Posts Tagged ‘IFL’

Software Licensing for IBM System z Distributed Linux Middleware

October 10, 2014

DancingDinosaur can’t attend a mainframe conference without checking out at least one session on mainframe software pricing by David Chase, IBM’s mainframe pricing guru. At IBM Enterprise2014, which wraps up today, the topic of choice was software licensing for Linux middleware. It’s sufficiently complicated to merit an entire session.

In case you think Linux on z is not in your future, maybe you should think again.  Linux is gaining momentum in even the largest z data centers. Start with IBM bringing new apps like InfoSphere, BigInsights (Hadoop), and OpenStack to z. Then there are apps from ISVs that just weren’t going to get their offerings to z/OS. Together it points to a telltale sign something is happening with Linux on z. And, the queasiness managers used to have about the open source nature of Linux has long been put to rest.

At some point, you will need to think about IBM’s software pricing for Linux middleware. Should you find yourself getting too lost in the topic, check out these links recommended by Chase:

To begin, software for Linux on z is treated differently than traditional mainframe software in terms of pricing. With Linux on z you think in terms of IFLs.  The quantity of IFLs represent the number of Linux engines subjected to IBM’s IPLA-based pricing.

Also think in terms of Processor Value Units (PVUs) rather than MSUs. For a pricing purposes, PVUs are analogous to MSUs although the values are different. A key point to keep in mind: distributed PVUs for Linux are not related to System z IPLA value units used for z/VM products. As is typical of IBM, those two different kinds of value units are NOT interchangeable.

Chase, however, provides a few ground rules:

  • Dedicated partition
    • Processors are always allocated in whole increments
    • Resources are only moved between partitions “explicitly” (e.g. by an operator or a scheduled job)
  • Shared pool:
    • Pool of processors shared by partitions (including virtual machines)
    • System automatically dispatches processor resources between partitions as needed
  • Maximum license requirements
  • Customer does not have to purchase more licenses for a product than the number of processors on the machine (e.g. maximum DB2 UDB licenses on a 12-way machine is 12)
    • Customer does not have to purchase more “shared pool” licenses for a product than the number of processors assigned to the shared pool (e.g. maximum of 7 MQSeries licenses for a shared pool with 7 processors). Note: This limit does not affect the additional licenses that might be required for dedicated partitions.

With that, as Chase explains it, Linux middleware pricing turns out to be relatively straightforward, determined by:

  • Processor Value Unit (PVU) rating for each kind of core
  • Any difference for different processor technologies (p, i, x, z, Sun, HP, AMD, etc—notice that the z is just one of many choices, not handled differently from the others
  • Number of processor cores which must be licensed (z calls them IFLs)
  • Price per PVU (constant per product, not different based upon technology)

Then it becomes a case of doing the basic arithmetic. The formula: # of PVUs x the # of cores required x the value ($) per core = your total cost.  Given this formula it is to your advantage to plan your Linux use to minimize IFLs and cores. You can’t do anything about the cost per PVU.

Distributed PVUs are the basis for licensing middleware on IFLs and are determined by the type of machine processor. The zEC12, z196, and z10 are rated at 120 PVUs. All others are rated at 100 PVUs. For example, any distributed middleware running on Linux on z this works out to:

  • z114—1IFL, 100 PVUs
  • z196—4IFLs, 480 PVUs
  • zEC12—8 IFLs, 960 PVUs

Also, distributed systems Linux middleware offerings are eligible for sub-capacity licensing. Specifically, sub-capacity licensing is available for all PVU-priced software offerings that run on:

  • UNIX (AIX, HP-UX, and Sun Solaris
  • i5/OS, OS/400
  • Linux (System i, System p, System z)
  • x86 (VMware ESX Server, VMware GSX Server, Microsoft Virtual Server)

IBM’s virtualization technologies also are included in Passport Advantage sub-capacity licensing offering, including LPAR, z/VM virtual machines in an LPAR, CPU Pooling support introduced in z/VM 6.3 APAR VM65418, and native z/VM (on machines which still support basic mode).

And in true z style, since this can seem more complicated than it should seem, there are tools available to do the job. In fact Chase doesn’t advise doing this without a tool. The current tool is the IBM License Metric Tool V9.0.1. You can find more details on it here.

If you are considering distributed Linux middleware software or are already wrestling with the pricing process, DancingDinosaur recommends you check out Chase’s links at the top of this piece. Good luck.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. You can check out more of my work at

System z Software Pricing at IBM Enterprise 2014

September 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodbye Itanium, zEnterprise Continues to Grow

November 8, 2013

The HP announcement earlier this week wasn’t specifically the death knell for Itanium-based systems, but it just as well might have been. Rather, HP disclosed plans to extend the HP NonStop architecture to the Intel x86 platform.  With NonStop to be available on x86 servers, why would anyone even consider the Itanium platform?

Meanwhile, at an IBM analyst briefing at Enterprise 2013 and again this week, IBM rattled off growth figures for the zEnterprise: 56% MIPS growth and 6% revenue growth year-to-year, over 230 new z accounts since the introduction of the hybrid zEnterprise, and over 290 hybrid computing devices shipped including over 200 zBX cabinets.  Linux on z continues to penetrate the mainframe world with 80% of the top 100 mainframe enterprises having IFLs installed. But maybe the best sign of the vitality of the zEnterprise was the news that 33 new ISVs brought product to the z platform in 3Q2013.

Another sign of zEnterprise vitality: over 65,000 students entered the Master the Mainframe competition in the last 8 years.  In addition, over 1000 universities are teaching curriculum related to mainframe topics. Are you worried that you will not be able to find mainframe talent going forward? You probably never thought that the mainframe would be cool.

Recruiters from Cigna, Fidelity, JP Morgan Chase, Baldor, Dillars, Wal-mart, and more have been actively recruiting at schools participating in the Academic Initiative. For example, a senior business leader for switching systems at Visa described the Academic Initiative as a critical success factor and a lifeline for the company’s future.

With regard to the Itanium platform, HP’s announcement is more about trying to salvage the NonStop operating system than to save the Itanium server business.  “Extending HP NonStop to an x86 server platform shows a deep level of investment in maintaining the NonStop technology for mission-critical workloads in financial markets, telecommunications and other industries. At the same time, it brings new levels of availability to the x86-based standardized data center infrastructure,” said Jean Bozman, IDC research VP in the HP announcement.

Certainly for those organizations that require continuous operations on x86 the HP move will be a boon. Otherwise, high availability on x86 has always been something of a kluge. But don’t expect HP  to get anything running overnight.  This is just the latest step in a multi-year HP effort underway since 2011, and it will probably be another two years before everything gets ported and fully tested. HP promises to help customers with migration.

DancingDinosaur’s advice to NonStop customers that are frustrated by the underwhelming performance of Itanium systems today: Jump to the zEnterprise, either zEC12 or zBC12. You are almost certain to qualify for one of the deeply discounted System z Solution Edition deals (includes hardware, software, middleware, and 3 years of maintenance).  And something like IBM’s Migration Factory can help you get there. If it has taken HP two years to get this far, you can probably be up and running on z long before they get the first lines of NonStop code ported to x86.

Meanwhile, the System z team hasn’t been twiddling their collective thumbs.  In addition to introducing the zBC12 in July (shipped in Sept.) and absorbing the CSL International acquisition, which should prove quite valuable in z cloud initiatives, there has been a new IBM Entry Cloud Configuration for SAP Solutions on zEnterprise, a version of IBM Cognos TM1 for financial planning, and improved enterprise key management capabilities based on the Crypto Analytics Tool and the Advanced Crypto Services Provider.

System z growth led the enterprise server pack in the Gartner and IDC quarterly tabulations. Ironically, HP did well too with worldwide server shipments growing by more than 5% in the third quarter, halting a slump of eight consecutive quarters of shipment declines, according to preliminary market data from Gartner. Still, DancingDinosaur doesn’t think anyone will miss Itanium.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog

CA Drives Linux on the System z

August 15, 2011

Does anyone not think Linux on the mainframe is here for the long run? IBM has been promoting Linux on the System z and now the zEnterprise for a decade. DancingDinosaur has long argued that Linux on z saved the mainframe from becoming niche product, albeit a big, pricey one.

Last week CA Technologies, which jumped onto the Linux on z bandwagon early with a slew of management products, expanded its portfolio of Linux on z software management tools along with announcing new partnerships.

Linux on z is a consolidation play aimed at saving money by eliminating rampant distributed Linux server sprawl while providing better management and reliability. The savings generally come from reducing the number of physical servers. Mainframe shops also experience savings by shifting workloads from general processors to lower cost-per-MIPS System z specialty processors. In short, the combination of lower cost specialty processors, namely IFLs, and the massive virtualization supported by z/VM drives down the cost per workload. As a result, over 1,300 mainframe shops are using Linux on z to one degree or another.

Specifically, CA introduced four sets of Linux on z management products:

  • CA VM:ManagerSuite for Linux on System z—includes various feature enhancements like new support for managing tapes under Linux on z, and others enhancements that help z shops install, deploy, and service their CA z/VM products more effectively and quickly
  • Velocity zVPS Performance Suite–brings real-time access to detail data from z/VM and Linux on System z platforms for optimized performance, capacity planning and cost chargeback
  • UPSTREAM for Linux on System z and UPSTREAM for z/OS UNIX–extend CA data protection capabilities with file level backup for Linux on System z and z/OS UNIX files
  • CA Mainframe Connector for Linux on System zenables CA z/OS-based automation products to receive event information from Linux on System z environments

Two of the new product sets come through CA partners, whose products CA will resell: INNOVATION Data Processing and Velocity Software.

INNOVATION brings UPSTREAM for Linux on z and UPSTREAM for UNIX on z. Both address data protection by allowing z/OS storage managers to centrally manage storage in hybrid mainframe and distributed environments without becoming UNIX file system experts.

Velocity Software brings its zVPS Performance Suite. This allows IT organizations to optimize performance and reduce costs via graphical, real-time access to detailed performance data and analysis of z/VM and Linux on System z performance. And it works: “We can attest to the time and cost savings of implementing CA Technologies and Velocity Software suites to manage our Linux environment,” Jerry Whitteridge, design engineer at Safeway, confirmed to DancingDinosaur.

CA makes it clear that its new tools do not compete with IBM’s zManager. “The Unified Resource Manager handles the z hardware complex. Our software operates at a layer above that,” explained Mark Combs, a CA senior VP. These are the same issues that IBM addresses with its Tivoli products. Having competitors can only be good for mainframe shops looking to lower the cost of software tools.

A major ISV like CA that boosts its Linux on z portfolio suggests that the future of Linux on z and of the z itself looks rosy. In CA’s case, it’s following customer demand for more and better System z tools that can handle Linux at the application layer, which only makes the picture rosier.

New IBM z114 Reduces Mainframe TCA

July 12, 2011

IBM introduced its newest mainframe in the zEnterprise family, the z114, the zEnterprise equivalent of a z10 BC. With the z114 IBM can now deliver a more compelling total cost of acquisition (TCA) case. The z114 comes with a $75,000 entry price, 25% less than the z10 BC entry price while delivering 18% more performance per core. At this price, it can begin to compete with commodity high end servers on a TCA basis, especially if it is bundled with discount programs like IBM’s System z Solution Editions and unpublicized deals from IBM Global Finance.

First, the specs, speeds, and feeds:  the z114 is available in two models; a single-drawer model, the M05, and a two-drawer model, the M10, which offers additional capacity for I/O and coupling expansion and/or more specialty engines. It comes with up to 10 configurable cores, which can be designated as general purpose or specialty engine (zIIP, zAAP, IFL, ICF) or used as spares. The M10 also allows two dedicated spares as well, a first for a low end mainframe.

Like the z196, the z114 uses a superscalar design that runs at 3.8 GHz, an improved cache structure, a new out-of-order execution sequence, and over 100 new hardware instructions that deliver better per-thread performance, especially for DB2, WebSphere and Linux workloads. For CPU intensive workloads, additional gains of up to 25% can be achieved via multiple compiler level improvements. None of this, however, is technically new to the zEnterprise. The base z114 starts at 26 MIPS but can scale to over 3100 MIPS across five central processors plus the additional capacity provided by its specialty engines.

The z114 mainly will be a consolidation play. IBM calculates that workloads from as many as 300 competitive servers can be consolidated onto a single z114. It will become the key offering as IBM pursues competitive wins against HP and Oracle/Sun, ripe targets these days. IBM figures the z114 can consolidate workloads from 40 Oracle server cores using just three processors running Linux. And compared to the Oracle servers IBM estimates the new z114 will cost 80% less. Similarly, IBM figures that a fully configured z114 running Linux on z can create and maintain a Linux virtual server for approximately $500 per year.

As a consolidation play, the zEnterprise System will get even more interesting later this year when x blades supporting Windows become available. Depending on the pricing, the z114 could become a Windows consolidation play too.

As part of the zEnterprise family, the z114 connects to the zBX where it can manage workloads running on POWER7-based blades as well as theIBM Smart Analytics Optimizer and IBM WebSphere DataPower for integrating web-based workloads. The zBX can handle up to 112 blades, which can be mixed and matched within the same zBX chassis. The maximum number of blades varies depending on the type of blades selected: 112 Power blades but only 28  System x HX5 or DataPower blades or 56 Smart Analytics Optimizer blades. In additionIBM also promises support for Microsoft Windows on select System x server blades soon.

To drive competitive TCA, IBM clearly is ready to make deals. For example, IBM also has lowered software costs to deliver the same capacity for 5%-18% less through a revised Advanced Workload License Charges (AWLC) pricing schedule. A new processor value unit (PVU) rating on IFLs can lower Linux costs as much as 48%. Some prices, however, may bump up when new pricing takes effect in January 2012.

The best deal is the System z Solution Edition Program which DancingDinosaur has written about here and here.  It bundles System z hardware, software, middleware, and three years of maintenance into a deeply discounted package price. Initial System Editions for the z114 will be WebSphere, Linux, and probably SAP. You also can expect what IBM refers to as snap-ons that provide discounted optional service components to the existing base system. Expect these initially for the IBM Enterprise Linux Server. Cloud and Smarter Planet offerings also may include snap-ons. Not all Solution Editions will be available for the z114; there also may be some new ones.

IBM Global Finance (IGF) can lower costs, starting with a six month payment deferral. You can acquire a z114 now but not begin paying for it until the next year. The group also is offering all IBM middleware products, mainly WebSphere Application Server and Tivoli, interest free (0%) for twelve months. Finally, IGF can lower TCA through leasing. Leasing could further reduce the cost of the z114 by up to 3.5% over three years.

In the end the z114 doesn’t bring any major technology breakthroughs to the zEnterprise that weren’t previously seen in the z196, except maybe the PCIe I/O subsystem. What it brings is a new pricing structure for lower TCA and better price/performance. Yes, the capabilities have been ratcheted down, but the growth path to the full zEnterprise remains if you need it.

IBM z196/zBX Enterprise Hosting

May 2, 2011

Two years ago, mainframes were literally and figuratively being pushed out of Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) in favor of distributed systems running various operating systems. Then the zEnterprise arrived. The DND mainframe team saw in the z196 and zBX a way to consolidate and centrally manage these myriad platforms as the core of a multi-platform, mainframe-based enterprise hosting strategy.

As a result, DND’s mainframe support section received funding that allowed for unprecedented mainframe growth, including virtualized Linux, model upgrades, increased redundancy, and the purchase of the first of several of the latest mainframes. The DND received a new IBM zEnterprise 196 (z196) and is expecting a zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) imminently. In addition, it expects before the end of this year to order two more z196 machines and two zBX devices as the mainframe team upgrades its two existing System z10 machines. Check out Independent Assessment’s DND case study here.

In an industry where you still hear a lot of talk about getting rid of the mainframe, how did the mainframe team not only save but extend the platform?  In a large organization with a variety of platforms, competing IT agendas, and a history of diffuse control, the combination of a solid business case backed by a successful proof of concept (POC), years of demonstrated mainframe reliability, and a mainframe team leader with bona fide Wintel credentials did the trick.

The initial DND workload for the z196 is business recovery, which was being handled by a third party.  The DND, however, quickly expects to expand the z196 workloads, especially as subsequent machines arrive, for dev and test and then to various production workloads. With the zBX, the team can include AIX and Intel workloads.

All these operating systems and platform have their advocates at DND. The mainframe team expected resistance and overcame it by setting up a POC around Oracle running with Linux on z.  It picked an Oracle application—enterprise IT service management (ITSM)—that benefits from an abundance of processing horsepower. By running it on the z10 EC with additional IFLs, the mainframe team was able to demonstrate superior mainframe performance. Based on the results of the POC, the team built a compelling business case emphasizing the dramatic licensing cost savings. With the strong support of management, the mainframe group prevailed.

One successful POC, however, may not be enough to overcome resistance to the mainframe from the distributed IT ranks. The zEnterprise used for multi-platform enterprise hosting is very threatening to those with careers invested in other platforms. The we-can-do-it-cheaper-on-z claim can be a powerful argument, but mainframe managers still have to address the real threats these people feel to their livelihoods. Here are three strategies to try:

  1. Continue to manage/administer their applications as before—the mainframe is only managing the virtualized hosted platform the apps run on.
  2. AIX, Linux, Power, and x-based skills continue to be valuable—those operating systems and platforms remain viable and active in the enterprise as do the applications running on them.
  3. Dump platform headaches on the mainframe—the z team will manage the platforms while the platform specialists still get to do the rewarding work with the applications and workloads but without platform worries.

…and if some of the cost savings are shared with these groups, so much the better.

DND demonstrates that multi-platform enterprise hosting through the mainframe not only is feasible but preferable.

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