Posts Tagged ‘z114’

Enterprise 2013—System z Storage, Hybrid Computing, Social and More

October 10, 2013

The abstract for the Enterprise 2013 System z program runs 43 pages. Haven’t tallied the number of sessions offered but there certainly are enough to keep you busy for the entire conference (Oct. 20-25, in Orlando, register now) and longer.

Just the storage-related sessions are wide ranging, from  DFSM, which DancingDinosaur covered a few weeks back following the SHARE Boston event here, to the IBM Flash portfolio, System z Flash Express, dynamically provisioning Linux on z storage, capacity management, and more. For storage newcomers, there even is a two-part session on System z Storage Basics.

A storage session titled the Evolution of Space Management looks interesting.  After the advent of System Managed Storage (SMS), the mainframe went decades without much change in the landscape of space management processing. Space management consisted of the standard three-tier hierarchy of Primary Level 0 and the two Migration tiers, Migration Level 1 (disk) and Migration Level 2 (tape).This session examines recent advances in both tape and disk technologies that have dramatically changed that landscape and provided new opportunities for managing data on the z. Maybe they will add a level above primary called flash next year. This session will cover how the advances are evolving the space management hierarchy and what to consider when determining which solutions are best for your environment.

IBM has been going hog-wild with flash, the TMS acquisition playing no small part no doubt. Any number of sessions deal with flash storage. This one, IBM’s Flash Portfolio and Futures, seems particularly appealing. It takes a look at how IBM has acquired and improved upon flash technology over what amounts to eight generations technology refinements.  The session will look at how flash will play a major role across not only IBM’s storage products but IBM’s overall solution portfolio. Flash technology is changing the way companies are managing their data today and it is changing the way they understand and manage the economics of technology. This session also will cover how IBM plans to leverage flash in its roadmap moving forward.

Hybrid computing is another phenomenon that has swept over the z in recent years. For that reason this session looks especially interesting, Exploring the World of zEnterprise Hybrid: How Does It Work and What’s the Point? The IBM zEnterprise hybrid system introduces the Unified Resource Manager, allowing an IT shop to manage a collection of one or more zEnterprise nodes, including an optionally attached zBX loaded with blades for different platforms, as a single logical virtualized system through a single mainframe console. The mainframe can now act as the primary point of control through which data center personnel can deploy, configure, monitor, manage, and maintain the integrated System z and zBX blades based on heterogeneous architectures but in a unified manner. It amounts to a new world of blades and virtual servers with the z at the center of it.

Maybe one of the hardest things for traditional z data center managers to get their heads around is social business on the mainframe. But here it is: IBM DevOps Solution: Accelerating the Delivery of Multiplatform Applications looks at social business and mobile along with big data, and cloud technologies as driving the demand for faster approaches to software delivery across all platforms, middleware, and devices. The ultimate goal is to push out more features in each release and get more releases out the door with confidence, while maintaining compliance and quality. To succeed, some cultural, process, and technology gaps must be addressed through tools from Rational.

IBM has even set itself up as a poster child for social business in another session, Social Business and Collaboration at IBM, which features the current deployment within IBM of its social business and collaboration environments. Major core components are currently deployed on System z. The session will look at what IBM is doing and how they do it and the advantages and benefits it experiences.

Next week, the last DancingDinosaur posting before Enterprise 2013 begins will look at some other sessions, including software defined everything and Linux on z.

When DancingDinosaur first started writing about the mainframe over 20 years ago it was a big, powerful (for the time), solid performer that handled a few core tasks, did them remarkably well, and still does so today. At that time even the mainframe’s most ardent supporters didn’t imagine the wide variety of things it does now as can be found at Enterprise 2013.

Please follow DancingDinosaur and its sister blogs on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

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.

New Announcements Fuel zEnterprise Rebound

February 6, 2013

A couple of weeks ago DancingDinosaur looked at the year-end results posted by IBM, with the z, led by the zEC12, leading the gains. Despite some tough quarters earlier in 2012, the System z has been on quite a roll; in 4Q12  it experienced 56% year to year revenue growth, the strongest since 2000.

The numbers look that much when better compared to what had immediately preceded them. In 3Q12, the z was down 19% on revenue (ouch).

The financials prove what long-time IBM watchers know: a new mainframe intro always kicks up the numbers, although it may take a quarter or two. The new machine, the zEC12, launched at the end of August 2012. Historically IBM follows a new mainframe with a business class version about a year after the initial launch, so we can expect a business class version of the zEC12 around August or September. (The z114 was introduced in July 2011, a year after the z196.) You can expect IBM will price it aggressively, as was the z114.

But it wasn’t only the new machine driving the good number.  Since the introduction of hybrid computing in 2010 with the zEnterprise 196, IBM has been doggedly pushing the idea of cloud computing, analytics (big data or otherwise), efficient centralized management, elastic scalability, and mobility. It has steadily brought out tools and optimizations that enhance the z for these kinds of workloads. Today its three main growth initiatives for the z focus on cloud, analytics, and security, which parallel IBM’s overall Smarter Computing thrust.

Optimizations and enhancements, like those announced or previewed earlier this week, will continue to drive the zEnterprise forward. For example, newly enhanced tools like z/OSMF (z/OS Management Facility) ease management of z/OS through a modern, browser-based console for z/OS.

The newest version, z/OSMF Version 2.1, previewed this week, provides intuitive management intended to enable IBM’s Smarter Computing through such capabilities as at-a-glance reports on software service levels and system software assets. New workflow capabilities promise to simplify z/OS configuration tasks and tune them to user roles. It leverages the Liberty profile for WebSphere for z/OS to accelerate deployment and speed time to value. Finally, it includes a REST API for jobs submission, which bridges batch and web-based applications and, in the process, helps bring younger z/OS system programmers up to speed.

Eletrobras Electronuclear, Brazil, the largest generator of electricity in Latin America, turned to z/OSMF for help in cloning its production system to ensure system resilience. As an Eletrobras manager noted: With z/OSMF this cloning process is much easier and can be completed in a matter of a few hours.

Also previewed was z/OS Version 2.1, described by IBM as the Smart Foundation for Smart Computing. z/OS v2.1 brings enhanced security through a new crypto server and support for additional industry security standards.  Enhancements around paging and throughput enable greater scalability while providing optimized performance reporting.  It offers enhanced data serving to fuel analytics for new data-hungry analytic applications as well as optimized data storage and faster file retrieval through an enhanced zFS along with improved FICON management. For management, it includes built in workload optimization, extended management reporting, and continued batch modernization.

IBM also previewed a z/VM upgrade, version 6.3. This adds support for 1TB of real memory and improved performance with HiperDispatch. The z/VM memory will provide better performance for larger virtual machines and reduced LPAR sprawl by allowing up to 4x more VMs per LPAR.  z/VM v6.3 boasts a higher server consolidation ratio with support for more virtual servers than any other platform in a single footprint, according to IBM.

Meanwhile IBM continues to roll out z customer examples at an increasing pace. Bankia, a Spanish banking company, turned to the System z for real-time integration of data to facilitate monitoring and mitigate risk. Vantiv, a leading payment processor based in Cincinnati, turned to the z for its cryptographic coprocessors to secure 2 billion transactions per month.

Marriott, an early zEC12 adopter, uses the machine to centralize its reservations and streamline the selling of rooms through elastic pricing. The University of Florida turned to the z for a scalable and reliable IT infrastructure that could accommodate students accessing and interacting with applications and data through mobile applications.

Already 2013 promises to be an interesting year for z shops. Expect more innovation, optimization, and a new low cost business class machine to accompany the zEC12.

Late 2012 zEnterprise Action

January 1, 2013

In a flurry of December activity, IBM announced the German manufacturer, ARBURG GmbH, upgraded to two z114 machines. In addition, a pair of Australian companies, Tonkin Consulting and Harris Farm Market, jumped on the PureSystems bandwagon.

It’s particularly nice to see IBM PureSystems gaining traction.  These are hybrid expert systems that can significantly lower the cost of a company’s IT. As for the z114, it has been a bargain since it was introduced.  DancingDinosuar expects a similar low end model of the zEC12 to come out sometime in 2013.

Let’s start by looking at ARBURG, which upgraded to a pair of zEnterprise 114 machines to drive down costs and accelerate its time-to-market. In the process it also wanted to improve customer satisfaction but without compromising on product quality. Specifically, it needed to make better use of the large amounts of data generated daily across its core business areas—development, procurement, production, sales, and services. ARBURG runs the two z114 machines with IBM System Storage DS8800, IBM DB2, and IBM Tivoli Monitoring solutions to support its SAP application environment.

The payback will come fast: reduced energy consumption by 80%. Likewise, implementing the IBM System Storage DS8800 storage cut power consumption for zEnterprise disk storage by 25%, according to the company. In addition, ARBURG runs applications on IBM System x servers with IBM SVC and Storwize V7000 systems. By consolidating on IBM System x servers with virtualization, ARBURG shrunk its number of physical servers by more than 50% and lowered energy requirements by 60%. The company also expects to leverage IBM Easy Tier technology built into the Storwize V7000 to automatically migrate data between spinning drives and SSDs dynamically, moving the most-accessed data to SSDs for better performance and the less-used data to lower-priced, standard drives.

ARBURG would like to grow its SAP environment gradually, avoiding the need to frequently invest in new hardware, thereby saving even more money, minimizing complexity, and maximizing performance. Long term the company plans to use SAP on the IBM technology platform to optimize processes and improve transparency and quality, which it expects will lead to shorter development cycles and reduced time-to-market.

The Aussies took the PureSystems route. Tonkin Consulting, an engineering, environmental and spatial consulting practice, is replacing its existing HP switching hardware and servers with IBM PureFlex. The new system will be the core component of the firm’s new enterprise-wide IT strategy to address its future needs and growth. It opted for the integrated PureFlex System for its a highly automated, simple-to-manage system. It also chose the integrated v7000 storage as well as additional IBM system networking, system x and tape storage products. The company expects the new system to significantly reduce IT costs, potentially halving management costs overall, while dramatically increasing its ability to rapidly scale operations up and down. Additionally, the technology will enable Tonkin to quickly create and deploy a private cloud, which will enable disaster recovery for its offices in South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Harris Farm Markets opted for an IBM Flex System to help support its business growth and reduce IT costs and complexity. It expects Flex to significantly boost the performance of its critical systems, especially its enterprise resource (ERP) system. The IBM Flex System deployment underpins a broader IT strategy intended to support Harris Farm’s continuing growth for at least ten years. As part of its emphasis on scalable efficiency, the strategy will reduce Harris Farm’s data footprint by up to 80% through real-time data compression; and optimize application performance using IBM’s Easy-tier functionality. The customized Flex System will include an IBM Flex System Enterprise Chassis; two IBM Compute nodes; and an IBM Storwize V7000 storage system. The Flex System will replace Harris Farm’s existing IBM systems and is expected to be delivered by mid-January 2013.

Let’s hope these late 2012 wins are good signs for 2013.

IBM System z Software Price Changes

November 28, 2012

Just in time for next year’s budgeting—actually maybe a few months late—IBM announced software price increases for monthly Flat Workload License Charges (FWLC) on over 1000 (1087 to be specific) IBM System z software products. You can check the announcement and the entire list of products here. The announcement is dated Oct. 30, 2012; price increases take effect July 1, 2013.

The price increases generally appear to run about 10%. Individually, none of these look like big money. But nobody likes a price increase.

For those inclined to complain, as IBM explains in its announcement; the Flat Workload License Charges (FWLC) software pricing metric applies to select products not eligible for sub-capacity pricing. Instead it charges one simple flat price per product per eligible server and is independent of server capacity. Since FWLC was introduced IBM brought out five generations of new System z servers. Over that time period the capacity of the largest server available has grown to more than 20x greater than the original IBM zSeries. These generation-to-generation capacity increases have enabled the FWLC software metric to deliver significant price performance benefit over time for customers who upgraded to larger systems.

That certainly is apparent in the latest zEC12. As DancingDinosaur reported on the zEC12 introduction back in August: with a 5.5 GHz core processor (up from 5.2 GHz in the z196) and an increase in the number of cores per chip (from 4 to 6) IBM calculates it delivers 50% more total capacity. By configuring the zEC12 cores as specialty processors you will see a 20% MIPS price/performance boost.

The FWLC products typically are older products running on older machines. These users typically don’t want or need the bells, whistles, and performance kick they might get with new products running under a different IBM licensing scheme, such as Advanced Workload License Charges (AWLC) and Advanced Entry Workload License Charges (AEWLC) intended for smaller z114 machines.  The price increase is IBM’s not too subtle way of saying it is time for you to consider upgrading.

So if you want to avoid the July price increase, you might consider a new z. There is no z114 equivalent, what used to be called a Business Class machine, for the zEC12 yet, but there may be one by July. (If history serves as a guide, the z114 followed the z196 intro by about a year.) If not, just get a z114. Then you can switch to AEWLC licensing.  If you go the zEC12 route at least there is an improved software licensing curve that should ease some of the pain. I hope no organization will abandon the z completely just because of a 10% FWLC price increase, but who knows.  At least they should perform a full TCO analysis before they do.

If you are going to upgrade your z you might consider running more and, most importantly, new workloads on it too. This will enable you to lower your overall cost per workload. It also will make you eligible for a z Solution Edition discount, which offers IBM’s best deal but definitely comes with some serious constraints and licensing complications of its own. Make sure to read and understand the fine print.

Updated Software for IBM zEC12

October 11, 2012

Everyone gets excited by a new piece of hardware, but it is the software that enables the new machine to work its magic. This certainly is the case with the zEC12. On Oct. 3 IBM announced  upgrades to zEnterprise workhorse software like CICS, Omegamon, Cognos, and zSecure intended to better tap the capabilities of zEC12. Even IMS and Sterling are getting a refresh.

Also getting increased attention is Netezza, which has emerged as a key component of IBM’s data analytics approach. Netezza enables IBM to counter Oracle’s Exalytics, another in-memory data analytics appliance. In fact, IBM’s announcement of the newest PureSystems, the PureData System, earlier this week gives IBM another counter punch.

For the zEnterprise IBM adds a flexible storage capability that provides the performance of the IDAA while removing the cost of storage from the z. Netezza will work with whatever IBM storage the organization prefers.  A new incremental update capability propagates data changes as they occur, making it possible to analyze activity almost immediately. This resolves the problem of the data currency, in effect providing as close to real-time analytics as most organizations will get or need.

CICS, which already had become a mainframe workhorse through SOA and web services, now adds rich cloud capabilities too. CICS v5.1 brings new web app capabilities built on the WAS Liberty Profile. New PaaS capabilities enable it to host SaaS apps based on CICS applications. It also employs a new lightweight Java web container that combines Java Servlets and JSPs with fast local access to CICS applications.  IBM reports the enhanced CICS v5.1 delivers a 25% performance gain.

Various online discussion groups are buzzing about the zEC12 software enhancements.  A sampling:

  • IBM provides DB2 10 performance enhancements for z/OS. As importantly for mixed platform (hybrid) shops DB2 10 LUW (Linux UNIX Windows) also will provide similar performance improvements.
  • There is added support for Oracle’s PL/SQL for DB2 10 for stored procedures and Oracle application interfaces for Java, Pro*C, Pro*COBOL, and Forms.
  • IBM also announced significant transactional performance improvements when running WebSphere on the zEC12.
  • IBM has started a Beta Testing Program for the new CICS Transaction Server 5.1 release that has a significant number of enhancements to support Web Applications and CICS application modernization, mainly through IBM’s Rational HATS.
  •  IBM has also improved performance of the C/C++ V1.13 compiler, Metal C feature of the IBM z/OS XL C/C++ compiler; and PL/1 V4.3 compiler for the zEC12.

Maybe less of a buzz generator but IBM Sterling gets a boost with the Sterling B2B Integrator V5.2.4 and Sterling File Gateway V2.2.4 for integration and file-based exchanges. IBM’s zSecure suite V1.13.1 brings new integration with QRadar, expanded integration points with DB2, enhanced RACF database cleanup capabilities, and support for the new enhanced CICS Transaction Server.

IBM also used the announcement to promote the relaunch of zEnterprise Analytics System 9710 (previously called IBM Smart Analytics System 9710) an unusual combo data decision system for analytics. It joins high performance data warehouse management with System z availability and recoverability using the z114. When the IDAA is added the result is a hybrid system of MPP and SMP technologies that combines mixed workload capabilities—both transaction and high speed analytical applications—on single platform tuned for operational business analytics.

Independent Assessment, publisher of DancingDinosaur, has finally released its newest white paper, zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX): the Case for Adopting Hybrid Computing. It is the most updated look at the zBX yet, including details on the zEC12. Available for free. Click here.

System z Finally Comes to SmartCloud

June 11, 2012

A few weeks ago IBM announced it was bringing the System z to its SmartCloud Enterprise offerings.  This raises a few questions, for starters: what took IBM so long? You could argue that the mainframe, as the original time-shared system, has been doing an early form of cloud computing for decades. More recently, mainframes have been available as hosted services at the company’s data centers.

Maybe a better question is why now? Might it be that Oracle bolstered its cloud offerings earlier this month? Similarly, barely a week ago EMC announced a cloud venture with a Verizon subsidiary. Not to be left out, HP also announced an updated converged cloud strategy last week. In that sense, IBM was ahead of the curve with its latest SmartCloud enterprise announcement, including System z. The industry’s sudden infatuation with big data is driving vendors to bolster their public and private cloud offerings.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ for System z, as IBM describes it, is a cloud computing service designed to meet the evolving needs of IBM mainframe organizations. The service provides shared, secure and scalable IBM z/OS mainframe capacity delivered as secured logical partitions (LPARs) within a continually refreshed, managed environment residing in the cloud. IBM suggests companies will adopt this offering to avoid capital outlays for hardware and reduce software expenditures as they move toward a pay-for-use financial model.

In fact, IBM presents what amounts to myriad public, private, and hybrid cloud offerings. The IBM System z Capacity Offering for Cloud allows for partial balancing of incremental capacity growth on IBM zEnterprise 196 or z114 during a twelve month period. The offering enables companies to deal with business change by moving capacity between systems and even between locations.  As to be expected, IBM constrains how much you can rebalance, although the constraints are based on an unusually straightforward formula.

The IBM System z Disaster Recovery Offering for Cloud offers active capacity mobility between IBM zEnterprise 196 or z114 primary servers and disaster recovery servers. As IBM explains: companies need to test their disaster recovery capability by running production at the disaster recovery site over an extended period of time, such as when wanting to ensure, in the event of a disaster, all systems and processes can efficiently run from the disaster recovery site.

To that end, System z Disaster Recovery Offering for Cloud allows active capacity mobility between z196 or z114 primary servers and mirrored disaster recovery servers. With this offering an organization can perform a thorough disaster recovery test longer than a CBU test by moving its primary active workload on z196 or z114 to its disaster recovery server for up to 60 days. Usually this is needed to satisfy stringent audit or compliance requirements.

Again, the product comes with a few constraints.  For example, a workload may be moved up to four times a year, and for each move the maximum time a workload may run on the Disaster Recovery machine is 60 days.

There are more IBM SmartCloud offerings than noted above. And DancingDinosaur expects to see other z offerings in the cloud moving forward. Fully virtualized from the start, the z is a natural for the cloud. Power, another highly virtualized and integrated IBM system that should play well in the cloud, also has a SmartCloud offering now.  It’s about time.

Predictive Analysis on zEnterprise

January 9, 2012

IBM has been positioning the System z for a key role in data analysis.  To that end, it acquired SPSS and Cognos and made sure they ran on the z. More recently, growing interest in Big Data and real-time data analytics only affirm IBM’s belief that as far as data analytics goes the zEnterprise is poised to take the spotlight. This is not completely new; DancingDinosaur addressed it in October 2009.

Over the last several decades people would laugh if you suggested a mainframe for data analysis beyond the standard canned system reporting.  For ad-hoc querying, multi-dimensional analysis, and data visualization you needed distributed systems running a variety of specialized GUI tools. In addition, you’d want a small army of business analysts, PhDs, and various quants to handle the heavy lifting. The resulting queries could take days to run.

In a recent analyst briefing, Alan Meyer, senior manager for Data Warehousing on z, built the case for a different style of data analysis on the zEnterprise. He drew a picture of companies needing to make better informed decisions at the point of engagement while applications and business users are demanding the latest data faster than ever. At the same time there is no letup in pressure to lower cost, reduce complexity, and improve efficiency.

So what’s stopping companies from doing near real-time analytics and the big data thing? The culprits, according to Meyer, are duplicate data infrastructures, the complexity of integrating multiple IT environments, insufficient and inconsistent security, and insufficient processing power, especially when having to handle large volumes of data fast. The old approach clearly is too slow and costly.

The zEnterprise, it turns out, is the ideal vehicle for today’s demanding analytics.  It is architected for on-demand processing through pre-installed capacity paid for only when activated and while adding processors, disk, and memory without taking the system offline.  Virtualized top to bottom, the zEnterprise delivers the desired isolation while prioritization controls lets you define critical queries and workloads. Its industry-leading processors ensure the most complex queries run fast, and low latency enables near real-time analysis. Finally, multiple deployment options means you can start with a low-end z114 and grow through a fully configured z196 combined with a zBX loaded with blades, especially the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA), a revamped version on the Smart Analytics Optimizer.

Last October IBM unveiled the IDAA and a host of other analytics tools under the smarter computing banner. But the IDAA is the zEnterprise’s analytic jewel. There IDAA incorporates Netezza, which speeds complex analytics through in-memory processing and a highly intelligent query optimizer. When run in conjunction with DB2 on the z, the results can be astonishing, with queries that normally require a few hours completed in just a few seconds, 1000 times faster according to some early users.

Netezza, when deployed as an appliance, streamlines database performance through hardware acceleration and optimization for deep analytics, multifaceted reporting, and complex queries. When embedded in the zEnterprise, it delivers the same kind of performance for mixed workloads—operational transaction systems, data warehouse, operational data stores, and consolidated data marts—but with the z’s extremely high availability, security, and recoverability. As a natural extension of the zEnterprise, where the data already resides in DB2 and OLTP systems, the z is able to deliver pervasive analytics across the organization while further speeding performance and ease of deployment and administration.

Already companies are reporting valuable results. Marriott Hotels reports using the system to book inventory down to the last room available to maximize yield. Chartis Insurance turned to it to meet SLAs that allow for no down time while requiring high performance and fast time to market. In the process, it achieved what it reports as seamless 99.99% up time, the fastest performance available, and time to market measured in days. Swiss Re turned to IDAA to put the right answers into the hands of decision makers across the business.

Today, IDAA and Netezza are just two components of a comprehensive zEnterprise data analytics portfolio that includes Cognos, SPSS, InfoSphere, Guardium, Optim, QMF, MDM, and more. IBM offers powerful data analytics capabilities for its Power and System x platforms, but the IDAA, which is the heart of the fast, near real time predictive analytics, is available only for the zEnterprise, either the z114 or the z196. Might be ideal for a private analytics cloud.

IBM zBX Blades Cheap (Free!)

December 8, 2011

T’is the season of discounts, and it apparently applies to the zEnterprise as much as it does to holiday gifts. This deal, however, does not appear to end with the holiday. DancingDinosaur supports anything IBM does to lower enterprise data center costs.

Here’s the deal: migrate competitive workloads to the zEnterprise Blade Center Extension (zBX) and you can receive up to six zBX Power or x86 blades for free. So, replace 2, 4, even 6 HP UX or Linux Systems or x86 servers (remember, there are now Windows blades) and receive an equal number of free Power or x86 blades to run in the zBX. The deal focuses on HP, but IBM staff says it applies to Oracle/Sun systems too. Given a $5000 cost for low end x86 blades, that could amount to a $30,000 discount on top of whatever other discounts IBM will throw in. For high end, more richly configured blade replacements it could come to much more.

Of course, you need a zEnterprise (z196 or z114) and to buy a new zBX to cash in on this. But, if you took a deeply discounted System z under the IBM Solution Edition program you could get in at a bargain price. And if your choice was a z114, IBM also is offering the DS8800 storage system for the z114 at an attractive entry price.

The deals are being offered under IBM’s Freedom by Design  program. IBMer Paulo Carvao details the blade offer here in a presentation titled System z: Delivering on the Promise of Smarter Computing. Check out slide #15.

Even without free blades, the z makes an attractive consolidation play. According to IBM you can consolidate an average of 30 distributed servers or more on a single z114 core, or hundreds in a single footprint. In effect, you can deliver a virtual Linux server for approximately $500 per year, which works out to be as little as $1.45 per day per virtual server. If you are consolidating Oracle servers, the savings in Oracle licensing costs alone would cover a big chunk of the investment.

A dearth of zBX blade performance data, however, has slowed zBX adoption for some. A little performance data, however, has started to trickle in. For instance, some recent results came from an Italian company that moved its SAP workload to POWER7 blades on a zBX. It was able to boost bill processing from 60K per hour to 430K per hour, better than a 7x increase.

In general, IBM blade performance in the zBX should be the same as the performance in its standard blade centers. Actually, it might be a little better since the consolidated zEnterprise-zBX combination can cut down the number of network hops in some situations. And IBM insists zBX blades are priced competitively like its standard IBM blades. And then there are the free blades with a competitive upgrade, with which no one will quibble.

While on the subject of zEnterprise deals, the regular prices of specialty engines continues to be a MIPS bargain, delivering more MIPS for the money than earlier versions. One customer used the increased MIPS from zEnterprise specialty engines to reduce the number of cores the company bought, which resulted in a substantially lower acquisition cost with no reduction in overall MIPS. With the right workloads, this is a very effective cost saving strategy.

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.


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