Posts Tagged ‘zEC12’

IBM Creates Comprehensive Cloud Security Portfolio

November 6, 2014

On Wednesday IBM introduced what it describes as the industry’s first intelligent security portfolio for protecting people, data, and applications in the cloud. Not a single product but a set of products that taps a wide range of IBM’s cloud security, analytics, and services offerings.  The portfolio dovetails with IBM’s end-to-end mainframe security solution as described at Enterprise2014 last month.

Cloud security certainly is needed. In a recent IBM CISO survey, 44% of security leaders said they expect a major cloud provider to suffer a significant security breach in the future; one that will drive a high percentage of customers to switch providers, not to mention the risks to their data and applications.  Cloud security fears have long been one of the biggest impediments to organizations moving more data, applications, and processes to the cloud. These fears are further complicated by the fact the IT managers feel that much their cloud providers do is beyond their control. An SLA only gets you so far.

2014 IBM study of CISO 44 high

The same survey found 86% of leaders surveyed say their organizations are now moving to cloud, of those three-fourths see their cloud security budget increasing over the next 3-5 years.

As is typical of IBM when it identifies an issue and feels it has an edge, the company assembles a structured portfolio of tools, a handful of which were offered Wednesday. The portfolio includes versions of IBM’s own tools optimized for the cloud and tools and technologies IBM has acquired.  Expect more cloud security tools to follow. Together the tools aim to manage access, protect data and applications, and enable visibility in the cloud.

For example, for access management IBM is bringing out Cloud Identity Services which  onboards and handles users through IBM-hosted infrastructure.  To safeguard access to cloud-deployed apps it is bringing a Cloud Sign-On service used with Bluemix. Through Cloud Sign-On developers can quickly add single-sign on to web and mobile apps via APIs.  Another product, Cloud Access Manager, works with SoftLayer to protect cloud applications with pattern-based security, multi-factor authentication, and context-based access control. IBM even has a tool to handle privileged users like DBAs and cloud admins, the Cloud Privilege Identity Manager.

Here is a run-down of what was announced Wednesday. Expect it to grow.

  • Cloud Identity Services—IBM Cloud Identity Services
  • Cloud Sign-On Service –IBM Single Sign On
  • Cloud Access Manager –IBM Security Access Manager
  • Cloud Privileged Identity Manager—IBM Security Privileged Identity Manager (v2.0)
  • Cloud Data Activity Monitoring—IBM InfoSphere Guardium Data Activity Monitoring
  • Cloud Mobile App Analyzer Service –IBM AppScan Mobile Analyzer
  • Cloud Web App Analyzer Service –IBM AppScan Dynamic Analyzer
  • Cloud Security Intelligence –IBM QRadar Security Intelligence (v7.2.4)
  • Cloud Security Managed Services –IBM Cloud Security Managed Services

Now let’s see how these map to what the z data center already can get with IBM’s End-to-End Security Solution for the Mainframe. For starters, security is built into every level of the System z structure: processor, hypervisor, operating system, communications, and storage.

In terms of security analytics; zSecure, Guardium, AppScan, and QRadar improve your security intelligence. Some of these tools are included in the new Cloud security portfolio. Intelligence is collected from z/OS, RACF, CA ACF2, CA Top Secret, CICS, and DB2. The zSecure suite also helps address compliance challenges. In addition, InfoSphere Guardium Real-time Activity Monitoring handles activity monitoring, blocking and masking, and vulnerability assessment.

Of course the z brings its crypto coprocessor, Crypto Express4S, which complements the cryptographic capabilities of CPACF. There also is a new zEC12 coprocessor, the EP11 processor, amounting to a Crypto Express adapter configured with the Enterprise PKCS #11 (EP11) firmware, also called the CEX4P adapter. It provides hardware-accelerated support for crypto operations that are based on RSA’s PKCS #11 Cryptographic Token Interface Standard. Finally, the z supports the necessary industry standards, like FIPS 140-2 Level 4, to ensure multi-tenanted public and private cloud workloads remain securely isolated. So the cloud, at least, is handled to some extent.

The mainframe has long been considered the gold standard for systems security. Now it is being asked to take on cloud-oriented and cloud-based workloads while delivering the same level of unassailable security. Between IBM’s end-to-end mainframe security solution and the new intelligent (analytics-driven) security portfolio for the cloud enterprise shops now have the tools to do the job right.

And you will want all those tools because security presents a complex, multi-dimensional puzzle requiring different layers of integrated defense. It involves not only people, data, applications, and infrastructure but also mobility, on premise and off premise, structured, unstructured, and big data. This used to be called defense in depth, but with the cloud and mobility the industry is moving far beyond that.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT analyst with well over 20 years covering IT and the System z. You can find more of my writing at Technologywriter.com and here. Also follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

Mainframe Appeal Continues in 9th BMC Survey

October 30, 2014

With most of the over 1100 respondents (91%) reporting that the mainframe remains a viable long-term platform for them and a clear majority (60%) expecting to increase MIPS due to the normal growth of legacy applications and new application workloads the z continues to remain well entrenched. Check out the results for yourself here.

Maybe even more reassurance comes from almost half the respondents who reported that they expect the mainframe to attract and grow new workloads.  Most likely these will be Java and Linux workloads but one-third of the respondents listed cloud as a priority, jumping it up to sixth on the list of mainframe priorities. Mobile was cited as priority by 27% of the respondents followed by big data with 26% respondents.

ibm zec12

Apparently IBM’s steady promotion of cloud, mobile, and big data for the z over the past year is working. At Enterprise2014 IBM even made a big news with real time analytics and Hadoop on the z along with a slew of related announcements.

That new workloads like cloud, mobile, and big data made it into the respondents’ top 10 IT priorities for the year didn’t surprise Jonathan Adams, BMC vice president/general manager for z solutions.  The ease of developing in Java and its portability make it a natural for new workloads today, he noted.

In the survey IT cost reduction/optimization tops the list of IT priorities for 2014 by a large margin, 70% of respondents, followed by application availability, 52%.  Rounding out the top five are application modernization with 48%, data privacy, 47%, and business/IT alignment, 44%. Outsourcing finished out the top 10 priorities with 16%.

When asked to look ahead in terms of MIPS growth, the large majority of respondents expected growth to continue or at least remain steady. Only 9% expected MIPS to decline and 6% expected to eliminate the mainframe.  This number has remained consistent for years, noted Adams. DancingDinosaur periodically checks in with shops that announce plans to eliminate their mainframe and finds that a year later many have barely made any progress.

The top mainframe advantages shouldn’t surprise you:  availability (53%); security (51%); centralized data serving (47%) and transaction throughput (42%). More interesting results emerged when the respondents addressed new workloads. The mainframe’s cloud role includes data access (33%), cloud management from Linux on z (22%) and dynamic test environments via self-service (15%). Surprisingly, when it comes to big data analytics, 34% report that the mainframe acts as their analytics engine. This wasn’t supposed to be the case, at least not until BigInsights and Hadoop on z gained more traction.

Meanwhile, 28% say they move data off platform for analytics, and 14% report they federate mainframe data to an off-platform analytics engine. Yet, more than 81% now incorporate the mainframe into their Big Data strategy, up from 70% previously. The non-finance industries are somewhat more likely to use the mainframe as the big data engine, BMC noted. Those concerned with cost should seriously consider doing their analytics on the z, where the data is. It is costly to keep moving data around.

In terms of mobility, making existing applications accessible for mobile ranked as the top issue followed by developing new mobile applications and securing corporate data on mobile devices. Mobile processing increases for transaction volume came in at the bottom of mobility issues, but that will likely change when mobile transactions start impacting peak workload volumes and trigger increased costs. Again, those concerned about costs should consider IBM’s mobile transaction discount, which was covered by DancingDinsosaur here in the spring.

Since cost reduction is such a big topic again, the survey respondents offered their cost reduction priorities.  Reducing resource usage during peak led the list.  Other cost reduction priorities included consolidating mainframe software vendors, exploiting zIIP and specialty engines (which have distinctly lower cost/MIPS), and moving workloads to Linux on z.

So, judging from the latest BMC survey the mainframe is far from dead. But at least one recent IT consultant and commentator, John Appleby, seems to think so. This prediction has proven wrong so often that DancingDinosaur has stopped bothering to refute it.

BTW, change came to BMC last year  in the form of an acquisition by a venture capital group. Adams reports that the new owners have already demonstrated a commitment to continued investment in mainframe technology products, and plans already are underway for next year’s survey.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. You can follow him on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Or see more of his writing at Technologywriter.com or in wide-ranging blogs here.

Software Licensing for IBM System z Distributed Linux Middleware

October 10, 2014

DancingDinosaur can’t attend a mainframe conference without checking out at least one session on mainframe software pricing by David Chase, IBM’s mainframe pricing guru. At IBM Enterprise2014, which wraps up today, the topic of choice was software licensing for Linux middleware. It’s sufficiently complicated to merit an entire session.

In case you think Linux on z is not in your future, maybe you should think again.  Linux is gaining momentum in even the largest z data centers. Start with IBM bringing new apps like InfoSphere, BigInsights (Hadoop), and OpenStack to z. Then there are apps from ISVs that just weren’t going to get their offerings to z/OS. Together it points to a telltale sign something is happening with Linux on z. And, the queasiness managers used to have about the open source nature of Linux has long been put to rest.

At some point, you will need to think about IBM’s software pricing for Linux middleware. Should you find yourself getting too lost in the topic, check out these links recommended by Chase:

To begin, software for Linux on z is treated differently than traditional mainframe software in terms of pricing. With Linux on z you think in terms of IFLs.  The quantity of IFLs represent the number of Linux engines subjected to IBM’s IPLA-based pricing.

Also think in terms of Processor Value Units (PVUs) rather than MSUs. For a pricing purposes, PVUs are analogous to MSUs although the values are different. A key point to keep in mind: distributed PVUs for Linux are not related to System z IPLA value units used for z/VM products. As is typical of IBM, those two different kinds of value units are NOT interchangeable.

Chase, however, provides a few ground rules:

  • Dedicated partition
    • Processors are always allocated in whole increments
    • Resources are only moved between partitions “explicitly” (e.g. by an operator or a scheduled job)
  • Shared pool:
    • Pool of processors shared by partitions (including virtual machines)
    • System automatically dispatches processor resources between partitions as needed
  • Maximum license requirements
  • Customer does not have to purchase more licenses for a product than the number of processors on the machine (e.g. maximum DB2 UDB licenses on a 12-way machine is 12)
    • Customer does not have to purchase more “shared pool” licenses for a product than the number of processors assigned to the shared pool (e.g. maximum of 7 MQSeries licenses for a shared pool with 7 processors). Note: This limit does not affect the additional licenses that might be required for dedicated partitions.

With that, as Chase explains it, Linux middleware pricing turns out to be relatively straightforward, determined by:

  • Processor Value Unit (PVU) rating for each kind of core
  • Any difference for different processor technologies (p, i, x, z, Sun, HP, AMD, etc—notice that the z is just one of many choices, not handled differently from the others
  • Number of processor cores which must be licensed (z calls them IFLs)
  • Price per PVU (constant per product, not different based upon technology)

Then it becomes a case of doing the basic arithmetic. The formula: # of PVUs x the # of cores required x the value ($) per core = your total cost.  Given this formula it is to your advantage to plan your Linux use to minimize IFLs and cores. You can’t do anything about the cost per PVU.

Distributed PVUs are the basis for licensing middleware on IFLs and are determined by the type of machine processor. The zEC12, z196, and z10 are rated at 120 PVUs. All others are rated at 100 PVUs. For example, any distributed middleware running on Linux on z this works out to:

  • z114—1IFL, 100 PVUs
  • z196—4IFLs, 480 PVUs
  • zEC12—8 IFLs, 960 PVUs

Also, distributed systems Linux middleware offerings are eligible for sub-capacity licensing. Specifically, sub-capacity licensing is available for all PVU-priced software offerings that run on:

  • UNIX (AIX, HP-UX, and Sun Solaris
  • i5/OS, OS/400
  • Linux (System i, System p, System z)
  • x86 (VMware ESX Server, VMware GSX Server, Microsoft Virtual Server)

IBM’s virtualization technologies also are included in Passport Advantage sub-capacity licensing offering, including LPAR, z/VM virtual machines in an LPAR, CPU Pooling support introduced in z/VM 6.3 APAR VM65418, and native z/VM (on machines which still support basic mode).

And in true z style, since this can seem more complicated than it should seem, there are tools available to do the job. In fact Chase doesn’t advise doing this without a tool. The current tool is the IBM License Metric Tool V9.0.1. You can find more details on it here.

If you are considering distributed Linux middleware software or are already wrestling with the pricing process, DancingDinosaur recommends you check out Chase’s links at the top of this piece. Good luck.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. You can check out more of my work at Technologywriter.com

IBM-Apple Deal Enhanced by New z/OS Pricing Discounts

July 25, 2014

In the spring, IBM announced, almost as an aside, new pricing discounts for z/OS mobile transactions. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal. But IBM’s more recent announcement of its exclusive mobile partnership with Apple, covered by DancingDinosaur here, suddenly gives it much bigger potential.

The plan is to create apps that can transform specific aspects of how businesses and employees work using iPhone and iPad, allowing companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction. At the backend will be the mainframe.

Already zEnterprise shops, especially banks and financial services firms, are reporting growth in the volume of transactions that originate from mobile devices. The volume of these mobile-originated transactions in some cases is getting large enough to impact the four-hour peak loads that are used in calculating monthly costs.

Here’s the problem: you put out a mobile app and want people to use it. They do, but much of the workload being generated does not directly produce revenue. Rather, they are requesting data or checking invoices and balances. Kind of a bummer to drive up monthly charges with non-revenue producing work.

That’s where the new pricing discounts for z/OS mobile workloads come in. The new pricing reduces the impact of these mobile transactions on reported LPAR MSUs. Specifically, the Mobile Workload Pricing Reporting Tool (MWRT) will subtract 60% of the reported Mobile MSUs from a given LPAR in each hour, adjusting the total LPAR MSU value for that hour. Think of this as just a standard SCRT report with a discount built in to adjust for mobile workload impact.

So, what does that translate into in terms of hard dollar savings? DancingDinosaur had a private briefing with two IBMers who helped build the tool and asked that question. They are only in the earliest stages of getting actual numbers from users in the field; the tool only became available June 30.  Clearly the results depend on how many mobile transactions you are handling in each reporting hour and how you are handling the workloads.

There is a little work involved but the process won’t seem intimidating to mainframe shops accustomed to IBM’s monthly reporting process. Simply record mobile program transaction data, including CPU seconds, on an hourly basis per LPAR, load the resulting data file into the new tool, MWRT, each month using the IBM-specified CSV format, and run MWRT, submitting the results to IBM each month. It replaces the SCRT process.

The MWRT will function like a partial off-load from a software pricing perspective. When an LPAR value is adjusted, all software running in the LPAR will benefit from lower MSUs. The tool will calculate the monthly MSU peak for a given machine using the adjusted MSU values.

This brings us back to the hard dollar savings question. The answer: probably not much initially unless your mobile apps already generate a sizeable proportion of your peak transaction volume. But jump ahead six months or a year when the IBM-Apple partnership’s new iOS made-for-business apps are gaining traction your mobile transaction volume could be climbing substantially each month. At that point, savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more seem quite possible.

Of course, the new applications or the entire partnership could be a bust. In that case, you will have burned some admin time for a one-time set up. You’ll still experience whatever normal transaction growth your current mobile apps generate and collect your discounted MSU charges. Unless the big IT analysis firms are dead wrong, however, mobile transactions are not going away. To the contrary, they will only increase. The bottom line: negligible downside risk while the upside gain could be huge.

Hope to see you at IBM Enterprise 2014 in Las Vegas, Oct. 6-10. DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow him on Twitter, @mainframeblog and at Technologywriter.com

 

 

Happy 50th System z

April 11, 2014

IBM threw a delightful anniversary party for the mainframe in NYC last Tuesday, April 8. You can watch video from the event here

About 500 people showed up to meet the next generation of mainframers, the top winners of the global Master of the Mainframe competition. First place went to Yong-Sian Shih, Taiwan; followed by Rijnard van Tonder, South Africa; and Philipp Egli, United Kingdom.  Wouldn’t be surprised if these and the other finalists at the event didn’t have job offers before they walked out of the room.

The System z may be built on 50-year old technology but IBM is rapidly driving the mainframe forward into the future. It had a slew of new announcements ready to go at the anniversary event itself and more will be rolling out in the coming months. Check out all the doings around the Mainframe50 anniversary here.

IBM started the new announcements almost immediately with Hadoop on the System z. Called  zDoop, the industry’s first commercial Hadoop for Linux on System z, puts map reduce big data analytics directly on the z. It also announced Flash for mainframe, consisting of the latest generation of flash storage on the IBM DS8870, which promises to speed time to insight with up to 30X the performance over HDD. Put the two together and the System z should become a potent big data analytics workhorse.

But there was even more. Mobile is hot and the mainframe is ready to play in the mobile arena too. Here the problem z shops experience is cost containment. Mainframe shops are seeing a concurrent rise in their costs related to integrating new mobile applications. The problem revolves around the fact that many mobile activities use mainframe resources but don’t generate immediate income.

The IBM System z Solution for Mobile Computing addresses this with new pricing for mobile workloads on z/OS by reducing the cost of the growth of mobile transaction volumes that can cause a spike in software charges. This new pricing will provide up to a 60% reduction on the processor capacity reported for Mobile activity, which can help normalize the rate of transaction growth that generates software charges. The upshot: much mobile traffic volume won’t increase your software overhead.

And IBM kept rolling out the new announcements:

  • Continuous Integration for System z – Compresses the application delivery cycle from months to weeks or days.   Beyond this IBM suggested upcoming initiatives to deliver full DevOps capabilities for the z
  • New version of IBM CICS Transaction Server – Delivers enhanced mobile and cloud support for CICS, able to handle more than 1 billion transactions per day
  • IBM WebSphere Liberty z/OS Connect—Rapid and secure enablement of web, cloud, and mobile access to z/OS assets
  • IBM Security zSecure SSE – Helps prevent malicious computer attacks with enhanced security intelligence and compliance reporting that delivers security events to QRadar SIEM for integrated enterprise- wide security intelligence dashboarding

Jeff Frey, an IBM Fellow and the former CTO of System z, observed that “this architecture was invented 50 years ago, but it is not an old platform.”  It has evolved over those decades and continues evolve. For example, Frey expects the z to accommodate 22nm chips and a significant increase in the increase in the number of cores per chip. He also expects vector technology, double precision floating point and integer capabilities, and FPGA to be built in. In addition, he expects the z to include next generation virtualization technology for the cloud to support software defined environments.

“This is a modern platform,” Frey emphasized. Other IBMers hinted at even more to come, including ongoing research to move beyond silicon to maintain the steady price/performance gains the computing industry has enjoyed the past number of decades.

Finally, IBM took the anniversary event to introduce a number of what IBM calls first-in-the-enterprise z customers. (DancingDinosaur thinks of them as mainframe virgins).  One is Steel ORCA, a managed service provider putting together what it calls the first full service digital utility center.  Based in Princeton, NJ, Phase 1 will offer connections of less than a millisecond to/from New York and Philadelphia. The base design is 300 watts per square foot and can handle ultra-high density configurations. Behind the operation is a zEC12. Originally the company planned to use an x86 system but the costs were too high. “We could cut those costs in half with the z,” said Dave Crocker, Steel ORCA chairman.

Although the Mainframe50 anniversary event has passed, there will be Mainframe50 events and announcements throughout the rest of the year.  Again, you can follow the action here.

Coming up next for DancingDinosaur is Edge2014, a big infrastructure innovation conference. Next week DancingDinosaur will look at a few more of the most interesting sessions, and there are plenty. There still is time to register. Please come—you’ll find DancingDinosaur in the bloggers lounge, at program sessions, and at the Sheryl Crow concert.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog

 

One week to Mainframe50—Be There Virtually

April 1, 2014

Back in February, DancingDinosaur started writing about the upcoming Mainframe50 celebration. Now we’re just one week away from what will be a nearly year-long celebration, introductions of new mainframe advances, and more. It all starts on Tues., April 8 in New York City.

You can join through Livestream for the event and news briefing.  Just click here and join in from wherever you are virtually.

Or you can register to attend the event by clicking here. DancingDinosaur will be there and plans to file a report later that day on this blog and also be tweeting throughout all the Mainframe50 events. Follow it all on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

Later this week, DancingDinosaur will be posting the latest in a series of reports from Edge 2014, being held in Las Vegas, May 19-23. There is still time to register and get a discount. You can find DancingDinosaur there in the Bloggers Lounge after sessions, keynotes, and the Sheryl Crow concert.

And please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog

 

 

 

 

 

February 25, 2014

How the 50 Year-Old Mainframe Remains Relevant

The mainframe turns 50 years old this year and the many pundits and experts who predicted it would be long gone by now must be scratching their heads.  Yes, it is still around and has acquired over 260 new accounts just since zEnterprise launch. It also has shipped over 320 hybrid computing units (not to be confused with zBX chassis only) since the zBX was introduced and kicked off hybrid mainframe computing.

As for MIPS, although IBM experienced a MIPS decline last quarter that follows the largest MIPS shipment in mainframe history a year ago resulting in a 2-year CGR of +11%.  (Mainframe sales follow the new product release cycle in a predictable pattern.) IBM brought out the last System z release, the zEC12, faster than the mainframe’s historic release cycle. Let’s hope IBM repeats the quick turnaround with the next release.

Here’s what IBM is doing to keep the mainframe relevant:

  • Delivered steady price/performance improvements with each release. And with entry-level BC-class pricing and the System z Solution Edition programs you can end up with a mainframe system that is as competitive or better than x86-based systems while being more secure and more reliable out of the box.
  • Adopted Linux early, before it had gained the widespread acceptance it has today. Last year over three-quarters of the top 100 enterprises had IFLs installed. This year IBM reports a 31% increase in IFL MIPS. In at least two cases where DancingDinosaur recently interviewed IT managers, Linux on z was instrumental in bringing their shops to the mainframe.
  • Supported for SOA, Java, Web services, and cloud, mobile, and social computing continues to put the System z at the front of the hot trends. It also prominently plays with big data and analytics.  Who ever thought that the mainframe would be interacting with RESTful APIs? Certainly not DancingDinosaur’s computer teacher back in the dark ages.
  • Continued delivery of unprecedented scalability, reliability, and security at a time when the volumes of transactions, data, workloads, and users are skyrocketing.  (IDC predicts millions of apps, billions of users, and trillions of things connected by 2020.)
  • Built a global System z ecosystem of tools and technologies to support cloud, mobile, big data/analytics, social and non-traditional mainframe workloads. This includes acquisitions like SoftLayer and CSL Wave to deliver IBM Wave for z/VM, a simplified and cost effective way to harness the consolidation capabilities of the IBM System z platform along with its ability to host the workloads of tens of thousands of commodity servers. The mainframe today can truly be a fully fledged cloud player.

And that just touches on the mainframe platform advantages. While others boast of virtualization capabilities, the mainframe comes 100% virtualized out of the box with virtualization at every level.  It also comes with a no-fail redundant architecture and built-in networking. 

Hybrid computing is another aspect of the mainframe that organizations are just beginning to tap.  Today’s multi-platform compound workloads are inherently hybrid, and the System z can manage the entire multi-platform workload from a single console.

The mainframe anniversary celebration, called Mainframe50, officially kicks off in April but a report from the Pulse conference suggests that Mainframe50 interest already is ramping up. A report from Pulse 2014 this week suggests IBM jumped the gun by emphasizing how the z provides new ways never before thought possible to innovate while tackling challenges previously out of reach.

Pulse 2014, it turns out, offered 38 sessions on System z topics, of which 27 will feature analysts or IBM clients. These sessions promise to address key opportunities and challenges for today’s mainframe environments and the latest technology solutions for meeting them, including OMEGAMON, System Automation, NetView, GDPS, Workload Automation Tivoli Asset Discovery for z/OS and Cloud.

One session featured analyst Phil Murphy, Vice President and Principal Analyst from Forrester Research, discussing the critical importance of a robust infrastructure in a mixed mainframe/distributed cloud environment—which is probably the future most DancingDinosaur readers face—and how it can help fulfill the promise of value for cloud real time.

Another featured mainframe analyst Dot Alexander from Wintergreen Research who looked at how mainframe shops view executing cloud workloads on System z. The session focused on the opportunities and challenges, private and hybrid cloud workload environments, and the impact of scalability, standards, and security.

But the big celebration is planned for April 8 in NYC. There IBM promises to make new announcements, launch new research projects, and generally focus on the mainframe’s future.  A highlight promises to be Showcase 20, which will focus on 20 breakthrough areas referred to by IBM as engines of progress.  The event promises to be a sellout; you should probably talk to your System z rep if you want to attend. And it won’t stop on April 8. IBM expects to continue the Mainframe50 drumbeat all year with new announcements, deliverables, and initiatives. Already in February alone IBM has made a slew of acquisitions and cloud announcements that will touch every mainframe shop with any cloud interests (which should be every mainframe shop at one point or another).

In coming weeks stay tuned to DancingDinosaur for more on Mainframe50. Also watch this space for details of the upcoming Edge 2014 conference, with an emphasis on infrastructure innovation coming to Las Vegas in May.

Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog

Meet the Power 795—the RISC Mainframe

December 16, 2013

The IBM POWER 795 could be considered a RISC mainframe. A deep dive session on the Power 795 at Enterprise 2013 in early October presented by Patrick O’Rourke didn’t call the machine a mainframe. But when he walked attendees through the specifications, features, capabilities, architecture, and design of the machine it certainly looked like what amounted to a RISC mainframe.

Start with the latest enhancements to the POWER7 chip:

  • Eight processor cores with:

12 execution units per core

4 Way SMT per core – up to 4 threads per core

32 Threads per chip

L1: 32 KB I Cache / 32 KB D Cache

 L2: 256 KB per core

 L3: Shared 32MB on chip eDRAM

  • Dual DDR3 Memory Controllers

100 GB/s Memory bandwidth per chip

  • Scalability up to 32 Sockets

360 GB/s SMP bandwidth/chip

20,000 coherent operations in flight

Built on POWER7 and slated to be upgraded to POWER8 by the end of 2014 the Power 795 boasts a number of new features:

  • New Memory Options
  • New 64GB DIMM enable up to 16TB of memory
  • New hybrid I/O adapters will deliver Gen2 I/O connections
  • No-charge Elastic processor and memory days
  • PowerVM will enable up an 20 LPARs per core

And running at 4.2 GHz, the Power 795 clock speed starts to approach the zEC12 at 5.5 GHz while matching the clock speed of the zBC12.

IBM has also built increased flexibility into the Power 795, starting with turbo mode which allows users to turn on and off cores as they manage power consumption and performance. IBM also has enhanced the concept of Power pools, which allows users to group systems into compute clusters by setting up and moving processor and memory activations within a defined pool of systems, at the user’s convenience. With the Power 795 pool activations can be moved at any time by the user without contacting IBM, and the movement of the activations is instant, dynamic, and non-disruptive. Finally, there is no limit to the number of times activations can be moved. Enterprise pools can include the Power 795, 780, and 770 and systems with different clock speeds can coexist in the same pool. The activation assignment and movement is controlled by the HMC, which also determines the maximum number of system in any given pool.

The Power 795 provides three flavors of capacity of demand (CoD). One flavor for organizations that know they will need the extra capacity that can be turned on through easy activation over time. Another is intended for organizations that know they will need extra capacity at predictable times, such as the end of the quarter, and want to pay for the added capacity on a daily basis. Finally, there is a flavor for organizations that experience unpredictable short bursts of activity and prefer to pay for the additional capacity by the minute. Actually, there are more than the three basic flavors of CoD above but these three will cover the needs of most organizations.

And like a mainframe, the Power 795 comes with extensive hardware redundancy.  OK, the Power 795 isn’t a mainframe. It doesn’t run z/OS and it doesn’t do hybrid computing. But if you don’t run z/OS workloads and you’re not planning on running hybrid workloads yet still want the scalability, flexibility, reliability, and performance of a System z the Power 795 might prove very interesting indeed. And when the POWER8 processor is added to the mix the performance should go off the charts. This is a worthy candidate for enterprise systems consolidation.

Goodbye Itanium, zEnterprise Continues to Grow

November 8, 2013

The HP announcement earlier this week wasn’t specifically the death knell for Itanium-based systems, but it just as well might have been. Rather, HP disclosed plans to extend the HP NonStop architecture to the Intel x86 platform.  With NonStop to be available on x86 servers, why would anyone even consider the Itanium platform?

Meanwhile, at an IBM analyst briefing at Enterprise 2013 and again this week, IBM rattled off growth figures for the zEnterprise: 56% MIPS growth and 6% revenue growth year-to-year, over 230 new z accounts since the introduction of the hybrid zEnterprise, and over 290 hybrid computing devices shipped including over 200 zBX cabinets.  Linux on z continues to penetrate the mainframe world with 80% of the top 100 mainframe enterprises having IFLs installed. But maybe the best sign of the vitality of the zEnterprise was the news that 33 new ISVs brought product to the z platform in 3Q2013.

Another sign of zEnterprise vitality: over 65,000 students entered the Master the Mainframe competition in the last 8 years.  In addition, over 1000 universities are teaching curriculum related to mainframe topics. Are you worried that you will not be able to find mainframe talent going forward? You probably never thought that the mainframe would be cool.

Recruiters from Cigna, Fidelity, JP Morgan Chase, Baldor, Dillars, Wal-mart, and more have been actively recruiting at schools participating in the Academic Initiative. For example, a senior business leader for switching systems at Visa described the Academic Initiative as a critical success factor and a lifeline for the company’s future.

With regard to the Itanium platform, HP’s announcement is more about trying to salvage the NonStop operating system than to save the Itanium server business.  “Extending HP NonStop to an x86 server platform shows a deep level of investment in maintaining the NonStop technology for mission-critical workloads in financial markets, telecommunications and other industries. At the same time, it brings new levels of availability to the x86-based standardized data center infrastructure,” said Jean Bozman, IDC research VP in the HP announcement.

Certainly for those organizations that require continuous operations on x86 the HP move will be a boon. Otherwise, high availability on x86 has always been something of a kluge. But don’t expect HP  to get anything running overnight.  This is just the latest step in a multi-year HP effort underway since 2011, and it will probably be another two years before everything gets ported and fully tested. HP promises to help customers with migration.

DancingDinosaur’s advice to NonStop customers that are frustrated by the underwhelming performance of Itanium systems today: Jump to the zEnterprise, either zEC12 or zBC12. You are almost certain to qualify for one of the deeply discounted System z Solution Edition deals (includes hardware, software, middleware, and 3 years of maintenance).  And something like IBM’s Migration Factory can help you get there. If it has taken HP two years to get this far, you can probably be up and running on z long before they get the first lines of NonStop code ported to x86.

Meanwhile, the System z team hasn’t been twiddling their collective thumbs.  In addition to introducing the zBC12 in July (shipped in Sept.) and absorbing the CSL International acquisition, which should prove quite valuable in z cloud initiatives, there has been a new IBM Entry Cloud Configuration for SAP Solutions on zEnterprise, a version of IBM Cognos TM1 for financial planning, and improved enterprise key management capabilities based on the Crypto Analytics Tool and the Advanced Crypto Services Provider.

System z growth led the enterprise server pack in the Gartner and IDC quarterly tabulations. Ironically, HP did well too with worldwide server shipments growing by more than 5% in the third quarter, halting a slump of eight consecutive quarters of shipment declines, according to preliminary market data from Gartner. Still, DancingDinosaur doesn’t think anyone will miss Itanium.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog

Technology Change is Coming for the zBX

November 1, 2013

The zBX hasn’t been subject to much in the way of big new announcements this year.  Maybe the most obvious was a quiet announcement that the zBX would connect to the zBC12, the newest System z machine announced early in the summer. Buried deeply in that July announcement was that starting in Sept. 2013 you could attach the IBM zBX Model 003 to the new machine. Machines older than the zEC12 would need the zBX Model 002.

At Enterprise 2013, however, the zBX managed to grab a little of the spotlight in a session by Harv Emery titled IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension Model 3 and Model 2 Deep Dive Update. OK, it’s not exactly a riveting title, but Emery’s 60 slides were packed with far more detail than can possibly fit here.

To summarize:  a slew of software and firmware updates will be coming through the end of this year and into 2014. Similarly, starting next year and beyond, IBM will begin to stop marketing older zBX hardware and eventually stop supporting the older stuff.  This is standard IBM practice; what makes it surprising is the realization that the zBX no longer is the new kid on the scene. PureSystems in their various iterations are the sexy newcomer.  As of the end of last year somewhat over 200 z hybrid units (zBX cabinets) had been sold along with considerably more blades. Again, PureSystems are IBM’s other hybrid platform.

Still, as Emery pointed out, new zBX functionality continues to roll out. This includes:

  • CPU management for x86 blades
  • Support for Windows 12, and current LDP OS releases
  • GDPS automated site recovery for zBX
  • Ensemble Availability Manager for improved monitoring and reporting
  • Support for Layer 2 communications
  • An IBM statement of direction (SOD) on support for next generation DataPower Virtual Appliance XI52
  • Support for next generation hardware technologies in the zBX
  • zBX firmware currency
  • A stand-alone zBX node to preserve the investment
  • Bolstered networking including a new BNT Virtual Fabric 10 GbE Switch
  • zBX integrated hypervisor for IBM System x blades and running KVM

Emery also did a little crystal balling about future capabilities, relying partly on recent IBM SODs. These include:

  • Support of zBX with the next generation server
  • New technology configuration extensions in the zBX
  • CEC and zBX continued investment in the virtualization and management capabilities for hybrid computing environment
  • Enablement of Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) for Cloud
  • Unified Resource Manager improvements and extensions for guest mobility
  • More monitoring instrumentation
  • Autonomic management functions
  • Integration with the STG Portfolio
  • Continued efforts by zEnterprise and STG to leverage the Tivoli portfolio to deliver enterprise-wide management capabilities across all STG systems

DancingDinosaur periodically has been asked questions about how to handle storage for the zBX and the blades it contains.  Emery tried to address some of those.  Certain blades, DataPower for example, now come with their own storage and don’t need to any outside storage on the host z.  Through the top of the rack switch in the zBX you can connect to a distributed SAN.

Emery also noted the latest supported storage devices.  Supported IBM storage products as of Sept. 2013 include: DS3400, 3500, 3950, 4100, 4200, 4700 4800, 5020, 5100, 5300, 6000, 8100, 8300, 8700, 8800, SVC 2145, XIV, 2105, 2107, and Storwize v7000. Non-IBM storage is possible but you or you’re the OEM storage vendor will have to figure it out.

Finally, Emery made numerous references to Unified Resource Manager (or zManager, although it manages more than z) for the zBX and Flex System Manager for PureSystems.  Right now IBM tries to bridge the two systems with higher level management from Tivoli.  Another possibility, Emery hinted, is OpenStack to unify hybrid management. Sounds very intriguing, especially given IBM’s announced intention to make extensive use of OpenStack. Is there an interoperable OpenStack version of Unified Resource Manager and Flex System Manager in the works?

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.


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