Thursday, September 26, 2013

8th Annual Global BMC Mainframe Survey

I was thinking about an introduction to this survey but the text at the BMC site is already the perfect introduction to make you read on. So here it goes.
 "With terms like Cloud, Big Data and The Internet of Things at the forefront of IT conversation, many might think that the mainframe is a historical artifact. But as BMC Software -- the global leader in IT management solutions -- found in its 8th annual Worldwide Survey of Mainframe Users, nothing could be further from the truth.

BMC revealed the results of the survey today. The key takeaway is that the mainframe will continue to play a critical role as a scalable platform delivering crucial computing power in a world where business users expect access anytime, anywhere, without regard to the data volume and velocity required behind the scenes. IT experts throughout the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific reported that the mainframe is not only sticking around, it is evolving to play an increasingly important role in today’s enterprise IT environments".
They even provide the perfect summary of the report with an Infographic. You can find it over here. If you want to have all the details request the full results over here. Topics touched upon are perception of the mainframe, reasons for growing MIPS consumption, Top IT priorities, 4 Hour Rolling Average, Big Data Challenges and many more of course.

So, as I always say : just check it out !

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DS8000 - Withdrawal of hardware features

I've written about this before. Whenever there's an announcement of withdrawal of hardware features on the DS8000 it's always hard to determine whether it applies to your system as so many model numbers have passed by since its first announcement in 2004. Today there was another announcement : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM System Storage DS8000 select features - Some replacements available (ZG13-0253)'.

So to help you read this here's a short summary. The machine type is always 2421, 2422, 2423 or 2424. The last number indicates the number of years of warranty that is delivered with the system. The model type indicates, yes, the model you've bought. Here's an overview :
DS8100 (Models 921 and 931)
DS8300 (Models 922, 932, 9A2, 9B2, 92E, 9AE)
DS8700 (Models 941 and 94E)
DS8800 (Models 951 and 95E)
DS8870 (Models 961 and 96E)
A letter in the model type indicates an expansion frame.

So let's turn to the whole list of features that's published in the announcement. I would summarize by saying that the last disks that were still available on the DS8100 and DS8300 are now no longer available : the 300GB and the 450GB disks. If you see the whole list, together with previous announcements I cannot think of anything that's still orderable on the DS8100 and DS8300. After all 9 years is a nice lifespan.

Furthermore the 2TB disks are withdrawn on the DS8700 and if you buy a new DS8870 it will be with Licensed Machine Code (LMC) R7.1.

Monday, September 23, 2013

z/VM and the future of Unified Resource Manager

Before you think this is a z/VM post only : I think it also concerns z/OS but therefore I first have some explaining to do.

We start with the announcement of z/VM 6.2 in October 2011 (ZP11-0499). Here's the role that is attributed to the System z Unified Resource Manager or zManager. 
z/VM has "been enhanced to enable the Unified Resource Manager to manage the z/VM hypervisor and the virtual servers it supports. The SMAPI enhancements provide new and updated APIs and function in the following functional areas:
  • System configuration file management
  • User directory management
  • Disk management
  • Network management
  • Discontiguous saved segment (DCSS) management
  • Guest facilities management
  • Directory parsing
  • API function level interrogation
  • Performance and events management
  • Image management"
z/VM installation has been enhanced to create a system configuration which would allow management by the Unified Resource Manager or some other SMAPI client.

In short with zManager you can apparently manage z/VM and virtual servers running on z/VM.

On to the announcement of z/VM 6.3 (ZP13-0376) in July of this year. Here we get quite a different story. And keep my previous post in mind where I explained what the word 'stabilization' means in IBM terminology. Here we go.
z/VM V6.3, OpenStack and zManager
IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager (zManager) is designed to provide systems management capabilities across the multi-architecture environment of zEnterprise. Many of you are planning to exploit these system management capabilities to deploy a framework for a heterogeneous cloud environment (...). To accelerate the delivery of its cloud offerings, IBM recently announced plans to base all of its cloud services and software on open architecture and standards, including OpenStack.
OpenStack is an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud computing open source project. IBM joined the project in 2012 and in support of System z is making contributions to the OpenStack project that are designed to enable z/VM V6.3 to be the first System z operating environment that can be managed with these open cloud architecture-based interfaces.
The management of z/VM environments in zManager is now stabilized as part of the evolution of the IBM cloud strategy and adoption of OpenStack. Accordingly, zManager does not provide systems management support for z/VM V6.3. However, zManager will continue to play a distinct and significant role in the management of virtualized environments created by zEnterprise integrated firmware hypervisors - PR/SM™ , PowerVM™ , and x hypervisor based on Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM).
Italics and bold indications are mine. But apparantly zManager turns from a real management tool for z/VM 6.2 into, well actually nothing, for z/VM 6.3. I'm not saying it's a bad choice, I'm just trying to get the message.

And here I also come to the z/OS part of this, I think. z/VM is "the first System z operating environment" that will be managed by OpenStack. So, which environments will follow in the future ?

If you're a bit puzzled and confused about this post, don't worry, that's just the same way as I'm feeling now. If anyone can shed some more light on this, be my guest !

Friday, September 20, 2013

zEC12 and zBC12 the last System z servers to support z/VM 5.4

This might be an interesting bit of information I came across today for customers still using z/VM 5.4. In the announcement of z/VM 6.3 there was also this statement of direction :

"Stabilization of VM z/V5.4 support
The IBM zEnterprise EC12 and IBM zEnterprise BC12 are planned to be the last System z servers supported by z/VM V5.4 and the last System z servers that will support z/VM V5.4 running as a guest (second level). z/VM V5.4 will continue to be supported until December 31, 2014, or until the IBM System z9® EC and IBM System z9 BC are withdrawn from support, whichever is later. Refer to Withdrawal Announcement ZP12-0335, dated August 07, 2012".
So, just keep it in mind : z/VM 5.4 will no longer be supported on the next generations of System z in any form.

By the way, 'stabilization' is a typical IBM word with a specific content. It always gets my immediate attention because it really means : we immediately stop all further effort for this product and from now on it's a dead end street.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Easy Tier - what you might not know about Auto Rebalance

I thought I knew quite a lot about DS8000 and Easy Tier but last week I had the opportunity to meet Stephen L. Blinick who works at the DS8000 labs in Tucson. Stephen is closely engaged in the development of the DS8000 box. And he's a great presenter who (obviously) knows what he's talking about.

There was one aspect about Easy Tier Stephen told me of which I was completely unaware. I should have known because this is somethning really important about Easy Tier and its Auto Rebalance feature. As the Redpaper 'IBM System Storage DS8000 Easy Tier' states : "The auto-rebalance capability automatically rebalances the workload even across the physical resources within a drive tier, reducing the occurrence of hotspots".

So, as you see below this is a situation within a drive tier where Easy Tier detects some hotspots.

 It rebalances the workload across all ranks.

By doing so, auto-rebalance reduces performance skew within a storage tier and provides the best available I/O performance from each tier.

But there's more and here comes the interesting part of the story. You know how it's always so annoying when you add additional ranks to the pool. Everything is well balanced within the existing ranks but you have to put new workload just on the new disks or you have to rebalance everything manually. NOT SO with Easy Tier.

"Auto Rebalance also automatically populates new ranks that have been added to the pool when rebalancing the workload within a tier. Starting with DS8000 R6.2 LMC, auto-rebalance can be enabled for hybrid and homogeneous extent pools".

Great ! Isn't it ? Check out the Redpaper if you want to know more about this great feature.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

RealDolmen System z e-zine N° 20

The 20th issue of our RealDolmen System z Newsletter is being sent out today. You can download it over here. We decided to switch to just one English version from now on instead of the Dutch and French versions.

If you don't receive our system z e-zine yet, you can subscribe over here. Just indicate 'System i, Oracle, Mainframe' as your field of interest. If you have subscribed, but for some reason no longer receive it, please let me know.

The main topic of this issue is of course the zBC12. As a matter of fact, it's pretty much the same as what I wrote earlier over here. But if you want a neatly printed version of it, you can find it here. Next to the zBC12 we also discuss the latest evolutions of the DS8000.

And as usual there are also some hints, tips, links, an overview of recent announcements, EOS dates of operating systems and an agenda for mainly Belgian events.

Enjoy the reading !

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sampling TechDocs - Up to August 2013

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.
  • FAQ : SMC-R RoCE FAQ Frequently Asked Question
    Hey, I wish I had that one when I first had to write about this for my introduction on the zBC12. As you've read earlier IBM has announced SMC-R in z/OS v2.1 and RoCE feature support in zEnterprise EC12 and zBC12. SMC-R and RoCE provide high throughput with low overhead communications.For all the rest of the information : see this FAQ.
  • Flash : Changes Planned for z/OS Preventive Service Ordering
    "IBM plans a number of changes to z/OS preventive service ordering. z/OS preventive service orders will be based on installed products, which is intended to make order content a better reflection of the systems to be serviced".
    • Presentation : An Overview of Mainframe Security for Non-Mainframe Personnel
      "This Power Point provides an introduction and overview to the comprehensive security suite available on System z. The target audience is intended to be IT Management or IT Security personnel who may not be familiar with some of the concepts and facilities of System z".I would add : target audience is definitely also mainframe personnel.
    • Technical Document : HyperPAV setup with z/VM and Red Hat Linux on zSeries
      This is a "How to Document on steps required to define DS8000 ECKD DASD Subsystem Disks with HyperPAV feature enabled in a Linux on zSeries environment". Examples are  based on Red Hat 6.3 Linux O/S for zSeries. This is the real technical stuff !
    • Technical Document : TS7700 Virtualization Engine Series - VEHSTATS Decoder
      This is a very nice one too, when you have to interpret the VEHSTATS presentation output. It gives you a sample of each possible output and describes how to interpret each field. Essential document !
    Well that's it for now. And, as I always say : just check them out !

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    Upcoming events and webcasts

    I thought I might give you a new summary of some upcoming events and webcasts.

    IBM Events in Belgium : Total Solutions event
    September 24-25, 2013 - Brussels forum

    I guess this is the most important one for us in Belgium for the moment. I already wrote about it over here. You can find all information and a detailed agenda over here. If you haven't done so, the only thing you still have to do is register for the event. The only thing I see different from the previous years is that there is no longer a zEnterprise Technical track. So, apparently no track on the zBC12 as there was one last year on the zEC12.

    GSE Meetings in Belgium

    I have the impression that the Total Solutions event kind of absorbs all Q3 GSE working group meetings, but I can already give you a couple of dates for Q4 sessions.

    November 28, 2013 - GSE DB2/IMS Working Group Meeting
    KBC Leuven
    Information will be added here as soon as it's available.

    December 11, 2013 - GSE z/OS Working Group Meeting
    RealDolmen Huizingen
    No additional information for the moment.

    DB2Night Shows

    You know the DB2Night shows by now. You can find the entire agenda of (already) Season 5 over here. There's a LUW part and a z/OS part. I'll give you some of the z/OS shows.

    September 27, 2013 at 10am CDT, 5pm Brussels
    OLAP Queries for Powerful Reporting and Analytics
    Information and registration

    October 25, 2013 at 10am CDT, 5pm Brussels
    Dynamic SQL, Pros and Cons
    Information and registration

    December 6, 2013 at 10am CDT, 5pm Brussels
    DB2 11 for z/OS Performance : New Features
    Information and registration

    Webcasts and teleconferences

    Here's a variety of online events from different sources.

    September 5, 2013 at 6 pm Brussels (from Share)
    An Introduction to DFSMS

    Learn in detail the aspects of SMS constructs, ACM routine coding and DASD
    Thanks to Lizette Koehler on the IBM-Main list for pointing this one out.

    Information and Registration

    September 10, 2013 at 5 pm Brussels
    IBM Transaction Analysis Workbench : it's not just for IBM

    We also cover DB2, CICS and more !
    Information and Registration

    September 25, 2013 at 6 pm Brussels (from IBMSystems Magazine)
    Where’s the Mainframe Headed? 8th Annual BMC Software Mainframe Survey Results, for the Mainframe from BMC

    Information and Registration

    October 8, 2013 at 5 pm Brussels
    Think big – think DB2! The latest news on DB2 application development technology

    Learn more about how DB2 enables large enterprises to develop new applications for mobile devices and systems of engagement

    Information and Registration

    October 10, 2013 at 5 pm Brussels (from IBMSystems Magazine)
    Mainframes and Business Continuity: New Game, Same Rules, from 21st Century Software.

    High Availability and Disaster Recovery : you still need both

    Information and Registration

    As I always say, just check them out !