Syncsort Leverages zIIP to Reduce Mainframe Costs

Last month Syncsort released two related products, the ZPSaver Suite and MFX Sort for z/OS, release 2.1. Both maximize the use of the System z’s zIIP co-processor to enable mainframe shops to reduce monthly software charges.

syncsort zpsaver High_Res Syncsort_Blog_ZPSaver[1]

 There are a handful of proven ways z data centers can save money, which DancingDinsosaur covers periodically:

  1. Reducing CPU usage, particularly peak software workloads
  2. Leveraging low cost assist processor MIPS, which reduces the amount of GP MIPS you need to acquire
  3. Rationalizing , consolidating, or reducing the overall amount of software you run

The new Syncsort tool plays to points 1 and 2. Citing reports from various customers, a mainframe shop reported saving 17 MSU in one month, which translates into savings of about $250k over the year. Please note: Syncsort was unable to connect DancingDinosaur with any users to validate the savings.

MFX 2.1 forms the foundation of the ZPSaver Suite, which also includes ZPCopy and ZPCompress. The first sends copy processing to the zIIP; the second directs compression processing to the zIIP.  Together, these allow the mainframe data center to remove COPY and SMS compression workloads from the GP processor and run them on zIIP engines. Reportedly, there is no degradation in performance and possibly even potential improvements.

With assist processors like the zIIP, IBM in effect sells discounted mainframe MIPS. In addition, workloads running on assist processors are not included in monthly workload charges, further adding to the potential savings. In short, you are able to replace billable GP cycles with already discounted zIIP processor cycles. Savvy mainframe data center managers can plan to purchase fewer full priced GP MIPS by deploying more assist processors and direct more workloads to them. This reduces the workload on the core GP processors from the start. By replacing GP processor MIPS with assist processor MIPS the organization can acquire the same overall number of MIPS at a lower acquisition cost while saving more money each month though lower fees. The trick, of course, is to redirect the workloads to the assist processor.

Syncsort MFX also promises to effectively reduce Copy and SMS Compression for those tasks up to 90%. This also has the potential to improve SLA compliance the company reports. Again, DancingDinosaur has not yet been able to connect with actual users to validate this.

Sort functions and compression have been part z/OS almost since the beginning. IBM offers its own sort and compress functionality. Syncsort didn’t invent sort and compress; they just architected the functions to work with the zIIP.  They should work as expected with the most noticeable change coming in the monthly software charge, which is where you want to see it.

Many z/OS shops also rely heavily on the COPY function during data transformation. According to Syncsort, a good percentage of its customers actually had more COPY executions than SORTs, making it an area ideally suited for zIIP offload.  Syncsort also decided to include its DASD Parallel Access Volume (PAV) support to improve the elapsed time of these COPY applications as well as reduce the billable CPU time. The result: a reported 90% reduction in CPU time for COPY applications by offloading that workload to a zIIP engine. If the input and output for these COPY applications, the company continues, are on DASD devices, its PAV support will reduce the elapsed time by 25%.

Mainframe SMS compression initially was created when storage was far more expensive than it is today. Still according to Syncsort, five out of six z/OS customers today continue as heavy users of SMS compression.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Find him on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Or read more of his IT analysis and reporting at www.Technologywriter.com and here.

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