Friday, September 11, 2015

Master the Mainframe Contest Benelux

Here's the poster of the new Master the Mainframe contest for the Benelux. Mind you, the Master the Mainframe contest is happening in lots of other countries as well. You can find all details and information on how to subscribe over here. Registration starts from September 14, 2015 and the contest runs from October 5 until December 31, 2015.

Students as well as non-students can participate, but only students can win some fantastic prizes (Apple Watches, a Raspberry Pi kits and a “Master the Mainframe” T-shirt).

The contest consists of three parts
Part one: Breaking the ice
IBM will provide contestants with screenshots and directions to guide students on exactly what to do. This helps acquaint each contestant with navigating the mainframe user interface, introduce them to basic mainframe concepts, and get each student more comfortable with different aspects of the mainframe.
Part two: Practical experience
Utilizing the skills each contestant learned in Part One, the students will perform extensive programming (advanced commands, system setup, and advanced system navigation) and application developing (C, JAVA, COBOL, assembler and REXX) tasks, as well as hands-on experience with multiple operating systems (Linux on z Systems, z/VM, z/OS, z/TPF).
Part three: Real-world challenge
This is the most challenging stage and requires the contestants to work over weeks and months. Tasks from this stage are taken from real life situations encountered by experienced systems programmers, along with challenges designed to identify the contestants with the most drive and determination.
 And there's even more : you might have read about the World Championships that followed the contest in 2014. Here's a brief summary of it. Well, in 2016, winners of the country contests will be invited to participate in the 2016 World Championship. Now that's something to look forward to!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

ProtecTIER Solution for mainframe alive and kicking

You might remember that in my post about the End of Marketing of the 3592 C07 Tape Controller, I told you IBM proposed ProtecTIER ME (Mainframe Edition) as a possible replacement. My reaction to this
"Well, I think you can forget about the ProtecTIER ME solution, because as far as I know that one went End of Marketing somewhere in 2012 (ZG12-0339), unless I missed something . . ."
Apparently I did miss something, as Art Tolsma, CEO of Luminex points out to me. here's his comments on this matter.
"Hello Marc,

I noticed your blog posting last week regarding mainframe tape. I have been an avid reader for a long time and appreciate your industry updates and insights.

You wondered whether you had “missed something” with regards to the Protectier ME product mentioned by IBM. As you know IBM discontinued their first attempt at providing a Protectier-based solution to deduplicate mainframe data. However, over the past few years IBM has chosen to partner with Luminex to deliver Protectier for this important mainframe market, and have called it Protectier ME (Mainframe Edition). It uses the indpendent and commercially standard products from both IBM and Luminex without requiring the resources to develop and manage custom solutions. IBM has presented this solution at SHARE on several occasions, and below is one link I found directly from IBM that mentions this, as well as more detailed information available on the Luminex website.

Luminex is dedicated to supporting the mainframe customer community and provide options and solutions for data centers of all sizes."
Well, I think that's clear enough. Thanks, Art, for the update.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

30/9/2015 : Real Solutions IBM Mainframe - LinuxOne event in Luxembourg

Those who know the Benelux market a bit, know that Luxembourg has always been a fairly closed market. Though I originally included 'Belgium' in the name of my blog, we're also active in Luxembourg through our partner company Real Solutions. Now, they are organising an interesting event around LinuxOne on September 30, 2015. I'm including the invitation (in French) here. If you want to subscribe, just click here.


REAL Solutions est heureuse de vous annoncer son partenariat sur Luxembourg avec IBM pour la plateforme Mainframe (natif et Linux). Afin d'officialiser cette représentation locale, nous souhaitons vous inviter à notre “SPEED EVENT” autour du thème IBM zSystems.
C’est un rendez-vous important qui s'inscrit dans notre politique de promotion et de valorisation de l’infrastructure informatique. IBM profitera de l'occasion pour vous présenter les nouveautés IBM Mainframe.


10:30 Accueil

10:45 Roadmap IBM zSystem
Alain POQUILLON - zSystems CAMSS Sales Leader - IBM Systems Europe

11:20 Quels nouveaux workloads pour z series (LinuxOne)?
Alain POQUILLON - zSystems CAMSS Sales Leader - IBM Systems Europe

11:55 IBM Security zSecure
Marc MASQUELIER - IBM zSystems Software Sales Representative

12:25 Conclusion

Rejoignez-nous dans notre session d'information suivie d'un déjeuner convivial.
 Mercredi 30 Septembre 2015 de 10:30 à 14:00
suivi d’un lunch.
 Schéiss aux Arquebusiers Sarl
142, Val Sainte Croix
L-1370 Luxembourg

You'll receive some more information about the location and parking in the area once you're registered.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Annual price change announcement for some z Systems MLC software

For those who missed the notice they received from IBM : here's the annual price change announcement 'Price Change(s):Price Changes in Monthly License Charges (MLC) on Selected IBM System z Software Programs (516-001)'.

As of January 1, 2016 there will be a price increase of about 4% for a list of MLC softwares. You can find the list in the announcement, but it's pretty much all the important MLC softwares that are around ranging from DB2, CICS, IMS over COBOL, PL/I up to z/OS itself.

There's a special mention for the zOS V2 SDSF feature (5650-ZOS) (so only z/OS V2) that will " increase by approximately 20%, effective January 1, 2016 and apply to all software billing metrics. This increase reflects the additional functional enhancements described in the z/OS Version 2 Release 2 Announcement letter, ZP15-0369, and planned to be available beginning September 30 2015".

Friday, September 4, 2015

End of Support for IBM z Systems selected products

Here's an announcement for some IPLA (OTC) and ICA (MLC) softwares that will no longer supported : 'Software withdrawal and support discontinuance: IBM z Systems platform selected products (ZP15-0387)'. You should really check the list to see if anything applies to your shop, but here's a couple of them.

There's e.g. IBM Wave for z/VM V1.1.0 that will no longer be serviced after November 6, 2016. As of September 30, 2016 z/OS V1.13 will no longer be supported, but that was already known of course. Time to plan your upgrade to z/OS V2. The same goes for IBM Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.2 which is replaced by IBM Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.5.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Directly attaching mainframe to tape drives is entering its last phase

What did I tell you in my last post : all's quiet on the aunnouncement front, time to take some holiday . . . just until I turned my back on my screen. Some End of Marketings, some price changes and of course also the LinuxOne announcement. I hadn't seen that one coming. So, Ive got a lot of catching up to do now.

Let me start with the End of Marketing of the 3592 C07 controller which you need to attach your mainframe environment directly to the tape drives : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM 3592 Tape Controller Model C07 and select features - Some replacements available (ZG15-0177)'.

First of all, let's make it clear from the beginning : this only indicates that effective November 13, 2015 you will no longer be able to buy any additional 3592 C07 Tape Controllers. This certainly does not mean they are no longer supported. For the moment no End of Support date has been announced.

So what's the alternative :
"Available options to replace Tape Controller Model C07 for connectivity in mainframe environments are TS7720 and ProtecTIER® Mainframe Edition (ME). TS7720 offers the flexibility of tape-less and tape-attach configurations. For very small mainframe environments, ProtecTIER ME is a premiere solution, delivering the best performance to price ratio with a reduction in storage costs".
Well, I think you can forget about the ProtecTIER ME solution, because as far as I know that one went End of Marketing somewhere in 2012 (ZG12-0339), unless I missed something . . .
Of course, as we know the lifespan of tape libraries, it's very likely that you can go on with your current configuration as long as you want, if you don't need newer generations of tape drives.
But the alternative is a TS7700 virtual tape library so you can either go tapeless or you can still write to tape for e.g. off site tape storage.

The TS7700 has the advantage that it also support the TS1150 from now on : 'IBM TS7700 R3.3 introduces support for the TS1150 tape drive and for external key management of disk-based encryption (ZG15-0174)'. The 3592 C07 does not support the TS1150 as there are no plans to enhance z/OS to support more than 4TB. This would require quite some modifications and besides, IBM claims that a TS7720 configuration for small clients will turn out to be less expensive than a 3592 C07 configuration with some native tape drives.