced ? No ? It was October 12, 2004. Indeed, quite a long time ago. Another question : do you know when Lionel Messi made his debut in the first team of FC Barcelona ? No ? Its was October 16, 2004. Well, I can tell you one thing : I wouldn't kick (pun not intended) Messi out of my team yet. So, I can just advise you, don't throw the DS8000 out of your data center either.

    There is an announcement per warranty period for the following models : 2421-961 (ZG12-0261), 2422-961 (ZG12-0293), 2423-961 (ZG12-0291) and 2424-961 (ZG12-0292). So, the 2421 has one year of warranty and so on for the other models. There's a separate announcement (ZG12-0263) discussing the software licences.

    Technical specifications

    But let's concentrate on the facts now. It is clear that the DS8870 strongly builds upon the DS8800 technology (hence, I assume, no DS8900). Let me summarize some of the improvements that were already introduced with R6.3 last April : New 400GB SSDs, self-encrypting drive options FDE for all drive tiers, Easy Tier (4th generation) support for encryption and enhanced Thin Provisioning. Next to that the DS8870 has the same number of host adapter, maximum host adapter slots, maximum physical capacity. Mind you : a couple of features are no longer available on the DS8870 like e.g. the 450GB drives and the 300GB SSD drives.

    But, let's concentrate on the new stuff !

    Overall there should be an up to 3x performance improvement. This is first of all realized through the introduction of the Power 7 processor. Where the DS8800 had a maximum of 4 cores, you can now have configurations with 2, 4, 8 and even 16 cores. The cache has also considerably been increased from maximum 256GB to 1TB. Just pay attention : there's a close relationship between the number of cores and the amount of cache. One example : you could have a 4-way DS8800 with 256GB of cache. On the DS8870 you'll need an 8 core for this.
    If you want to see more details about the performance, you can have a look at the SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks. Results should be available quite soon.

    Next to that, there are also improvements regarding power consumption. The "DS8870 provides dc uninterrupted power supplies to replace the current primary DS8800 power supplies". This should result in a reduction in energy use of up to 20%. For a fully equipped box the base frame consumes 6.0 kW (7.6 kW for the DS8800) and 5.6 kW for the first expansion frame (6.2 kW on the DS8800).

    Full disk encryption drives are now the standard. As a customer you still have the possibility not to purchase this, but since there is no performance impact, why shouldn't you. Your data will always be safe, even if the system or some disk drives leave your data center.

    As a side note, the DS8870 is also RoHS compliant in that it meets the 2013 European Union requirements for restricting hazardous materials.

    The DS8870 will be available on October 19, 2012 and upgrades will be possible on December 14, 2012.

    Documentation and education

    Let's start with a demo of the new machine showing you how it looks on the outside as well as on the inside.

    The IBM DS8870 web page is over here with a.o. link to the data sheet which also shows you a brief comparison with its predecessors.

     I'll let you know when the redbooks become available.

    There's also a webinar on Tuesday October 30 at 5 p.m. Brussels Time  :

    And let's conclude with, what else at new announcements nowadays, a Youtube video summing it all up.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Price changes for some OTC softwares

    Yesterday IBM made the following announcement : 'Price Changes on Selected System z and zSeries Software Program Products (ZA12-1059)'. This is a price increase for OTC softwares and their associated Subscription and Support (S&S) recurrent license charges (monthly and annually).

    As far as I can see this is just an EMEA announcement and Belgian customers should expect an increase of 3%. This will be effective "with the billing period that starts on or after January 1, 2013".

    The products ? I see lots of Websphere products, some DB2 tools and some other like IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication for System z, IBM Tivoli System Automation for z/OS and IBM ISPF Productivity Tool for z/OS.
    For the entire list you'll have to take a look at the announcement itself.