Posts Tagged ‘MobileFirst’

IBM Makes a Big Play for the API Economy with StrongLoop

September 25, 2015

APIs have become essential in connecting systems of engagement with the systems of record typically found on the IBM z System. That’s one reason why IBM earlier this month acquired StrongLoop, Inc., a software provider that helps developers connect enterprise applications to mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and web applications in the cloud mainly through rapidly proliferating and changing APIs.  Take this as a key signal IBM intends to be a force in the emerging API economy. Its goal is to connect existing enterprise apps, data, and SOA services to new channels via APIs.

api economy ibm

Courtesy: developer.IBM.com (click to enlarge)

Key to the acquisition is StrongLoop’s position as a leading provider of Node.js, a scripting language that has become a favorite among developers needing to build applications using APIs. According to IBM it intends to integrate Node.js capabilities from StrongLoop with its own software portfolio, which already includes MobileFirst and WebSphere, to help organization better use enterprise data and conduct transactions whether in the cloud or on-premises.

These new capabilities, IBM continues, will enable organizations and developers to build scalable APIs, and more easily connect existing back-end enterprise processes with front-end mobile, IoT, and web apps in an open hybrid cloud. Node.js is one of the fastest growing development frameworks for creating and delivering APIs in part due to it similarities with JavaScript. This shortens the learning curve.

Although Node.js is emerging as the standard for APIs and micro-services, APIs still present challenges. These include the lack of an architected approach, limited scalability, multiple languages and point products, limited data connectors, and large, fragile monolithic applications.

Mainframe data centers, in particular, are sitting on proven software assets that beg to be broken out as micro-services to be combined and recombined to create new apps for use in mobile and Web contexts. As IoT ramps up the demand for these APIs and more will skyrocket.  And the mainframe data center will sit at the center of all this, possibly even becoming a revenue generator.

In response, StrongLoop brings API creation and lifecycle support and back end data connectors. It also will integrate with IBM’s API management, creating an API Platform that can enable polyglot run-times, integration, and API performance monitoring. It also will integrate with IBM’s MobileFirst Platform, WebSphere and other products, such as Bluemix, to enable Node across the product portfolio. StrongLoop also brings Arc and its LoopBack framework, which handles everything from API visual modeling to process manager to scale APIs, and a security gateway. Together StrongLoop Arc along with IBM’s API Management can deliver the full API lifecycle. IBM also will incorporate select capabilities from StrongLoop into its IoT Foundation, a topic DancingDinosaur expects to take up in the future.

At the initial StrongLoop acquisition announcement Marie Wieck, general manager, Middleware, IBM Systems, alluded to the data center possibilities, as noted above: “Enterprises are focused on digital transformation to reach new channels, tap new business models, and personalize their engagement with clients. APIs are a critical ingredient.” The fast adoption of Node.js for rapidly creating APIs combined with IBM’s strength in Java and API management on the IBM cloud platform promises a winning strategy.

To make this even more accessible, IBM is adding Node.js to Bluemix, following a summer of enhancements to Bluemix covered here by DancingDinosaur just a few weeks ago. Java remains the leading language for web applications and transaction systems. Combining StrongLoop’s Node.js tools and services with IBM’s WebSphere and Java capabilities will help organizations bridge Java and Node.js development platforms, enabling enterprises to extract greater value from their application investments. Throw in integration on IBM Bluemix and the Java and Node.js communities will gain access to many other IBM and third-party services including access to mobile services, data analytics, and Watson, IBM’s crown cognitive computing jewel.

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

IBM’s z13 Redefines Mainframe Performance, Economics, and Versatility

January 14, 2015

With the introduction of the new IBM z13, the latest rev of the 50-year old mainframe product line introduced today, it will be hard for IT people to persist in the mistaken belief that the mainframe can’t handle today’s workloads or that it is too expensive. Built around an 8 core, 22nm processor, the IBM z13’s 141 configurable cores (any mix of CP, IFL, zIIP, ICF, SAP) delivers a 40% total capacity improvement over the zEC12.

 IBM z113

The z13 looks like the zEC12 but under the hood it’s far more powerful

The IBM z13 will handle up to 8,000 virtual enterprise-grade Linux servers per system, more than 50 per core.  Remember when Nationwide Insurance consolidated 3000 x86 servers mainly running Linux on a System z and saved $15 million over three years, a figure later revised considerably higher. They got a lot of press out of that, including from DancingDinosaur as recently as last May. With the IBM z13 Nationwide could consolidate more than twice the number of Linux servers at a lower cost and the resulting saving would be higher still.

If you consider Linux VMs synonymous with cloud services, the new machine will enable superior Cloud services at up to 32% lower cost than an x86-based cloud. It also will cost up to 60% less than Public Cloud over three years. In almost every metric, the IBM z13 delivers more capacity or performance at lower cost.

IBM delivered an almost constant stream of innovations that work to optimize performance and reduce cost. For example, it boosted single thread capacity by 10% over the zEC12. It also delivers 3x more memory to help both z/OS and Linux workloads. The more memory combined with a new cache design, improved I/O bandwidth, and compression will boost analytics on the machine. In fact, with the z13 you can do in-memory analytics if you want it.

The one thing it doesn’t do is boast the fastest commercial processor in terms of sheer speed. The zEC12 processor still is the fastest but with all the optimizations and enhancements IBM has built in the z13 should beat the z12 in handling the workloads organizations most want to run. For instance, the z13 performs 2X faster than the most common server processors, 300 percent more memory, 100 percent more bandwidth and delivers vector processing analytics to speed mobile transactions. As a result, the z13 transaction engine is capable of analyzing transactions in real time.

Similarly, simultaneous multi-threading delivers more throughput for Linux and zIIP-eligible workloads while larger caches optimize data serving. It also improved on-chip hardware compression, which saves disk space and cuts data transfer time.  Also, there is new workload container pricing and new multiplex pricing, both of which again will save money.

In addition, IBM optimized this machine for both mobile and analytics, as well as for cloud. This is the new versatility of this redefined mainframe. Last year, IBM discounted the cost of mobile transactions on the z. The new machine continues to optimize for mobile with consolidated REST APIs for all z/OS transactions through z/OS Connect while seamlessly channeling z/OS transactions to mobile devices with the MobileFirst Platform. It also ensures end-to-end security from mobile device to mainframe with z/OS, RACF, and MobileFirst products.

For analytics, IBM continues to optimize Hadoop and expand the analytics portfolio on the z13. Specifically, the massive memory capability, up to 10TB, opens new opportunities for in-memory computing. The ability to perform analytics by combining data from different data sources and do it in-memory and in real-time within the platform drives more efficiencies, such as eliminating the need for ETL and the need to move data between platforms, as had previously often been the case. Now, just use Hadoop on z to explore data there within the secure zone of the mainframe. This opens a wide variety of analytics workloads, anything from fraud prevention to customer retention.

In addition to improved price/performance overall, IBM announced Technology Update Pricing for z13, including AWLC price reductions for z13 that deliver 5% price/performance on average in addition to performance gains in software exploitation of z13. DancingDinosaur will dig deeper into the new z13 software pricing in a subsequent post.

And the list of new and improved capabilities with the z13 just keeps going on and on.  With security IBM has accelerated the speed of encryption up to 2x over the zEC12 to help protect the privacy of data throughout its life cycle.  It also extended enhanced public key support for constrained digital environments using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), which helps applications like Chrome, Firefox, and Apple’s iMessage. In addition, the z13 sports a few I/O enhancements, like the first system to use a standards based approach for enabling Forward Error Correction for a complete end-to-end solution.

Finally, IBM has not abandoned hybrid computing, where you can mix a variety of blades, including x86 Windows blades and others in the zBX extension cabinet. With the z13 IBM introduced the new Mod 004 zBX cabinet, an upgrade from the previous Mod 002 and 003.

DancingDinosaur expects the introduction of the z13 along with structural organization changes, will drive System z quarterly financial performance back into the black as soon as deliveries roll. And if IBM stays consistent with past behavior within a year or so you can expect a scaled down, lower cost business class version of the z13 although it may be not be called business class. Stay tuned; it should be an exciting year.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a long-time IT analyst and writer. You can follow him on Twitter, @mainframeblog, or check out more of his writing and analysis at Technologywriter.com or here.

Mobile Steps Up at IBM Enterprise2014

September 23, 2014

According to eMarketer, by 2017, mobile phone penetration will rise to 69.4% of the global population. The global smartphone audience, eMarketer reports, surpassed 1 billion in 2012 and will total 1.75 billion in 2014 and will continue a fast-paced trajectory through 2017.

OK, mobile and smartphones are hot, driving everything from the Internet of Things, (IoT) to shifts in mainframe peak volume trends. Between IoT and mobile you very well could looking at the future of the mainframe. IBM’s latest mainframe win, announced Sept. 11, identified the government of Croatia adopting the IBM z12EC 703 as the foundation for a new mobile government solution that enables citizens to choose to receive myriad messages and conduct official business on their mobile and smart devices while getting real time alerts.

Mobile transaction volumes already are starting to skew z/OS software usage and trigger new pricing programs. If you haven’t pinned down your mobile mainframe and Power Systems strategy, plan to get over to IBM Enterprise2014, Oct. 6-10 at the Venetian in Las Vegas. There you will find a wide range of mobile-related sessions for the System z, Power, and System i platforms.

You could start with Planning Your Mobile Enterprise Strategy: Future Directions in Enterprise Mobile Application Development by Ian Robinson. Here Robinson looks out the next 12-18 months at a new generation of mobile devices—including smartphones, tablets, wearables and other technologies comprising the IoT—being adopted in large numbers by consumers and employees while introducing considerable challenges and opportunities for enterprise IT managers and application developers. This session reviews the latest mobile trends and highlights where IBM MobileFirst software and services can help enterprise IT strategists prepare their organizations as mobile enterprises. BTW, last week IBM MobileFirst was highly endorsed by both Gartner and IDC.

You also will want to check out Robinson’s session on The MobileFirst Portfolio: IBM’s End-to-end Solution for the Enterprise Mobile App Development Lifecycle. Here he notes that the emerging era of enterprise mobile apps is radically different from traditional software delivery, leading many CIOs and IT managers to completely redefine their enterprise application strategies due to the rapid growth of smartphones and tablet devices among end users. In this session he describes IBM’s MobileFirst portfolio, an industry-leading set of products and capabilities designed to support the entire mobile app lifecycle, from design and development through to testing, integration, optimization, and deployment. Using real MobileFirst client examples, this session also highlights where IBM System z, Power Systems and PureSystems can play an essential role in supporting an enterprise mobile strategy.

A different take on mobile is IBM Electronic Support Engagement—Mobile Service Request, Support Portal, Twitter, Blogs and Wikis by Julie Craft.  Including a demo, she details all the ways you can use IBM electronic support tools from a mobile and social perspective. She presents new mobile apps as well as enhancements to service request that make working with IBM Support easier and saves time. In this session you are invited to voice your views on ways IBM can improve its interfaces to enhance your experience. She reports you’ll even have an opportunity to follow along on your mobile devices.

Finally, here’s a look at a hardware platform-specific mobile session: Mobile to Go, Overview of Mobile Technologies on IBM i by Tim Rowe, Alison Buterill. Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, tablet, and on and on. So many mobile devices, so many applications. Employees want to work 24X7. They want access to email, to development, data, and the system. And they want to use their own interface from wherever they happen to be. How can you deliver the right interface to the right person at the right time? What is available to make the job easier? This session explores the various IBM i solutions that can help you deliver on the request to “Make Mine to Go”. A related session, Test Drive IBM i Mobile Access, provides a preview of the IBM i Mobile Access Solution in the form of a lab that offers a guided, self-paced, interaction with the solution. You can explore the 5250 interface, run SQL Queries, interact with Printed Output and the IFS and much more. Maybe, they suggest, you can take the lab from your own mobile device. Other sessions address mobile on the Power platform.

Without changing the mainframe’s basic role mobile is poised to dramatically alter mainframe computing. The z will continue as the always available, highly secure and scalable backend resource that delivers information on request and handles volumes of transactions.

Finally, 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. Also, find me on Technologywriter.com.

IBM Gets Serious About Mobile

February 28, 2013

Just last week IBM announced IBM MobileFirst, a multi-product initiative to pull together a comprehensive mobile computing platform.  There was nothing in the announcement specific to the zEnterprise, but IBM has been telegraphing System z involvement in mobile for over a year.

In November of last year DancingDinosaur wrote of the z and all other platforms going mobile. Over a year earlier, DancingDinosaur was writing about  using the z with smartphones. With SOA, Java, Linux, WebSphere, and Lotus running on the z and with data that mobile apps and users want residing on the machine, the zEnterprise should become over time a prime player in enterprise mobile business.

Doug Balog, general manager of IBM’s System z mainframe business, might have had MobileFirst in mind when he said in Computerworld that the next steps IBM is considering include making it easier for customers to run mobile and social networking applications on mainframes.  Such an approach would, for example, benefit banks that want to offer mobile apps but still want the power and resilience of a mainframe behind those apps.

The first mobile workload you see on the zEnterprise, however, will not be Foursquare or some other funky mobile app.  More likely, it will be an operational analytics app dissecting mobile banking transaction data or analyzing the behavior of anyone making purchases through their smartphone.

MobileFirst boasts what IBM describes as the broadest portfolio of mobile offerings covering platform, management, security, and analytics.  In terms of platform, for instance, it currently offers streamlined deployment for private clouds on the PureApplication System. It provides single sign-on across multiple apps on a device, and supports all four of the latest mobile operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry). It can handle native, web, or hybrid app development, promises easy connectivity to existing data and services for mobile usage, and can be deployed on premise or through managed service delivery.

In terms of management and security MobileFirst offers unified management across all devices, making it suitable for BYOD. Similarly, it can secure sensitive data regardless of the device, including the option to remotely wipe corporate data. It also supports DOD-grade encryption and FIPS 140-2 compliance and will grant or deny email access based on device compliance.  It also provides context-aware risk-based access control through IBM Worklight. More security is delivered through IBM Security Access Manager for Mobile and Cloud and IBM AppScan.

As for analytics, MobileFirst will automatically detect customer issues through user and mobile device data. It offers user behavior drill down through high fidelity replay and reporting to analyze the user experience. Finally, it correlates customer behavior with network and application data to determine conversion and retention rates and quantify business impact. It also can capture all activity on a device and link it to backend resources. Recently acquired Tealeaf will play a key role for user analytics and behavior.

As you would expect, in addition to acquisitions IBM is rapidly assembling an ecosystem of mobile players, carriers, and ISVs to build out a complete MobileFirst offering starting with players like AT&T, IBM as a surprising Apple VAR (US only), working with Nokia Siemens Networks to develop the IBM WebSphere Application Service Platform for Networks to run IT apps at the mobile network edge, and a slew of resources for developers. There even is an IBM Academic Initiative for Mobile patterned after the System z Academic Initiative to increase the availability of skilled mobile developers. IBM also is jump starting Mobile First with about 200 of its own applications; mainly old favorites like Cognos and its key middleware.

But MobileFirst isn’t IBM’s only initiative with a mobile component. IBM Connections has had a mobile component since August 2011. Similarly, Lotus Notes Traveler supports Notes mobile users on all the major smartphones through IBM Lotus Domino or Lotus Domino Express deployments, and in the IBM cloud with IBM SmartCloud Notes.  Although they weren’t specifically called out in the MobileFirst briefing IBM assures DancingDinosaur they are included as part of the initiative’s application layer.

From the standpoint of a zEnterprise data center or any enterprise-class data center MobileFirst shouldn’t present a problem. Yes, it will increase the number and frequency of users accessing data handled through the data center and the number of devices they are using. And you’ll be running more data analytics more often. But IBM clearly has put effort into thinking through the critical security challenges of mobile and is providing a broad set of tools to begin addressing them. Sure, there is no RACF for mobile, at least not yet, but if it is needed you can bet there will be.


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