Posts Tagged ‘hybrid cloud’

Arcati 2017 Mainframe Survey—Cognitive a No-Show

February 2, 2017

DancingDinosaur checks into Arcati’s annual mainframe survey every few years. You can access a copy of the 2017 report here.  Some of the data doesn’t change much, a few percentage points here or there. For example, 75% of the respondents consider the mainframe too expensive. OK, people have been saying that for years.

On the other hand, 65% of the respondents’ mainframes are involved with web services. Half also run Java-based mainframe apps, up from 30% last year, while 17% more are planning to run Java with their mainframe this year. Similarly, 35% of respondents report running Linux on the mainframe, up from 22% last year. Again, 13% of the respondents expect to add Linux this year.  Driving this is the advantageous cost and management benefits that result from consolidating distributed Linux workloads on the z. Yes, things are changing.

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The biggest surprise for DancingDinosaur, however, revolved around IBM’s latest strategic initiatives, especially cognitive computing and blockchain.  Other strategic initiatives may include, depending on who is briefing you at the moment—security, data analytics, cloud, hybrid cloud, and mobile. These strategic imperatives, especially cognitive computing, are expected to drive IBM’s revenue. In the latest statement, reported last week in DancingDinosaur, strategic imperatives amounted to 41% of revenue.  Cloud revenue and Cloud-as-a-service also rose considerably, 35% and 61% respectively.

When DancingDinosaur searched the accompanying Arcati vendor report (over 120 vendors with brief descriptions) for cognitive only GT Software came up. IBM didn’t even mention cognitive in its vendor listing, which admittedly was skimpy. The case was the same with Blockchain; only one vendor, Atos, mentioned it and nothing about blockchain in the IBM listing. More vendors, however, noted supporting one or some of the other supposed strategic initiatives.

Overall, the Arcati survey is quite positive about the mainframe. The survey found that 50 percent of sites viewed their mainframe as a legacy system (down from last year’s 62 percent). However, 22 percent (up from 16 percent last year) viewed mainframe as strategic, with 28 percent (up from 22 percent) viewing mainframes as both strategic and legacy.

Reinforcing the value of the mainframe, the survey found 78 percent of sites experienced some kind of increase in capacity. With increased demand for mainframe resources (data and processing), it should not be surprising that respondents report an 81 percent an increase in technology costs. Yet, 38 percent of sites report their people costs have decreased or stayed the same.

Unfortunately, the survey also found that 70 percent of respondents thought there were a cultural barrier between mainframe and other IT professionals. That did not discourage respondents from pointing out the mainframe advantages: 100 percent highlighted the benefit of the mainframe’s availability, 83 percent highlighted security, 75 percent identified scalability, and 71 percent picked manageability as a mainframe benefit.

Also, social media runs on the mainframe. Respondents found social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) useful for their work on the mainframe. Twenty-seven percent report using social (up slightly from 25 percent last year) with the rest not using it at all despite IBM offering Facebook pages dedicated to IMS, CICS, and DB2. DancingDinosaur, only an occasional FB visitor, will check it out and report.

In terms of how mainframes are being used, the Arcati survey found that 25 percent of sites are planning to use Big Data; five percent of sites have adopted it for DevOps while 48 percent are planning to use mainframe DevOps going forward. Similarly, 14 percent of respondents already are reusing APIs while another 41 percent are planning to.

Arcati points out another interesting thought: The survey showed a 55:45 percent split in favor of distributed systems. So, you might expect the spend on the two types of platform to be similar. Yet, the survey found that 87 percent of an organization’s IT spend was going to distributed systems! Apparently mainframes aren’t as expensive as people think. Or put it another way, the cost of owning and operating distributed systems with mainframe-caliber QoS amounts to a lot more than people are admitting.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

 

BMC Mainframe Survey Confirms z System Is Here to Stay

November 11, 2016

No surprise there. BMC’s 11th annual mainframe survey covering 1,200 mainframe executives and tech professionals found 58% of respondents reported usage of the mainframe is increasing as they look to capitalize on every infrastructure advantage it provides and add more workloads. Another 23% consider the mainframe as the best option to run critical work.

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IBM z10

Driving the continuing interest in the mainframe are the new demands for data handling, scalable processing, analytics, and more. According to the BMC survey nearly 60% of companies are seeing increased data and transaction volumes. They opt to stay with the mainframe for its highly secure, superior data handling and transaction serving, particularly as digital business adds unpredictability and volatility to workloads.

Overall respondents fell into three primary groups: 1) entrenched mainframe shops, 58% that are on board for the long haul; 2) shops, 23% that intend to maintain a steady amount of work on the mainframe; and 3) the 19% that are moving away from the mainframe.  The first two groups, committed mainframe shops, amount to just over survey 80% of the respondents.

Many companies surveyed are focused on addressing the increased workload demands, especially the rapidly growing demand for new applications. But surprisingly, the survey does not directly touch on hybrid cloud, cognitive computing or any of the latest technologies IBM has been promoting, not even DevOps, which can streamline mainframe application development and deployment. “We are not hearing much about a hybrid cloud environments or blockchain yet. Most companies seem to be in the early tire kicking stage, observed John McKenny, BMC Vice President, Strategy and Operations.

Eighty-eight percent of companies in the first group, entrenched mainframe shops, for example, are looking to increase the workloads they run on Java on the mainframe, primarily to address new application demands. It also doesn’t hurt that Java on the mainframe also can help lower data center costs by directing workloads to lower cost assist processors.

Other interesting BMC survey findings:

  • Half of the respondents report keeping 50% of their data on the mainframe and continue to invest in the platform for reasons you already know—security, availability, data serving capability
  • Continued steady growth of Linux in production on the z: 41% in 2014, 48% in 2015, 52% in 2016
  • Increased use of Java on the mainframe report as 67% of respondents cite need to meet growing application demand

Those looking to reduce mainframe presence cited three reasons: 1) perception of high cost, 2) outdated management understanding, and 3) looking for ways to reduce workloads over time.  DancingDinosaur has spoken with mainframe shops intending to migrate off the z and they cite the usual reasons, especially #1 above.

Top mainframe priorities for 2016 according to the BMC survey:  Cost reduction/optimization (65%); data privacy, compliance, security (50%); application availability (49%); application modernization (41%. Responses indicated the priorities for next year haven’t changed at all.

Surprisingly, many of the latest technologies for the z that IBM has touted recently have not yet shown up in the BMC survey responses, except maybe Java and Linux. This would include hybrid clouds, blockchain, IoT, and cognitive computing. IDC, for example, already is projecting cognitive computing to grow at a CAGR of 55.1% from 2016 to 2020. For z shops, however, cognitive computing appears almost invisible.

In some case with surveys like this you need to read between the lines. Where respondents report changes in activity levels driving application growth or the growth of interest in Java or the frequency of application changes and references to operational analytics they’re making oblique references to mobile or big data or even cognitive computing or other recent technologies for the z.

At its best, the BMC notes that digital technologies are transforming the ways in which mainframe shops conduct business and interact with their customers.  Adds BMC mainframe customer Credit Suisse: “IT departments are moving toward centralized, virtualized, and highly automated environments. This is being pursued to drive cost and processing efficiencies. Many companies realize that the Mainframe has provided these benefits for many years and is a mature and stable environment,” said Frank Cortell, Credit Suisse Director of Information Technology.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

 

 

Revamped IBM Power Systems LC Takes on x86

September 9, 2016

To hear IBM, its revamped and refreshed Power Systems LC lineup will undermine x86 (Intel), HPE, Dell/EMC, and any other purveyor of x86-based systems. Backed by accelerators provided by OpenPower community members, IBM appears ready extend the x86 battle to on premises, in the cloud, and the hybrid cloud. It promises to deliver better performance at lower cost for all the hot workloads too: artificial intelligence, deep learning, high performance data analytics, and compute-heavy workloads.

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Two POWER8 processors, 1U config, priced 30% less than an x86 server

Almost a year ago, Oct. 2015, DancingDinosaur covered IBM previous Power Systems LC announcement here. The LC designation stands for Linux Community, and the company is tapping accelerators and more from the OpenPower community, just as it did with its recent announcement of POWER9 expected in 2017, here.

The new Power LC systems feature a set of community delivered technologies IBM has dubbed POWERAccel, a family of I/O technologies designed to deliver composable system performance enabled by accelerators. For GPU acceleration the NVDIA NVLink delivers nearly 5x better integration between POWER processors and the NVIDIA GPUs.  For FPGA acceleration IBM tapped its own CAPI architecture to integrate accelerators that run natively as part of the application.

This week’s Power Systems LC announcement features three new machines:

  • S821LC (pictured above)—includes 2 POWER8 sockets in a 1U enclosure and intended for environments requiring dense computing.
  • S822LC—brings 2 POWER8 sockets for big data workloads and adds big data acceleration through CAPI and GPUs.
  • S822LC—intended for high performance computing, it incorporates the new POWER8 processor with the NVDIA NVLink to deliver 2.8x the bandwidth to GPU accelerators and up to 4 integrated NVIDIA Pascal GPUs.

POWER8 with NVLink delivers 2.8 x the bandwidth compared to a PCle data pipe. According to figures provided by IBM comparing the price-performance of the Power S822LC for HPC (20-core, 256 GB, 4x Pascal) with a Dell C4130 (20-core, 256 GB 4xK80) and measured by total queries per hour (gph) the Power System delivered 2.1x better price-performance.  The Power Systems server cost more ($66,612) vs. the Dell ($57,615) but the Power System delivered 444 qph vs. Dell’s 185 qph.

The story plays out similarly for big data workloads running MongoDB on the IBM Power S8221LC for big data (20-core, 128 GB) vs. an HP DL380 (20-core, 128 GB). Here the system cost (server, OS, MongoDB annual subscription) came to $24,870 for IBM Power and $29,915 for HP.  Power provided 40% more performance at a 31% lower hardware/maintenance cost.

When it comes to the cloud the new IBM Power Systems LC offerings get even more interesting from a buyer’s standpoint. IBM declared the cloud a strategic imperative about 2 years ago and needs to demonstrate adoption that can rival the current cloud leaders; AWS, Google, and Microsoft (Azure). To that end IBM has started to tack on free cloud usage.

For example, during the industry analyst launch briefing IBM declared: Modernize your Power infrastructure for the Cloud, get access to IBM Cloud for free and cut your current operating costs by 50%. Whether you’re talking on-premises cloud or hybrid infrastructure the freebies just come. The free built-in cloud deployment service options include:

  • Cloud Provisioning and Automation
  • Infrastructure as a Service
  • Cloud Capacity Pools across Data Centers
  • Hybrid Cloud with BlueMix
  • Automation for DevOps
  • Database as a Service

These cover both on-premises, where you can transform your traditional infrastructure with automation, self-service, and elastic consumption models or a hybrid infrastructure where you can securely extend to Public Cloud with rapid access to compute services and API integration. Other freebies include open source automation, installation and configuration recipes, cross data center inventory, performance monitoring via the IBM Cloud, optional DR as a service for Power, and free access and capacity flexibility with SolfLayer (12 month starter pack).

Will the new LC line and its various cloud freebies get the low cost x86 monkey off IBM’s back? That’s the hope in Armonk. The new LC servers can be acquired at a lower price and can deliver 80% more performance per dollar spent over x86-based systems, according to IBM. This efficiency enables businesses and cloud service providers to lower costs and combat data center sprawl.

DancingDinosaur has developed TCO and ROI analyses comparing mainframe and Power systems to x86 for a decade, maybe more.  A few managers get it, but most, or their staff, have embedded bias and will never accept non-x86 machines. To them, any x86 system always is cheaper regardless of the specs and the math. Not sure even free will change their minds.

The new Power Systems LC lineup is price-advantaged over comparatively configured Intel x86-based servers, costing 30% less in some configurations.  Online LC pricing begins at $5999. Additional models with smaller configurations sport lower pricing through IBM Business Partners. All but the HPC machine are available immediately. The HPC machine will ship Sept. 26.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

 

IBM Leads in TBR Private and Hybrid Cloud Surveys

August 4, 2016

IBM has been named number one in private clouds by independent technology market research firm Technology Business Research (TBR) as well as number one in TBR’s hybrid cloud environments survey. Ironically, as fast as IBM has been trying to distance itself from its legacy platform heritage it brings an advantage when it comes to clouds for some customers. “A footprint in legacy IT solutions and management is a strong predictor of private cloud vendor success, as private cloud solutions are typically the first step toward hybrid IT environments,” wrote TBR Cloud Senior Analyst Cassandra Mooshian.

1800FLOWERS Taps IBM Commerce Cloud

Courtesy of IBM: 1800 FLOWERS Taps IBM Cloud

Coming out on top of IBM’s 2Q16 financials reported here, were the company’s strategic initiatives, mainly cloud, analytics, and mobile, which generated positive revenue results. The TBR reports provide welcome reinforcement for IBM strategy doubters. As reported by IBM, the annual run rate for cloud as-a-service revenue — a subset of total cloud revenue — increased to $6.7 billion from $4.5 billion in the second quarter of 2015.  Revenues from analytics increased 5 percent.  Revenues from mobile increased 43 percent while security revenue increased 18 percent.

The TBR report also noted IBM leadership in overall vendor adoption for private cloud and in select private cloud segments due to its broad cloud and IT services portfolio, its variety of deployment options, and accompanying integration and optimization support. As a result, the company’s expertise and knowledge of both cloud and legacy technology make it easier for customers to opt for an IBM migration path to both private and hybrid clouds.

TBR also specifically called out of IBM cloud-friendly capabilities, including the comprehensive portfolio of cloud and hardware assets with security; cloud professional services that can span a customer’s entire IT environment; and a vertical approach to cloud combined with Watson technology. As for hybrid clouds, Kelsey Mason, Cloud Analyst at TBR, noted in the announcement: “Hybrid integration is the next stage in cloud adoption and will be the end state for many enterprise IT environments.” Enterprise hybrid adoption, TBR observed, now matches public adoption of a year ago, which it interprets as signaling a new level of maturity in companies’ cloud strategies.

What really counts, however, are customers who vote with their checkbooks.  Here IBM has been racking up cloud wins. For example, Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. company in July announced it will move the engine manufacturer’s business, engineering, and manufacturing enterprise systems to a fully managed and supported environment on the IBM Cloud infrastructure.

Said Brian Galovich, vice president and chief information officer, Pratt & Whitney, in the published announcement:  “Working with IBM and moving our three enterprise systems to a managed cloud service will give us the ability to scale quickly and meet the increased demands for computing services, data processing and storage based on Pratt & Whitney’s forecasted growth over the next decade.

Also in July, Dixons Carphone Group, Europe’s largest telecommunications retail and services company as the result of a 2014 merger, announced plans to migrate to the IBM Cloud from IBM datacenters in the United Kingdom to integrate two distinct infrastructures and enable easy scaling to better manage the peaks and valleys of seasonal shopping trends. Specifically, the company expects to migrate about 2,500 server images from both enterprises with supporting database and middleware components from both infrastructures to an IBM hybrid cloud platform that comprises a private IBM Cloud with bare metal servers for production workloads and public IBM Cloud platform for non-production workloads.

As a merged company it saw an opportunity to consolidate the infrastructures by leveraging cloud solutions for flexibility, performance and cost savings. After assessing the long-term values and scalability of multiple cloud providers, the company turned to IBM Cloud for a smooth transition to a hybrid cloud infrastructure. “We can trust IBM Cloud to seamlessly integrate the infrastructures of both companies into one hybrid cloud that will enable us to continue focusing on other parts of the business,” said David Hennessy, IT Director, Dixons Carphone, in the announcement.

As IBM’s 2Q16 report makes clear, once both these companies might have bought new IBM hardware platforms but that’s not the world today. At least they didn’t opt for AWS or Azure.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

 

IBM to Acquire EZSource to Bolster IBM z System for Digital Transformation

June 9, 2016

Over the past two years you have been reading in DancingDinosaur the new tricks that your z System can do—real time analytics, IoT, Blockchain, and more. This is part of the digital transformation that is blowing through enterprises everywhere. EZSource facilitates and simplifies how you can play in this new areas. See the IBM announcement here.

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EZSource Dashboard, Credit: EZSource

EZSource expedites digital transformations by unlocking core business logic and apps. Specifically it will pinpoint your valuable mainframe code assets in preparation for leveraging them through a hybrid cloud strategy. In the process it will enable the understanding business-critical assets in preparation of deployment of a z-centered hybrid cloud. This also enables enterprise DevOps, which is necessary to keep up with the pace of changes overtaking existing business processes.

Specifically, this can entail the need to:

  • Identify API candidates to play in the API economy
  • Embrace micro services to deliver versatile apps fast
  • Identify code quality concerns, including dead code, to improve reliability and maintainability
  • Mitigate risk of change through understanding code, data and schedule interdependencies
  • Aid in the sizing of a change effort
  • Automate documentation to improve understanding
  • Reduce learning curve as new people are on-boarded
  • Add application understanding to DevOps lifecycle information to identify opportunities for work optimization

Managers a z data centers often shy away from modifying aging business-critical applications for fear of breaking something—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—often is the mantra. They also are rationing the use of their few remaining experienced z veterans with the domain expertise and deep knowledge of software that turns out to be quite esoteric code.  This is further aggravated by poorly documented mainframe code. The way to mitigate this risk of change is through understanding code, data, and interdependencies. EZSource can handle this visually and with ease; you no longer need to be an experienced z code expert.

So what do you have to do to get on the digitization transformation bandwagon? Start by identifying your mainframe assets that are most often accessed. Most of them will be what the mobile apps are calling, usually a CICS routine or two or three. Then expose these business critical services through APIs and micro-services. This may require re-writing parts of them as platform agnostic language and Java components to work within the context of a hybrid cloud. As noted just above, EZSource can help with much of this too.

In short, EZSource performs app discovery, which facilitates code quality improvement. It helps clean up code. It also applies analytics to DevOps, in effect enabling Cognitive DevOps, which makes sense in the dynamic hybrid cloud. The result: you focus only on the relevant code and, of that, what is particularly problematic.

The goal is to increase competitiveness and business innovation through digital forms of engagement; the engagement currently being fueled by mobile, social, analytic, and cognitive computing in a hybrid cloud environment. The expectation is that you will be able to tap the accumulated software assets for insights while modernizing business critical applications already resident on the z. IBM contends that this is the fastest and most cost effective way to drive new value and agility and DancingDinosaur agrees.

Is it worth it?  Most DancingDinosaur readers probably already believe that the mainframe and its data and software assets sit smack at the center of a digital enterprise. (Just a glimpse of the growth of monthly software peak workload charges should confirm that). It makes no sense not to leverage this complex resource to the max. EZSource, with its smart code analytics and visual capabilities, can save thousands of hours of work, avoid mistakes, and speed the delivery of the kind of slick new hybrid cloud apps that customers are demanding.  EZSource is primarily a Linux, Windows, and Java tool with only a few pieces residing on the z to handle necessary z-specific connectivity.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

 

IBM Gets Serious about Linux on z Systems

February 12, 2016

 

It has taken the cloud, open source, and mobile for IBM to finally, after more than a decade of Linux on z, for the company to turn it into the agile development machine it should have been all along. Maybe z data centers weren’t ready back then, maybe they aren’t all that ready now, but it is starting to happen.

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LinuxONE Rockhopper, Refreshed for Hybrid Cloud Innovation

In March, IBM will make its IBM Open Platform available for the IBM LinuxONE (IOP) portfolio available at no cost. IOP includes a broad set of industry standard Apache-based capabilities for analytics and big data. The components supported include Apache Spark, Apache HBase and more, as well as Apache Hadoop 2.7.1. Continuing its commitment to contributing back to the open source community, IBM has optimized the Open Managed Runtime project (OMR) for LinuxONE. Now IBM innovations in virtual machine technology for new dynamic scripting languages will be brought to enterprise-grade strength.

It doesn’t stop there. IBM has ported the Go programming language to LinuxOne too. Go was developed by Google and is designed for building simple, reliable and efficient software, making it easier for developers to combine the software tools they know with the speed, security and scale offered by LinuxONE. IBM expects to begin contributing code to the Go community this summer.

Back in December IBM brought Apple’s Swift programming to the party, first to the IBM Watson iOS SDK, which gives developers a Swift API to simplify integration with many of the Watson Developer Cloud services, including the Watson Dialog, Language Translation, Natural Language Classifier, Personality Insights, Speech To Text, Text to Speech, Alchemy Language, or Alchemy Vision services – all of which are available today, and can now be integrated with just a few lines of code.

Following Apple’s introduction of Swift as the new language for OS X and iOS application development. IBM began partnering with Apple to bring the power of Swift open source programming to the z. This will be closely tied to Canonical’s Ubuntu port to the z expected this summer.

Also, through new work by SUSE to collaborate on technologies in the OpenStack space, SUSE tools will be employed to manage public, private, and hybrid clouds running on LinuxONE.  Open source, OpenStack, open-just-about-everything appears to be the way IBM is pushing the z.

At a presentation last August on Open Source & ISV Ecosystem Enablement for LinuxONE and IBM z, Dale Hoffman, Program Director, IBM’s Linux SW Ecosystem & Innovation Lab, introduced the three ages of mainframe development; our current stage being the third.

  1. Traditional mainframe data center, 1964–2014 includes • Batch • General Ledger • Transaction Systems • Client Databases • Accounts payable / receivable • Inventory, CRM, ERP Linux & Java
  2. Internet Age, 1999–2014 includes–• Server Consolidation • Oracle Consolidation • Early Private Clouds • Email • Java®, Web & eCommerce
  3. Cloud/Mobile/Analytics (CAMSS2) Age, 2015–2020 includes– • On/Off Premise, Hybrid Cloud • Big Data & Analytics • Enterprise Mobile Apps • Security solutions • Open Source LinuxONE and IBM z ecosystem enablement

Hoffman didn’t suggest what comes after 2020 but we can probably imagine: Cognitive Computing, Internet of Things, Blockchain. At least those are trends starting to ramp up now.

He does, however, draw a picture of the state of Linux on the mainframe today:

  • 27% of total installed capacity run Linux
  • Linux core capacity increased 16% from 2Q14 to 2Q15
  • 40% of customers have Linux cores
  • 80% of the top 100 customers (in terms of installed MIPS) run Linux on the mainframe
  • 67% of new accounts run Linux

To DancingDinosaur, this last point about the high percentage of new z accounts running Linux speaks to where the future of the z is heading.

Maybe as telling are the following:

  • 64% of companies participate in Open Source projects
  • 78% of companies run on open source
  • 88% of companies to increase open source contributions in the next 2-3 year
  • 47% to release internal tools & projects as OSS
  • 53% expect to reduce barriers to employee participation in open source
  • 50% report that more than half of their engineers are working on open source projects
  • 66% of companies build software on open source

Remember when open source and Linux first appeared for z, data center managers were shocked at the very concept. It was anti-capitalist at the very least, maybe even socialist or communist. Look at the above percentages; open source has gotten about as mainstream as it gets.

It will be interesting to see how quickly developers move to LinuxONE for their CAMSS projects. IBM hasn’t said anything about the pricing of the refreshed Rockhopper model or about the look and feel of the tools. Until the developers know, DancingDinosaur expects they will continue to work on the familiar x86 tools they are using now.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

IBM z Systems as a Cloud Platform

February 13, 2015

DancingDinosaur wrote a long paper for an audience of x86 users. The premise of the paper: the z Systems in many cases could be a better and even lower cost alternative to x86 for a private or hybrid cloud. The following is an excerpt from that paper.

 cloud_computing_providers

BTW, IBM earlier this month announced it signed a 10-year, large-scale services agreement with Shop Direct to move the multi-brand digital retailer to a hybrid cloud model to increase flexibility and quickly respond to changes in demand as it grows, one of many such IBM wins recently. The announcement never mentioned Shop Direct’s previous platform. But it or any company in a similar position could have opted to build its own hybrid (private/public) cloud platform.

A hybrid cloud a company builds today probably runs on the x86 platform and the Windows OS. Other x86-based clouds run Linux. As demand for the organization’s hybrid cloud grows and new capabilities are added traffic increases.  The conventional response is to scale out or scale up, adding more or faster x86 processors to handle more workloads for more users.

So, why not opt for a hybrid cloud running on the z? As a platform, x86 is far from perfect; too unstable and insecure for starters. By adopting a zEC12 or a z13 to host your hybrid cloud you get one of the fastest general commercial processors in the market and the highest security rating for commercial servers, (EAL 5+). But most x86-oriented data centers would balk. Way too expensive would be their initial reaction. Even if they took a moment to look at the numbers their IT staff would be in open revolt and give you every reason it couldn’t work.

The x86 platform, however, is not nearly as inexpensive as it was believed, and there are many ways to make the z cost competitive. Due to the eccentricities of Oracle licensing on the z Systems, for instance, organizations often can justify the entire cost of the mainframe just from the annual Oracle software license savings. This can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more each year. And the entry level mainframe has a list price of $75,000, not much more than an x86 system of comparable MIPS. And that’s before you start calculating the cost of x86 redundancy, failover, and zero downtime that comes built into the mainframe or consider security. Plus with the z Systems Solution Edition program, IBM is almost giving the mainframe away for free.

Some x86 shops could think of the mainframe as a potent Linux machine that can handle thousands of Linux instances without breaking a sweat. The staff wouldn’t even have to touch z/OS. It also runs Java and Hadoop. And it delivers an astonishingly fast and efficient Linux environment that provides a level of performance that would require a much great number of x86 cores to try to match. And if you want to host an on-premises or hybrid cloud at enterprise scale it takes a lot of cores. The cost of acquiring all those x86 cores, deploying them, and managing them will break almost any budget.

Just ask Jim Tussing, Chief Technology Officer for infrastructure and operations at Nationwide Insurance (DancingDinosaur has covered Tussing before): “We had literally 3000 x86 servers deployed that were underutilized,” which is common in the x86 environment even with VMware or Hyper-V virtualization. At a time when Nationwide was seeking to increase the pace of innovation across its products and channels, but rolling out new environments were taking weeks or months to provision and deploy, again not unheard of in the x86 world. The x86 environment at Nationwide was choking the company.

So, Nationwide consolidated and virtualized as many x86 servers on a mainframe as possible, creating what amounted to an on-premises and hybrid cloud. The payoff: Nationwide reduced power, cooling, and floor space requirements by 80 percent. And it finally reversed the spiraling expenditure on its distributed server landscape, saving an estimated $15 million over the first three years, money it could redirect into innovation and new products. It also could provision new virtual server instances fast and tap the hybrid cloud for new capabilities.

None of this should be news to readers of DancingDinosaur. However some mainframe shops still face organizational resistance to mainframe computing. Hope this might help reinforce the z case.

DancingDinsosaur is Alan Radding, a long-time IT analyst/writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of my IT writing at Technologywriter.com and here.

IBM Ends 2014 with Flurry of Outsourcing, Cloud Activity

January 4, 2015

Happy New Year. There is much to look forward to in 2015. At the least it probably is time for IBM to rev the System z. The zEnterprise EC12 was introduced in Aug. 2012. You should expect a new machine this year.

ibm cloud centers

IBM ended the year with a flurry of deals involving outsourcing in various forms, hybrid clouds, and the expansion its cloud centers globally. The company made it clear throughout this past difficult year that its focus will be on cloud computing, analytics, and mobile, and that’s what they did. DancingDinosaur will leave to the Wall St. analysts the question of whether the deals represent enough action at a sufficient margin.

IBM believes its future rides on the cloud. To that end it writes: Enterprise cloud deployments, specifically hybrid cloud, are growing at a significant rate.  According to Gartner, nearly half of all enterprises will have a hybrid cloud deployed by 2017.  Chief among the driving forces behind the adoption of cloud computing worldwide, including hybrid cloud, are requirements for businesses and governments to store certain data locally to comply with data residency regulations, as well as a growing desire for startups to expand their businesses globally.  IBM estimates about 100 nations and territories have adopted laws that dictate how governments and private enterprises handle personal data.

The expansion of the company’s global footprint of its cloud centers, now up to 40 locations, represents an effort to capitalize on cloud interest. Since the start of November, the company announced more than $4 billion worth of cloud agreements with major enterprises around the world. These include Lufthansa, ABN AMRO, WPP, Woox Innovations, Dow Water, and Thomson Reuters. Some of these, you will notice, are mainframe shops. DancingDinosaur is assuming they are augmenting their z with a hybrid cloud, not replacing it.

In addition, there are new organizations, referred to by IBM as born-on-the-web innovators, which are building their business on the IBM Cloud. Since November, IBM has announced wins with Diabetizer and Preveniomed, Hancom, Musimundo, and Nubity. Collectively these wins reflect IBM’s ability to deliver a full range of services through the cloud. Some of these are analytics-driven wins.

An interesting recently announced win was Westfield Insurance, which began working with IBM to transform their claims operations. To this end, Westfield is looking at business analytics to increase flexibility, operational efficiency, and effectiveness while enabling the company to keep pace with its evolving customer base and business growth. When DancingDinosaur last checked, Westfield was a z196 shop running DB2.

As IBM reports, leading insurers are leveraging cloud, analytics and social technologies to stay ahead of their competition. Specifically, more than 60% of identified leading insurers are focused on advanced analytics to improve their claims handling in order to streamline processes and increase customer satisfaction. Westfield’s multi-year claims handling transformation initiatives, including process, organizational and technology changes, focus on using data and analytics to better serve customers.

For Westfield, IBM developed a new protocol to migrate data for use with predicative models, built simulation models to evaluate bottlenecks in the claims process, and designed a strategy for expedited workflow.  This simulation helped expedite organizational changes. The new claims system will also utilize a suite of IBM counter-fraud capabilities to detect suspicious activity.

In addition, IBM helped Westfield optimize its current claims handling process to provide a seamless, fully-integrated customer experience. Westfield’s claims system with Guidewire is now consolidated to ensure efficient operations across its network.

To further drive its cloud business IBM simplified its cloud contract with a goal of reducing the complexity and speeding the signing of cloud agreements. The result is a standard, two-page agreement that replaces the previous longer, more complex contracts, which typically entailed long negotiations and reviews before a deal was signed. By comparison, its cloud competitors require customers to review and commit to more complex contracts that commonly are at least five times longer and also incorporate terms and conditions from other websites, IBM reports.

Citing leading industry analyst firms, IBM claims global leadership in cloud computing with a diverse portfolio of open cloud solutions designed to enable clients for the hybrid cloud era. IBM has helped more than 30,000 cloud clients around the world. It boasts of over 30,000 cloud clients, invested more than $7 billion since 2007 in 17 acquisitions to accelerate its cloud initiatives, and holds more than 1,560 cloud patents. IBM also processes more than 5.5 million client transactions daily through its public cloud.

IBM’s initiatives in cloud computing will not diminish its interest in the System z enterprise cloud platform. To the contrary a recent IBM analysis shows the z enhancing the economic advantages of the cloud: a business scaling up to about 200 virtual machines (VM) gets far more efficient and economical results by using the Enterprise Linux Server as an enterprise cloud than with a virtualized x86 or public-cloud model. And the deal gets even better if you acquire the Enterprise Linux Server under either the Solution Edition program for Enterprise Linux  or the System z Solution Edition for Cloud Computing.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a longtime IT analyst/writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Check out more of his work at Technologywriter.com and here.

IBM Brings Cloud DevOps to the Mainframe

December 3, 2014

Is your organization ready for DevOps?  It should be coming to System z data centers almost any day now, riding in on newly announced IBM cloud-based DevOps services, software, and infrastructure designed to help large organizations develop and deliver quality software faster.

IBM Launches Bluemix Garage at London's Level39

Launch of the Bluemix Garage in London

DevOps streamlines enterprise workflow by truncating the development, testing, and deployment process. It entails collaborative communications around the end-to-end enterprise workflow flow and incorporates a continuous feedback to expedite the process. DevOps evolved out of Agile methodologies over a decade ago.

Agile was intended to streamline the traditional waterfall IT development process by putting developers and business unit people and the deployment folks together to build, test, and deploy new applications fast. Agile teams would deliver agreed upon and tested functionality within a month. Each deliverable was short, addressing only a subset of the total functionality. Each was followed by the next containing yet more functionality. In the process, previously delivered functionality might be modified or replaced with a new deliverable.

IBM is streamlining the process further by tapping into the collaborative power of the company’s Cloud portfolio and business transformation experience to speed the delivery of software that supports new models of engagement.  To be clear, IBM definitely is not talking about using DevOps with the organization’s systems of record—the core transaction systems that are hallmark of the z and the heartbeat of the enterprise. The most likely candidates will be systems of engagement, systems of innovation, and analytics systems.  These are systems that need to be delivered fast and will change frequently.

According to IBM software-driven innovation has emerged as a primary way businesses create and deliver new value to customers. A survey of 400 business and IT executives by the IBM Institute for Business Value showed businesses that are more effective at software delivery are also more profitable than their peers nearly 70 percent of the time. DevOps provides a way for businesses to remain competitive, applying lean and agile principles to software development to speed the delivery of software that meets new market requirements.

Agile represented a radical departure from the waterfall process, which called for developers to take a full set of business requirements, disappear to two years, and return with a finished application that worked right.  Except that it often took longer for the developers to return with the code and the application didn’t work as promised. By then the application was well over budget and late.  System z shops know this well.

DevOps today establishes a continuous, iterative process flow between the development team and the deployment group and incorporates many Agile concepts, including the active involvement of the business people, frequent testing, and quick release cycles. As the IBM survey noted  DevOps was spurred by the rise of smartphones and mobile computing. Mobile users demand working functionality fast and expect frequent updates. Two-year release cycles were unacceptable; competitors would be out with newer and better apps long before.  Even six-month release cycles seem unresponsive. This is one of the realities DevOps addresses.  Another reality is extreme scaling, something z data centers understand.

According to IBM, the company’s new DevOps Innovation Services help address the challenge of scaling development, enabling enterprises to shorten their software delivery lifecycle. The hybrid cloud services combine IBM’s industry expertise from hundreds of organizational change and application development projects with the industry’s leading application development portfolio, especially Bluemix, IBM’s open DIY cloud PaaS platform. They also apply the flexibility of IBM’s enterprise-grade, hybrid cloud portfolio, which was recently ranked by Synergy Research Group as the leading hybrid and private cloud for the enterprise. These services are based on SoftLayer, IBM’s cloud infrastructure platform.

In a second DevOps-related announcement last month IBM described an initiative to bring a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix. The new initiative enables developers to build applications around their most sensitive data and deploy them in a dedicated cloud environment to help them capture the benefits of cloud while avoiding the compliance, regulatory and performance issues that are presented with public clouds. System z shops can appreciate this.

Major enterprise system vendors like IBM, EMC, Cisco, and Oracle are making noises about DevOps. As far as solid initiatives IBM appears far ahead, especially with the two November announcements.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, an independent IT analyst and writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Find more of his IT writing at Technologywriter.com and here.


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