Posts Tagged ‘zEnterprise’

Hadoop Brings Big Data Analytics to the IBM System z

October 16, 2014

In a previous blog, DancingDinoaur reported on IBM’s initial announcement of Hadoop and other analytic products, like InfoSphere BigInsights, coming to the z. The IBM announcement itself can be found here.

Subsequent sessions at IBM Enterprise2014 delved more deeply into big data, analytics, and real-time analytics. A particularly good series of sessions was offered by Karen Durward, an IBM InfoSphere software product manager specializing in System z data integration. As Durward noted, BigInsights is Apache Hadoop wrapped up to make it easier to use for general IT and business managers.

Specifically, the real-time analytics package for z includes IBM InfoSphere BigInsights for Linux on System z, which combines open-source Apache Hadoop with enhancements to make Hadoop System z enterprise-ready. The solution also includes IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA), which improves data security while delivering a 2000x faster response time for complex data queries.

In her Hadoop on z session, Durward started with the Hadoop framework, which consists of four components:

  1. Common Core—the basic modules (libraries and utilities) on which all components are built
  2. Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS)—stores data on multiple machines to provide very high aggregate bandwidth across a cluster of machines
  3. MapReduce—the programming model to support the high data volume data processing by the cluster
  4. YARN (Yet Another Resource Negotiator)—the platform used to manage the cluster’s compute resources including scheduling users’ applications. In effect, YARN decouples Hadoop workload and resource management.

The typical Hadoop process sounds deceptively straightforward.  Simply load data into an HDFS cluster, analyze the data in the cluster using MapReduce, write the resulting analysis back into the HDFS cluster. Then just read it.

Sounds easy enough until you try it. Then you need to deal with client nodes and name nodes, exchange metadata, and more. In addition, Hadoop is an evolving technology. Apache continues to add pieces to the environment in an effort to simplify it. For instance, Hive provides the Apache data warehouse framework, accessible using HivQL, and HBase brings Apache’s Hadoop database. Writing Map/Reduce code is a challenge so there is Pig, Apache’s platform for creating long and deep Hadoop source programs, and the list goes on. In short, Hadoop is not easy, especially for IT groups accustomed to relational databases and SQL. That’s why you need tools like BigInsights. The table below is how Durward sees the Hadoop tool landscape.

Software Needs Other Hadoop Products BigInsights
Open Source Apache Hadoop Y Y
Rich SQL on Hadoop (Big SQL) some Y
Tools for Business Users (BigSheets) NA Y
Advanced text analytics NA Y
In-Hadoop analytics NA Y
Rich developer tools NA Y
Enterprise workload & storage mgt. NA Y
Comprehensive suite NA Y

In fact, you need more than BigInsights. “We don’t know how to look at unstructured data,” said Durward. That’s why IBM layers on tools like Big SQL, which helps you query Hadoop’s HBase using industry-standard SQL. You can migrate a relational table to HBase using Big SQL or connect Big SQL via JDBC to run business intelligence and reporting tools, such as Cognos, which also runs on Linux on z. Similarly IBM offers BigSheets, a cloud application that performs ad hoc analytics at web-scale on unstructured and structured content using the familiar spreadsheet format.

Lastly, Hadoop queries often produce free-form text, which requires text analytics to make sense of the results. Not surprisingly, IBM offers BigInsights Text Analytics, a fast, declarative rule-based information extraction (IE) system that extracts insights from unstructured content. This system consists of a fast, efficient runtime that exploits numerous optimization techniques across extraction programs written in Annotation Query Language (AQL), an English-like declarative language for rule-based information extraction.

Hadoop for the z is more flexible than z data center managers may think. You can merge Hadoop data with z transactional data sources and analyze it all together through BigInsights.

So how big will big data be on the z? DancingDinosaur thought it could scale to hundreds of terabytes, even petabytes. Not so. You should limit Hadoop on the z to moderate volumes—from hundreds of gigabytes to tens of terabytes, Durward advises, adding “after that it gets expensive.”

Still, there are many advantages to running Hadoop on the z. To begin, the z brings rock solid security, is fast to deploy, and, through BigInsights, brings an easy-to-use data ingestion process. It also has proven to be easy to setup and run, taking just a few hours, with conversions handled automatically. Lastly, the data never leaves the platform, which avoids the expense and delay of moving data between platforms. But maybe most importantly, by wrapping Hadoop in a set of familiar, comfortable tools and burying its awkwardness out of sight Hadoop now becomes something every z shop can leverage.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow this blog on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Check out my work at Technologywriter.com

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

Real-Time Analytics on z Lead at IBM Enterprise2014 Opening Day

October 8, 2014

Users have always been demanding about performance. But does the 5-minute rule noted by Tom Rosamilia in the opening keynote at IBM Enterprise2014 go too far? It now seems users expect companies to respond, or at least acknowledge, their comments, questions, or problems in five minutes. That means companies need to monitor and analyze social media in real-time and respond appropriately.

Building on client demand to integrate real-time analytics with consumer transactions, IBM yesterday announced new capabilities for its System z. Specifically, IBM is combining the transactional virtues of the z with big data analytic capabilities into a single, streamlined, end-to-end data system. This real-time integration of analytics and transaction processing can allow businesses to increase the value of a customer information profile with every interaction the customer makes.  It also promises one way to meet the 5-minute rule, especially when a customer posts a negative comment on social media.

With the new integrated capability you can apply analytics to social sentiment and customer engagement data almost as the transactions are occurring. The goal is to gain real-time insights, which you can do on the mainframe because the data already is there and now the real time analytics will be there. There is no moving of data or logic.  The mainframe already is doing this when it is being used for fraud prevention. This becomes another case where the mainframe can enable organizations to achieve real-time insights and respond within five minutes. Compared to fraud analysis the 5-minute expectation seems a luxury.

By incorporating social media into the real time analytic analysis on the mainframe you can gain an indication of how the business is performing in the moment, how you stack up to your competitors, and most importantly, meet the 5-minute response expectation.  Since we’re talking about pretty public social sentiment data, you also could monitor your competitors’ social sentiment and analyze that to see how well they are responding.

And then there are the more traditional things you can do with the integration of analytics with transactional data to provide real-time, actionable insights on commercial transactions as they occur. For example you could take advantage of new opportunities to increase sales or prevent customer churn.

According to IBM this is being driven by the rise of mobile and smartphones, numbering in the billions in a few years. The combination of massive amounts of data and consumers who are empowered with mobile access is creating a difficult challenge for businesses, IBM noted in the announcement. Consumers now expect an immediate response—the 5 minute rule—to any interaction, at any time, and through their own preferred channel of communication. Unfortunately, many businesses are trying to meet this challenge and deliver instantaneous, on-demand customer service with outdated IT systems that can only provide after-the-fact intelligence.

Said Ross Mauri, General Manager, System z, IBM Systems & Technology Group: “Off-loading operational data in order to perform analytics increases cost and complexity while limiting the ability of businesses to use the insights in a timely manner.” The better approach, he continued, is to turn to an end-to-end solution that makes analytics a part of the flow of transactions and allows companies to gain real time insights while improving their business performance with every transaction.

Of course,  Mauri was referring specifically to the System z.  However, Power Systems and especially the new POWER8 machines, which have a strong presence here at IBM Enterprise2014, can do it too. Speaker after speaker emphasized that the Power machines are optimized for lightning fast analytics, particularly real time analytics.

Still, this was a z announcement so IBM piled on a few more goodies for the z. These include new analytics capabilities for the mainframe to enable better data security and provide companies with the ability to integrate Hadoop big data with the z. Specifically, IBM is delivering:

  • IBM InfoSphere BigInsights for Linux on System z – Combines open-source Apache Hadoop with IBM innovations to deliver enterprise grade Hadoop for System z clients;
  • IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator – Enhances data security while delivering 2000 times the response time for complex data queries.
  • New capabilities in Linux and the cloud for system z, such as IBM Elastic Storage for Linux on System z, which extends the benefits of Elastic Storage to the Linux environment on z servers, and IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack for System z, which enables heterogeneous cloud management across System z, Power and x86 environments.

Many of these pieces are available now.  You can meet the 5-minute rule sooner than you may think.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur. Follow him on Twitter, @mainframeblog, or check out his website, Technologywriter.com

 

Mobile Steps Up at IBM Enterprise2014

September 23, 2014

According to eMarketer, by 2017, mobile phone penetration will rise to 69.4% of the global population. The global smartphone audience, eMarketer reports, surpassed 1 billion in 2012 and will total 1.75 billion in 2014 and will continue a fast-paced trajectory through 2017.

OK, mobile and smartphones are hot, driving everything from the Internet of Things, (IoT) to shifts in mainframe peak volume trends. Between IoT and mobile you very well could looking at the future of the mainframe. IBM’s latest mainframe win, announced Sept. 11, identified the government of Croatia adopting the IBM z12EC 703 as the foundation for a new mobile government solution that enables citizens to choose to receive myriad messages and conduct official business on their mobile and smart devices while getting real time alerts.

Mobile transaction volumes already are starting to skew z/OS software usage and trigger new pricing programs. If you haven’t pinned down your mobile mainframe and Power Systems strategy, plan to get over to IBM Enterprise2014, Oct. 6-10 at the Venetian in Las Vegas. There you will find a wide range of mobile-related sessions for the System z, Power, and System i platforms.

You could start with Planning Your Mobile Enterprise Strategy: Future Directions in Enterprise Mobile Application Development by Ian Robinson. Here Robinson looks out the next 12-18 months at a new generation of mobile devices—including smartphones, tablets, wearables and other technologies comprising the IoT—being adopted in large numbers by consumers and employees while introducing considerable challenges and opportunities for enterprise IT managers and application developers. This session reviews the latest mobile trends and highlights where IBM MobileFirst software and services can help enterprise IT strategists prepare their organizations as mobile enterprises. BTW, last week IBM MobileFirst was highly endorsed by both Gartner and IDC.

You also will want to check out Robinson’s session on The MobileFirst Portfolio: IBM’s End-to-end Solution for the Enterprise Mobile App Development Lifecycle. Here he notes that the emerging era of enterprise mobile apps is radically different from traditional software delivery, leading many CIOs and IT managers to completely redefine their enterprise application strategies due to the rapid growth of smartphones and tablet devices among end users. In this session he describes IBM’s MobileFirst portfolio, an industry-leading set of products and capabilities designed to support the entire mobile app lifecycle, from design and development through to testing, integration, optimization, and deployment. Using real MobileFirst client examples, this session also highlights where IBM System z, Power Systems and PureSystems can play an essential role in supporting an enterprise mobile strategy.

A different take on mobile is IBM Electronic Support Engagement—Mobile Service Request, Support Portal, Twitter, Blogs and Wikis by Julie Craft.  Including a demo, she details all the ways you can use IBM electronic support tools from a mobile and social perspective. She presents new mobile apps as well as enhancements to service request that make working with IBM Support easier and saves time. In this session you are invited to voice your views on ways IBM can improve its interfaces to enhance your experience. She reports you’ll even have an opportunity to follow along on your mobile devices.

Finally, here’s a look at a hardware platform-specific mobile session: Mobile to Go, Overview of Mobile Technologies on IBM i by Tim Rowe, Alison Buterill. Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, tablet, and on and on. So many mobile devices, so many applications. Employees want to work 24X7. They want access to email, to development, data, and the system. And they want to use their own interface from wherever they happen to be. How can you deliver the right interface to the right person at the right time? What is available to make the job easier? This session explores the various IBM i solutions that can help you deliver on the request to “Make Mine to Go”. A related session, Test Drive IBM i Mobile Access, provides a preview of the IBM i Mobile Access Solution in the form of a lab that offers a guided, self-paced, interaction with the solution. You can explore the 5250 interface, run SQL Queries, interact with Printed Output and the IFS and much more. Maybe, they suggest, you can take the lab from your own mobile device. Other sessions address mobile on the Power platform.

Without changing the mainframe’s basic role mobile is poised to dramatically alter mainframe computing. The z will continue as the always available, highly secure and scalable backend resource that delivers information on request and handles volumes of transactions.

Finally, don’t miss three evenings of live performances: 2 country rock groups, Delta Rae and The Wild Feathers and then, Rock of Ages. Check out all three and more here.

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

System z Software Pricing at IBM Enterprise 2014

September 17, 2014

DancingDinosaur must have sat through more of David Chase’s presentations on System z software pricing than anyone who doesn’t actually buy System z software. And still it seems impossibly complicated.  The problem is the many different and changing circumstances under which a mainframe shop will use its System z. It speaks to IBM’s willingness to try to accommodate almost any use case for the mainframe while trying to be fair and still make a buck.

The last time DancingDinosaur wrote on mainframe software pricing it looked at IBM’s z/OS discounts for mobile transactions. It generated considerable interest. Well, there is more on mainframe software pricing at IBM Enterprise2014, Oct. 6-10 in Las Vegas. If you are paying workload pricing, you will want to check out these sessions:

IBM System z Software Pricing Overview by David Chase, who has spoken on this at numerous conferences and manages to make it understandable. This session introduces the software pricing options available for IBM’s zEnterprise and System z servers. It covers a variety of Monthly License Charge (MLC) metrics, including the newest ones: Advanced Workload License Charge (AWLC) and Advanced Entry Workload License Charge (AEWLC). It also introduces the IPLA “one-time charge” pricing and how it differs from MLC. Although the primary focus is on z/OS pricing, these pricing concepts also apply to z/VSE and z/TPF. If your organization is not taking advantage of these programs, you probably are over-paying for mainframe software.

Introduction to Sub-Capacity Pricing and Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool, again by David Chase. If your shop decides to adopt sub-capacity pricing for System z software, use of the Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT) will be required whether you run z/OS, z/VSE and/or z/TPF. Attend this session to understand what the SCRT is, how it works, how to use it and how to interpret the output of the tool, the Sub-Capacity Report. This session also covers the planning steps for successful implementation of SCRT and discusses the end-to-end implementation process of collecting the required SMF data, running SCRT, reviewing the reports, and submitting them to IBM.

IBM System z Sub-Capacity and the SCRT Report by David Chase, of course. This session goes a step beyond the session above. Sub-capacity pricing for System z software is the way most customers achieve the optimal price performance available to them. But this means that the way your system is configured and used is very likely to have an impact upon the software charges you pay, and use of the Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT) will be required. Attend this session to understand how SCRT works beyond the introductory level, how to use it, how to interpret the output of the tool (the Sub-Capacity Report), and most importantly, what options you have to tune your system to influence your monthly software charges.  

Software Licensing for Distributed Linux Middleware on IBM System z by David Chase, clearly the public face of IBM pricing. Many people understand how sub-capacity software licensing works for z/OS and z/VSE. Less well known—IBM also offers sub-capacity licensing for distributed Linux middleware when it runs on System z. Attend this session to understand how the Passport Advantage virtualization and sub-capacity licensing rules work in a Linux on System z environment, especially when you are using IFL engines running under the control of z/VM.

Mainframe software licensing is maddening and has little to do with what attracts people to enterprise computing. As a result, mainframe people stay away from it, leaving it to lawyers and the folks in purchasing, who may be even less prepared to tackle the subject than you. Big mistake. Once you are aware of how it works you can arrange workloads to ensure the lowest price. BTW, if you bring in a name brand consultant for advice on reducing mainframe data center costs, the first thing they check are your software invoices. Skip the consultant; bring your questions to David Chase’s sessions at Enterprise 2014. It will pay for your trip.

Also, don’t miss three evenings of live performances: 2 country rock groups, Delta Rae and The Wild Feathers and then, Rock of Ages. Check out all three and more here

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

IBM Enterprise2014 to Drive Advanced Mainframe Capabilities

August 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBM Mainframe Tweet-Up with Ross Mauri Generates Action

August 15, 2014

DancingDinosaur has participated in numerous Mainframe Tweet-Ups before, most recently Enterprise2013 and Edge2014.  The Tweet-Up last Tuesday (8/12) might have been the biggest yet, generating numerous questions and responses (over 120 in one hour by DancingDinosaur’s count) on a range of topics including Linux on the mainframe, mobile on the mainframe, and more.

A Tweet-Up is a Twitter event where a panel of experts respond to questions from an audience and interactive discussions revolve around the questions. Think of the Mainframe Tweet-Up as a very mini IBM Enterprise2014. But instead of one expert panel and 100+ participants there will be over 600 expert sessions, an army of IBM experts to present and respond to questions, and over 50 case studies where you can talk directly to the user and get the real nitty-gritty.

The central attraction of Tuesday’s Mainframe Tweet-Up was Ross Mauri, General Manager of the IBM System z business.  Mauri is a veteran of enterprise servers and systems, having previously held a similar position with Power Systems. Of course he is a strong proponent of the mainframe, but he also is a big advocate for mobile on the System z.

In a recent post Mauri notes that enterprise mobility will be a $30 billion market next year with twice as many corporate employees using their own mobile devices as they are today.  According to Gartner, by 2017, 25% of all enterprises will have a mobile app store.  Check out Mauri’s post, Mobility made possible with the mainframe, here.

Mauri really sees the System z as an essential platform for mobile: “Given IBM System z’s unprecedented enterprise scale, availability, cloud, analytics, and mobile capabilities, we (the IBM mainframe team) are poised to deliver value to clients’ enterprise mobility needs. The marketplace demands mobile capabilities and has for years because their customers demand it of them.  Across industries, consumers mandate immediate, any time access to their accounts and information.  Consider what’s possible when IBM System z delivers enterprise mobility to these institutions,” he wrote.

Africa stands to gain the most from mobile mainframe, especially when it comes to banking. Mauri continued. Nearly 80% of Africa’s population – 326 million people — is unbanked, denying them the ability to get education and business loans or support their families.  First National Bank (FNB) and the mainframe are changing that.  Using System z’s mobile bank-in-a-box solutions, FNB brings secure banking to the customer in ways they’re familiar with — to the tune of 234 million monthly mobile banking transactions.  IBM’s System z bank-in-a-box solutions eliminate the need for FNB’s customers to rely on couriers.  Families have their funds in seconds instead of days and save sizable courier fees.  For the people who now use this solution, their lives have been changed forever.

DancingDinosaur has been on top of the mobile mainframe since IBM first began talking about it in the spring of 2010, and most recently here and here. The mainframe, especially with the new discounted z/OS pricing, makes an ideal cost-efficient platform for mobile computing. The z is a particularly good choice since much of the processing resulting from mobile activity will be handled right on the z, probably even the same z.

Mobile certainly was a top topic in the Mainframe Tweet-Up. One discussion addressed whether mobile would increase mainframe workloads or just shift it to coming from different devices. Instead of using an ATM to check your balance, for example, you would use the bank’s mobile app. The responses were varied: everyone agreed that mobile would increase transaction volume overall, but the transactions would follow a different cycle, a predominantly read cycle. If you have an opinion, feel welcome to weigh in with a comment.

Another discussion focused on mainframe simplification and looked at z/OSMF and CICS Explorer as two simplification/GUI tools, along with z/OS HealthChecker, RTD, and PFA. A different discussion turned to APIs and the z; concluding that the z has the APIs to effectively work with SoftLayer and also connect with APIM. Another participant added that the z works with the RESTful API. And not surprisingly there was an active discussion on Linux on z. The expert panelists and participants overall kept things very lively.

The Mainframe Tweet-Up was a small taste of what is coming in IBM Enterprise2014, Oct. 6-10 at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Register now; last year’s event sold out. IBM is expecting over 3000 attendees.  DancingDinsosaur certainly will be there.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. You also can find him at Technologywriter.com.

Put the Mainframe at the Heart of the Internet of Things

August 4, 2014

Does the Internet of things (IoT) sound familiar? It should. Remember massive networks of ATMs connecting back to the mainframe?

The mainframe is poised to take on the IoT challenge writes Advanced Software Products Group, Inc. (ASPG), a company specializing in mainframe software, in an interesting document called the Future of the Mainframe.  Part of that future is the IoT, which IBM refers to in a Redbook Point of View as the Interconnecting of Everything.

In that Redbook the IoT is defined as a network of Internet-enabled, real-world objects—things—ranging from nanotechnology objects to consumer electronics, home appliances, sensors of all kinds, embedded systems, and personal mobile devices. The IoT also will encompass enabling network and communication technologies, such as IPv6 to get the unique address capacity, web services, RFID, and 4G networks.

The IoT Redbook cites industry predictions of upwards of 50 billion connected devices by 2020, a number 10x that of all current Internet hosts, including connected mobile phones. Based on that the Redbook authors note two primary IoT scalability issues:

  1. The sheer number of connected devices; the quantity of connected devices, mainly the number of concurrent connections (throughput) a system can support and the quality of service (QoS) that can be delivered. Here, authors note, Internet scalability is a critical factor. Currently, most Internet-connected devices use IPv4, which is based on a 32-bit. Clearly, the industry has to speed the transition to IPv6, which implements a 128-bit addressing scheme that can support up to 2128 addresses or 4 x 1038 devices, although some tweaking of the IPv6 standard is being proposed for IoT.
  1. The volume of generated data and the performance issues associated with data collection, processing, storage, query, and display. IoT systems need to handle both device and data scalability issues. From a data standpoint, this is big data on steroids.

As ASPG noted in its paper cited above, the mainframe is well suited to provide a central platform for IoT. The zEnterprise has the power to connect large dispersed networks, capture and process the mountains of data produced every minute, and provide the security and privacy companies and individuals demand. In addition, it can accept, process, and interpret all that data in a useful way. In short, it may be the only general commercial computing platform powerful enough today to crunch vast quantities of data very quickly and is already proven to perform millions of transactions per second and do it securely.

Even with a top end zEC12 configured to the hilt and proven to handle maximum transactions per second, you are not quite yet ready to handle the IoT as it is currently being envisioned. This IoT vision is much more heterogeneous in all dimensions than the massive reservation or POS or ATM networks the mainframe has proven itself with.

At least one major piece still needed: an industry-wide standard that defines how the various devices capture myriad information for a diverse set of applications involving numerous vendors and ensure everything can communicate and exchange information in a meaningful way. Not surprisingly, the industry already is working on it.

Actually, maybe too many groups. The IEEE points to a number of standards, projects and activities it is involved with that address the creation of what it considers a vibrant IoT. The Open Internet Consortium, consisting of a slew of tech-industry heavyweights like Intel, Broadcom, and Samsung, hope to develop standards and certification for devices involved in the IoT. Another group, the AllSeen Alliance, is promoting an open standard called AllJoyn with the goal of enabling ubiquitously connected devices. Even Google is getting into the act by opening up its Nest acquisition so developers can connect their various home devices (thermostats, security alarm controllers, garage door openers, and such) via a home IoT.

This will likely shake out the way IT standards usually do with several competing groups fighting it out. Probably too early to start placing bets. But you can be sure IBM will be right there. The company already has put an IoT stake in the ground here (as if the z wasn’t enough).  Whatever eventually shakes out, System z shops should be right in the middle of the IoT action.

Expect this will be subject of discussion at the upcoming IBM Enterprise 2014 conference, Oct. 6-10 in Las Vegas. Your blogger expects to be there. DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow him on Twitter, @mainframeblog or 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

 

 


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