Posts Tagged ‘SAP’

Variety of System Vendors at IBM Edge2015

May 7, 2015

An interesting set of vendor sponsors and exhibitors are lined up for IBM Edge2015 in Las Vegas next week. For the past weeks DancingDinosaur has focused on a small selection of program sessions.  Now let’s take a look at some of the vendors that will be there.

DancingDinosaur loves the vendors because they’re usually the ones underwriting the free entertainment, food, and drinks as well as giving out the nifty stuff. (My daughters used to love going off to school with what they considered cool multi-colored pens, Day-Glo bouncing balls, folding Frisbees, and more, which I picked up free at different vendors’ booths.)

ibm enterprise cloud - cloud breakthrough year infographic_12-17-14b (1)

IBM enterprise cloud platform (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with Rocket Software. DancingDinosaur thinks of them mainly as a mainframe software provider with products for data management, performance optimization, catalog and system management, disaster recovery, storage management, and security. They also offer a bunch of interesting free utilities. At the end of April Rocket announced Rocket Discover, a self-service, intuitive data preparation and discovery solution to lets business managers and executives easily access, manipulate, prepare, and visualize data.

Both Brocade and Cisco will be there. In April, for instance, Brocade announced innovations for its campus LAN switch family. The switch is intended to help organization easily scale to meet increasing campus bandwidth demands. For instance it will deliver the industry’s highest 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port density for any switch in its class to accommodate what it refers to as the onslaught of user video and wireless traffic that is taxing campus networks.

In early May Cisco announced that Eletrobras, a Brazilian electric utility, would use Cisco’s technology for a smart metering initiative.  The project is expected to enable operational efficiency by improving service quality and control of non-technical losses, which, according to the company, reach 22% in the North and 10% in the Northeast of Brazil compared to required energy.

Of course Red Hat and SUSE, currently the leading Linux providers for the mainframe, will be there. DancingDinosaur has gotten some of his favorite baseball hats from each of these companies at previous IBM Edge conferences.

Red Hat introduced a new business resource planner as part of the latest releases of Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite and Red Hat JBoss BRMS. The planner, based on the open source OptaPlanner JBoss community project, is designed to help enterprises address complex scheduling and resource planning challenges. It also promises to increase operational adaptability in the face of rapidly changing and unpredictable business environments.

In late April SUSE announced the upcoming availability of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 12. New features, such as full operating system rollback, live kernel patching, and installation automation, should help simplify deployment and can increase uptime of mission-critical SAP solution-based workloads on Linux. SUSE customers should save time and resources as they experience improved performance and reliability.

Since the topic is Linux, let’s not forget Canonical’s Ubuntu, usually regarded as a desktop Linux distribution, is moving onto server platforms. At present Ubuntu is supported on POWER8 but not z. Ubuntu is included in numerous program sessions at Edge2015. For example, Ubuntu on Power – Using PowerKVM, presented by James Nash. The session covers various aspects to consider when moving to Ubuntu on the Power platform running in a PowerKVM environment.

In the exhibition area, where most people congregate for free food and drink after the program sessions there are over 30 exhibitors, including a handful of IBM units. For example, H&W Computer Systems  provides a handful of mainframe tools that enable you to run batch jobs during the business day without impacting CICS, automatically convert JES2 output to PDF or other formats, or use ISPF-like features to manage mainframe datasets. This is hardcore mainframe stuff.

An interesting exhibitor is ownCloud, an enterprise file sync and share system that is hosted in your data center, on your servers, using your storage. ownCloud provides Universal File Access through a single front-end to all of your disparate systems. Users can access company files on any device, anytime, from anywhere while IT can manage, control and audit file sharing activity to ensure security and compliance measures are met. (DancingDinosaur could actually use something like this—make note to check out this exhibitor.)

Recommend you spend a couple of late afternoons grazing through the exhibitor space, enjoying the food and drink, catching some demos, and collecting a new wardrobe of t-shirts and baseball caps.  And don’t forget to pick up some of the other funky stuff for your kids.

Of course, plan to save time for the free evening entertainment. In addition to Penn & Teller, a pair of magicians, and rocker Grace Potter, here. Also there will be a weird but terrific group, 2Cellos as well.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing on Technologywriter.com and here. If you are attending IBM Edge2015—now sold out—please look for me hanging out wherever people gather around available power outlets to recharge mobile devices.

Late 2012 zEnterprise Action

January 1, 2013

In a flurry of December activity, IBM announced the German manufacturer, ARBURG GmbH, upgraded to two z114 machines. In addition, a pair of Australian companies, Tonkin Consulting and Harris Farm Market, jumped on the PureSystems bandwagon.

It’s particularly nice to see IBM PureSystems gaining traction.  These are hybrid expert systems that can significantly lower the cost of a company’s IT. As for the z114, it has been a bargain since it was introduced.  DancingDinosuar expects a similar low end model of the zEC12 to come out sometime in 2013.

Let’s start by looking at ARBURG, which upgraded to a pair of zEnterprise 114 machines to drive down costs and accelerate its time-to-market. In the process it also wanted to improve customer satisfaction but without compromising on product quality. Specifically, it needed to make better use of the large amounts of data generated daily across its core business areas—development, procurement, production, sales, and services. ARBURG runs the two z114 machines with IBM System Storage DS8800, IBM DB2, and IBM Tivoli Monitoring solutions to support its SAP application environment.

The payback will come fast: reduced energy consumption by 80%. Likewise, implementing the IBM System Storage DS8800 storage cut power consumption for zEnterprise disk storage by 25%, according to the company. In addition, ARBURG runs applications on IBM System x servers with IBM SVC and Storwize V7000 systems. By consolidating on IBM System x servers with virtualization, ARBURG shrunk its number of physical servers by more than 50% and lowered energy requirements by 60%. The company also expects to leverage IBM Easy Tier technology built into the Storwize V7000 to automatically migrate data between spinning drives and SSDs dynamically, moving the most-accessed data to SSDs for better performance and the less-used data to lower-priced, standard drives.

ARBURG would like to grow its SAP environment gradually, avoiding the need to frequently invest in new hardware, thereby saving even more money, minimizing complexity, and maximizing performance. Long term the company plans to use SAP on the IBM technology platform to optimize processes and improve transparency and quality, which it expects will lead to shorter development cycles and reduced time-to-market.

The Aussies took the PureSystems route. Tonkin Consulting, an engineering, environmental and spatial consulting practice, is replacing its existing HP switching hardware and servers with IBM PureFlex. The new system will be the core component of the firm’s new enterprise-wide IT strategy to address its future needs and growth. It opted for the integrated PureFlex System for its a highly automated, simple-to-manage system. It also chose the integrated v7000 storage as well as additional IBM system networking, system x and tape storage products. The company expects the new system to significantly reduce IT costs, potentially halving management costs overall, while dramatically increasing its ability to rapidly scale operations up and down. Additionally, the technology will enable Tonkin to quickly create and deploy a private cloud, which will enable disaster recovery for its offices in South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Harris Farm Markets opted for an IBM Flex System to help support its business growth and reduce IT costs and complexity. It expects Flex to significantly boost the performance of its critical systems, especially its enterprise resource (ERP) system. The IBM Flex System deployment underpins a broader IT strategy intended to support Harris Farm’s continuing growth for at least ten years. As part of its emphasis on scalable efficiency, the strategy will reduce Harris Farm’s data footprint by up to 80% through real-time data compression; and optimize application performance using IBM’s Easy-tier functionality. The customized Flex System will include an IBM Flex System Enterprise Chassis; two IBM Compute nodes; and an IBM Storwize V7000 storage system. The Flex System will replace Harris Farm’s existing IBM systems and is expected to be delivered by mid-January 2013.

Let’s hope these late 2012 wins are good signs for 2013.

Addressing zBX Concerns

June 3, 2012

DancingDinosaur has been looking into user interest in the zBX almost since its introduction well over a year ago. Over that time adoption has grown from an initial handful to more than 125 devices this spring. While the devices aren’t exactly flying out the door, IBM has evolved it in ways that generally boosts its appeal.

For example, IBM improved its efforts at publicizing use cases. It is not intuitively obvious what a z data center would want to do with the device. IBM also has taken some baby steps in lowering the overall cost, mainly with a promotional deal for free blades—DancingDinosaur described it here—and by incorporating zBX discounts in System z Solution Edition packages. In fact a few of the Solution Edition deals offer what should become popular zBX use cases, specifically for the Enterprise Linux Server, GDPS, and SAP. Finally, the z114 provides a low cost first step to the zBX.

The introduction of Windows on x blades for the zBX also should boost the appeal of the device. DancingDinosaur spoke with several  recent zBX adopters who cited the availability of Windows as a key factor.

On the other hand, the elimination of the Smart Analytics Optimizer as a blade for the zBX has diminished the interest of others. The replacement, Netezza, entails different adoption and deployment case. It is not automatic to jump from the Smart Analytics Optimizer as a zBX blade to the Netezza appliance.

DancingDinosaur has spent the past few months speaking with mainframe data center managers about their concerns with the zBX. Below is a sample of their responses.

Cost, of course, is always an issue. This is how one IT manager put it: Even though the zBX represents a significant technological breakthrough, it is not clear to us whether it currently represents a sufficient financial breakthrough as to justify its introduction here at this time. He is waiting for either a compelling deal or a compelling use case.

Another issue is the alternative of continuing to run AIX, Windows, and Linux on their usual platforms. As one manager noted:  We opted to run AIX and Windows server applications on boards inserted into rack mounted servers. If we wanted blades we would just as likely use  a stand-alone Blade Center server, which costs a lot less than a zBX.

Some IT managers simply didn’t want to ignite a  platform war among the IT staff. Moving to a zBX implies consolidating at least some Windows, Linux, and AIX workloads on blades in the zBX. To undertake what might turn into a bitter political fight they need an indisputable business case and a top executive willing to lead the battle.

Even managers who are holding off on the zBX decision see advantages to the zBX and hybrid computing. Three in particular come up:

  1. Mainframe reliability and availability—they have Windows applications that suffer from downtime.  Running within the zBX under the zManager enables these applications to easily fail over to another virtualized server, thereby avoiding troublesome and costly downtime. Of course, they could assemble a failover architecture on their own but it would unlikely be as bullet-proof as what they get out of the box with the zEnterprise.  This alone might justify the investment.
  2. Staffing versatility—today most data center staff have platform-specific skills.  The zManager enables an administrator to attend to the full range of platforms through a single tool.  As IBM adds management expertise and automation it has developed for PureSystems to the zManager it should help to reduce the labor overhead associated with supporting the different environments. Again, the savings on staffing can go a long way toward justifying the zBX investment.
  3. Simplified backup and recovery—it is not a sure thing to backup and reliably recover a mix of virtualized and non-virtualized Windows systems plus Linux applications running on x-based servers. GDPS, available at a Solution Edition discount,  now can backup and recover the zEnterprise, zBX, and all the blades it contains fast and with confidence.

There are more advantages to zEnterprise-zBX hybrid computing than the three noted above. Watch for an upcoming Independent Assessment white paper that lays it all out. Similarly, concerns revolving around cost can be addressed—IBM has signaled in numerous ways that it is willing to deal. The immediate issue comes down to pulling together that first business case and making it a compelling one.

IBM z114 Use Cases

November 1, 2011

Nobody in a position to buy a mainframe seriously believes they will get a z114 capable of doing real work for $75k, the z114 entry price. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a worthwhile bargain. That was the message from a webinar featuring DancingDinosaur, Bob Thomas from MainframeZone, and an IBM product manager. You can register and tune into the free webinar here.

IBM describes the economics of Linux consolidation on a z114 as such:

  • Consolidate an average of 30 distributed servers or more on a single core, or
    hundreds in a single footprint
  • Consolidate 40 Oracle server cores to 2 Linux engines
  • Deliver a virtual Linux server for approximately $500 per year (TCA)

Now with new Windows x-blades about to become available for the zBX and with the z114 able to play with the zBX an entirely new set of consolidation options emerges around Windows. This will open yet another price/performance calculus.

For example, IBM insists that zBX blades will be priced competitive with industry blades. A popular third party reseller offers IBM Hx5 blades for from just under $5000 (Server – blade – 2-way – 1 x Xeon E7-4807 / 1.86 GHz – RAM 8 GB – no HDD) to around $18,000 (Server – blade – 2-way – 2 x Xeon E7-2870 / 2.4 GHz – RAM 16 GB – no HDD). All are Windows server certified.

It isn’t clear, however, how many early z114 customers are going to opt for a zBX. At the z114 webinar the IBM product manager reported a few initial z114 adopters did add the zBX. Eventually organizations may turn to a minimally configured z114 to take advantage of hybrid computing through the zBX, managing the entire multi-platform system through the Unified Resource Manager on the z114.

Now, what can you do with a $75k z114? Essentially nothing. This is the price of the basic hardware. IBM addresses the issue this way:

  • The z114 hardware price represents a true working entry configuration for customers with entry level capacity requirements. It is based on a new z114 A01 Model M05 including 26 MIPS of capacity, 8GB’s of memory, and an entry level quantity of OSA, FICON, and ESCON adapters for connectivity.
  • It provides a solid and cost effective foundation from which clients can easily grow as requirements demand while other cost reductions follow: 17-25% price reductions on z specialty engines (IFLs, zIIPs, zAAP, ICFs), 75% reduction for memory, deeply discounted Solution Edition offerings, and a new lower software curve that lowers costs 5% or more
  • Organizations already are doing real work on entry level machines running either z/OS, VSE, or a mixture of operating systems. Such workloads include CICS, batch programs, and small legacy applications sitting on z/VSE.

As DancingDinosaur points out in the webinar, it will end up costing about double the entry hardware price to do meaningful work. For existing z10 BC shops the z114 is the natural upgrade. They’ll get more capabilities and faster performance at a lower cost. They also will enjoy lower pricing for specialty processors and memory and a more favorable software pricing curve.

Other recommended z114 use cases: a Linux, Oracle, SAP consolidation play. Consolidate more virtual servers per core and benefit from the favorable idiosyncrasies of Oracle virtual server licensing on the mainframe.

From there you can just pick and choose workloads for the z114 from IBM’s z Solution Edition Program and get discounted hardware, software, middleware, and maintenance. First up can be Enterprise Linux & ELS; the Cloud Starter Edition, especially when combined as part of the new zEnterprise starter edition for the cloud for the z114; WebSphere; and application development.

The initial z114 price runs 25% less than an equivalent z10 BC configuration, which many of IBM customers are leveraging today not only for smaller production workloads but also as a backup and/or development/test environment. As it turns out, there is much you can do with a z114 even without jumping to the M10 version.

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.


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