Posts Tagged ‘System z’

IBM IBV Sees Shift in Pandemic Consumer Attitude

June 25, 2020

Do you wonder how this pandemic is going to end? Or when. Or what the world will be like when it actually does or if it does, and how we will even know.

IBM quantum computing researcher

IBM’s Institute of Business Value (IBV), an IBM research group, was asking similar questions. It polled more than 18,000 U.S. adults in May and early June to understand how COVID-19 has affected their perspectives on topics that include remote work; the return to the workplace; where they want to live; how they want to shop; and more. 

IBV’s results are not exactly encouraging. For example, it found that consumers are preparing themselves for more permanent changes in behavior because of the pandemic and their fears about future outbreaks. Two of every three respondents said they were concerned about a second wave of COVID-19 hitting later in 2020. More than 60 percent said they believed there were likely to be more global pandemic events like COVID-19 in the future.

The research also suggests that organizations in every industry must pay attention to their customers’ shifting preferences. And they must respond with agility: by adopting technology, rethinking processes and, most importantly, addressing culture in order to emerge from the pandemic smarter and stronger, say the researchers.

DancingDinosaur is not nearly as methodical as the researchers at IBV. But having spent nearly four months being bombarded with solicitations for almost anything that can be squeezed into Zoom I have been able to form some opinions. The first is how ingenious and creative a lot of marketers have become in repackaging their previously tedious messages for what has almost overnight emerged as a virtual Zoom-like world. 

For decades DancingDinosaur has dodged meetings like a plague, or maybe a pandemic. But some have managed to tease me into attending a few virtual zooms, which, surprisingly, were informative and useful and concise. When the pandemic is finally done and gone, marketers may never get DancingDinosaur into a convention center or seminar venue again. Not when it is so easy to click in and, as importantly, how convenient it is to click leave the meeting.

IBV’s research appears to have uncovered some interesting behaviors. For instance, nearly one in five urban residents indicated they would definitely relocate or would consider moving to suburban or rural areas as a result of the pandemic. Fewer than 1 in 10 indicated they now found living in an urban area more appealing. 

That makes sense. If DancingDinosaur was quarantined in a 1 bedroom or studio condo for weeks or months he’d never do that again and hope you wouldn’t either, no matter how tempting the restaurants might have been when you could actually go into them.

Another set of IBV data points bodes badly for combating climate change. Young climate change activist Greta Thunberg, please forgive them. The researchers found 25 percent of respondents said they would use their personal vehicles exclusively as their mode of transport, and an additional 17 percent said they’d use them more than before. A full 60 percent of those who want to use a personal vehicle but don’t own one said they would buy one. The remainder in this group said they would rent a vehicle until they felt safe using shared mobility.

IBV also looked at work-from-home. Before COVID-19 containment measures went into effect, less than 11% of respondents worked from home. As of June 4, that percentage had grown to more than 45%. What’s more, 81% of respondents—up from 75% in April—indicated they want to continue working remotely at least some of the time.  More than half—61%—would like this to become their primary way of working. 

DancingDinosaur spent his entire career working from home. It can be a great life. Of course,  I didn’t have to educate my children at home or on short notice with minimal guidance. They went to public school and summer camp. When they came home from school each day, it made a great excuse for me to take a cookie break with them. I do miss not having my cookie break partners. They married great guys and, if I set any kind of proper example, they now have cookie breaks with them instead.

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer still working from home in the Boston area. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/ 

IBM Wazi cloud-native devops for Z

June 12, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBM Power9 Certified for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud

April 28, 2020

SAP HANA has again this year been designated a top performer in the cloud-native, multi-tenant, business intelligence segment by Gartner.  Driving its popularity is the broad interest in its wide base of SAP enterprise applications and the SAP Analytics Cloud,  a cloud-native, multi-tenant platform with a broad set of analytic capabilities. 

Behind the SAP Cloud, increasingly, is IBM’s POWER 9 servers. Specifically, the SAP-managed, private cloud environment runs on IBM POWER9 systems, specifically the E980, which brings the industry’s largest virtualized server scalability at 24TB, more than enough for even the largest SAP HANA database applications to run in memory, where they experience the best performance. In truth, most HANA users don’t require 24 TB but it can be there if they need it.

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IBM Power E980

IBM Power Systems has been certified for the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud as a critical infrastructure platform provider for large in-memory usage. The goal is to simplify the IT infrastructure for the managed, private cloud environment. The service will run on IBM POWER9-based Power Systems E980 servers, which offer the industry’s largest virtualized server scalability for the HANA database. The E980 server lineup starts as small as 2 sockets and runs up to 16 sockets. 

The IBM Power9, notes IBM, more than provides the IT infrastructure for this mission-critical managed environment. The Power9 is a scalable and secured service that is designed to accelerate a user’s evolution on the path to cloud readiness, explains Vicente Moranta, Vice President, Offering Management for IBM’s Enterprise Linux on Power Systems. It provides capabilities that span the software and hardware stack through a comprehensive menu of functional and technical services with the level of control in the SAP cloud that clients should expect on premises, all in one privately SAP-managed environment.

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud users can take advantage of the firmware-based virtualization built into the IBM POWER platform as PowerVM, a virtualization engine implemented at the firmware level. PowerVM delivers better capabilities while avoiding the problem of noisy neighbors where multiple clients on the box can interfere. It helps with this through micro-partitions and other advanced features. As a result, it delivers the largest SAP HANA scalability in a scale-up system. 

This combination is the result of a three-year collaboration between IBM Power Systems and SAP to provide virtualization on-demand via hypervisor-defined features. These features give an SAP HANA LPAR the ability to match what a client wants, effectively avoiding long acquisition cycles and wasteful over-provisioning. Specifically it provides what amounts to virtual on demand and accurately configured systems for great granularity. It avoids the need for SAP users to revert to bare metal servers due to virtualization issues. SAP manages this work itself through Power9 to achieve optimum performance. 

The latest 2019 Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC) Reliability Update polled over 800 corporations from July through early September 2019. The study compared the reliability and availability of over a dozen of the most widely deployed mainstream server platforms. Among the mainstream server distributions, IBM’s Power Systems, led by the Power9 topped the field registering a record low of 1.75 minutes per server downtime. Each of the mainstream servers studied delivered a solid five nines (99.999%) of inherent hardware reliability.

Not surprisingly, one server beat them all: the IBM Z mainframe system delivered what ITIC called true fault tolerance, delivering six nines (99.9999%) uptime to 89% of enterprise users. That translates into 0.74 second per server due to any inherent flaws in the server hardware. Just imagine how much you could accomplish in that 0.74 second?

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

URGENT NEED Open Mainframe Project COBOL

April 10, 2020

An announcement from the Open Mainframe Project noted that this week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy put out a call for volunteers who have COBOL skills because – like most states – New Jersey depends on mainframes to control and manage data. Other states are following with the same call for COBOL programmers. Surprised?

DancingDinosaur has repeated so often that it amounts to a mantra that the mainframe is not dead. And despite all the excitement generated by containers and new programming languages for a new generation of cloud-based application mainframes running proven and long-tested COBOL applications continue to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. And it becomes indisputably obvious when millions on people in a week are laid off and try to file an unemployment claim. Collectively, they have brought the systems and processes to their knees. 

As the announcement  observed: More than 10 million people in the United States have filed for unemployment amid the COVID-19 global pandemic and the resulting financial crisis that ensued. As these numbers continue to grow, and with that a big technology skills gap is starting to emerge as well. 

Then it adds: Mainframes are seen as antiquated by today’s standards but in reality, they are the driving force behind modernization including being part of the modern hybrid cloud model. Notice that the governors are not calling for Node.js, Python, Ruby, or a slew of other new programming tools. They are asking for COBOL.

Open Mainframe Project is an open source initiative that enables collaboration across the mainframe community to develop shared tool sets and resources. The group  mobilized across its membership including: Broadcom, IBM, Phoenix Software, Rocket Software, SUSE, Vicom Infinity and Zoss Team, for help in response to this urgent need from public sector officials. Specifically, the group announced three initiatives:

  1. Calling all COBOL Programmers Forum – an Open Mainframe Project forum where developers and programmers who would like to volunteer or are available for hire can post their profiles.  Whether they are actively looking for employment, retired skilled veterans, students who have successfully completed COBOL courses, or professionals wanting to volunteer, they can specify their level of expertise and availability to assist.  Employers can then connect with these resources as needed. The forum can be found here: https://community.openmainframeproject.org/c/calling-all-cobol-programmers/15
  2. COBOL Technical Forum – a new forum specific to COBOL technical questions which will be monitored by experienced COBOL programmers. This will allow all levels of programmers to quickly learn new techniques and draw from a broad range of experience and expertise to address common questions and challenges arising during this unprecedented time. The technical questions can be asked in this forum:  https://community.openmainframeproject.org/c/cobol-technical-questions/16
  3. Open Source COBOL Training – Open Source COBOL Training – the Open Mainframe Project Technical Advisory Council has approved hosting a new open source project that will lead collaboration for training materials on COBOL. The courseware was contributed by IBM based on its work with clients and institutes of higher education. These materials will be provided under an open source license and available in the coming days on the Open Mainframe Project GitHub organization

Notice in the first point above the request is for both hires and volunteers. Maybe out of this terrible pandemic the mainframe will at least get a little respect.

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

IBM Brings Red Hat Ansible to Z

March 23, 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Your ISVs Run Current Z Systems

March 9, 2020

How many of your mainframe ISVs have the latest z15? Here is my mea culpa: DancingDinosaur has spoken with many mainframe ISVs repeatedly over the years–usually their PR people or SMEs anyway–and never specifically asked if they were running the latest z at the time. I’m embarrassed; it will now be the first question I ask when they come looking for publicity.

IBM Launches Their New Mainframe Called the IBM z15

IBM z15

DancingDinosaur recently spoke with Matt Deres, the CIO of Rocket Software, a leading mainframe ISV, specifically because they had recently upgraded from a z14 to the latest z15. For the record, Rocket Software is a privately held ISV founded in 1990. Rocket develops products in such fields as analytics, networks, data, storage, and enterprise software. The firm’s products are designed to run on mainframes, Linux/Unix/Windows, IBM i, cloud, and hybrid/virtualized systems.

“The main reason we got it was to make sure we’re using the same platform our customers are using and buying,” explained Deres. In addition, they wanted to take advantage of the new features and functionality.  Their system is a z15 Model 717, running 9 IFLs.

The company is committed to keeping current with the technology. That means moving to a z16 in 24-30 months. “We usually lag a few months behind,” he admits. Even with that small lag, Rocket ensures its software remains state-of-the-art.

Currently the company’s 900 people are using the z15. These include developers, sales engineers, and consultants. And the transition from the z14 to the z15 proved seamless. People kept working without interruption.

Granted, small ISVs may have difficulty securing a fully configured z. There are, however, other ways to gain access to z functionality. Sure, they are not the same as having an actual z, even an older, modestly configured one. OK, not every ISV can be Rocket Software when it comes to staying current with the z, but there are other ways. 

For example, IBM Workload Simulator for z/OS and OS/390 can simulate a network of terminals and its associated messages. This solution for stress, performance, regression, function, and capacity planning testing eliminates the need for large amounts of terminal hardware and operator time by providing a powerful analysis with log list, log compare, and response time utilities.

Maybe the most popular is the IBM zPDT. The z Personal Development Tool (zPDT) allows developers to emulate z/OS on their x86 desktops.  z/OS on x86 may be one of the easiest ways to grow a mainframe ISV business, especially if budget is tight. Basically, it lets you simulate z functionality on an x86 system.

Finally, there is Hercules, an emulator. Hercules, as described by Wikipedia, allows software written for IBM mainframes  (System/370, System/390, and zSeries/System z) and plug-compatible mainframes (such as Amdahl) to run on other types of computer hardware, notably on low-cost personal computers. Development started in 1999 by Roger Bowler, a mainframe systems programmer.

Hercules runs under multiple parent operating systems including GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, FreeBSD, Solaris, and Mac OS X and is released under the open source software license QPL.  A vendor (or distributor) must still provide an operating system, and the user must install it. Hercules, reportedly,  was the first mainframe emulator to incorporate 64-bit z/Architecture support.

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

Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on z

February 20, 2020

IBM is finally starting to capitalize on last year’s $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat for z shops. If you had a new z and it ran Linux you would have no problem running Red Hat products so the company line went. Well, in mid February IBM announced Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform is now available on the z and LinuxONE, a z with built-in Linux optimized for the underlying z.

OpenShift comes to z and LinuxONE

As the company puts it:  The availability of OpenShift for z and LinuxONE is a major milestone for both hybrid multicloud and enterprise computing. OpenShift, a form of middleware for use with DevOps,  supports cloud-native applications being built once and deployed anywhere, including to on premises enterprise servers, especially the z and LinuxONE. This new release results from the collaboration between IBM and Red Hat development teams, and discussions with early adopter clients.

Working with its Hybrid Cloud, the company has created a roadmap for bringing the ecosystem of enterprise software to the OpenShift platform. IBM Cloud Paks containerize key IBM and open source software components to help enable faster enterprise application development and delivery. In addition to the availability of OpenShift for z it also announced that IBM Cloud Pak for Applications is available for the z and LinuxONE. In effect, it supports the modernization of existing apps and the building of new cloud-native apps. In addition, as announced last August,it is the company’s intention to deliver additional Cloud Paks for the z and LinuxONE.

Red Hat is a leader in hybrid cloud and enterprise Kubernetes, with more than 1,000 customers already using Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. With the availability of OpenShift for the z and LinuxONE, the agile cloud-native world of containers and Kubernetes, which has become the defacto open global standard for containers and orchestration,  but it is now reinforced by the security features, scalability, and reliability of IBM’s enterprise servers.

“Containers are the next generation of software-defined compute that enterprises will leverage to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives,” says Gary Chen, Research Director at IDC, in a published report.  “IDC estimates that 71% of organizations are in the process of implementing containers and orchestration or are already using them regularly. IDC forecasts that the worldwide container infrastructure software opportunity is growing at a 63.9 % 5-year CAGR and is predicted to reach over $1.5B by 2022.”

By combining the agility and portability of Red Hat OpenShift and IBM Cloud Paks with the security features, scalability, and reliability of z and LinuxONE, enterprises will have the tools to build new cloud-native applications while also modernizing existing applications. Deploying Red Hat OpenShift and IBM Cloud Paks on z and LinuxONE reinforces key strengths and offers additional benefits:

  • Vertical scalability enables existing large monolithic applications to be containerized, and horizontal scalability enables support for large numbers of containers in a single z or LinuxONE enterprise server
  • Protection of data from external attacks and insider threats, with pervasive encryption and tamper-responsive protection of encryption keys
  • Availability of 99.999%  to meet service levels and customer expectations
  • Integration and co-location of cloud-native applications on the same system as the data, ensuring the fastest response times

IBM z/OS Cloud Broker helps enable OpenShift applications to interact with data and applications on IBM Z. IBM z/OS Cloud Broker is the first software product to provide access to z/OS services by the broader development community.

To more easily manage the resulting infrastructure organizations can license the IBM Cloud Infrastructure Center. This is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering which provides simplified infrastructure management in support of z/VM-based Linux virtual machines on the z and LinuxONE.

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

IBM Introduces New Flash Storage Family

February 14, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for IBM flash storage family

IBM multi-cloud flash storage family system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet IBM’s New CEO

February 6, 2020

Have to admire Ginny Rometty. She survived 19 consecutive losing quarters (one quarter shy of 5 years), which DancingDinosaur and the rest of the world covered with monotonous regularity, and she was not bounced out until this January. Memo to readers: Keep that in mind if you start feeling performance heat from top management. Can’t imagine another company that would tolerate it but what do I know.

Arvind Krishna becomes the Chief Executive Officer and a member of the I BM Board of Directors effective April 6, 2020. Krishna is currently IBM Senior Vice President for Cloud and Cognitive Software, and was a principal architect of the company’s acquisition of Red Hat. The cloud/Red Hat strategy has only just started to show signs of payback.

As IBM writes: Under Rometty’s leadership, IBM acquired 65 companies, built out key capabilities in hybrid cloud, security, industry and data, and AI both organically and inorganically, and successfully completed one of the largest technology acquisitions in history (Red Hat).  She reinvented more than 50% of IBM’s portfolio, built a $21 billion hybrid cloud business and established IBM’s leadership in AI, quantum computing, and blockchain, while divesting nearly $9 billion in annual revenue to focus the portfolio on IBM’s high value, integrated offerings. Part of that was the approximately $34 billion Red Hat acquisition, IBM’s, and possibly the IT industry’s, biggest to date. Rometty isn’t going away all that soon; she continues in some executive Board position.

It is way too early to get IBM 1Q2020 results, which will be the last quarter of Rometty’s reign. The fourth quarter of 2019, at least was positive, especially after all those quarters of revenue loss. The company reported  $21.8 billion in revenue, up 0.1 percent. Red Hat revenue was up 24 percent. Cloud and cognitive systems were up 9 percent while systems, which includes the z, was up 16 percent. 

Total cloud revenue, the new CEO Arvind Krishna’s baby, was up 21 percent. Even with z revenue up more than cloud and cognitive systems, it is probably unlikely IBM will easily find a buyer for the z soon. If IBM dumps it, they will probably have to pay somebody to take it despite the z’s faithful, profitable blue chip customer base. 

Although the losing streak has come to an end Krishna still faces some serious challenges.  For example, although DancingDinosaur has been enthusiastically cheerleading quantum computing as the future there is no proven business model there. Except for some limited adoption by a few early adopters, there is no widespread groundswell of demand for quantum computing and the technology has not yet proven itself useful. Also there is no ready pool of skilled quantum talent. If you wanted to try quantum computing would you even know what to try or where to find skilled people?

Even in the area of cloud computing where IBM finally is starting to show some progress the company has yet to penetrate the top tier of players. These players–Amazon, Google, Microsoft/Azur–are not likely to concede market share.

So here is DancingDinosaur’s advice to Krishna: Be prepared to scrap for every point of cloud share and be prepared to spin a compelling case around quantum computing. Finally, don’t give up the z until the accountants and lawyers force you, which they will undoubtedly insist on.To the contrary, slash the z prices and make it an irresistible bargain. 

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

Montana Sidelines the Mainframe

January 21, 2020

Over the past 20+ years DancingDinosaur has written this story numerous times. It never ends exactly the way they think it will. Here is the one I encountered this past week.

IBM z15

But that doesn’t stop the pr writers from finding a cute way to write the story. This time the  writers turned to references to the moon landings and trilby hats (huh?). Looks like a Fedora to me, but what do I know; I only wear baseball hats. But they always have to come up with something that makes the mainframe sound completely outdated. In this case they wrote: Mainframe computers, a technology that harkens back to an era of moon landings and men in trilby hats, are still widely used throughout government, but not in Montana for much longer.

At least they didn’t write that the mainframe was dead and gone or forgotten. Usually, I follow up on stories like this months later and call whichever IT person is still there. I congratulate him or her and ask how it went. That’s when I usually start hearing ums and uhs. It turns out the mainframe is still there, handling those last few jobs they just can’t replace yet.

Depending on how playful I’m feeling that day, I ask him or her what happened to the justification presented at the start of the project. Or I might ask what happened to the previous IT person. 

Sometimes, I might even refer them to a recent DancingDinosaur piece that explains about Linux on the mainframe or Java or describes mainframes running the latest Docker container technology or microservices. I’m not doing this for spite; I’m just trying to build up my readership. DancingDinosaur hates losing any reader, even if it’s late in their game.  So I always follow up with a link to DancingDinosaur

In an interview published by StateScoop, Chief Information Officer Tim Bottenfield described how for the last several years, the last remaining agencies using the state’s mainframe have migrated their data away from it and are now developing modern applications that can be moved to the state’s private and highly virtualized cloud environment. By spring 2021, Montana expects to be mainframe-free. Will make a note to call Bottenfield in Spring 2021 and see how they are doing.  Does anyone want to bet if the mainframe actually is completely out of service and gone by then?

As you all know, mainframes can be expensive to maintain, particularly if it’s just to keep a handful of applications running, which usually turn out to be mission-critical applications. Of the three major applications Montana still runs on its mainframe, two are used by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, which is in the process of recoding those programs to work on modern platforms, as if the z15 isn’t  modern.

They haven’t told us whether these applications handle payments or deliver critical services to citizens. Either way it will not be pretty if such applications go down. The third is the state’s vehicle titling and registration system, which is being rebuilt to run out of the state’s data center. Again, we don’t know much about the criticality of these systems. But think how you might feel if you can’t get accurate or timely information from one of these systems. I can bet you wouldn’t be a happy camper; neither would I.

Systems like these are difficult to get right the first time, if at all. This is especially true if you will be using the latest hybrid cloud and services technologies. Yes, skilled mainframe people are hard to find and retain but so are any technically skilled and experienced people. If I were a decade younger, I could be attracted to the wide open spaces of Montana as a relief from the congestion of Boston. But I’m not the kind of hire Montana needs or wants. Stay tuned for when I check back in Spring 2021.

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


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