Posts Tagged ‘Rational Software’

zEC12 Drives Buoyant IBM Results

January 24, 2013

IBM posted strong 4Q 2012 and full year 2012 financials on Tuesday.  So strong that the results beat Wall Street’s expectations, as did the technology bellwether’s guidance for the current year. The results bumped up IBM’s stock and helped fuel a market rally for a couple of days at least.

DancingDinosaur particularly liked the performance of the System z. Q4 2012 revenues from System z increased 56% compared with the year-ago period, reflecting the contribution of the zEC12 introduced in 3Q 2012. System z revenue in the growth markets increased 68%. Total delivery of System z computing power, as measured in MIPS, increased 66% versus the prior year and represented the largest MIPS shipment quarter in the company’s history, according to IBM.  New workload specialty engines, including the Linux IFL, represented one-half of the MIPS shipped, a further sign that Linux on z is finally gaining real traction after a decade.

Revenues from Power Systems decreased 19% compared with the 2011 period. DancingDinosaur expects that to turn around in 2013 as more Power products using the new Power7+ processor catch on and will get a further boost when machines running the POWER8 processor come out, maybe even in late 2013. DancingDinosaur wrote about Power7+ here back in October.

Let’s let IBM’s top boss, Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and chief executive officer gloat a little: “We achieved record profit, earnings per share and free cash flow in 2012.  Our performance in the fourth quarter and for the full year was driven by our strategic growth initiatives—growth markets, analytics, cloud computing, Smarter Planet solutions—which support our continued shift to higher-value businesses. Looking ahead, we continue to invest to deliver innovations for the enterprise in key areas such as big data, mobile solutions, social business and security, while expanding into new markets and reaching new clients.  We are well on track toward our long-term roadmap for operating EPS of at least $20 in 2015. If you are an IBM fan, it doesn’t get much better than this.

DancingDinosaur was surprised that the System z was driving the bus this quarter. It expected the front position to be taken by services or software, not hardware and certainly not the z, which sometimes comes across as a multi-billion dollar afterthought.

Software was another high point. According to IBM, software rang up $7.9 billion, an increase of 3% (up 4%, adjusting for currency) from 4Q 2011. Of more interest to DancingDinosaur was IBM’s key middleware products, which are key to driving new workloads on the z.

The middleware products, which include WebSphere, Information Management, Tivoli, Lotus, and Rational rang up $5.5 billion, an increase of 5% (up 6%, adjusting for currency) versus 4Q 2011. Specifically, revenues from the WebSphere family of software products increased 11% year over year.  Information Management software revenues increased 2% and revenues from Tivoli software increased 4%.  The best performers were Lotus software (including IBM Connections), which increased 9%, and Rational software, up 12%.  It is these products, along with Linux on z and Java that enable the kind of new workloads mainframe shops are likely to run.

So, DancingDinosaur has to conclude that this was a pretty good week for IBM and particularly for those invested in the mainframe.

System z Application Modernization

December 10, 2012

People still complain about how they are held back by old green-screen mainframe applications. It’s not the underlying business logic or application performance they usually are complaining about—that apparently remains rock solid and relevant and has been, in some cases, for decades—but the user interface. Granted, 3270 apps are clunky to use and require plowing through cumbersome screen sequences to complete even a simple task and scream for modernization but they can be modernized through CICS.

Another complaint is that the applications are difficult to change, especially now when organizations want to provide access to mainframe logic and data to users with smartphones or tablets. The question then is what degree of modernization: a pretty GUI facelift or something more structural or maybe a migration to a new platform.  In the age of IBM hybrid computing, you actually have a lot more options than you did even a year ago.

IBM, mainly through the Rational Software group, offers a variety of ways to modernize z applications. You can start with the System z tools here. They enable you to develop mainframe-based applications in COBOL, PL/I, Assembler, C/C++, and Java, as well as workstation-based applications in COBOL, PL/I, and Java.

WebSphere, the app server, is another way to modernize z apps using Java and J2EE. IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere accelerates the development and deployment of not only Java, Java EE, Web 2.0 but mobile, portal, and service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications by providing integrated tools for development, testing, profiling, and delivery of applications. Recent upgrades to CICS also make SOA-based modernization even more appealing with support for some of the latest goodies like Atom feeds, RESTful interfaces, and more.

For several years DancingDinosaur has been touting SOA as the most direct way to modernize and repurpose mainframe logic and data. IBM Rational Developer for SOA Construction enables you to create and maintain RPG and COBOL applications as well as modernize them with a variety of techniques using IBM HATS. IBM’s developerWorks has the latest on SOA and web services. Ball State University has been using SOA to modernize its z applications for several years. For example, the school made the critical student schedule app, a CICS system, available to students anywhere, anytime, from any device.  You can read Independent Assessment’s case study here.

Since social business promises to be the next thing, you can develop social business applications through Linux on z, either Red Hat or SUSE, using IBM Connections and WebSphere.  Social business will become of interest to z shops as companies begin collecting social sentiment data on the z and want to analyze it fast.

System z shops actually have been doing some of this for a while.  IBM reports an ISV seeking to increase efficiency and improve time to market for its z software products took advantage of the Metal C feature of the IBM z/OS XL C/C++ compiler to enable its programmers to write code in the C syntax and leverage advanced optimization technology in the z/OS XL C/C++ compiler. The IBM compiler’s Metal C feature cut development time by up to 66% while the company capitalized on C programming skills.

Even IBM reports its CICS dev team tapped IBM Rational Team Concert and IBM Rational Developer for System z software to convert its product development cycle from the existing waterfall development processes to agile development methods. The team used the Rational products to create a highly configurable, end-to-end integrated development environment. Adopting an agile approach and using IBM Rational software has helped the team reduce the amount of preparation required for status meetings by 75% and improved the efficiency of status meetings, decreasing meeting times by 33%. Anything that shortens meetings is worth its weight in gold.

The point is that z shops can do all the sexy app dev stuff—Java, cloud, social, mobile, agile, SOA—to produce richer, more flexible apps faster. And do so without abandoning the z or eating its considerable investment in the mainframe and still bring the z’s compelling virtues it brings to the party.


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