Posts Tagged ‘MLC’

IBM Discounts z/OS Cloud Activity

August 12, 2016

The latest iteration of IBM’s z/OS workload pricing aims at to lower the cost of running cloud workloads.  In a recent announcement, z Systems Workload Pricing for Cloud (zWPC) for z/OS seeks to minimize the impact of new public cloud workload transaction growth on Sub-Capacity license charges. IBM did the same thing with mobile workloads when they started driving up the 4-hour workload averages on the z. As more z workloads interact with public clouds this should start to add up, if it hasn’t already.

bluemix garage -ni_5554516560

Bluemix Garages in the Cloud

As IBM puts it: zWPC applies to any organization that has implemented Sub-Capacity pricing via the basic AWLC or AEWLC pricing mechanisms for the usual MLC software suspects. These include z/OS, CICS, DB2, IMS, MQ and WebSphere Application Server (WAS).  An eligible transaction is one classified as Public Cloud-originated, connecting to a z/OS hosted transactional service and/or data source via a REST or SOAP web service.  Public cloud workloads are defined as transactions processed by named Public cloud application transactions identified as originating from a recognized Public Cloud offering, including but not limited to, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and more.

IBM appears to have simplified how you identify eligible workloads. As the company notes: zWPC does not require you to isolate the public cloud work in separate partitions, but rather offers an enhanced way of reporting. The z/OS Workload Manager (WLM) allows clients to use WLM classification rules to distinguish cloud workloads, effectively easing the data collection requirements for public cloud workload transactions.

So how much will you save? It reportedly reduces eligible hourly values by 60 percent. The discount produces an adjusted Sub-Capacity value for each reporting hour. What that translates into on your monthly IBM software invoice once all the calculations and fine print are considered amounts to a guess at this point. But at least you’ll save something. The first billing eligible under this program starts Dec. 1, 2016.

DancingDinosaur expects IBM to eventually follow with discounted z/OS workload pricing for IoT and blockchain transactions and maybe even cognitive activity. Right now the volume of IoT and blockchain activity is probably too low to impact anybody’s monthly license charges. Expect those technologies ramp up in coming years with many industry pundits projecting huge numbers—think billions and trillions—that will eventually impact the mainframe data center and associated software licensing charges.

Overall, Workload License Charges (WLC) constitute a monthly software license pricing metric applicable to IBM System z servers running z/OS or z/TPF in z/Architecture (64-bit) mode.  The driving principle of WLS amounts to pay-for-what-you-use, a laudable concept. In effect it lowers the cost of incremental growth while further reducing software costs by proactively managing associated peak workload utilization.

Generally, DancingDinosaur applauds anything IBM does to lower the cost of mainframe computing.  Playing with workload software pricing in this fashion, however, seems unnecessary. Am convinced there must be simpler ways to lower software costs without the rigmarole of metering and workload distribution tricks. In fact, a small mini-industry has cropped up among companies offering tools to reduce costs, primarily through various ways to redistribute workloads to avoid peaks.

A modification to WLC, the variable WLC (VWLC) called AWLC (Advanced) and the EWLC (Entry), aligns with most of the z machines introduced over the past couple of years.  The result, according to IBM, forms a granular cost structure based on MSU (CPU) capacity that applies to VWLC and associated pricing mechanisms.

From there you can further tweak the cost by deploying Sub-Capacity and Soft Capping techniques.  Defined Capacity (DC), according to IBM, allows the sizing of an LPAR in MSU such that the LPAR will not exceed the designated MSU amount.  Group Capacity Limit (GCL) extends the Defined Capacity principle for a single LPAR to a group of LPARs, allowing MSU resources to be shared accordingly.  BTW, a potential downside of GCL is that is one LPAR in the group can consume all available MSUs due to a rogue transaction. Again, an entire mini industry, or maybe no so mini, has emerged to help handle workload and capacity pricing on the z.

At some point in most of the conference pricing sessions the eyes of many attendees glaze over.  By Q&A time the few remaining pop up holding a copy of a recent invoice and ask what the hell this or that means and what the f$#%@#$ they can do about it.

Have to admit that DancingDinosaur did not attend the most recent SHARE conference, where pricing workshops can get quite energetic, so cannot attest to the latest fallout. Still, the general trend with mobile and now with cloud pricing discounts should be lower costs.

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.

 

BMC and Compuware to Drive Down Mainframe Costs

February 20, 2015

This year jumped off to an active start for the mainframe community. The introduction of the z13 in January got things going. Now Compuware and BMC are partnering to integrate offerings of some their mainframe tools to deliver cost-aware workload and performance management. The combined tools promise to reduce mainframe OPEX even as z systems shops try to leverage their high-value mainframe applications, data, and processing capacity to meet rapidly evolving business challenges.

 compuware bmc logos hi res

Not that things had been quiet before, especially if you consider IBM scrambling to reverse successive quarters on poor financial performance with a slew of initiatives. During that time Compuware went private last fall; about a year earlier BMC went private. Now you have two companies collaborating to deliver tools that will help mainframe shops reduce their software costs. DancingDinosaur has covered previous cost-saving and efficiency initiatives from each of these companies here and here.

Driving this collaboration is the incessant growth of new mainframe workloads, which will likely accelerate with the new z13. Such workload growth is continually driving up the Monthly License Charge (MLC) for IBM mainframe software, which for sub-capacity environments are generally impacted by the highest rolling four-hour average (R4HA) of mainframe utilization for all applications on each LPAR, as measured in MSUs. IBM is helping with discounts for mobile workloads and its new ICAP and country multi-plex pricing, which DancingDinosaur covered here, but more is needed.

The trick requires continually managing those workloads. In effect, IT can most effectively reduce its sizable IBM z Systems software costs by both 1) tuning each application to minimize its individual consumption of mainframe resources and 2) orchestrating application workloads to minimize the LPAR utilization peaks they generate collectively at any given time.  Good idea but not easy to implement in practice. You need automated tools.

According to Frank DeSalvo, former research director at Gartner: “The partnership between BMC and Compuware launches an integrated opportunity for mainframe customers to manage workload inefficiencies in a manner that has not been achievable to-date.”   This partnership, however, “helps organizations leverage their IT budgets by enabling them to continuously optimize their mainframe workloads, resulting in cost effective decisions for both current and future spending.,” as DeSalvo was quoted in the initial announcement.

Specifically, the Compuware-BMC collaboration brings together three products: BMC Cost Analyzer, BMC MainView, and Compuware Strobe.

  • BMC Cost Analyzer for zEnterprise brings a financially intelligent workload management tool that enables z data centers to identify MLC cost drivers and take appropriate measures to reduce those costs.
  • BMC MainView provides real-time identification of application performance issues, enabling customers to quickly eliminate wasteful MSU consumption.
  • Compuware Strobe delivers deep, granular and highly actionable insight into the behavior of application code in the z systems environment.

The partners integrated the products so they actually work together. One integration, for instance, allows BMC Cost Analyzer to call Compuware Strobe for a detailed analysis of the specific application component for peak MLC periods, enabling customers to proactively tune applications that have the greatest impact on their monthly software licensing costs. A second integration with BMC MainView allows customers to either automatically or manually invoke Strobe performance analysis—empowering mainframe staffs to more quickly, efficiently, and consistently when performing cost-saving tuning tasks.

compuware bmc screen shot Courtesy of Compuware, click to enlarge

BTW, at the same time Compuware introduced the latest version of Strobe, v 5.2. It promises deep insight into how application code—including DB2, COBOL 5.1, IMS and MQ processes—consume resources in z environments. By providing these insights while making it easy for multi-discipline mainframe ops teams to collaborate around these insights Strobe 5.2 enables IT to further drive down mainframe costs. At the same time it improves application responsiveness.

Besides the software licensing savings that can result the organization also benefits from performance gains for these applications. These too can be valuable since they positively impact end-user productivity and, more importantly, customer experience.

DancingDinosaur feels that any technology you can use to automate and streamline your systems operations will benefit you because people are always more expensive and less efficient than technology.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur. Follow this blog on Twitter, @mainframeblog. View my other IT writing at Technologywriter.com and here.

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 Technologywriter.com.

Automated System z Workload Capping Can Save Big Bucks

June 20, 2014

IBM’s Monthly License Charge (MLC) pricing can be a powerful tool to significantly lower the cost of software licensing for a mainframe shop. The problem: it is frightfully complicated. DancingDinosaur has attended conferences that scheduled multi-part sessions just to cover the basic material. Figuring out which pricing program you qualify for is itself a challenge and you probably want a lawyer looking over your shoulder. Find IBM’s System z pricing page here.

One particularly galling challenge is estimating and capping the 4-hour utilization for each LPAR.  You can easily find yourself in a situation where you exceed the cap on one LPAR, resulting in a surcharge, while you have headroom to spare on other LPARs. The trick is to stay on top of this by constantly monitoring workloads and shift activity among LPARs to ensure you don’t exceed a cap.

This requires a skilled mainframe staffer with both a high level of z/OS skill and familiarity with z workloads and LPARs. While you’re at it throw in knowledge of data center operations and the organization’s overall business direction. Finding such an expert is costly and not easily spared for constant monitoring. It’s a task that lends itself to automation.

And that’s exactly what BMC did earlier this week when it introduced Intelligent Capping (iCap) for zSeries mainframes. On average, according to BMC, companies that actively manage and effectively prioritize their mainframe workloads save 10-15 percent more on their monthly license charges than those who use a more passive approach. Furthermore, instead of assigning a costly mainframe workload guru to manually monitor and manage this, BMC promises that the costs can be reduced while also diminishing risk to the business through the use of its intelligent iCap software that understands workloads, makes dynamic adjustments, and automates workload capping.

The savings, according to BMC, can add up fast. In one example, BMC cited saving 161 MSUs, which translated for that organization to over $55k that month. Given that a mainframe shop spends anywhere from few hundred thousand to millions of dollars per month on MLC charges savings of just a few percent can be significant. One BMC customer reportedly expects intelligent capping to save it 12% each month. Caveat: DancingDinosaur has not yet been able to speak with any BMC iCap customer to verify these claims.

But assuming they are true, iCap is a no-brainer for any mainframe shop paying anything but the most minimal MLC. BMC charges for iCap based on the customer’s capacity. It is willing to discuss a shared gain model by which the iCap charges are based on how much is saved but none of those deals apparently have been finalized.

This seems like a straightforward challenge for a mainframe management tool vendor but DancingDinosaur has found only a few actually doing it—BMC, Softwareonz, and IBM. Softwareonz brings AutoSoftCapping. The product promises to maximize software cost efficiency for IBM zSeries platforms, and specifically z/OS. It does so by automatically adjusting defined capacity by LPAR based upon workload while maintaining a consistent overall defined capacity for your CPC.

Softwareonz, Seattle, estimates it saves 2% on monthly charges, on the low end. At the high end, it has run simulations suggesting 20% savings.  AutoSoftCapping only works for datacenters running their z on the VWLC pricing model. Customers realistically can save 8-10%. Again, DancingDinosaur has not yet validated any savings with an actual Softwareonz customer.

Without automation, you have to do this manually, by adjusting defined capacity based on actual workloads. Too often that leave the organization with the choice of constraining workloads and thereby inhibiting performance or over-provisioning the cap and thereby driving up costs through wasted capacity.

So, if automatic MLC capping is a no brainer, why isn’t everybody doing it? Softwareonz sees several reasons, the primary one being the fear of the cap negatively impacting the VWLC four-hour rolling average. Nobody wants to impact their production workloads. Of course, the whole reason to apply intelligence to the automation is to reduce software costs without impacting production workloads. BMC offers several ways to ease the organization into this as they become more comfortable and confident in the tool.

Another reason suggested is that the System z operational team is protecting its turf from the inroads of automation. A large z shop might use a team of half a dozen or more people dedicated to monitoring and managing workloads manually. Bring in automation like iCAP or AutoSoftCapping and they expect pink slips to follow.

Of course, IBM brings the z/OS Capacity Provisioning tool for z/OS (v1.9 and above), which can be used to add and remove capacity through a Capacity Provisioning Manager (CPM) policy. This can be used to automatically control the defined capacity limit or the group capacity limits. The user interface for defining CPM policies is through z/OSMF.

If you are subject to MLC pricing, consider an automated tool. BTW, there also are consultants who will do this for you.

A note: IBM Enterprise Cloud System, covered by DancingDinosaur a few weeks ago here, is now generally available. It is an OpenStack-based converged offering that includes compute, storage, software, and services built around the zBC12. Check out the most recent details here.

Also take note: IBM Enterprise2014 is coming to Las Vegas in early Oct, Details here. The conference combines System z University and Power System University plus more. You can bet there will be multiple sessions on MLC pricing in its various permutations and workload capping.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. You can follow him on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Or visit his website, www.technologywriter.com

 

Latest in System z Software Pricing—Value Unit Edition

December 5, 2013

Some question how sensitive IBM is to System z costs and pricing.  Those that attended any of David Chase’s several briefings on System z software pricing at Enterprise 2013 this past October, however would realize the convulsions the organization goes through for even what seems like the most trivial of pricing adjustments. So, it is not a small deal that IBM is introducing something called Value Unit Edition (VUE) pricing for System z software.

VUE began with DB2. The purpose is to give z data centers greater pricing flexibility while encouraging new workloads on the z. VUE specifically is aimed at key business initiatives such as SOA, Web-based applications, pureXML, data warehousing and operational business intelligence (BI), and commercial (packaged) applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, and Siebel. What started as a DB2 initiative has now been extended to WebSphere MQ, CICS, and IMS workloads.

In short, VUE pricing gives you a second pricing option for eligible (meaning new) z workloads. BTW, this eligibility requirement isn’t unusual with the z; it applies to the System z Solution Edition deals too. Specifically, VUE allows you to opt to pay for the particular software as a one-time capital expenditure (CAPEX) in the form of a one-time charge (OTC) rather than as a monthly license charge (MLC), which falls into the OPEX category.

Depending on your organization’s particular circumstances the VUE option could be very helpful. Whether it is more advantageous for you, however, to opt for OTC or MLC with any eligible workload is a question only your corporate accountant can answer (and one, hopefully, that is savvy about System z software pricing overall).  This is not something z data center managers are likely to answer on their own.

Either way you go, IBM in general has set the pricing to be cost neutral with a five-year breakeven. Under some circumstances you can realize discounts around the operating systems; in those cases you may do better than a five-year breakeven. But mainly this is more about how you pay, not how much you pay. VUE pricing is available for every System z model, even older ones. Software running under VUE will have to run in its own LPAR so IBM can check its activity as it does with other software under SCRT.

In summary, the main points of VUE are:

  • One-time-charge (OTC) pricing option across key middleware and packaged applications
  • The ability to consolidate or grow new workloads without increasing operational expense
  • Deployment on a z New Application License Charge (zNALC) LPAR, which, as expected, runs under the zNALC terms and conditions
  • Of course, new applications must be qualified; it really has to be new
  • Allows a reduced price for the z/OS operating system
  • Runs as a mixed environment, some software MLC  some OTC
  • Selected ISV offerings qualify for VUE

Overall, System z software pricing can be quite baffling. There is nothing really comparable in the distributed world. The biggest benefit of VUE comes from the flexibility it allows, OPEX or CAPEX, not from not from any small discount on z/OS. Given the set of key software and middleware VUE applies to the real opportunity lies in using its availability to take bring on new projects that expand the footprint of the z in your organization. As DancingDinosaur has pointed out before, the more workloads you run on the z the lower your cost-per-workload.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog


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