Posts Tagged ‘hybrid cloud’

Z Open Terminal Emulation

September 25, 2020

You can spend a lot of time working with the Z and not find much new in terminal emulation. But there actually are a few new things, mainly because times change and people work differently, using different devices and doing new things. Sure, it all goes back to the mainframe, but it is a new world.

Terminal emulator screen

Rocket Software’s latest wrinkle in terminal emulation is BlueZone Web, which promises to simplify using the mainframe by enabling users to access host-based applications anywhere and on any type of device. It is part of a broader initiative Rocket calls Open AppDev for Z. From DancingDinosaur’s perspective its strength lies in being Zowe-compliant, an open source development environment from the Open Mainframe Project.This makes IBM Z a valuable open platform for an enterprise DevOps infrastructure.

Zowe is the first open source framework for z/OS. It facilitates DevOps teams to securely manage, control, script and develop on the mainframe like any other cloud platform. Launched in a collaboration of initial contributors IBM, CA Technologies, and Rocket Software, and supported by the Open Mainframe Project. The goal is to cultivate the next generation of mainframe developers, whether or not they have Z experience. Zowe promotes a faster team on-ramp to productivity, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and communication.

This is the critical thing about Zowe: you don’t need Z platform experience. Open source developers and programmers can use a wide range of popular open source tools, languages, and technologies–the tools they already know. Sure it’d be nice to find an experienced zOS developer  but that is increasingly unlikely, making Zowe a much better bet.   

According to the Open Source Project, IBM’s initial contribution to Zowe was an extensible z/OS framework that provides REST-based services and APIs that will allow even inexperienced developers to rapidly use new technology, tools, languages, and modern workflows with z/OS. 

IBM continues to invest in the open source environment through Zowe and other open source initiatives.  Zowe also has help from Rocket Software, which provides a web user interface, and CA, which handles the Command Line Interface. You can find more about zowe here.

IBM introduced Linux, a leading open source technology, to the Z over 20 years ago. In time it has expanded the range of the Z through open-source tools that can be combined with products developed by different communities. This does create unintentional regulatory and security risks. Rocket Open AppDev for Z helps mitigate these risks, offering a solution that provides developers with a package of open tools and languages they want, along with the security, easy management, and support IBM Z customers require.

“We wanted to solve three common customer challenges that have prevented enterprises from leveraging the flexibility and agility of open software within their mainframe environment: user and system programmer experience, security, and version latency,” said Peter Fandel, Rocket’s Product Director of Open Software for Z. “With Rocket Open AppDev for Z, we believe we have provided an innovative secure path forward for our customers,” he adds. Businesses can now extend the mainframe’s capabilities through the adoption of open source software, making IBM Z a valuable platform for their DevOps infrastructure.”

But there is an even bigger question here that Rocket turned to IDC to answer. The question: whether businesses that run mission-critical workloads on IBM Z or IBMi should remain on these platforms and modernize them by leveraging the innovative tools that exist today or replatform by moving to an alternative on-premises solution, typically x86 or the cloud.

IDC investigated more than 440 businesses that have either modernized the IBM Z or IBMi or replatformed. The results: modernizers incur lower costs for their modernizing initiative than the replatformers.  Modernizers were more satisfied with the new capabilities of their modernized platform than replatformers; and the modernizers achieved a new baseline for which they paid less in hardware, software, and staffing. There is much more of interest in this study, which DancingDinosaur will explore in the weeks or months ahead.

Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer, is DancingDinosaur. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/.

Pushing Quantum Onto the Cloud

September 4, 2020

Did you ever imagine the cloud would become your quantum computing platform, a place where you would run complex quantum algorithms requiring significant specialized processing across multi-qubit machines available at a click? But that is exactly what is happening.

IBM started it a few years back by making their small qubit machines available in the cloud and even larger ones now. Today Xanadu is offering 8-qubit or 12-qubit chips, and even a 24-qubit chip in the next month or so, according to the Toronto-based company.

Xanadu quantum processor

As DancingDinosaur has previously reported, there are even more: Google reports a quantum computer lab with five machines and Honeywell has six quantum machines. D-Wave is another along with more startups, including nQ, Quantum Circuits, and Rigetti Computing.

D-Wave is another along with more startups, including nQ, Quantum Circuits, and Rigetti Computing.In September, Xanadu introduced its quantum cloud platform. This allows developers to access its gate-based photonic quantum processors with 8-qubit or 12-qubit chips across the cloud.

Photonics-based quantum machines have certain advantages over other platforms, according to the company. Xanadu’s quantum processors operate at room temperature, not low Kelvin temperatures. They can easily integrate into an existing fiber optic-based telecommunication infrastructure, enabling quantum computers to be networked. It also offers scalability and fault tolerance, owing to error-resistant physical qubits and flexibility in designing error correction codes. Xanadu’s type of qubit is based on squeezed states – a special type of light generated by its own chip-integrated silicon photonic devices, it claims.

DancingDinosaur recommends you check out Xanadu’s documentation and details. It does not have sufficient familiarity with photonics, especially as related to quantum computing, to judge any of the above statements. The company also notes it offers a cross-platform Python library for simulating and executing programs on quantum photonic hardware. Its open source tools are available on GitHub.

Late in August IBM has unveiled a new milestone on its quantum computing road map, achieving the company’s highest Quantum Volume to date. By following the link, you see that Quantum Value is a metric conceived by IBM to measure and compare quantum computing power. DancingDinosaur is not aware of any other quantum computing vendors using it, which doesn’t mean anything of course. Quantum computing is so new and so different and with many players joining in with different approaches it will be years before anadu see what metrics prove most useful. 

To come up with its Quantum Volume rating, IBM  combined a series of new software and hardware techniques to improve overall performance, IBM has upgraded one of its newest 27-qubit, systems to achieve the high Quantum Volume rating. The company has made a total of 28 quantum computers available over the last four years through the IBM Quantum Experience, which companies join to gain access to its quantum machines and tools, including its software development toolset, 

Do not confuse Quantum Volume with Quantum Advantage, the point where certain information processing tasks can be performed more efficiently or cost effectively on a quantum computer versus a conventional one. Quantum Advantage will require improved quantum circuits, the building blocks of quantum applications. Quantum Volume, notes IBM, measures the length and complexity of circuits – the higher the Quantum Volume, the higher the potential for exploring solutions to real world problems across industry, government, and research.

To achieve its Quantum Volume milestone, the company focused on a new set of techniques and improvements that used knowledge of the hardware to optimally run the Quantum Volume circuits. These hardware-aware methods are extensible and will improve any quantum circuit run on any IBM Quantum system, resulting in improvements to the experiments and applications which users can explore. These techniques will be available in upcoming releases and improvements to the IBM Cloud software services and the cross-platform open source software development kit (SDK) Qiskit. The IBM Quantum team has shared details on the technical improvements made across the full stack to reach Quantum Volume 64 in a preprint released on arXiv, today.

What is most exciting is that the latest quantum happenings are things quantum you can access over the cloud without having to cool your data center to near zero Kelvin temperatures. If you try any of these, DancingDinosaur would love to hear how it goes.

Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer, is DancingDinosaur. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/.

Here Comes POWER10

August 26, 2020

Early in my writing about computers Intel began regularly introducing a series of x86 processors, including one called Pentium. Another IT analyst friend was drooling over his purchase of a laptop built on the new Pentium. “This is a mainframe in a laptop!” he exclaimed. It wasn’t but sounded exciting.

IBM POWER10

IBM’s latest technology announcement now is the new POWER10, expected in the second half of 2021. According to IBM’s announcement, the new processor delivers 3X performance based on pre-silicon engineering analysis of Integer, Enterprise, and Floating Point environments on a POWER10 dual socket server offering with 2×30-core modules vs a POWER9 dual socket server offering with 2×12-core modules. More power for sure, but you won’t find DancingDinosaur, apologies to my old friend, even suggesting this is comparable to a mainframe. 

The IBM POWER10 was designed for enterprise hybrid cloud computing. The POWER10 uses a design focused on energy efficiency and performance in a 7nm form factor, fabricated by Samsung,  with an expected improvement of up to 3x greater processor energy efficiency, workload capacity, and container density than the current POWER9 processor.

This is a processor intended for today’s increasingly complex hybrid cloud workloads. To that end, IBM packed the processor with innovations, including:

    • IBM’s First Commercialized 7nm Processor that is expected to deliver up to a 3x improvement in capacity and processor energy efficiency within the same power envelope as IBM POWER9, allowing for greater performance.
    • Support for Multi-Petabyte Memory Clusters with a new technology called Memory Inception, designed to improve cloud capacity and economics for memory-intensive workloads. Memory Inception enables any of the IBM POWER10 processor-based systems to share memory and drive cost and energy savings.
    • New Hardware-Enabled Security Capabilities including transparent memory encryption designed to support end-to-end security.  IBM engineered the POWER10 processor to achieve significantly faster encryption performance with quadruple the number of AES encryption engines per core compared to IBM POWER9 for today’s most demanding standards and anticipated future cryptographic standards like quantum-safe cryptography and fully homomorphic encryption, (FHE), which let’s you perform computation directly on the data wherever it lands while it remains encrypted. Sounds ideal for hybrid clouds. It also brings new enhancements to container security.
    • New Processor Core Architectures in the IBM POWER10 processor with an embeddedC. which is extrapolated to provide 10x, 15x and 20x faster AI inference for FP32, BFloat16 and INT8 calculations per socket respectively than the IBM POWER9 processor, while improving performance for enterprise AI inference workloads.

Designed over five years with hundreds of new and pending patents, the IBM POWER10 processor includes  innovations like:

    • Support for Multi-Petabyte Memory Clusters, which leverages Memory Inception, designed to improve cloud capacity and economics for memory-intensive workloads.
    • New Hardware-Enabled Security Capabilities including transparent memory encryption designed to support end-to-end security. The POWER10 processor is engineered to achieve significantly faster encryption performance with quadruple the number of AES encryption engines per core compared to IBM POWER9. It handles the most demanding standards and anticipated future cryptographic standards like quantum-safe cryptography and fully homomorphic encryption. It also brings new enhancements to container security. 
    • New Processor Core Architectures in the IBM POWER10 processor with an embedded Matrix Math Accelerator, which is extrapolated to provide 10x, 15x and 20x faster AI inference for FP32, BFloat16 and INT8 calculations per socket respectively to infuse AI into business applications.

With the 7nm processor not shipping until the second half of 2021, you have time to think about this. IBM has not mentioned pricing or packaging. Notes Stephen Leonard, GM of IBM Cognitive Systems. “With IBM POWER10 our stated goal of making Red Hat OpenShift the default choice for hybrid cloud. IBM POWER10 brings hardware-based capacity and security enhancements for containers to the IT infrastructure level.” Translation: POWER10 won’t come cheap.

With only a vague shipping date and no hint of pricing and packaging, you have time to think about fitting POWER10 into your plans.

Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer, is DancingDinosaur. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/.

AI Hardware Accelerators and AI Models

August 3, 2020

At times it seems like IBM is just dallying with AI, but at a late July briefing IBM showed just how seriously it is pursuing AI and how difficult the challenge is. It starts with today’s computers and supercomputers, essentially bit processors. Can we say that’s the easy stuff; at least that’s the stuff we are most familiar with.

Neurons come next in the IBM scheme. Here biology and information are tapped for today’s rudimentary AI systems. Next you throw in qubits, which combine physics and information. Now we’re entering the realm of quantum machines.

DancingDinosaur is mesmerized by quantum computing but only understands it at the level of his 40-year old physics course. It starts with today’s computers and supercomputers, essentially bit processors. Can we say this is the easy stuff; at least that’s the stuff we are most familiar with.

Where all this is going is not toward some mesmerizing future of quantum systems dazzling us with nearly instant solutions to seemingly impossible problems. No, it seems, at one level, more prosaic than that, according to Jeffrey Burns.  IBM’s Director, AI Compute.

As Burns  puts it: IBM is building the future of computing. That future, he continues, is a pipeline of innovation for the future of Hybrid Cloud and AI. We should have known that except various IBMers have been saying it for several years at least and it just sounded too simple.

Burns breaks it down into four areas: Core Technology, Innovation for AI, Innovation for Hybrid Cloud, and Foundational Scientific Discovery. 

It is tempting to jump right to the Foundational Scientific Discovery stuff; that’s the sexy part. It includes new devices and materials, breakthrough data communications, computational, secured storage, and  persistent memory architectures.

At the other end is what Burns calls core technology. This encompasses semiconductor devices, processor architecture,  novel memory, MRAM, and advanced packaging.

Among the innovations for AI are AI hardware, real-time AI for transaction processing,  HW and SW for federated AI learning to enhance security and privacy.

Finally, there are innovations for hybrid cloud. These include Red Hat RHEL integration,  storage and data recovery,  high speed networking,  security, and heterogeneous system architecture for hybrid cloud.  

But, AI and Hybrid Cloud can advance only as far as hardware can take them, notes Burns. The processing demands at even the first two steps are significant. For example image recognition training with a dataset of 22K requires 4 GPUs, takes 16 days, and consumes 385 kWh. If you want it faster, you can throw 256 GPUs at it for 7 hours, which still consumes 450 kWh. Or think of it another way, he suggests: 1 model training run eats the equivalent of ~2 weeks of home energy consumption.

And we’ve just been talking about narrow AI. Broad AI, Burns continues, brings even more computational demands and greater functionality requirements at the edge.If you’re thinking of trying this with your data center, none of this is trivial. Last year IBM invested $2B  to create an  Artificial Intelligence Hardware Center. Twelve organizations have joined it and it continues to grow, Burns reports. You’re welcome to join.

IBM’s idea is to innovate and lead in AI accelerators for training and inferencing, leverage partnerships to drive AI leadership from materials and devices through software, and generate AI application demonstrators with an industry leading roadmap. 

Here is where Burns wants to take it: Extending performance by 2.5X/year through 2025.  Apply approximate computing principles to Digital AI cores with reduced precision, as well as Analog AI Cores (Remember analog? Burns sees it playing a big energy-saving role.), which could potentially offer another 100x in energy-efficiency.

If you want to try your hand at AI at this level, DancingDinosaur would love to know and throw some digital ink your way.

Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer, is DancingDinosaur. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/

July 13, 2020

IBM Wazi cloud-native devops for Z

June 12, 2020

In this rapidly evolving world of hybrid and multicloud systems, organizations are required to quickly evolve their processes and tooling to address business needs. Foremost among that are development environments that include IBM Z as part of their hybrid solution face, says Sanjay Chandru, Director, IBM Z DevOps.

IBM’s goal, then  is to provide a cloud native developer experience for the IBM Z that is consistent and familiar to all developers. And that requires cross platform consistency in tooling for application programmers on Z who will need to deliver innovation faster and without the backlogs that have been expected in the past.

Wazi, along with OpenShift,  is another dividend from IBM purchase of Red Hat. Here is where IBM Wazi for Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces comes in: an add-on to IBM Cloud Pak for Applications. It allows developers to use an industry standard integrated development environment (IDE),  such as Microsoft Visual Studio Code (VS Code) or Eclipse, to develop and test IBM z/OS applications in a containerized, virtual z/OS environment on Red Hat OpenShift running on x86 hardware. The container creates a sandbox. 

The combination of IBM Cloud Pak for Applications goes beyond what Zowe offers as an open source framework for z/OS and the OpenProject to enable Z development and operations teams to securely manage, control, script and develop on the mainframe like any other cloud platform. Developers who are not used to z/OS and IBM Z, which are most developers, now can  become productive faster in a familiar and accessible working environment, effectively  improving DevOps adoption across the enterprise

As IBM explained: Wazi integrates seamlessly into a standard, Git-based open tool chain to enable continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) as part of a fully hybrid devops process encompassing distributed and z systems.

IBM continues: Wazi is offered with deployment choices so that organizations can flexibly rebalance entitlement over time based on its business needs. In short, the organization can 

protect and leverage its IBM Z investments with robust and standard development capabilities that encompasses IBM Z and multicloud platforms.

The payoff comes as developers who are NOT used to z/OS and IBM Z, which is most of the developer world, can become productive faster in a familiar and accessible working environment while  improving DevOps adoption across the enterprise. IBM Wazi integrates seamlessly into a standard, Git-based open tool chain to deliver CI/CD and is offered with deployment choices so that any organization can flexibly rebalance over time based on its business needs. In short, you are protecting and leveraging your IBM Z investments with robust and standard development capabilities that encompass the Z and multicloud platforms.

As one large IBM customer put it: “We want to make the mainframe accessible. Use whatever tool you are comfortable with – Eclipse / IDz / Visual Studio Code. All of these things we are interested in to accelerate our innovation on the mainframe” 

An IT service provider added in IBM’s Wazi announcement: “Our colleagues in software development have been screaming for years for a dedicated testing environment that can be created and destroyed rapidly.” Well, now they have it in Wazi.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work athttp://technologywriter.com/

5G Joins Edge Technology and Hybrid Multicloud

May 11, 2020

At IBM’s virtual Think Conference the first week in May the company made a big play for edge computing and 5G together. 

From connected vehicles to intelligent manufacturing equipment, the amount of data from devices has resulted in unprecedented volumes of data at the edge. IBM is convinced the data volumes will compound as 5G networks increase the number of connected mobile devices.

z15 T02  and the LinuxONE 111 LT2

Edge computing  and 5G networks promise to reduce latency while improving speed, reliability, and processing. This will deliver faster and more comprehensive data analysis, deeper insights, faster response times, and improved experiences for employees, customers, and their customers.

First gaining prominence with the Internet of Things (IoT) a few years back IBM defined edge computing as a distributed computing framework that brings enterprise applications closer to where data is created and often remains, where it can be processed. This is where decisions are made and actions taken.

5G stands for the Fifth Generation of cellular wireless technology. Beyond higher speed and reduced latency, 5G standards will have a much higher connection density, allowing networks to handle greater numbers of connected devices combined with network slicing to isolate and protect designated applications.

Today, 10% of data is processed at the edge, an amount IBM expects to grow to 75% by 2025. Specifically, edge computing enables:

  • Better data control and lower costs by minimizing data transport to central hubs and reducing vulnerabilities and costs
  • Faster insights and actions by tapping into more sources of data and processing that data there, at the edge
  • Continuous operations by enabling systems that run autonomously, reduce disruption, and lower costs because data can be processed by the devices themselves on the spot and where decisions can be made

In short: the growing number of increasingly capable devices, faster 5G processing, and the increased pressure to drive the edge computing market beyond what the initial IoT proponents, who didn’t have 5G yet, envisioned. They also weren’t in a position to imagine the growth in the processing capabilities of edge devices in just the past year or two.

But that is starting to happen now, according to IDC: By 2023, half of the newly deployed on-premises infrastructure will be in critical edge locations rather than corporate datacenters, up from less than 10% today.

Also unimagined was the emergence of the hybrid multicloud, which IBM has only recently started to tout. The convergence of 5G, edge computing, and hybrid multicloud, according to the company, is redefining how businesses operate. As more embrace 5G and edge, the ability to modernize networks to take advantage of the edge opportunity is only now feasible. 

And all of this could play very well with the new z machines, the z15 T02  and LinuxONE lll LT2. These appear to be sufficiently capable to handle the scale of business edge strategies and hybrid cloud requirements for now. Or the enterprise class z15 if you need more horsepower.

By moving to a hybrid multicloud model, telcos can process data at both the core and network edge across multiple clouds, perform cognitive operations and make it easier to introduce and manage differentiated digital services. As 5G matures it will become the network technology that underpins the delivery of these services. 

Enterprises adopting a hybrid multicloud model that extends from corporate data centers (or public and private clouds) to the edge is critical to unlock new connected experiences. By extending cloud computing to the edge, enterprises can perform AI/analytics faster, run enterprise apps to reduce impacts from intermittent connectivity, and minimize data transport to central hubs for cost efficiency. 

Deploying a hybrid multicloud model from corporate data centers to the edge is central to capitalizing on  new connected experiences. By extending cloud computing to the edge, organizations can run AI/analytics faster  while minimizing data transport to central hubs for cost efficiency. By 2023, half of the newly deployed on-premises infrastructure will be in critical edge locations rather than corporate datacenters, up from less than 10% today. It’s time to start thinking about making edge part of your computer strategy. 

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/ 

IBM Brings Red Hat Ansible to Z

March 23, 2020

From the day IBM announced its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat last October, DancingDinosaur had two questions:  1) how could the company recoup its investment in the open source software company and 2) what did it imply for the future of the z.


With about a billion dollars in open source revenue,  Red Hat was the leading open source software player, but to get from a billion dollars to $34 billion is a big leap. In Feb.  IBM announced Red Hat’s OpenShift middleware would work with the z and LinuxONE. OpenShift is a DevOps play for hybrid cloud environments, a big interest of IBM.

Along with the availability of OpenShift for z IBM also announced that Cloud Pak for Applications is available for the z and LinuxONE. In effect, this supports the modernization of existing apps and the building of new cloud-native apps. This will be further enhanced by the delivery of new Cloud Paks for the z and LinuxONE announced by IBM last summer. Clearly the z is not being abandoned now.

Last week, IBM announced the availability of Red Hat Ansible Certified Content for IBM Z, enabling Ansible users to automate IBM Z applications and IT infrastructure.This means that no matter what mix of infrastructure or clients you are working with, IBM is bringing automation for the z,  helping you manage and integrate it across the hybrid environment through a single control panel.

Ansible functionality for z/OS, according to IBM,  will empower z clients to simplify configuration and access resources, leverage existing automation, and streamline automation of operations using the same technology stack that they can use across their entire enterprise. Delivered as a fully supported enterprise-grade solution via Content Collections, Red Hat Ansible Certified Content for z provides easy automation building blocks to accelerate the automation of z/OS and z/OS-based software. These initial core collections include connection plugins, action plugin modules, and a sample playbook to automate tasks for z/OS such as creating data sets, retrieving job output, and submitting jobs.

For those not familiar with Ansible, as Wikipedia explains, Ansible  is an open-source software provisioning, configuration management, and application-deployment tool.  Find more on Ansible, just click https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansible_(software).

IBM needed to modify Ansible to work with z and hybrid clouds. Red Hat Ansible Certified Content for IBM Z, allows Ansible users to automate z applications and IT infrastructure. The Certified Content will be available in Automation Hub, with an upstream open source version offered on Ansible Galaxy. This means that no matter what mix of infrastructure or clients you  are working with, IBM is bringing automation for z to let you manage across this hybrid environment through a single control panel.

Ansible functionality for z/OS will empower z teams to simplify the configuration and access of resources, leverage existing automation, and streamline automation of operations using the same technology stack they can use across their entire enterprise. Delivered as a fully supported enterprise-grade solution with Content Collections, Red Hat Ansible Certified Content for Z allows easy automation building blocks that can accelerate the automation of z/OS and z/OS-based software.

Over the last several months, IBM improved the z developer experience by bringing DevOps and industry-standard tools like Git and Jenkins to the z. For instance it announced IBM Z Open Editor, IBM Developer for z/OS V14.2.1, and, Zowe, an open source framework for z/OS, which DancingDinosaur covered in Aug. 2018.  In February IBM announced the availability of Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z, which enables developers to run, build, manage and modernize cloud native workloads on their choice of architecture.

Now, Ansible allows developers and operations to break down traditional internal and historical technology silos to centralize automation — while leveraging the performance, scale, control and security provided by the z. 

What more goodies for z will IBM pull from its Red Hat acquisition?  Stockholders should hope it is at least $34 billion worth or more.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/

IBM Introduces New Flash Storage Family

February 14, 2020

IBM describes this mainly as a simplification move. The company is eliminating 2 current storage lines, Storwize and Flash Systems A9000, and replacing them with a series of flash storage systems that will scale from entry to enterprise. 

Well, uh, not quite enterprise as Dancing Dinosaur readers might think of it. No changes are planned for the DS8000 storage systems, which are focused on the mainframe market, “All our existing product lines, not including our mainframe storage, will be replaced by the new FlashSystem family,” said Eric Herzog, IBM’s chief marketing officer and vice president of worldwide storage channel in a published report earlier this week

The move will rename two incompatible storage lines out of the IBM product lineup and replace them with a line that provides compatible storage software and services from entry level to the highest enterprise, mainframe excluded, Herzog explained. The new flash systems family promises more functions, more features, and lower prices, he continued.

Central to the new Flash Storage Family is NVMe, which comes in multiple flavors.  NVM Express (NVMe) or Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification (NVMHCIS) is an open logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus.

At the top of the new family line is the NVMe and multicloud ultra-high throughput storage system. This is a validated system with IBM implementation. IBM promises unmatched NVMe performance, SCM, and  IBM FlashCore technology. In addition it brings the features of IBM Spectrum Virtualize to support the most demanding workloads.

Image result for IBM flash storage family

IBM multi-cloud flash storage family system

Get NVMe performance, SCM and  IBM FlashCore technology, and the rich features of IBM Spectrum Virtualize to support your most demanding workloads.

NVM Express (NVMe) or Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification (NVMHCIS) is an open logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus.

Next up are the IBM FlashSystem 9200 and IBM FlashSystem 9200R, IBM tested and validated rack solutions designed for the most demanding environments. With the extreme performance of end-to-end NVMe, the IBM FlashCore technology, and the ultra-low latency of Storage Class Memory (SCM). It also brings IBM Spectrum Virtualize and AI predictive storage management with proactive support by Storage Insights. FlashSystem 9200R is delivered assembled, with installation and configuration completed by IBM to ensure a working multicloud solution.

Gain the performance of all-flash and NVMe with SCM support for flash acceleration and the reliability and innovation of IBM FlashCore technology, plus the rich features of IBM Spectrum Virtualize — all in a powerful 2U storage system.

Combine the performance of flash and NVMe with the reliability and innovation of IBM FlashCore® and the rich features of IBM Spectrum Virtualize™, bringing high-end capability to clients needing enterprise mid-range storage.

In the middle of the family is the IBM FlashSystem 7200 and FlashSystem 7200H. As IBM puts it, these offer end-to-end NVMe, the innovation of IBM FlashCore technology, the ultra-low latency of Storage Class Memory (SCM), the flexibility of IBM Spectrum Virtualize, and the AI predictive storage management and proactive support of Storage Insights. It comes in a powerful 2U storage all flash or hybrid flash array. The IBM FlashSystem 7200 brings mid-range storage while allowing the organization to add  multicloud technology that best supports the business.

At the bottom of the line is the NVMe entry enterprise all flash storage solution, which brings  NVMe end-to-end capabilities and flash performance to the affordable FlashSystem 5100. As IBM describes it, the FlashSystem® 5010 and IBM FlashSystem 5030 (formerly known as IBM Storwize V5010E and Storwize V5030E–they are still there, just renamed) are all-flash or hybrid flash solutions intended to provide enterprise-grade functionalities without compromising affordability or performance. Built with the flexibility of IBM Spectrum Virtualize and AI-powered predictive storage management and proactive support of Storage Insights. IBM FlashSystem 5000 helps make modern technologies such as artificial intelligence accessible to enterprises of all sizes. In short, these promise entry-level flash storage solutions designed to provide enterprise-grade functionality without compromising affordability or performance

IBM likes the words affordable and affordability in discussing this new storage family. But, as is typical with IBM, nowhere will you see a price or a reference to cost/TB or cost/IOPS or cost of anything although these are crucial metrics for evaluating any flash storage system. DancingDinosaur expects this after 20 years of writing about the z. Also, as I wrote at the outset, the z is not even included in this new flash storage family so we don’t even have to chuckle if they describe z storage as affordable.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/

IBM Cloud Pak–Back to the Future

December 19, 2019

It had seemed that IBM was in a big rush to get everybody to cloud and hybrid cloud. But then in a recent message, it turned out maybe not such a rush. 

What that means is the company believes coexistence will involve new and existing applications working together for some time to come. Starting at any point new features may be added to existing applications. Eventually a microservices architecture should be exposed to new and existing applications. Whew, this is not something you should feel compelled to do today or next quarter or in five years, maybe not even in 10 years.


Here is more from the company earlier this month. When introducing its latest Cloud Paks as enterprise-ready cloud software the company presents it as a containerized software packaged with open source components, pre-integrated with common operational services and a secure-by-design container platform and operational services consisting of  logging, monitoring, security, and identity access management. DancingDinosaur tried to keep up for a couple of decades but in recent years has given up. Thankfully, no one is counting on me to deliver the latest code fast.

IBM has been promoting packaged software  and hardware for as long as this reporter has been following the company, which was when my adult married daughters were infants. (I could speed them off to sleep by reading them the latest IBM white paper I had just written for IBM or other tech giants. Don’t know if they retained or even appreciated any of that early client/server stuff but they did fall asleep, which was my intent.)

Essentially IBM is offering as enterprise-ready Cloud Paks, already packaged and integrated with hardware and software, ready to deploy.  It worked back then as it will now, I suspect, with the latest containerized systems because systems are more complex than ever before, not less by a long shot. Unless you have continuously retained and retrained your best people while continually refreshing your toolset you’ll find it hard to  keep up. You will need pre-integrated and packaged containerized cloud packages that will work right out of the box. 

This is more than just selling you a pre-integrated bundle. This is back to the future; I mean way back. Called Cloud Pak for data system, IBM is offering what it describes as a  fusion of hardware and software. The company chooses the right storage and hardware; all purpose built by IBM in one system. That amounts to convergence of storage, network, software, and data in a single system–all taken care of by IBM and deployed as containers and microservices. As I noted above, a deep trip back to the future.

IBM has dubbed it  Cloud-in-a-box. In short, this is an appliance. You can start very small, paying for what you use now. If later you want more, just expand it then. Am sure your IBM sales rep will be more than happy to provide you with the details. It appears from the briefing that there is an actual base configuration consisting of  2 enclosures with 32 or 128 TB. The company promises to install this and get you up and running in 4 hours, leaving only the final provisioning for you.

This works for existing mainframe shops too, at least those running Linux on the mainframe.  LinuxONE shops are probably ideal. It appears all z shops will need is DB2 and maybe Netezza. Much of the work will be done off the mainframe so at least you should  save some MIPS.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/ 

This is the last appearance of DancingDinosaur this year. It will reappear in the week of Jan. 6, 2020. Best wishes for the holidays.


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