Posts Tagged ‘WebSphere’

Best System z TCO in Cloud and Virtualization

May 1, 2014

IBM recently analyzed various likely customer workload scenarios and found that the System z as an enterprise Linux server could consistently beat x86 machines in terms of TCO.  The analysis, which DancingDinosaur will dig into below, was reasonably evenhanded although, like automobile mileage ratings, your actual results may vary.

DancingDinosaur has long contended that the z Enterprise Linux Server acquired under the deeply discounted IBM System z Solution Edition program could beat comparable x86 based systems not only in terms of TCO but even TCA. Algar, a Brazilian telecom, acquired its initial z Enterprise Linux server to consolidate a slew of x86 systems and lay a foundation for scalable growth. It reports cutting data center costs by 70%. Nationwide Insurance, no newcomer to mainframe computing, used the zEnterprise to consolidate Linux servers, achieving $46 million in savings.

The point: the latest IBM TCO analyses confirm what IBM and the few IT analysts who talk to z customers have been saying for some time. TCO advantage, IBM found, switches to the z Enterprise Linux Server at around 200 virtual machines compared to the public cloud and a bit more VMs compared to x86 machines.

IBM further advanced its cause in the TCO/TCA battle with the recent introduction of the IBM Enterprise Cloud System. This is a factory-built and integrated system—processor, memory, network, IFLs, virtualization management, cloud management, hypervisor, disk orchestration, Linux OS—priced (discounted) as a single solution. IBM promises to deliver it in 45 days and have it production ready within hours of hitting the organization’s loading dock. Of course, it comes with the scalability, availability, security, manageability, etc. long associated with the z, and IBM reports it can scale to 6000 VMs. Not sure how this compares in price to a Solution Edition Enterprise Linux Server.

The IBM TCO analysis compared the public cloud, x86 cloud, and the Enterprise Cloud System in terms power and space, labor, software/middleware, and hardware costs when running 48 diverse (a range of low, medium, and high I/O) workloads. In general it found an advantage for the z Enterprise Cloud System of 34-73%.  The z cost considerably more in terms of hardware but it more than made up for it in terms of software, labor, and power. Overall, the TCO examined more than 30 cost variables, ranging from blade/IFL/memory/storage amounts to hypervisor/cloud management/middleware maintenance. View the IBM z TCO presentation here.

In terms of hardware, the z included the Enterprise Linux Server, storage, z/VM, and IBM Wave for z/VM. Software included WebSphere Application Server middleware, Cloud Management Suite for z, and Tivoli for z/VM. The x86 cloud included HP hardware with a hypervisor, WebSphere Application Server, SmartCloud Orchestrator, SmartCloud Monitoring, and Tivoli Storage Manager EE. Both analyses included labor to manage both hardware and VMs, power and space costs, and SUSE Linux.

The public cloud assumptions were a little different. Each workload was deployed as a separate instance. The pricing model was for AWS reserved instances. Hardware costs were based on instances in east US region with SUSE, EBS volume, data in/out, support (enterprise), free and reserved tier discounts applied. Software costs included WebSphere Application Server ND (middleware) costs for instances. A labor cost was included for managing instances.

When IBM applied its analysis to 398 I/O diverse workloads the results were similar, 49-75% lower cost with the Cloud System on z. Again, z hardware was considerably more costly than either x86 or the public cloud. But z software and labor was far less than the others. In terms of 3-year TCO, the cloud was the highest at $37 M, x86 came in at $18.3 M, and the Cloud on z cost $9.4 M. With 48 workloads, the z again came in with lowest TCO at $1 M compared to $1.6 M for x86 systems, and $3.9 M for the public cloud.

IBM kept the assumptions equivalent across the platforms. If you make different software and middleware choices or a different mix of high-mid-low I/O workloads your results will be different but the overall comparative rankings probably won’t change all that much.

Still time to register for IBM Edge2014 in Las Vegas, May 19-23. This blogger will be there hanging around the bloggers lounge when not attending sessions. Please join me there.

Follow Alan Radding/DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

The Future of IBM Lies in the Cloud

March 13, 2014

In her annual letter to stockholders IBM CEO Virginia Rometty made it clear that the world is being forever altered by the explosion of digital data and by the advent of the cloud. So, she intends IBM to “remake the enterprise IT infrastructure for the era of cloud.” This where she is leading IBM.

DancingDinosaur thinks she has it right. But where does that leave this blog, which was built on the System z, Power Systems, and IBM’s enterprise systems? Hmm.

Rometty has an answer for that buried far down in her letter. “We are accelerating the move of our Systems product portfolio—in particular, Power and storage—to growth opportunities and to Linux, following the lead of our successful mainframe business. “

The rapidly emerging imperatives of big data, cloud computing, and mobile/social require enterprise-scale computing in terms of processing power, capacity, availability, security, and all the other ities that have long been the hallmark of the mainframe and IBM’s other enterprise class systems. She goes so far as to emphasize that point:  “Let me be clear—we are not exiting hardware. IBM will remain a leader in high-performance and high-end systems, storage and cognitive computing, and we will continue to invest in R&D for advanced semiconductor technology.”

You can bet that theme will be continued at the upcoming Edge 2014 conference May 19-23 in Las Vegas. The conference will include an Executive program, a Technical program with 550 expert technical sessions across 14 tracks, and a partner program. It’s being billed as an infrastructure innovation event and promises a big storage component too. Expect to see a lot of FlashSystems and XIV, which has a new pay-as-you-go pricing program that will make it easy to get into XIV and scale it fast as you need it. You’ll probably also encounter some other new go-to-market strategies for storage.

As far as getting to the cloud, IBM has been dropping billions to build out about as complete a cloud stack as you can get.  SoftLayer, the key piece, was just the start. BlueMix, an implementation of IBM’s Open Cloud Architecture, leverages Cloud Foundry to enable developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage their cloud applications while tapping a growing ecosystem of available services and runtime frameworks, many of which are open source. IBM will provide services and runtimes into the ecosystem based on its already extensive and rapidly expanding software portfolio. BlueMix is the IBM PaaS offering that compliments SoftLayer, its IaaS offering. Cloudant, the most recent acquisition, brings database as a service (DBaaS) to the stack. And don’t forget IBM Wave for z/VM, which virtualizes and manages Linux VMs, a critical cloud operation for sure. With this conglomeration of capabilities IBM is poised to offer something cloud-like to just about any organization. Plus, tying WebSphere and its other middleware products to SoftLayer bolsters the cloud stack that much more.

And don’t think IBM is going to stop here. DancingDinosaur expects to see more acquisitions, particularly when it comes to hybrid clouds and what IBM calls systems of engagement. Hybrid clouds, for IBM, link systems of engagement—built on mobile and social technologies where consumers are engaging with organizations—with systems of record, the main workloads of the System z and Power Systems, where data and transactions are processed.

DancingDinosaur intends to be at Edge 2014 where it expects to see IBM detailing a lot of its new infrastructure and demonstrating how to use it. You can register for Edge 2014 here until April 20 and grab a discount.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

New Ways to Lower System z Costs

April 26, 2013

The latest System z capacity offerings offer new ways to boost z usage at  lower cost. The offerings were developed jointly with z users in response to their specific business requirements.

The offerings, reflecting IBM’s willingness to be flexible on pricing, enable z users who typically handle operations like development and testing on cheaper x86 platforms to move those operations to the z while getting the additional capacity they would need at a lower cost. In the process, they eliminate the extra steps involved in deploying the finished production system on the z. You can find more info on IBM System z software here.

With the new capacity offerings and other initiatives, IBM is demonstrating its intention to drive down the cost of mainframe computing in a variety of ways. For example, with the System z capacity offering for Cloud, IBM offers the flexibility to increase capacity, then move portions of that incremental capacity within a 12-18 month period. This enables clients to grow before they know exactly where they’ll want to run the work, a welcome sign of flexibility. 

For System z disaster recovery in the cloud, again users gain more flexibility by moving workloads between systems.  For clients who are working aggressively towards business resiliency and disaster recovery, this can be very valuable and removes the restrictions previously out there on the number of tests than can be run.

Specifically, this allows active capacity mobility between zEnterprise primary servers and disaster recovery servers (mirrored data center) for more than just a one-time test.  IBM also offers comparable deals in the form of active multiplex pricing for GDPS Active/Active workloads.  While the DR offering requires all workload moves to the DR box at one time, the active multiplex offering allows fractional workload movement.

And finally, with the System z Test and Development offering, IBM is now allowing for discounts for clients who want do their testing on the platform. Previously, IBM was willing to lower the cost for development, but now, by doing development and test on the platform, it’s making the mainframe more attractive again.

None of this is exactly new. Last June DancingDinosaur reported that IBM was moving in this direction with its System z capacity offering for the cloud.  For more, click here.

IBM also announced new System z software for development, deployment and automation of workloads, described as simple-to-use tools for mainframe development. They start with a new enterprise COBOL compiler that promises significant performance improvements to meet increasingly narrow batch windows organizations face and a new Rational Developer for System z and Rational Developer for Enterprise.

Given increasing demands for new ways to connect the z to mobile activities, IBM also announced enhancements to CICS; specifically the CICS TS feature pack for mobile extension, the IBM Mobile messaging client, and Cognos Mobile on z/OS among others. Organizations have been connecting mobile applications to the z for years using SOA and gateways in one form or another.  These just provide another, possible more efficient way to do it.

After you build the app you need to deploy it. For this IBM announced a new Business Process Manager for z/OS, the Operational Decision Manager for z/OS, and Integration Bus on z/OS (previously called IBM WebSphere Message Broker for z/OS). Organizations also can rapidly deploy Java workloads with the new CICS Transaction Server for z/OS, Value Unit Edition. Finally, Tivoli System Automation on z/OS can provide automated end-to-end deployment and management.

At the same briefing IBM introduced Algar Telecom, a Brazilian telco that offers other services as well. A new z user, Algar consolidated large numbers of Intel servers on a z196 and zBX, an example of z-based hybrid computing.  It offers an interesting experience DancingDinosaur will take up in a later post here along with the experience of a z196 shop that upgraded to a zEC12 to create a z-based production systems core around a slew of Intel blades. Both organizations report good results.

Finally, please note: the IBM Edge Conference 2013 is coming up in Las Vegas, June 10-14. Last year Edge was primarily a storage event. This year there continues to be a large amount of storage material, including considerable new material around System z storage, but it appears IBM has expanded the program beyond storage. DancingDinosaur covered it last year and will begin covering Edge 2013 in a series of posts leading up to the event. Please join me in Las Vegas.  If you register here by 4/28 you can save a few bucks. Look for me there; I’ll be the blogger wearing the Mainframes Rule t-shirt.

Getting the Payback from System z Outsourcing

February 1, 2013

A survey from Compuware Corporation on attitudes of CIOs toward mainframe outsourcing showed a significant level of dissatisfaction with one or another aspect of mainframe outsourcing. Check out the survey here.

Mainframe outsourcing has been a fixture of mainframe computing since the outset. The topic  is particularly interesting in light of the recent piece DancingDinosaur posted on winning the talent war a couple of weeks ago. Organizations intending to succeed are scrambling to find and retain the talent they need for all their IT systems, mainframe and otherwise.  In short, they need skills in all the new areas, like cloud computing, mobile access, and most urgently, big data analytics.  In addition, there is the ongoing need for Java, Linux, WebSphere, and CICS in growing System z data centers.  The rise of z-based hybrid computing and expert integrated hybrid PureSystems to some extent broadens the potential talent pool while reducing the amount of skilled experts required. Still, mainframe outsourcing remains a popular option.

The new Compuware survey found that reducing costs is a major driver for outsourcing mainframe application development, maintenance, and infrastructure. Yet multiple  associated costs are frustrating 71% of CIOs. These costs result from increases in MIPS consumption, as well as higher investments in testing and troubleshooting due mainly to poor application quality and performance.  In fact, two-thirds (67%) of respondents reported overall dissatisfaction with the quality of new applications or services provided by their outsourcer. The source of the problem: a widening in-house skills gap and difficulties with knowledge transfer and staff churn within outsource vendors.

Compuware has published a related white paper titled, Mainframe Outsourcing: Removing the Hidden Costs, which expands on the findings from the study. The company’s recommendations to remove the costs amount to reverse engineering the problems revealed in the initial survey. These include:

  • Utilize MIPS better
  • Explore pricing alternatives to CPU-based pricing
  • Improve the quality of new applications
  • Boost knowledge transfer between outsourcers and staff
  • Measure and improve code efficiency at the application level
  • Take advantage of baseline measurement to objectively analyze outsourcer performance

The System z offers numerous tools to monitor and manage usage and efficiency, and vendors like Compuware, CA, BMC, and others bring even more.

The MIPS consumption problem is typical. As Compuware reports: mainframes are being used more than ever, meaning consumption is naturally on the rise. This is not a bad thing.

However, where consumption is escalating due to inefficient coding, adding unnecessary costs. For example, MIPS costs are increasing on average by 21% year over year, with 40% of survey respondents claiming that consumption is getting out of control. Meanwhile, 88% of respondents using pay structures based on CPU consumption (approximately 42% of those surveyed) think their outsourcer could manage CPU costs better, and 57% of all respondents believe outsourcers do not worry about the efficiency of the applications that they write.

New workloads also are driving costs. For example, 60% of survey respondents believe that the increase in applications like mobile banking are driving higher MIPS usage and creating additional costs. Just think what they’d report when big data analytic applications start kicking in although some of this processing should be offloaded to assist processors.

The Compuware study is interesting and informative. Yes, outsourcers should be pressed to utilize MIPS more efficiently. At a minimum, they should shift workloads to assist processors that have lower cost per MIPS.  Similarly, developers should be pressed to boost the efficiency of their code. But this will require an investment in tools to measure and benchmark that code and hire QA staff.

A bigger picture view, however, suggests that focusing just on MIPS is counterproductive. You want to encourage more workloads on the z even if they use more MIPS because the z can run at near 100% utilization and still perform reliably. Higher utilization translates into lower costs per workload. And with the cost per MIPS decreasing with each rev of the zEnterprise the cost per workload keeps improving.  Measure, monitor, and benchmark and do whatever else you can to drive efficient operation, but aim to leverage the zEnterprise to the max for your best overall payback.

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.

IBM Edge 2013—Next Year in Las Vegas

August 2, 2012

The IBM storage conference, Edge 2012, stunned this blogger when he walked into the first plenary session and saw over 2000 people.  Pretty impressive for a first-time conference. The sessions were meaty. You can experience some of the best sessions here. This blogger recapped the conference here, on DancingDinosaur’s sister blog, BottomlineIT.

Now IBM has announced plans to do it again next June. IBM Edge 2013 will be at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, June 10-14.  Check the details here. They promise more sessions, more announcements, and more customer presentations.  Expect a dozen or so, maybe more, zEnterprise storage sessions, and more for PureSystems and Power. DancingDinosaur expects to attend but nothing has been firmed up yet.

By now everyone has seen the latest IBM quarterly report (2Q 12), an improvement for sure. Second-quarter net income was $3.9 billion compared with $3.7 billion in the second quarter of 2011, an increase of 6%.

Total revenues for the second quarter of 2012 of $25.8 billion were down 3% (up 1%, adjusting for currency) from the second quarter of 2011.  Said a bullish Ginni Rometty, IBM president and chief executive officer: “Looking ahead, we are well positioned to deliver greater value to a wider range of clients and to our shareholders. Given our performance in the first half and our outlook for the second half, we are raising our full-year operating earnings per share expectations to at least $15.10.” You can check out the IBM 2Q announcement here.

Looking at the hardware and software products, there certainly is reason to expect growth. For hardware revenues from the Systems and Technology segment totaled $4.3 billion for the quarter, down 9% (down 7%, adjusting for currency) from the second quarter of 2011. Total systems revenues decreased 7% (down 5 %, adjusting for currency). Revenues from Power Systems were down 7% compared with the 2011 period but just besting System x where revenues dropped 8%.

Revenues from System z mainframe server products decreased 11% compared with a year earlier. Total delivery of System z computing power, as measured in MIPS, decreased 8%. Revenues from System Storage decreased 4%. The mainframe decline was to be expected. IBM historically refreshes the mainframe every three years so the zEnterprise is due a refresh in 2013, which Jeff Frey confirmed to DancingDinosaur just a few weeks ago.

The new rev, noted Frey, will address some of the current gaps, like partition mobility and live image mobility as well as the usual bigger and faster story. You can see more of DancingDinosaur’s previous discussion with Frey here. At this point, it makes sense for shops to delay refreshing their mainframe hardware unless IBM is offering an incredible deal they cannot refuse.

The picture was better on the software side. Revenues from software were $6.2 billion, flat (up 4%, adjusting for currency) compared with the second quarter of 2011. Revenues from IBM’s key middleware products, which include WebSphere, Information Management, Tivoli, Lotus and Rational products—all products mainframe shops typically use—were $3.9 billion, flat (up 4%, adjusting for currency) versus the second quarter of 2011. Operating systems revenues of $628 million were flat (up 3%, adjusting for currency) compared with the prior-year quarter. The two brightest sports were the WebSphere family of software products where revenues increased 3% year over year and Tivoli, which increased 2%. Information Management software revenues decreased 1%. Revenues from Lotus decreased 8%, and Rational revenue dropped 7%.

As IBM’s CFO Mark Loughridge put it in the announcement: IBM gained market share in its high-end server businesses,  which includes the zEnterprise mainframes. The world needs servers even amidst model cycles and economic challenges so winning the market share battle helps assure future success. IBM’s history is replete with examples of its prospering during lean times. And when the new z arrives, DancingDinosuar expects a pickup to follow.

Postscript to DancingDinosaur’s July 10 piece on the HP Itanium future: HP yesterday won its lawsuit against Oracle, which has been ordered by the court to continue to support its software on the Itanium platform. An appeal will surely follow.

Use the zEnterprise to Refresh the Internet

May 15, 2012

IBM briefings following Impact 2012 raised the idea that in any number of ways the Internet, Web—online computing—badly needs refreshing. And it applies as much to zEnterprise shops as it does to Power and System x shops.  Especially with leading zEnterprise shops like Nationwide deploying WebSphere the zEnterprise has landed right in the latest WebSphere v8.5 action.

The online experience certainly has changed. It’s a familiar litany of change: mobile, cloud, big data, social networking, gamification. (All recently covered by DancingDinosaur.) And the devices to connect—15 billion mobile devices alone expected by 2015 plus the usual array of laptops, netbooks, desktops, thin devices—create a huge universe of diverse users that will be accessing data and applications through your data center.

When was the last time you reassessed your organization’s Internet, intranet, or online strategy? Given the explosion on new online options and audiences, it may pay to revamp your Internet and intranet approach for customers, employees, and partners.

Given recent factoids: online retailers may (?) have lost $44.6B in 2010 due to online customer experience problems (Harris Interactive) or  another—disengaged workers cost U.S. businesses as much as $350 billion a year (Gallup Research)—it makes sense at least to revitalize the online user experience.

WebSphere is emerging as IBM’s primary vehicle for refreshing the online environment. For the zEnterprise, it becomes the primary bridge to the Web. WebSphere will handle mobile apps through the latest releases of Worklight and the IBM Mobile Foundation, which also includes IBM Cast Iron for simplified backend connectivity to disparate systems. Cast Iron also provides new Web API services capabilities for the rapid assembly of services as well as governed secure gateways. IBM’s Endpoint Manager for Mobile devices handles both BYOD and corporate devices.

Appliances, like IBM’s Gateway XG45 appliance for web services and WebSphere DataPower, also loom large in this refreshed IT environment. To that end, WebSphere brings the Appliance Management Center to deliver policy-based configuration and firmware deployment for appliance clusters.

New for the zEnterprise is WebSphere’s IBM Business Process Manager Advanced v8 on z/OS. This is intended to modernize and extend zEnterprise operations. System z data centers can use it to bolster existing mission-critical z/OS applications, modernize for new business opportunities, and unify process solutions seamlessly across distributed and zEnterprise environments.

To create exceptional overall customer and worker online experiences IBM recommends bringing together the essential capabilities to create, manage, and deliver engaging multi-channel web experiences. To that end, IBM has pulled together a set of tool addressing both external customers and internal workers and partners. You can check out the IBM Customer Experience Suite here and the IBM Intranet Experience Suite here

When the Internet first emerged the mainframe sat mainly in the background acting as a big server that passed data and processing results to intermediate servers feeding the growing information appetite of web users. Now, in the age of hybrid computing, public/private/hybrid clouds, and mobile and social networking the zEnterprise can play a much more active and central role.  And there is good reason for zEnterprise shops to do just that: organizations that have optimized engagement, according to Gallup Research, outperformed their competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth.

IBM z114 Use Cases

November 1, 2011

Nobody in a position to buy a mainframe seriously believes they will get a z114 capable of doing real work for $75k, the z114 entry price. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a worthwhile bargain. That was the message from a webinar featuring DancingDinosaur, Bob Thomas from MainframeZone, and an IBM product manager. You can register and tune into the free webinar here.

IBM describes the economics of Linux consolidation on a z114 as such:

  • Consolidate an average of 30 distributed servers or more on a single core, or
    hundreds in a single footprint
  • Consolidate 40 Oracle server cores to 2 Linux engines
  • Deliver a virtual Linux server for approximately $500 per year (TCA)

Now with new Windows x-blades about to become available for the zBX and with the z114 able to play with the zBX an entirely new set of consolidation options emerges around Windows. This will open yet another price/performance calculus.

For example, IBM insists that zBX blades will be priced competitive with industry blades. A popular third party reseller offers IBM Hx5 blades for from just under $5000 (Server – blade – 2-way – 1 x Xeon E7-4807 / 1.86 GHz – RAM 8 GB – no HDD) to around $18,000 (Server – blade – 2-way – 2 x Xeon E7-2870 / 2.4 GHz – RAM 16 GB – no HDD). All are Windows server certified.

It isn’t clear, however, how many early z114 customers are going to opt for a zBX. At the z114 webinar the IBM product manager reported a few initial z114 adopters did add the zBX. Eventually organizations may turn to a minimally configured z114 to take advantage of hybrid computing through the zBX, managing the entire multi-platform system through the Unified Resource Manager on the z114.

Now, what can you do with a $75k z114? Essentially nothing. This is the price of the basic hardware. IBM addresses the issue this way:

  • The z114 hardware price represents a true working entry configuration for customers with entry level capacity requirements. It is based on a new z114 A01 Model M05 including 26 MIPS of capacity, 8GB’s of memory, and an entry level quantity of OSA, FICON, and ESCON adapters for connectivity.
  • It provides a solid and cost effective foundation from which clients can easily grow as requirements demand while other cost reductions follow: 17-25% price reductions on z specialty engines (IFLs, zIIPs, zAAP, ICFs), 75% reduction for memory, deeply discounted Solution Edition offerings, and a new lower software curve that lowers costs 5% or more
  • Organizations already are doing real work on entry level machines running either z/OS, VSE, or a mixture of operating systems. Such workloads include CICS, batch programs, and small legacy applications sitting on z/VSE.

As DancingDinosaur points out in the webinar, it will end up costing about double the entry hardware price to do meaningful work. For existing z10 BC shops the z114 is the natural upgrade. They’ll get more capabilities and faster performance at a lower cost. They also will enjoy lower pricing for specialty processors and memory and a more favorable software pricing curve.

Other recommended z114 use cases: a Linux, Oracle, SAP consolidation play. Consolidate more virtual servers per core and benefit from the favorable idiosyncrasies of Oracle virtual server licensing on the mainframe.

From there you can just pick and choose workloads for the z114 from IBM’s z Solution Edition Program and get discounted hardware, software, middleware, and maintenance. First up can be Enterprise Linux & ELS; the Cloud Starter Edition, especially when combined as part of the new zEnterprise starter edition for the cloud for the z114; WebSphere; and application development.

The initial z114 price runs 25% less than an equivalent z10 BC configuration, which many of IBM customers are leveraging today not only for smaller production workloads but also as a backup and/or development/test environment. As it turns out, there is much you can do with a z114 even without jumping to the M10 version.

New IBM z114 Reduces Mainframe TCA

July 12, 2011

IBM introduced its newest mainframe in the zEnterprise family, the z114, the zEnterprise equivalent of a z10 BC. With the z114 IBM can now deliver a more compelling total cost of acquisition (TCA) case. The z114 comes with a $75,000 entry price, 25% less than the z10 BC entry price while delivering 18% more performance per core. At this price, it can begin to compete with commodity high end servers on a TCA basis, especially if it is bundled with discount programs like IBM’s System z Solution Editions and unpublicized deals from IBM Global Finance.

First, the specs, speeds, and feeds:  the z114 is available in two models; a single-drawer model, the M05, and a two-drawer model, the M10, which offers additional capacity for I/O and coupling expansion and/or more specialty engines. It comes with up to 10 configurable cores, which can be designated as general purpose or specialty engine (zIIP, zAAP, IFL, ICF) or used as spares. The M10 also allows two dedicated spares as well, a first for a low end mainframe.

Like the z196, the z114 uses a superscalar design that runs at 3.8 GHz, an improved cache structure, a new out-of-order execution sequence, and over 100 new hardware instructions that deliver better per-thread performance, especially for DB2, WebSphere and Linux workloads. For CPU intensive workloads, additional gains of up to 25% can be achieved via multiple compiler level improvements. None of this, however, is technically new to the zEnterprise. The base z114 starts at 26 MIPS but can scale to over 3100 MIPS across five central processors plus the additional capacity provided by its specialty engines.

The z114 mainly will be a consolidation play. IBM calculates that workloads from as many as 300 competitive servers can be consolidated onto a single z114. It will become the key offering as IBM pursues competitive wins against HP and Oracle/Sun, ripe targets these days. IBM figures the z114 can consolidate workloads from 40 Oracle server cores using just three processors running Linux. And compared to the Oracle servers IBM estimates the new z114 will cost 80% less. Similarly, IBM figures that a fully configured z114 running Linux on z can create and maintain a Linux virtual server for approximately $500 per year.

As a consolidation play, the zEnterprise System will get even more interesting later this year when x blades supporting Windows become available. Depending on the pricing, the z114 could become a Windows consolidation play too.

As part of the zEnterprise family, the z114 connects to the zBX where it can manage workloads running on POWER7-based blades as well as theIBM Smart Analytics Optimizer and IBM WebSphere DataPower for integrating web-based workloads. The zBX can handle up to 112 blades, which can be mixed and matched within the same zBX chassis. The maximum number of blades varies depending on the type of blades selected: 112 Power blades but only 28  System x HX5 or DataPower blades or 56 Smart Analytics Optimizer blades. In additionIBM also promises support for Microsoft Windows on select System x server blades soon.

To drive competitive TCA, IBM clearly is ready to make deals. For example, IBM also has lowered software costs to deliver the same capacity for 5%-18% less through a revised Advanced Workload License Charges (AWLC) pricing schedule. A new processor value unit (PVU) rating on IFLs can lower Linux costs as much as 48%. Some prices, however, may bump up when new pricing takes effect in January 2012.

The best deal is the System z Solution Edition Program which DancingDinosaur has written about here and here.  It bundles System z hardware, software, middleware, and three years of maintenance into a deeply discounted package price. Initial System Editions for the z114 will be WebSphere, Linux, and probably SAP. You also can expect what IBM refers to as snap-ons that provide discounted optional service components to the existing base system. Expect these initially for the IBM Enterprise Linux Server. Cloud and Smarter Planet offerings also may include snap-ons. Not all Solution Editions will be available for the z114; there also may be some new ones.

IBM Global Finance (IGF) can lower costs, starting with a six month payment deferral. You can acquire a z114 now but not begin paying for it until the next year. The group also is offering all IBM middleware products, mainly WebSphere Application Server and Tivoli, interest free (0%) for twelve months. Finally, IGF can lower TCA through leasing. Leasing could further reduce the cost of the z114 by up to 3.5% over three years.

In the end the z114 doesn’t bring any major technology breakthroughs to the zEnterprise that weren’t previously seen in the z196, except maybe the PCIe I/O subsystem. What it brings is a new pricing structure for lower TCA and better price/performance. Yes, the capabilities have been ratcheted down, but the growth path to the full zEnterprise remains if you need it.


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