Posts Tagged ‘CICS’

IBM Enterprise2014 to Drive Advanced Mainframe Capabilities

August 27, 2014

The summer is winding down, and IBM Enterprise2014 (October 6-10, 2014 at the Venetian in Las Vegas, October 6-10, 2014 at the Venetian in Las Vegas) will be here in a little over a month.  It combines the IBM System z Technical University and the IBM Power Systems Technical University at one North American location. The advanced capabilities being featured at Enterprise2014 include: cloud, big data, and much more. Let’s look at a sampling of the z-oriented cloud and big data sessions. Subsequent posts will look at POWER and other topics.

The event also will include announcing the winner of the Mainframe Mobile App Throwdown, details here. Mobile is hot and poised to drive a lot of activity through the mainframe. The next generation of mobile apps will need to integrate with core applications running on the mainframe. DancingDinosaur readers know how to do that. Top prize for the Throwdown is an iPad, a pass to the IBM Enterprise2014 conference in Las Vegas, and even a week with IBM experts to help turn the app from a concept to reality. DancingDinosaur will be there to publicize the winners here. But the competition closes Sept. 17 so sign up soon.

For Mainframe Mobile App Throwdown ideas check out the session details at Enterprise2014. For example, Taking Analytics Mobile with DB2 Web Query and More! by Doug Mack digs into mobile features added to DB2 Web Query. He discusses how to sync a mobile device up with your favorite dashboards, or use the mobile app to organize and access reports offline. Leverage REST-based Web Services and application extensions to customize the user interface for reporting functions or schedule the reports to run in the background.

Now, let’s look at a sampling of the cloud and big data sessions.

How Companies Are Using IBM System z for Cloud—Fehmina Merchant describes how organizations are building secure and robust private clouds on System z to deliver their critical IT services with agility and at lower costs.  The session will examine the unique capabilities of zEnterprise as a platform for private cloud computing, in effect providing the ultimate in virtualization, security, scalability and reliability. It also will cover how the newest IBM SmartCloud technologies can automate and optimize the deployment and management of services in the cloud. In addition, the session will offer some specific real-life examples and use-cases to illustrate how a private cloud built on zEnterprise and SmartCloud provide flexible IT service delivery at the lowest cost. The session will end with a live demonstrations of the latest IBM SmartCloud tools.

Should mainframe shops even care about cloud computing? That’s a question DancingDinosaur gets asked frequently. Glenn Anderson answers it in zEnterprise—Cutting Through the Hype: Straight Talk About the Mainframe and Cloud Computing. In this session he promises to explain why the cloud is relevant to a System z enterprise and helps z data center managers cut through the marketing hype.

For zLinux there is The Elephant on the Mainframe—Using Hadoop to Analyze IBM System z Data by Christopher Spaight. He describes the zEnterprise portfolio as including a rich set of options for the analysis of structured, relational data. But what, he asks, if the business needs to analyze data that is unstructured or semi-structured or a mix of relational and non-relational records? Many are looking to Hadoop in these situations. This session lays out the mainframer’s options for using Hadoop both on and off platform, and walks through several use cases for when it makes sense to use Hadoop. BTW, Hadoop on z is called zDoop.

Finally, HDFS, Hive and All That Big Data “Stuff” for IBM System z by Karen Durward looks at how the System z participates in the world of HDFS, Hive and more Big Data stuff. This session focuses on not only why z/OS data should be integrated into a Big Data environment but the various ways to do it. She will describe the latest on z/OS data integration with Big Data, Linux on System z as a Big Data platform, and more.

Then, when you have absorbed all the technology you can enjoy three evenings of live performances: 2 country rock groups, Delta Rae and The Wild Feathers and then, Rock of Ages. Check ‘em out here.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur. Look for me at Enterprise2014. You can follow this blog and more on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Find Alan Radding on Technologywriter.com.

System z Takes BackOffice Role in IBM-Apple Deal

July 21, 2014

DancingDinosaur didn’t have to cut short his vacation and race back last week to cover the IBM-Apple agreement. Yes, it’s a big deal, but as far as System z shops go it won’t have much impact on their data center operations until late this year or 2015 when new mobile enterprise applications apparently will begin to roll out.

The deal, announced last Tuesday, promises “a new class of made-for-business apps targeting specific industry issues or opportunities in retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications, and insurance among others,” according to IBM. The mainframe’s role will continue to be what it has been for decades, the backoffice processing workhorse. IBM is not porting iOS to the z or Power or i or any enterprise platform.

Rather, the z will handle transaction processing, security, and data management as it always has. With this deal, however, analytics appears to be assuming a larger role. IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities is one of the jewels it is bringing to the party to be fused with Apple’s legendary consumer experience. IBM expects this combination—big data analytics and consumer experience—to produce apps that can transform specific aspects of how businesses and employees work using iPhone and iPad devices and ultimately, as IBM puts it, enable companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction—faster and easier than ever before.

In case you missed the point, this deal, or alliance as IBM seems to prefer, is about software and services. If any hardware gets sold as a result, it will be iPhones and iPads. Of course, IBM’s MobileFirst constellation of products and services stand to gain. Mainframe shops have been reporting a steady uptick in transactions originating from mobile devices for several years. This deal won’t slow that trend and might even accelerate it. The IBM-Apple alliance also should streamline and simplify working with and managing Apple’s mobile devices on an enterprise-wide basis.

According to IBM its MobileFirst Platform for iOS will deliver the services required for an end-to-end enterprise capability, from analytics, workflow and cloud storage to enterprise-scale device management, security and integration. Enhanced mobile management includes a private app catalog, data and transaction security services, and a productivity suite for all IBM MobileFirst for iOS offerings. In addition to on premise software solutions, all these services will be available on Bluemix—IBM’s development platform available through the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

One hope from this deal is that IBM will learn from Apple how to design user-friendly software and apply those lessons to the software it subsequently develops for the z and Power Systems. Would be interesting see what Apple software designers might do to simplify using CICS.

Given the increasing acceptance of BYOD when it comes to mobile, data centers will still have to cope with the proliferation of operating systems and devices in the mobile sphere. Nobody is predicting that Android, Amazon, Google, or Microsoft will be exiting the mobile arena as a result, at least not anytime soon.

Finally, a lot of commentators weighed in on who wins or loses in the mobile market. In terms of IBM’s primary enterprise IT competitors Oracle offers the Oracle Mobile Platform. This includes mobile versions of Siebel CRM, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and a few more. HP offers mobile app development and testing and a set of mobile application services that include planning, architecture, design, build, integration, and testing.

But if you are thinking in terms of enterprise platform winners and losers IBM is the clear winner; the relationship with Apple is an IBM exclusive partnership. No matter how good HP, Oracle, or any of IBM’s other enterprise rivals might be at mobile computing without the tight Apple connection they are at a distinct disadvantage. And that’s before you even consider Bluemix, SoftLayer, MobileFirst, and IBM’s other mobile assets.

BTW, it’s not too early to start planning for IBM Enterprise 2014. Mark your calendar, Oct 6-10 at the Venetian in Las Vegas. This event should be heavily z and Power.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow him on Twitter @mainframeblog or at Technologywriter.com.

SoftLayer Direct Link Brings Hybrid Cloud to System z and Power

June 26, 2014

Back in February, IBM announced that SoftLayer was integrating IBM Power Systems into its cloud infrastructure, a move that promised to deliver a level and breadth of services beyond what has traditionally been available over the cloud. Combined with new services and tools announced at the same time, this would help organizations deploy hybrid and private cloud environments.

Back then IBM included the System z in the announcement as well by bolstering its System z cloud portfolio with IBM Wave for z/VM. IBM Wave promises to provide rapid insight into an organization’s virtualized infrastructure with intelligent visualization, simplified monitoring and unified management. Specifically, Wave helps the organization more easily manage large numbers of virtual machines.

Now it is June, the snow has finally melted and IBM’s SoftLayer is introducing Direct Link to the computing public. Direct Link had previously been available to only a select few customers. Direct Link, in effect, is a specialized content delivery network for creating hybrid clouds. Organizations would connect their private IT infrastructure to public cloud resources by going directly to the SoftLayer platform, which streamlines delivery over the network. Direct Link users avoid the need to traverse the public Internet.

The focus here is on hybrid clouds. When an organization with a private cloud, say a mainframe hosting a large amount of IT resources and services behind the firewall, needs resources such as extra capacity or services it doesn’t have, it can turn to the public cloud for those extra resources or services. The combination of the private cloud and tightly connected public cloud resources form a hybrid cloud.  If you’re attending a webinar on hybrid clouds at this point the speaker usually says …and then you just punch out to the public cloud to get x, y, or z resource or service. It always sounds so simple, right?

As far as the System z goes, SoftLayer was not actually integrated with the z in the February announcement, although DancingDinosaur expects it will be eventually if IBM is serious about enterprise cloud computing. For now, the z sits in the on-premise data center, a private cloud so to speak. It runs CICS and DB2 and all the systems it is known for and, especially, security. From there, however, it can connect to an application server, dedicated or virtual, on the SoftLayer Cloud Server to form a Hybrid System z-Enterprise Cloud. As presented at SHARE this past spring, the resulting Hybrid System z-Cloud Enterprise Architecture (slides 46-49) provides the best of both worlds, secure transactions combined with the dynamics of the cloud.

Direct Link itself consists of a physical, dedicated network connection from your data center, on-premise private cloud, office, or co-location facility to SoftLayer’s data centers and private network through one of the company’s 18 network Points of Presence (PoPs) around the world. These PoPs reside within facilities operated by SoftLayer partners including Equinix, Telx, Coresite, Terremark, Pacnet, InterXion and TelecityGroup, which provide access for SoftLayer customers, especially those with infrastructure co-located in the same facilities.

Direct Link, essentially an appliance, eliminates the need to traverse the public Internet to connect to the SoftLayer private network. Direct Link enables organizations to completely control access to their infrastructure and services, the speed of their connection to SoftLayer, and how data is routed. In the process, IBM promises:

  • Higher network performance consistency and predictability
  • Streamlined and accelerated workload and data migration
  • Improved data and operational security

If you are not co-located in any of the above facilities operated by one of SoftLayer’s POP partners then it appears you will have will to set up an arrangement with one of them. SoftLayer promises to hold your hand and walk you through the set up process.

When you do have it set up Direct Link pricing appears quite reasonable. Available immediately, Direct Link pricing starts at $147/month for a 1Gbps network connection and $997/month for a 10Gbps network connection.

According to Trevor Jones, writing for Tech Target, IBM’s pricing undercuts AWS slightly and Microsoft’s by far. Next month Microsoft, on a discounted rate for its comparable Express Route service, will charge $600 per month for 1 Gbps and $10,000 for 10 Bbps per month. Amazon uses its Direct Connect service priced at $0.30 per hour for 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps at $2.25 per hour.

Your System z or new Power server integrated with SoftLayer can provide a solid foundation for hybrid cloud nirvana. Just add Direct Link and make arrangements with public cloud resources and services. Presto, you have a hybrid cloud.

BTW, IBM Enterprise 2014 is coming in Oct. to Las Vegas. DancingDinosaur expects to hear a lot of the z and Power, SoftLayer, and hybrid clouds there.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow him on Twitter, @mainframeblog and at Technologywriter.com

SOA Software Enables New Ways to Tap Mainframe Code

January 30, 2014

Is the core enterprise processing role handled by the mainframe enough? Yet, enterprises today often are running different types of workloads built using different app dev styles. These consist of compound applications encompassing the mainframe and a variety of distributed systems (Linux, UNIX, Windows) and different programming models, data schema, services, and more. Pieces of these workloads may be running on the public cloud, a partner’s private cloud, and a host of other servers. The pieces are pulled together at runtime to support the particular workload.  Mainframe shops should want to play a big role in this game too.

“Mainframe applications still sit at heart of enterprise operations, but mainframe managers also want to take advantage of these applications in new ways,” says Brent Carlson, SVP at SOA Software. The primary way of doing this is through SOA services, and mainframes have been playing in the SOA arena for years. But it has never been as seamless, easy, and flexible as it should. And as social and mobile and other new types of workloads get added to the services mix, the initial mainframe SOA approach has started to show its age. (Over the years, DancingDinosaur has written considerably on mainframe SOA and done numerous SOA studies.)

That’s why DancingDinosaur welcomes SOA Software’s Lifecycle Manager to the mainframe party.  It enables what the company calls a “RESTful Mainframe,” through governance of REST APIs that front zOS-based web services. This amounts to a unified platform from a governance perspective to manage both APIs as well as existing SOA assets. As Carlson explained: applying development governance to mainframe assets helps mainframe shops overcome the architectural challenges inherent in bringing legacy systems into the new API economy, where mobile apps need rapid, agile access to backend systems.

The company is aiming to make Lifecycle Manager into the system-of-record for all enterprise assets including mainframe-based SOAP services and RESTful APIs that expose legacy software functionality. The promise: seamless access to service discovery and impact analysis whether on mainframe, distributed systems, or partner systems. Both architects and developers should be able to map dependencies between APIs and mainframe assets at the development stage and manage those APIs across their full lifecycles.

Lifecycle Manager integrates with SOA’s Policy Manager to work either top down or bottom up.  The top down approach relies on a service wrapping of existing mainframe programs. Think of this as the WSDL first approach to designing web services and then developing programs on mainframe to implement it.  The bottom up approach starts with the copy book.  Either way, it is automated and intended to be seamless. It also promises to guide services developers on best practices like encryption, assign and enforce correct policies, and more.

“Our point: automate whatever we can, and guide developers into good practices,” said Carlson.  In the process, it simplifies the task of exposing mainframe capabilities to a broader set of applications while not interfering with mainframe developers.  To distributed developers the mainframe is just another service endpoint that is accessed as a service or API.  Nobody has to learn new things; it’s just a browser-based IDE using copy books.

For performance, the Lifecycle Manager-based runtime environment is written in assembler, which makes it fast while minimizing MIPS consumption. It also comes with the browser-based IDE, copybook tool, and import mappings.

The initial adopters have come from financial services and the airlines.  The expectation is that usage will expand beyond that as mainframe shops and distributed developers seek to leverage core mainframe code for a growing array of workloads that weren’t on anybody’s radar screen even a few years ago.

There are other ways to do this on the mainframe, starting with basic SOA and web services tools and protocols, like WSDL. Many mainframe SOA efforts leverage CICS, and IBM offers additional tools, most recently SoftLayer, that address the new app dev styles.

This is healthy for mainframe data centers. If nothing else SOA- and API-driven services workloads that include the mainframe help lower the cost per workload of the mainframe. It also puts the mainframe at the center of today’s IT action.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

Latest in System z Software Pricing—Value Unit Edition

December 5, 2013

Some question how sensitive IBM is to System z costs and pricing.  Those that attended any of David Chase’s several briefings on System z software pricing at Enterprise 2013 this past October, however would realize the convulsions the organization goes through for even what seems like the most trivial of pricing adjustments. So, it is not a small deal that IBM is introducing something called Value Unit Edition (VUE) pricing for System z software.

VUE began with DB2. The purpose is to give z data centers greater pricing flexibility while encouraging new workloads on the z. VUE specifically is aimed at key business initiatives such as SOA, Web-based applications, pureXML, data warehousing and operational business intelligence (BI), and commercial (packaged) applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, and Siebel. What started as a DB2 initiative has now been extended to WebSphere MQ, CICS, and IMS workloads.

In short, VUE pricing gives you a second pricing option for eligible (meaning new) z workloads. BTW, this eligibility requirement isn’t unusual with the z; it applies to the System z Solution Edition deals too. Specifically, VUE allows you to opt to pay for the particular software as a one-time capital expenditure (CAPEX) in the form of a one-time charge (OTC) rather than as a monthly license charge (MLC), which falls into the OPEX category.

Depending on your organization’s particular circumstances the VUE option could be very helpful. Whether it is more advantageous for you, however, to opt for OTC or MLC with any eligible workload is a question only your corporate accountant can answer (and one, hopefully, that is savvy about System z software pricing overall).  This is not something z data center managers are likely to answer on their own.

Either way you go, IBM in general has set the pricing to be cost neutral with a five-year breakeven. Under some circumstances you can realize discounts around the operating systems; in those cases you may do better than a five-year breakeven. But mainly this is more about how you pay, not how much you pay. VUE pricing is available for every System z model, even older ones. Software running under VUE will have to run in its own LPAR so IBM can check its activity as it does with other software under SCRT.

In summary, the main points of VUE are:

  • One-time-charge (OTC) pricing option across key middleware and packaged applications
  • The ability to consolidate or grow new workloads without increasing operational expense
  • Deployment on a z New Application License Charge (zNALC) LPAR, which, as expected, runs under the zNALC terms and conditions
  • Of course, new applications must be qualified; it really has to be new
  • Allows a reduced price for the z/OS operating system
  • Runs as a mixed environment, some software MLC  some OTC
  • Selected ISV offerings qualify for VUE

Overall, System z software pricing can be quite baffling. There is nothing really comparable in the distributed world. The biggest benefit of VUE comes from the flexibility it allows, OPEX or CAPEX, not from not from any small discount on z/OS. Given the set of key software and middleware VUE applies to the real opportunity lies in using its availability to take bring on new projects that expand the footprint of the z in your organization. As DancingDinosaur has pointed out before, the more workloads you run on the z the lower your cost-per-workload.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog

Enterprise 2013 Offers a Packed Program of System z, zEnterprise, Linux on z Sessions

October 3, 2013

IBM’s Enterprise 2013 conference in Orlando is coming up soon, starting Oct. 21. It will combine the System z and the Power Systems technical universities with an Executive Summit. DancingDinosaur will be there and just had a chance to look over the System z session catalog, all 43 pages packed with interesting System z programs. Here are few that should be of particular interest.

BYOD –The Return of Terminals. DancingDinosaur touched on this just a couple of weeks ago here. The session will delve into what it sees as an IT revolution, where mobile devices start replacing PCs the way PCs replaced terminals. So why is this good news for the mainframe data center? Because it brings control of end user computing back to the mainframe data center.  Other mobile System z sessions look at ways to connect mobile apps to the z, the use of Worklight with the z, and the basics of enterprise mobile computing

z/OS Applications –Adapting at the Speed of Business.  The session looks at how to respond to business people hammering on your door to make changes to production applications immediately. Typically these changes are small, more about changing the business behavior of the application than any real structural change, or maybe they are timed to your business cycle.  In any case, the session examines ways to handle those changes with shorter turnaround while also establishing a common terminology between you and the business analysts.  IBM has decision management technology that can tightly integrate with your existing COBOL and PL/I applications to handle those changes. A sort of IBM’s version of DevOps for the z although it also has DevOps solutions. Anyway, the result can be more stable applications performing as well or better than they do now, while delivering the behavior the business wants. Specifically, the session will show how to use the IBM Operational Decision Manager to make your z/OS applications more responsive to the ever-changing demands of the business teams.

Moving from a Legacy Mainframe System to a Modern Environment—a case study. Actually Enterprise 2013 appears to be packed with case studies. Here Fidelity Investments will discuss how it moved from a legacy z system to a modernized agile z-based environment that supports the requirements of their customers. The session will focus on how Fidelity used Rational tools on z to build out and deploy the new environment.

IBM DevOps Solution: Collaborative Development to Spark Innovation and Integration among Teams—as it turns out, Enterprise 2013 features a number of sessions focused on DevOps, which combines app dev with an agile deployment approach. The basic idea is that application development cannot be sustained in disjointed silos. New mobile, social, big data and analytics projects demand the development process to be fast, integrated, creative, and affordable. Furthermore, business needs change quickly, making it necessary to re-prioritize work and shift resources to different projects efficiently. With advanced, productive and unified development environments from Rational and middleware from CICS, this session will show you how you can apply talent across boundaries and keep the focus on innovation and high quality code development and test.

A related session is IBM DevOps Solution: Accelerating the Delivery of Multiplatform Applications. Here mobile, social, big data, and cloud technologies are driving the demand for faster and more recurrent approaches to software delivery across all platforms, middleware, and devices. The ultimate goal is to push out significantly more features in each release and get more releases out the door with confidence, while maintaining compliance and quality. DevOps is hot; if your shop hasn’t tuned into DevOps yet, Enterprise 2013 will be a good place to get up to speed.

Moving CICS Applications into the Cloud—the cloud is going to be increasingly central in almost all you do going forward and CICS has to be there. This session introduces CICS TS 5.1 as new infrastructure to increase your service agility and move towards a service delivery platform for cloud computing. For agile service delivery, CICS resources are packaged together, hosted as applications on a platform, and managed dynamically with policies. The latest release of CICS IA (Interdependency Analyzer) allows you to gain far greater insight into your applications and their dependencies while fine-tuning application performance and identifying bottlenecks. And then there is the CICS concept of a platform. Platforms provide services and resources so that applications can be rapidly deployed based on their requirements, combined with policies that enable the behavior of applications and platforms to be managed by determining whether tasks running as part of a platform, as an application, or as types of operations within an application. Expect many CICS sessions on every topic imaginable as CICS emerges as one of the central components of IBM’s expanded idea of the mainframe.

The Enterprise 2013 program is rich with System z material. DancingDinosaur will take up more of it next week. In the meantime, please register for the conference and feel welcome to introduce yourself to me at the event. You’ll find me wherever analysts, bloggers, and journalists hang out. Also, feel welcome to follow me on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

Free Stuff Lowers Mainframe Costs

September 9, 2013

Timothy Sipples’ blog Mainframe recently ran a piece listing free software you can get for the System z. The piece, here, is pretty exhaustive, including direct links. In keeping with DancingDinosaur’s continuing search for ways to lower mainframe computing costs, listed below some of Sipples’ freebies; find more in his full piece.

While freebies are always welcome, another proven way to lower mainframe costs is by paying close attention to mainframe software usage and costs. For this, BMC introduced a mainframe software cost analyzer tool that promises to reduce mainframe software operating costs by 20%. Called the BMC Cost Analyzer for zEnterprise, it aims to help IT departments plan, report and reduce their mainframe licensing charge (MLC) by identifying system peaks and recommending preemptive cost-reduction strategies. After deploying the BMC Cost Analyzer, a typical customer consuming 5,000 MIPS — at an annual cost of $3.6 million — could save $720,000 or more with the new BMC solution, according to the company.

Linux, an open source operating system licensed under the GNU Public License (GPL), is the first place Sipples looks for mainframe freebies. The GPL license means you don’t have to pay a license fee to obtain and use Linux; Linux distributors like Novell and Red Hat, however, do charge fees for their optional support services. Here are Sipples’ freebies for Linux on z:

Sipples’ list of IBM Freebies for z/OS, z/TPF, z/VSE, and z/VM

  • IBM makes its Java Software Development Kit (SDK) releases for z/OS available at no additional charge. You may also be interested in the Java technologies available from Dovetailed, such as Co:Z and Tomcat for z/OS.
  • The DB2 Accessories Suite for z/OS (5697-Q02) includes many useful tools and accessories to make DB2 for z/OS more powerful and more useful. Examples include IBM Data Studio, SPSS Modeler Server Scoring Adapter, Spatial Support, International Components for Unicode, and Text Search.
  • Go graphical! You can manage your z/OS system much more easily with graphical interfaces for every major subsystem and component. Grab the z/OS Management Facility. From the Explorer for z/OS you can then use (or directly install) plug-ins for CICS, IMS, IBM’s application development tools, IBM’s problem determination tools, and other products.
  • The XML Toolkit for z/OS (5655-J51) adds to the XML System Services that’s already part of z/OS.
  • IBM offers many more z/OS-related downloads including the IBM Encryption Facility for z/OS Client, Logrec Viewer, LookAt, z/OS UNIX System Service Tools and Toys, and many others.
  • Be sure to install the Alternate Library for REXX to run compiled REXX programs on your z/OS and z/VM systems. Compiled programs won’t run as efficiently as when the regular licensed REXX library is installed, but at least they’ll run.
  • The z/OS Ported Tools (5655-M23) include OpenSSH, IBM HTTP Server, and many other useful products. (Rocket Software also offers several ported tools.)

BMC conducts an annual survey of z data centers. This year, as in previous years, cost concerns were the number one issue.  The number two concern was business availability. The full survey will be released at the end of this month when DancingDinosaur expects to cover it in a little more detail.

zEnterprise Back to the Future— 3270 Mainframe Computing

August 30, 2013

Remember 3270 computing? Those were the pervasive green screen terminals that connected to the mainframe. The user would tab his or her way through seemingly endless screens to get anything done? At IBMer Frank DeGillio’s presentation on mobile and the mainframe during the recent SHARE conference in Boston this image popped up.

3270 terminal

3270 terminal

DancingDinosaur hasn’t seen one of these in years. It was the last slide in DeGillio’s deck for his session titled Mobile and the Mainframe. He covered mobile, cloud, VDI, and, suddenly, this!

DeGillio wasn’t actually advocating for a return to 3270 computing.  Rather he was describing the evolving reality of mobile, cloud, and VDI.  You end up with smart devices—mobile phones and tablets—that are configured with terrific compute, memory, communications, and display capabilities. Yet for all their capabilities, there still needs to be something else. And that is the enterprise’s data and business logic. Often that resides on distributed systems, which are quickly becoming latest legacy systems.

Especially at large enterprises, which may be supporting thousands of smart mobile devices, the data and business logic more often than not lies with the mainframe. No problem; the mainframe data center knows how to handle security, availability, and scalability for tens of thousands of concurrent users. This is what mainframe data centers have done going all the way back to the 3270 days and before.

When you come down to it, the 3270 device connected to the mainframe, wasn’t that much different from today’s smart devices needing to connect to the data and business logic residing in the data center. Sure, they have compelling displays and nifty features like swipe and tap or GPS and media but they still need the enterprise business logic and data.

Combine the profusion of smart mobile devices thanks to BYOD with VDI running on the hybrid zEnterprise to serve up their Windows office productivity applications along with business applications, business logic and enterprise data at massive scale to create what resembles a 3270 system on steroids.

This is not ready for prime time today, but with some of IBM’s recent statements of direction, it may be soon.  For example, IBM intends to provide additional platform support for z/OS to an updated Worklight, its primary mobile development and deployment tool.  The company anticipates extending Worklight support to both IBM System z hardware and the z/OS operating system in the future.

As for CICS, which would have to be play a key role, IBM intends, according to a recent statement of direction, to deliver enhanced support for mobile applications interacting with IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS (CICS TS) services, using the lightweight data-interchange format JavaScript Object Notation (JSON).  IBM also intends to introduce support for deploying qualified new CICS TS workloads on IBM zNALC logical partitions (LPARs). Qualified new CICS TS applications, including approved mobile and service-enabled applications running in the CICS TS Java Virtual Machine (JVM) Server, will be eligible for CICS TS one-time-charge (OTC) pricing when deployed to a zNALC LPAR.

“We’re going back to the 3270 world,” suggested DeGillio. Well, not exactly and not immediately.  But when the industry does move that way, the mainframe data center can take over much of the heavy lifting and use its mainframe scale and expertise to lower the cost, deliver performance, and manage resources.

Cloud and distributed people can’t do this nearly as well, DeGillio continued. “Cloud people need to start a server when they want to do something else. They don’t understand isolation and scale; they don’t understand how to run VDI to z/OS on the same platform.” But mainframe data center managers do, and that’s what it will take to lower enterprise mobile computing costs and make it work at scale.

Don’t start dusting off those 3270 terminals just yet.  You can, however, start thinking about tuning your 3270 processes and procedures for use with this new generation of connected smart mobile terminals.

One place you probably won’t find 3270 terminals will be at IBM’s upcoming Enterprise 2013 conference in Orlando, Oct. 21-25. This combines the System z and Power Systems Technical University with an Executive Summit on enterprise class systems. Dancing Dinosaur expects to be there, hoping to learn, among other things, more details of the POWER 8 processor, which IBM has just started revealing publicly. It is not too early to start planning to come.

Rocket z/SQL Accesses Non-SQL Mainframe Data

August 2, 2013

Rocket Software’s z/SQL enables access to non-SQL mainframe data using standard SQL commands and queries.  The company is offering a z/SQL free trial; you can install it no charge and get full access for as many users as you want. The only caveat, the free version is limited to three files. You can download the free trial here.

z/SQL will run SQL queries against any data source that speaks ANSI 92. “The tool won’t even know it is running relational data,” explained Gregg Willhoit, managing director of the Rocket Data Lab. That means you can run it against VSAM, IMS, Adabas, DB2 for z/OS, and physical sequential files.  In addition, you can use z/SQL to make real-time SQL queries directly to mainframe programs, including CICS TS, IMS TM, CA IDMS, and Natural.

By diverting up to 99% of processing-intensive data mapping and transformation from the mainframe’s CPU to the zIIP, z/SQL lowers MIPS capacity usage and its associated costs, effectively reducing TCO. And, it opens up the zIIP to extend programs and systems of record data to the full range of environments noted above.

z/SQL’s ability to automatically detect the presence of the z’s zIIP assist processor allows it to apply its patent pending technology to further boost the zIIP’s performance advantages.  The key attributes of the zIIP processor—low  cost,  speeds often greater than the speed of the mainframe engines (sub-capacity mainframe license), and its typical low utilization—are fully exploited by z/SQL for lowering a mainframe shop’s  TCO while providing for an accelerated ROI.

Rocket z/SQL is built on Metal C, a z/OS compiler option that provides C-language extensions allowing you to specify assembly statements that call system services directly. The DRDA support and the ANSI 92 SQL engine have been developed using what amounts to a new language that allows even more of z/SQL’s work to continue to run on the zIIP.  One of the key features in Metal C is allowing z/SQL to optimize its code paths for the hardware that it’s running on.  So, no matter if you’re running on older z9 or z10 or the latest zEC12 and zBC12 processors, z/SQL chooses the code path most optimized for your hardware.

With z/SQL you can expand your System z analytics effort and push a wider range of mainframe data analytics to near real time.  Plus, the usual ETL and all of its associated disadvantages are no longer a factor.  As such z/SQL promises to be a disruptive technology that eliminates the need for ETL while pushing the analytics to where the data resides as opposed to ETL, which must bring the data to the analytics.  The latter, noted Willhoit, is fraught with performance and data currency issues.

It’s not that you couldn’t access non-SQL data before z/SQL, but it was more cumbersome and slower.  You would have to replicate data, often via FTP to something like Excel. Rocket, instead, relies on assembler to generate an optimized SQL engine for the z9, z10, z196, zEC12, and now the zBC12.  With z/SQL the process is remarkably simple: no replication, no rewriting of code, just recompile. It generates the optimized assembler (so no assembler work required on your part).

Query performance, reportedly, is quite good.  This is due, in part, because it is written in assembler, but also because it takes advantage of the z’s multi-threading. It reads the non-relational data source with one thread and uses a second thread to process the network I/O.  This parallel I/O architecture for data promises game changing performance, especially for big data, through significant parallelism of network and database I/O.  It also takes full advantage of the System z hardware by using buffer pools and large frames, essentially eliminating dynamic address translation.

z/SQL brings its own diagnostic capabilities, providing a real-time view into transaction threads with comprehensive trace/browse capabilities for diagnostics.  It enables a single, integrated approach to identifying, diagnosing and correcting data connectivity issues between distributed ODBC, ADO.NET, and JDBC client drivers and mainframes. Similarly z/SQL provides dynamic load balancing and a virtual connection facility that reduces the possibility of application failures, improves application availability and performance, as well as supports virtually unlimited concurrent users and transaction rates, according to the company. Finally, it integrates with mainframe RACF, CA-TopSecret, and CA-ACF2 as well as SSL and client-side, certificate-based authentication on distributed platforms. z/SQL fully participates in the choreography of SSL between the application platform and the mainframe.

By accessing mainframe programs and data stored in an array of relational and non-relational formats z/SQL lets you leave mainframe data in place, on the z where it belongs, and avoids the cost and risk of replication or migration. z/SQL becomes another way to turn the z into an enterprise analytics server for both SQL and non-SQL data.

Rocket calls z/SQL the world’s most advanced mainframe access and integration software. A pretty bold statement that begs to be proven through data center experience. Test it in your data center for free.  As noted above, you can download the free trial here. If you do, please let me know how it works out. (Promise it won’t be publicized here.)

New zEnterprise Business Class Entry Model—zBC12

July 23, 2013

IBM introduced its new zEnterprise Business Class machine, the equivalent of the z114 for the zEC12, the zEnterprise BC12 (zBC12).  It offers significantly more power than its predecessor but the $75,000 base price hasn’t changed.

The company has been hinting at the arrival of this machine for months (and DancingDinosaur has been passing along those hints as quickly as they came). Of particular interest is that the System z Solution Edition pricing applies to the zBC12. Solution Edition pricing should make the machine quite competitive with x86-based systems, especially when running multiple Linux instances.

IBM isn’t being coy about its intentions to discount this machine. The initial announcement touted a new Linux-only based version of the zBC12, the Enterprise Linux Server (ELS). The ELS includes hardware, the z/VM Hypervisor, and three years of maintenance at a deeply discounted price. Besides over 3,000 Linux applications it includes two new capabilities, ELS for Analytics and Cloud-Ready for Linux on System z, each acting as an onramp for analytics or cloud computing.

DancingDinosaur has been a big fan of the Solution Edition program as the only way to get serious discounts on a mainframe. The big caveat is the constraints IBM puts on the use of the discounted machine. Each Solution Edition program is negotiated so just make sure you fully understand the constraints and all the fine print so you can live with it for several years. Of course, a zBC12 can be used for anything you would use a mainframe although enterprise Linux serving seems  an ideal use.

Besides its faster processor the zBC12 also offers up 156 capacity settings on each model  to choose just the right capacity setting for your needs along with a new pay-as-you-grow approach. When it is integrated with the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator, the zBC12 can perform business analytics workloads with10x better price performance and 14 percent lower total cost of acquisition than the closest competitor, according to IBM.

Out of the box the zBC12 specs look good:

  • 4.2 GHz processor designed to deliver up to a 36% performance increase per core to help boost software performance for business-critical workloads
  • Up to six general purpose processors designed to deliver up to 58% more capacity compared to the z114, which had five general purpose processors
  • Up to a 2x increase in available memory (496 GB) compared to the z114 for improved performance of memory-demanding workloads such as DB2, IBM WebSphere, and Linux on System z

The zBC12 comes in two models, the H06 and H13. Both are air cooled, single frame, or support 30 LPARS. The H06 has one processor drawer for 9 processor units. These can be divided between SAPs, CPs, IFLs/ICFs, zIIPs and zAAPs, and 1 IFP.  The Model H113 has two processor drawers to handle 18 processor units. It allows the same mix of processor types but in larger quantities and 2 dedicated spares. There are configurations where the H06 requires the second processor drawer. The entry processing level is 50 MIPS, up from 26 MIPS with the z114 with no change in the base price.

As far as other pricing, the zBC12 follows essentially an extension of the z114 stack pricing with a 27% price/performance improvement over the z114 for specialty engine pricing, which translates in 36% greater performance for the money.  Pricing for maintenance remains the same. Software keeps with the same pricing curve with a 5% discount applied. The price of Flash Express for the zBC12 remains at $125,000.

IBM has provided a straightforward upgrade path from the z10 or zEnterprise to the zBC12 as well as from the zBC12 to the zEC12. It also can be connected to the zBX (Model 003) to seamlessly manage workloads across a hybrid computing environment consisting of multiple architectures (Linux, AIX, and Intel/Windows).

The announcement of the zBC12 was accompanied by a slew of other new z announcements, including the new IBM zEnterprise Analytics System 9710,and native JSON support to bridge the gap between mobile devices and enterprise data and services along with conversion between JSON  and the new CICS Transaction Server Feature Pack for Mobile Extensions V1.0 and DB2 11 for z/OS (ESP).  Plus there is the new z/VM v6.3 and enhancements to the z/OS Management Facility.

As DancingDinosaur noted last week, expect z sales to get a boost in the next quarter or two as organizations choose the new zBC12. With its improved price/performance and low entry pricing and the Solution Edition deal for the zBC12 ELS the z should see a nice bounce.


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