Meet the metaverse

April 22, 2022

Have you experienced the metaverse? It’s being hyped as yet another next big thing. Supposedly all the forward-looking companies are gravitating toward metaverses. Is yours? Should it?

IBM files a patent for metaverse

Along with the metaverse comes the Metaverse Continuum. According to those supposedly in the know, it describes a spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds and business models that are poised to revolutionize life and the enterprise in the next decade. I’ve been following this most, but admittedly they lost me when they started referencing realities. Haven’t a clue what they might mean by realities.  

Maybe this can clarify things. “It applies to all aspects of business, from consumer to worker and across the enterprise; from reality to virtual and back; from 2D to 3D; and from cloud and artificial intelligence to extended reality, blockchain, digital twins, edge technologies, and beyond. Sort of includes everything but the kitchen sink. Wait, maybe that’s included too. What they really are saying is that metaverse can be whatever marketers want to imagine it to be and can sell.

But one thing is clear simply by the hazy hype: A large company, probably a recognized industry leader, is going to offer you a compelling pitch for whatever it calls a metavarse and then ask you for a lot of money to participate. That should be your cue to steer them to the door.

More recently  Metaverse Continuum has appeared. According to its link: the metaverse is a spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds and business models. As they explain it, metaverses will revolutionize nearly all aspects of business in the next decade, allowing collaboration in virtual spaces, augmented physical places, and a blend of both. And it will enable new lines of business while transforming interactions between customers and companies. If you believe this there is a famous statue of a lady standing in New York harbor that I would be happy to sell you for a fraction of what they will be asking

In the technology industry change is a given. So in reviewing all the metaverse baloney out there I found only one statement that smacked as containing  kernel of truth: businesses are aiming toward a future different from the one they were designed to operate in. OK, look back on your career. How many times could you have said something similar. As noted earlier: tech change happens all the time.

You and your business will be facing changes different from those you were expecting to face 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 2 years ago, or maybe just 2 weeks ago. Change happens quickly and relentlessly. You have to decide which changes  seem worth pursuing and which are worth skipping. My gut: most are worth skipping.  

Soon, every company will find itself at the intersection of many new worlds as it has done many times before, from building new physical and virtual realities to buying into metaverse environments created by others. Of course you can always not opt for any of them. If you don’t hear a compelling case at an attractive price, skip it. With technology change there will always be the next thing coming along. 

To grow and thrive in this new and fast-changing world the strategies organizations develop now must have key capabilities at their core: ownership of data, broad inclusion, diversity, sustainability, security and personal safety.

Tomorrow we might see these initiatives grow into smart neighborhoods, cities, and countries, or not. Major companies will have their own internal metaverses to let employees work and interact from anywhere. Hmm, I thought they could do that now without metaverses.

We are only in the earliest days of the metaverse. Those who shy away from the uncertainties of the metaverses will soon be operating in worlds defined by others. Of course, you could cobble one to your liking on your own or with a couple selected like-minded partners. Or just wait until better possibilities come along at better prices. Remember, technology change happens constantly.

So what are you going to do about metaverses? DancingDinosaur is instinctively conservative and skeptical at first. I would suggest you do nothing other than read whatever you can about metaverses that interests you. Watch how things develop, compare notes with companies you consider peers, and resi

st being rushed into anything. There will always be another opportunity.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

z16 Inference Processing

April 7, 2022

IBM z16 

On April 5 IBM unveiled the z16, IBM’s next-generation system with an integrated on-chip AI accelerator—delivering latency-optimized inferencing. This innovation is designed to enable clients to analyze real-time transactions, at scale — for mission-critical workloads such as credit card processing, healthcare, and financial transactions. Building on IBM’s history of leading security, IBM z16 also is specifically designed to help protect against likely future threats that might be used to crack today’s and future encryption technologies.

IBM has been telegraphing the z16 for months, at least since the Telum chip was introduced toward the end of Aug.  IBM announced the IBM Telum Processor at HotChips; Telum will be the central processor chip for the next generation IBM Z, finally introduced this week as the z16, and for LinuxONE.  With AI-based inference built in. organizations that want help in preventing fraud in real-time, or other use cases, will welcome the new z16, which promises to deliver  in-transaction inference in real time and at scale.

The 7nm Telum microprocessor is ideal for organizations seeking AI-based insights from their data without compromising response time for high volume transactional workloads. To help meet these needs, IBM Telum is designed with a new dedicated on-chip accelerator for AI inferencing, to enable real time AI embedded directly into transactional workloads, alongside improvements for performance, security, and availability.

With the z16 innovations, “companies can increase decision velocity through inferencing right where their mission-critical data lives,” said Ric Lewis, SVP, IBM Systems. “This opens up opportunities to change the game in their respective industries so they will be positioned to deliver better customer experiences and business outcomes.”

Clearly the payoff from the z16 can come fast and be significant. Financial institutions worldwide repeatedly struggle with the impacts of fraudulent activities on their revenues and consumer interactions. According to a new study from IBM and Morning Consult “2022 IBM Global Financial Fraud Impact Report,” credit card fraud is the most common type of fraud among consumers in the seven countries surveyed.

With the z16 bringing together AI inferencing via its built-in Telum Processor, and with its highly secured and reliable high-volume transaction processing, banks for the first time, can analyze for fraud during the actual transactions on a massive scale, catching the bad guys before the transactions go through.The z16 can process 300 billion inference requests per day with just one millisecond of latency. For consumers, this could mean reducing the time and energy required to handle fraudulent transactions on their credit cards. For both merchants and card issuers, this could mean a reduction in revenue losses as consumers avoid the frustration associated with false declines.

And it doesn’t stop there. Other threats, such as tax fraud and organized retail theft are emerging as challenges for both governments and businesses to control. Real-time payments and alternative payment methods like cryptocurrencies are pushing the limits of traditional fraud detection techniques. Applying the new capabilities of IBM z16 to these industries can help create an entirely new class of use cases, including:

  • Loan approval: to speed approval of business or consumer loans
  • Clearing and settlement: to determine which trades and/or transactions may have a high-risk exposure before settlement
  • Federated learning for retail: to better model risk against fraud and theft

Clearly the z16 brings a potent set of security capabilities and other goodies to the Z. Am eager to see how much and how quickly organizations can start cashing in.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. 

IBM zCX for Red Hat OpenShift

March 31, 2022

Modernize your IBM z/OS ecosystem with an agile and flexible deployment of Linux on Z applications in a self-contained Red Hat OpenShift cluster.

Person standing in front of stacked shipping containers

zCX cluster for OpenShift

Leveraging IBM® zCX Foundation for Red Hat® OpenShift® (zCX for OpenShift) allows for an agile and flexible deployment of Linux® on Z applications and software in a self-contained Red Hat OpenShift cluster into IBM z/OS®. That means you can co-locate applications and workloads while simultaneously taking advantage of the many z/OS Qualities of Service (QoS).

In short, any mainframe shop can expand its ecosystem with the addition of IBM Foundation for Red Hat OpenShift. The object; to integrate Linux on Z applications with z/OS to deliver enterprise-level container orchestration and management capabilities around containerized software, an increasingly popular approach..

Specifically, you can enable existing or new z/OS applications to use services that were previously unavailable with zCX for OpenShift. That means include z/OS in the design of new solutions that require a containerized Linux software deployment and orchestrate it with Red Hat OpenShift.

Best of all, no specialized z/OS skills or expertise is required.  Just develop and deploy containerized software in support inside z/OS using standard Red Hat OpenShift interfaces, processes, and tooling, with no special skills required.

Leverage the enterprise-ready Kubernetes container platform available in Red Hat OpenShift to manage a hybrid cloud strategy, a multicloud, or edge deployments. In that way you can benefit from z/OS Qualities of Service (QoS) and provide automatic, integrated restart capabilities in the event of  site failures (using z/OS DR/GDPS), which amounts, basically, to Inherent disaster recovery.

Operational management consistent with z/OS integrates seamlessly into your current z/OS environment through consistent operational management that already is in line with z/OS. Or, you can opt for co-location. That would minimize network latency by co-locating certain applications and workloads. Enabling applications to access z/OS data to be as close as possible has some clear savings advantages.

In addition, you could provide an integrated z/OS operational model with z/OS QoS  via zCX for performance and security while still including co-located non-SQL databases, latest microservices, and an analytics framework.

IBM is ready to deliver the full zCX package.

However, some of the zCX fine print: A good first assumption is that the new work running in the zCX environment will be 95% zIIP-eligible. However, your zCX environment may be more or less zIIP eligible depending on characteristics of the workload itself. Capacity planning should be based on the measured zIIP eligibility of your specific zCX applications. zCX can be deployed exclusively on standard processors if no zIIP processors are available.

Results were extrapolated from internal IBM benchmarks performed in a controlled environment using a single z14 z/OS 2.4 LPAR with TCP/IP inbound workload queuing (IWQ) for inbound traffic and two zCX containers: one running Node.js and one running a MongoDB database. zIIP eligibility is based on the CPU consumption of the work running on the zCX address spaces and the associated work on the TCPIP and VTAM address spaces. Results may vary.

This product, IBM zCX Foundation for Red Hat OpenShift, is an IBM product. Therefore, primary service and support is offered through IBM. Purchase of zCX for OpenShift provides entitlement to Red Hat OpenShift. If you experience any issues with zCX for OpenShift, open a case here: http://www.ibm.com/mysupport 

DancingDinosaur initially was suspicious of the IBM acquisition of Red Hat. But in subsequent months IBM has demonstrated the ability to deliver enhance value from Red Hat, particularly for the Z. zCX is just more value for the Z

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

Can IBM Apps Address Climate Change

March 21, 2022

Everyone who managed to stay awake in business school learns in the first week that meeting customer expectations is essential for success. What they did not tell you in that first week was that was probably the only important thing they would teach. It requires combining data from multiple sources to get a full picture of each individual customer and act then on those real-time insights to deliver a truly connected experience, whatever that was. You can stop snoring now

Recently, Adobe and IBM this promised to make this even clearer. Specifically, IBM announced the expansion of its partnership with Adobe around the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered weather data from The Weather Company, a joint IBM Business on the Adobe Experience Platform. Customers can leverage Weather Channel data but the expanded solutions are expected to be generally available until later this year.

No doubt IBM knows weather. What it left out was mentioning climate change and what to do about it. Not sure they have an AI app for climate change especially when both the North and South Poles hit record high temps recently. Hmm. is there an IBM AI app for that? How should Z users advise their customers.

IBM has designed its new weather solution to enable customers to give customers AI-driven insights on how weather could affect consumer purchasing habits across categories such as retail, healthcare, travel and hospitality, and consumer packaged goods. Customers could shift their behavior in response to forecasted weather changes, whether snow days or heat waves or anything in-between. 

Unless you have been buried in a cave or otherwise cut off from contact with the outside world you have to already be aware that climate change is underway and likely to occur faster and bigger in the years ahead. That means sometimes more snow and sometimes less snow or snow mixed with rain, what the weather people have started to refer to as “wintry mix.” Maybe they think it sounds poetic but it just means wet, slushy snow.

And don’t forget summer when climate change will mean encountering more and more destructive heat waves, wildfires, excessive humidity, extended drought, and high winds. Will probably want another AI app just for that.

Climate change is going to keep you attuned to weather as never before. Weather data is a proven predictor of consumer behavior. From snow days to heat waves weather data can drive buyers to redirect their spending. By then, you won’t need IBM’s weather platform. You’ll have all you need on the front page of the daily newspaper. Sure, you can use IBM’s partnership and its Experience Platform, arriving later this year, or you use the evening TV weather report and apply own judgment tomorrow and any night that follows. 

Commenting on the potential value of bringing weather data into the customer experience, Chris Luna, Senior Global Media Manager at 3M, an existing IBM and an Adobe customer said, “It brings powerf.ul combination of AI-driven weather data and insights.”

As third-party identifiers and traditional forms of targeting are phased out via impending legislation and consumer privacy regulations brand marketers will be forced to leverage alternative datasets and solutions to ensure their customers are receiving accurate, timely, rapidly updated, and web-based experiences. 

Again, where is IBM’s AI climate change app? Could it be enough in the face of the inexorable onslaught of climate change? That’s purely a personal judgment call on your part. Some of this depends on whether if or how much you how much you believe in climate science and climate change to begin with

DancingDinosaur feels climate science, unfortunately, is right on target. IBM may have the best climate AI, but until enough people take it seriously now and start changing their behavior it won’t matter.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter who believes in climate science. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

Newest Z Announced Again

March 17, 2022

IBM has confirmed that a new model of its Z Series mainframes will arrive in late 2Q. DancingDinosaur covered this the first week of Feb when IBM initially leaked it.  They haven’t, however, added much in the way of new details or even the name of the machine. Below is the z15. IBM hasn’t named the new machine or provided a graphic.

But you already read most of it here from DancingDinosaur. The company emphasized the equipment’s debut as a source of improved revenue for the company’s infrastructure business. CFO James Kavanaugh put the release on the roadmap during Big Blue’s Q4 2021 earnings call. The CFO suggested the new release will make a positive impact on IBM’s revenue, which came in at $16.7 billion for the quarter and $57.35 billion for the year. The Q4 number was up 6.5 per cent on year, the annual number was a $2.2 billion jump. 

This is the lure IBM uses to pull new customers into its mainframe ecosystem. Big Blue also advances mainframes as excellent components for a hybrid cloud environment – the bait IBM’s latest CEO, Arvind Krishna, said is IBM’s new focus.

IBM is good at cranking out a new mainframe loaded with compelling capabilities every year or so. Now all IBM has to figure out how to get those mainframe shops to expand their use of IBM systems beyond the Z.  That has proven considerably harder.

A glimmer of hope for IBM comes from the hybrid cloud. On the earnings call, Krishna said IBM clients are “eager to leverage hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence to move their business forward.” The new mainframe promises to possibly tick both of those clocks, maybe.

While IBM’s mainframe customers wait for the new machine’s business impact Big Blue is expanding it focus to software. Q4 software revenue rose eight per cent, consulting revenue climbed 13 points, but infrastructure, read mainframes, stayed flat at best.  And even hybrid cloud infrastructure revenue fell 12 per cent. Guess there will be no cavalry riding to rescue this quarter.

However, DancingDinosaur sees IBM’S most promising player not the mainframe, as much as LinuxONE, where he sees a way to expand the mainframe, particularly if you understand it as a mainframe Linux server with the never fail, high capacity of the mainframe.  

But overal,l hybrid cloud revenue jumped 16 per cent for the quarter and 20 per cent for the year, to top $20bn in sales. 

On the earnings call, Krishna said IBM clients are “eager to leverage hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence to move their business forward.” The new mainframe looks like it will tick both of those boxes.

While IBM investors wait for the new machine and its impact on Big Blue’s bottom line they can contemplate that Q4 saw software revenue rise eight per cent, consulting revenue climb 13 points, but infrastructure stay flat and hybrid cloud infrastructure revenue fall 12 per cent.

But overall hybrid cloud revenue jumped 16 per cent for the quarter and 20 per cent for the year, to top $20bn in sales.

Execs also suggested a robust storage revenue means IBM’s infrastructure portfolio is in fine shape, while Red Hat’s 21 per cent revenue rise shows the company has in-demand tools for buyers seeking IT automation, security, hybrid cloud, and cloud-native development tools.

Krishna suggested automation could be especially important to IBM, as he sees clients turn to it more often as the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many leave the IT workforce. He predicted the resulting skills shortages will persist throughout the 2020s.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

IBM COBOL Mainframe

March 4, 2022

The Open Mainframe Project’s COBOL Working Group (CWG), launched in 2020, aims to promote and support the continued use of the COBOL language globally.

As CWG themselves put it: “We’ve been doing COBOL so consistently and for so long, that everybody has forgotten  it is still running the world’s economy,” according to CWG’s latest report. 

IBM COBOL Compiler Family

Forty+ years ago DancingDinosaur was required to take COBOL to fulfill a math/science requirement. Fortunately, it was offered as a pass/fail option and I passed and almost immediately forgot everything we covered in COBOL except to realize that the code actually made sense. Later when I really mastered BASIC it reminded me of COBOL–simple, straightforward, and seemingly as useful.

Fortunately, many people did not forget it. Today COBOL still runs many, if not most, of the critical core applications of many mainframe shops today. In fact, when some bright executive comes up with the idea to replace the mainframe with a modern and cheaper distributed system COBOL, thankfully, presents an almost insurmountable roadblock. 

They can’t confidently replace those proven and reliable COBOL apps. They aren’t pretty but they work, don’t fail, and their people are productive using them. And even when those executives are willing to spend big money to rewrite them success is far from assured.

So what’s a mainframe shop to do? Participate in the Open Mainframe Group. First you’ll see why COBOL is a proven staple with hundreds of billions of lines of production code used across many industries. Second, you’ll  understand why many respondents see the need to continue to provide appropriate staffing and training for COBOL, which will remain a critical commodity in the language’s continued viability, according to the CWG.

TSRI promises to modify your working mainframe COBOL apps while shifting them to Object-Oriented languages with high accuracy and minimal business disruption. The resulting code is object-oriented, compiled, integrated, uniform, and native target language code. Maybe.

At this point, Dancing Dinosaur wants to add a note of caution. After writing numerous pieces on failed conversions of COBOL to something else in an effort to replace or modernize the mainframe be cautious and suspicious. I’ve written this story numerous times before. It is rarely as seamless, effective, and inexpensive as the vendor promises. If you try it and have had success please let me know and I’ll be happy to promote you and the details of your triumph here. 

TSRI reports completing more than 250 referenceable projects, including COBOL modernizations like the REMIS system for the U.S. Air Force, 5 million lines of COBOL modernized to C for Sprint Nextel, 12-plus million lines of COBOL (and other languages) for the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, and others. DancingDinosaur has not yet verified this with any of these users.

TSRI really wants to move you off you mainframe systems by promising to reduce operational and maintenance expenses. In the process you might reduce hardware failure risk (with the mainframe !!–c’mon, remember, it’s a mainframe, which almost never fails). 

So what comes next? Migrate Monolithic COBOL Applications to Service-Oriented Applications according to TSRI.  You might end it with a standard output, a multi-tier architecture with DAO layer, user-interface presentation layer, and application logic layer. We target a variety of cloud architectures, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, private and government cloud, and others. And with additional refactoring, TSRI can break monolithic COBOL systems into microservices based on system requirements.

Of course with the Z you can already do this yourself. The Z runs Linux, kubernetes, supports micro services, handles the most popular new languages, and supports a service-oriented architecture if you want one. It’s already there. You just have to turn it on and figure out what you want to do with it, which, by far, may be the hardest part. Do you really want to count on a third-party to do that for you and do it right? 

DancingDinosaur is often accused of being a mainframe bigot. IBM certainly has its drawbacks when it comes to the mainframe, mainly around pricing. But the risk of mainframe hardware failure certainly isn’t one of them.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

IBM Cloud LinuxONE

March 1, 2022

As enterprises move to adopt a hybrid cloud environment, some are concerned about the ability to sync between private and public cloud deployments.

The fear comes down to various cloud systems not working with your on-premises systems. As IBM notes, the world is moving to hybrid cloud and multicloud deployments, with an estimated 95% of companies utilizing a combination of private and public clouds utilizing various providers for each. 

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The IBM model comes with plenty of reasons to jump onto a cloud; from the cost-efficiency to be gained by cutting back on capital expenditures to the accelerated speed of development with the multitude of tools available in the public cloud. However, they also bring legitimate concerns about the future, namely about consistency, connectivity, and movement between clouds. 

Similar issues plagued IT every time technology changes.  The key, IBM notes, is to insist on a combination of options to meet your particular needs,  both on-premises and in various public clouds to let you take advantage of whatever the  various hybrid clouds offer.

Not surprisingly, IBM offers LinuxONE, an enterprise-grade mainframe Linux server that meets the needs of mission-critical workloads. Companies can choose to use LinuxONE for a variety of Linux-based workloads, such as database scalability or digital assets. And then expand into which hybrid cloud option to host your preferred cloud.

To meet those needs today, IBM Cloud announced in August  the general availability of IBM Cloud LinuxONE for VPC. This offering integrates the LinuxONE platform with the functionality of Virtual Servers for VPC.

VPC stands for Virtual Private Cloud, which means that each organization builds and operates its cloud environment as its own private network. Another best-of-any option, the organization reaps the benefits of the public cloud, say, for agility and flexibility while maintaining the privacy of an on-premises environment with a logically isolated network.

LinuxONE for VPC are virtual servers based on the LinuxONE processor architecture that brings the advantages of the platform together with the advantages of VPC. For the first time, LinuxONE is available as a choice in the public cloud. This grants additional options for companies and individuals looking to develop in the public cloud with the backing of an enterprise-grade mainframe Linux server. 

For those who have or are interested in similar deployments on-premises, this option allows development and testing of the application or workload in the public cloud. Spin up a few instances to experience the LinuxONE platform for just a few hours or stand up a permanent public cloud development environment before porting workloads to production on-premises. Besides the Virtual Private Cloud, these virtual servers come with a host of benefits, such as the following:

  • Simplified logging and monitoring: Use a dashboard to view the health of virtual servers and their usage in a graphical interface.
  • Backup and restore: Use in combination with IBM Cloud Object Storage to ensure high availability.
  • File share: Share data volumes between instances for faster communication.
  • Snapshot: Take moment-in-time backups of instances and save in storage for quick recovery.
  • Start/Stop/Restart: Invoke a restart without submitting a ticket and waiting for help.
  • Terraform integration: Efficiently scale-up cloud infrastructure with an industry-standard tool
  • Network features: Enable customers to build a secure private network for protected communication between all of their environments

Provisioning, deployment and management all occur through the standard IBM Cloud Virtual Servers for VPC catalog page. LinuxONE for VPC is available starting in the Tokyo Multi-Zone Region (MZR), with additional regions rolling out soon.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

IBM Helps SAP R1SE To Cloud

February 21, 2022

On Feb. 10 IBM announced it is teaming with SAP to provide technology and consulting expertise to make it easier for clients to embrace a hybrid cloud approach and move mission-critical workloads from SAP solutions to the cloud for regulated and non-regulated industries.

SAP is one of those quiet mainframe software providers which has built a respectable software business around the Z. IBM, meanwhile, has been scrambling and succeeding over the last couple of quarters in building its Z cloud business. 

As clients look to adopt hybrid cloud strategies, they are moving the workloads and applications that form the backbone of their enterprise operations. As such they increasingly require a reliable cloud environment. With today’s launch of SAP’s supplier option of IBM for RISE with SAP, customers can seek tools to help accelerate the migration of their on-premise SAP software workloads on Z or other platforms to the cloud, including the IBM Cloud, which is backed by IBM’s  industry-leading security capabilities.

Specifically, IBM is unveiling a new program, IBM for RISE with SAP. This consists of a portfolio of solutions and consulting services that help accelerate the SAP customer’s journey to SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Built on a flexible and scalable platform, the solutions and services use intelligent workflows to streamline operations. 

OK, it’s not the IBM cloud per se, but it grows IBM’s cloud footprint. It provides an engagement model that helps plan, execute and support holistic business transformation. Clients are also offered the flexibility and choice to migrate SAP solutions to the public cloud with the support of IBM’s industry expertise.

SAP has long supported the IBM platform  and runs on Z. SAP Business One is an ERP system that integrates key business functions in the cloud or on-premise. It addresses finance, accounting, purchasing, sales, CRM, inventory and project management. It promises faser business decisions fast. Used by 70,000 customers it has 1.2 million users worldwide, many of them using Z .

This  announcement means IBM is becoming a premium SAP supplier, making it the first cloud provider to offer infrastructure, business transformation, and application management services as part of SAP’s RISE with SAP, an SAP cloud initiative. IBM’s premium supplier designation is a continuation of SAP’s long-standing efforts to provide choice and increase options to customers, further supporting IBM customers that have a preference for their RISE wIth SAP package to run on IBM Cloud.

Additionally, migration to SAP S/4HANA® on IBM Cloud from on-premise data centers can potentially deliver the following benefits, according to a study by IDC, sponsored by IBM:

  • Return on investment: Migrating to SAP S/4HANA® on IBM Cloud delivers revenue increases for up to 90% of organizations making the transition according to users surveyed
  • Reduced costs: More than 80% of the organizations in the study said they experienced a reduction in operational costs.
  • Greater productivity: 9 out of 10 businesses in the study said they improved their productivity after migrating to SAP S/4HANA on IBM Cloud.

“We are thrilled to advance our long-standing partnership through RISE with SAP,” said John Granger, Senior Vice President, IBM Consulting. “Our shared commitment is to meet our clients, especially those in highly regulated industries, where they are in their digital journey, while giving them choices for migrating or modernizing their mission critical workloads with a hybrid cloud approach.” 

IBM’s latest, RISE with SAP, lays the foundation for customers to embark on or advance their business transformation journeys. Further, it reaffirms the value customers recognize from RISE with SAP and the impact and innovation opportunity RISE with SAP offers to organizations that move to the cloud. “I have every confidence that the combined expertise and experience of SAP and IBM will accelerate cloud adoption and business growth for customers across the globe,” said Brian Duffy, President of Cloud, SAP.

As a new premium supplier of the RISE with SAP offering and using the IBM Hybrid Cloud, including IBM Power-enabled Infrastructure as a Service. It will  enhance the performance, availability and security of deployments of private editions of SAP S/4HANA® Cloud.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

IBM Takes Sentaca for 5G

February 11, 2022

Early this month IBM announced it acquired Sentaca, a telco consulting services and solutions provider. The acquisition should accelerate IBM’s hybrid cloud consulting efforts, adding critical skills to help communications service providers and media giants modernize on multiple cloud platforms, innovate, and transform their businesses.

With the 5G era finally commencing in earnest each service provider must ensure that its infrastructure has the cloud-native, containerized, service-based architecture necessary to capitalize on the opportunities 5G presents. To outperform competitors, service providers need the right security, visibility, and control to protect its 5G network and customers, and to enable the adaptive applications that underly the 5G. That may be IBM’s ultimate goal for Sentaca.

But that wasn’t the cause of the recent kerfuffle between the FAA and FCC over the safety of wireless technology at airports. Actually it wasn’t about 5G networks, which have been on everybody’s radar screen for years. Rather. it’s all about an improved 5G network.

This improvement uses C-band, explains Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe technology writer. C-band includes a set of radio frequencies that deliver longer range and faster data speeds. But C-band frequencies are also used by aircraft radars that are essential for safe flying. Some airlines and the FAA have warned that interference from C-band networks could scramble aircraft radars, making it more risky to land planes at night or in bad weather.

But the FAA-FCC disagreement has nothing to do with IBM and it has been pretty much settled by now anyway. And it has nothing to do with IBM’s Sentaca acquisition is just one of the company’s favorite ways of buying into a promising market.

As IBM noted in its Feb. announcement Sentaca,  headquartered in Boston, brings experienced technology consultants from across the U.S. and Canada to build and migrate mission-critical applications on leading cloud service providers and open-source platforms like Red Hat OpenShift and OpenStack, all IBM platforms. Sentaca has supported digital transformation, next-generation networks, and improved consumer experience for service providers, and media companies since its founding in 2008.

Now Sentaca will join IBM Consulting’s Hybrid Cloud Services business to solve clients’ strategic and technology challenges such as cost-of-ownership, monetization, scalability, and secure architecture while addressing opportunities including 5G, IoT and streaming that can accelerate the creation and delivery of new services. Sentaca’s domain expertise, assets, and client relationships will help IBM meet this demand and strengthen its position as a prime systems integrator for the emerging 5G network market.

Since the initial 5G issue that triggered the fuss was resolved within days of being aired publicly it’s not sure  what the task for Sentaca at this point except what it would usually do. Edge computing and, most recently, 5G have creeped onto IBM’s radar screen and the company can always use smart people until they get laid off, which happens regularly.

Since Arvind Krishna became IBM CEO, the company has acquired more than 20 companies – 10 in Consulting alone – to bolster its hybrid cloud and AI capabilities. The announcement of the Sentaca acquisition follows several acquisitions by IBM of leading cloud consulting firms – Nordcloud, Taos, BoxBoat and SXiQ – in 2021, which significantly expanded IBM’s multicloud transformation, management expertise and capabilities in Europe and North America.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

New Z Coming

February 3, 2022

The arrival of a new Z always is a big event, often eagerly anticipated, or often not, depending on whether you are anticipating improved capabilities and greater performance or you are concerned on how it will drive up your operating expenses. Dancing Dinosaur tends to greatly anticipate any new Z mainly for its new possibilities, but I don’t ever have to actually buy the new machine, only write about it. 

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Upcoming Z

In a recent earnings call the company confirmed that a successor to the z15 mainframe was due sometime after Q2 2022. So, probably this summer.  If you have been digging out of 1.2-24” of snow last week, a new Z this summer is something to look forward to, if for nothing else but the warm temps., by then

IBM confirms new Z-series mainframe is the z15 successor likely due later in the summer. The company, however, did not specify exactly it meant by successor.  You can probably assume it will have a different name. Probably not z16, but that is anybody’s guess. IBM also didn’t offered any details of the new Z.

At the same time IBM announced its fourth-quarter 2021 earnings results this week, reporting $16.7 billion for the quarter and $57.35bn for the year. Infrastructure (includes Hybrid Infrastructure, Infrastructure Support) reported revenues of $4.4 billion, down 0.2 percent.

During the subsequent earnings call – first reported by the Register – IBM SVP and CFO Jim Kavanaugh said IBM was “entering a mainframe cycle late in the first half [of this year].” Historically, IBM experiences a revenue jump the quarter when a new mainframe is introduced. You can expect the same to happen when the new machine is introduced in the summer. As enthusiastic as IBM has been about hybrid cloud opportunities, that is unlikely to beat the introduction of a new mainframe in the next couple of quarters, which invariably generates upgrades that very quickly follow.

Details on the new system weren’t disclosed. But the company noted sales of the current system had slowed after nearly three years on the market, which is expected; the company reported IBM Z was down six percent in the Q4 2021 results.

IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna noted that this is the 11th quarter on the current mainframe model cycle, and the most successful mainframe program the company has had.

As a result of coming so late in the mainframe cycle, the company does “expect some softness on mainframe sales in the first quarter but not in the remaining quarters” while customers ramp up for the new model, Krishna added. Mainframe sales were down in the previous quarter.

IBM launched the z15 in 2019; For the next platform, he notes, the new system will use IBM’s new Telum z16 chip manufactured by Samsung. So will the new machine be the z16 or some combination or some unfathomable mix or something completely different. After over 30 years of covering IBM mainframe product introductions  I won’t even pretend to guess how it might be named. 

The Tellum chip was introduced at HotChips in May; Tellum will be the central processor chip for the next generation IBM Z and LinuxONE systems. Organizations who want help in preventing fraud in real-time, or other use cases, will welcome these new IBM Z innovations designed to deliver in-transaction inference in real time and at scale.

The 7 nm microprocessor is engineered to meet the demands IBM clients face for gaining AI-based insights from their data without compromising response time for high volume transactional workloads. To help meet these needs, IBM Telum is designed with a new dedicated on-chip accelerator for AI inference, to enable real time AI embedded directly in transactional workloads, alongside improvements for performance, security, and availability.

Despite the rush to adopt cloud computing, the global mainframe market remains a multi-billion dollar segment for IBM as companies still rely on their high throughput and the reliability mainframes for critical high-volume transactions. To ensure it continues, IBM needs to continually introduce a new frame at least every couple of years.

Competing vendors are itching to steal a piece of the billion-dollar plus mainframe market. Most of the large cloud providers are desperate to win customers off mainframes by launching mainframe modernization and migration services, which IBM also offers as part of its own hybrid cloud initiatives. It is not clear if any of this is enough to impact mainframe dynamics. 

On the earnings call, Krishna said IBM clients are “eager to leverage hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence to move their business forward “The new mainframe looks like it will tick both of those boxes,” he continued.

While IBM investors and mainframe users wait for the new machine and its impact on Big Blue’s bottom line they can think how Q4 saw software revenue rise eight per cent, consulting revenue climb 13 points, but infrastructure stayed flat, and hybrid cloud infrastructure revenue fell 12 per cent. Sort of the good, bad, and ugly in one quarterly report.

But overall IBM hybrid cloud revenue jumped 16 per cent for the quarter and 20 per cent for the year, to top $20bn in sales.

Industry observers also suggested robust storage revenue means IBM’s infrastructure portfolio is in fine shape and Red Hat’s 21 per cent revenue rise shows the company has strong demand for the tools buyers are seeking for IT automation, security, hybrid cloud, and cloud-native development.

Finally, Krishna suggested automation could be especially important to IBM, as clients turn to it more often as the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many leave the IT workforce. He predicted the resulting skills shortages will persist throughout the 2020s.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghostwriter. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

This entry was posted on February 3, 2022 at 7:33 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Edit this entry.


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