Posts Tagged ‘zEnterprise’

IBM z Systems as a Cloud Platform

February 13, 2015

DancingDinosaur wrote a long paper for an audience of x86 users. The premise of the paper: the z Systems in many cases could be a better and even lower cost alternative to x86 for a private or hybrid cloud. The following is an excerpt from that paper.

 cloud_computing_providers

BTW, IBM earlier this month announced it signed a 10-year, large-scale services agreement with Shop Direct to move the multi-brand digital retailer to a hybrid cloud model to increase flexibility and quickly respond to changes in demand as it grows, one of many such IBM wins recently. The announcement never mentioned Shop Direct’s previous platform. But it or any company in a similar position could have opted to build its own hybrid (private/public) cloud platform.

A hybrid cloud a company builds today probably runs on the x86 platform and the Windows OS. Other x86-based clouds run Linux. As demand for the organization’s hybrid cloud grows and new capabilities are added traffic increases.  The conventional response is to scale out or scale up, adding more or faster x86 processors to handle more workloads for more users.

So, why not opt for a hybrid cloud running on the z? As a platform, x86 is far from perfect; too unstable and insecure for starters. By adopting a zEC12 or a z13 to host your hybrid cloud you get one of the fastest general commercial processors in the market and the highest security rating for commercial servers, (EAL 5+). But most x86-oriented data centers would balk. Way too expensive would be their initial reaction. Even if they took a moment to look at the numbers their IT staff would be in open revolt and give you every reason it couldn’t work.

The x86 platform, however, is not nearly as inexpensive as it was believed, and there are many ways to make the z cost competitive. Due to the eccentricities of Oracle licensing on the z Systems, for instance, organizations often can justify the entire cost of the mainframe just from the annual Oracle software license savings. This can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more each year. And the entry level mainframe has a list price of $75,000, not much more than an x86 system of comparable MIPS. And that’s before you start calculating the cost of x86 redundancy, failover, and zero downtime that comes built into the mainframe or consider security. Plus with the z Systems Solution Edition program, IBM is almost giving the mainframe away for free.

Some x86 shops could think of the mainframe as a potent Linux machine that can handle thousands of Linux instances without breaking a sweat. The staff wouldn’t even have to touch z/OS. It also runs Java and Hadoop. And it delivers an astonishingly fast and efficient Linux environment that provides a level of performance that would require a much great number of x86 cores to try to match. And if you want to host an on-premises or hybrid cloud at enterprise scale it takes a lot of cores. The cost of acquiring all those x86 cores, deploying them, and managing them will break almost any budget.

Just ask Jim Tussing, Chief Technology Officer for infrastructure and operations at Nationwide Insurance (DancingDinosaur has covered Tussing before): “We had literally 3000 x86 servers deployed that were underutilized,” which is common in the x86 environment even with VMware or Hyper-V virtualization. At a time when Nationwide was seeking to increase the pace of innovation across its products and channels, but rolling out new environments were taking weeks or months to provision and deploy, again not unheard of in the x86 world. The x86 environment at Nationwide was choking the company.

So, Nationwide consolidated and virtualized as many x86 servers on a mainframe as possible, creating what amounted to an on-premises and hybrid cloud. The payoff: Nationwide reduced power, cooling, and floor space requirements by 80 percent. And it finally reversed the spiraling expenditure on its distributed server landscape, saving an estimated $15 million over the first three years, money it could redirect into innovation and new products. It also could provision new virtual server instances fast and tap the hybrid cloud for new capabilities.

None of this should be news to readers of DancingDinosaur. However some mainframe shops still face organizational resistance to mainframe computing. Hope this might help reinforce the z case.

DancingDinsosaur is Alan Radding, a long-time IT analyst/writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of my IT writing at Technologywriter.com and here.

New Software Pricing for IBM z13

February 6, 2015

Every new mainframe causes IBM to rethink its pricing. This makes sense because mainframe software licensing is complex. The z13 enables different workloads and combinations of uses that merit reexamining the software licensing. But overall, IBM is continuing its strategy to enhance software price/performance with each generation of hardware. This has been the case for as long as DancingDinosaur has been covering the mainframe. (click graphic below to enlarge)

 IBM z13 technology update pricing

DancingDinsosaur along with other mainframe analysts recently listened to Ray Jones, IBM Vice President, z Systems Sales go through the new z13 software pricing. In short, expect major new structural enhancements coming in the first half of 2015. Of particular interest will be two changes IBM is instituting:

  1. IBM Collocated Application Pricing (ICAP), which lets you run your systems the way that make sense in your organization
  2. Country Multiplex Pricing, an evolution of Sysplex pricing that allows for greater flexibility and simplicity which treats all your mainframes in one country as a single sysplex.

Overall, organizations running the z under AWLC should see a 5% discount on average.

But first let’s take a moment to review AWLC (Advanced Workload License Charge). This monthly program from the start has been intended to allow you to grow hardware capacity without necessarily increasing software charges. Most organizations under AWLC can grow hardware capacity without necessarily increasing software charges. In general you’ll experience a low cost of incremental growth and you can manage software cost by managing workload utilization and deployment across LPARs and peak hours.

A brief word about MSU. DancingDinosaur thinks of MSU as mainframe service unit. It is the measurement of the amount of processing or capacity of your mainframe. IBM determines the MSU rating of a particular mainframe configuration by some arcane process invisible to most of us. The table above starts with MSU; just use the number IBM has assigned your z configuration.

OK, now we’re ready to look at ICAP pricing. IBM describes ICAP as the next evolution of z Systems sub-capacity software pricing. ICAP allows workloads to be priced as if in a dedicated environment although technically you have integrated them with other workloads. In short, you can run your systems and deploy your ICAP workloads the way you want to run them. For example, you might want to run a new anti-fraud app or a new instance of MQ and do it on the same LPAR you’re running some other workload.

ICAP is for new workloads you’re bringing onto the z. You have to define the workloads and are responsible for collecting and reporting the CPU time. It can be as simple as creating a text file to report it. However, don’t rush to do this; IBM suggested an ICAP enhancement to the MWRT sub-capacity reporting tool will be coming.

In terms of ICAP impact on pricing, IBM reports no effect on the reported MSUs for other sub-capacity middleware programs (adjusts MSUs like an offload engine, similar to Mobile Workload Pricing for z/OS). z/OS shops could see 50% of the ICAP-defining program MSUs will be removed, which can result in real savings. IBM reports that ICAP provides a price benefit similar to zNALC for z/OS, but without the requirement for a separate LPAR. Remember, with ICAP you can deploy your workloads where you see fit.

For Country Multiplex Pricing a country multiplex to IBM is the collection of all zEnterprise and later machines in a country, and they are measured like one machine for sub-capacity reporting (applicable to all z196, z114, zEC12, zBC12, and z13 machines). It amounts to a new way of measuring and pricing MSUs, as opposed to aggregating under current rules. The result should be flexibility to move and run work anywhere, the elimination of Sysplex pricing rules, and the elimination of duplicate peaks when workloads move between machines.

In the end, the cost of growth is reduced with one price per product based on growth anywhere in the country. Hardware and software migrations also become greatly simplified because Single Version Charging (SVC) and Cross Systems Waivers (CSW) will no longer be relevant.  And as with ICAP, a new Multiplex sub-capacity reporting tool is coming.

Other savings also remain in play, especially the z/OS mobile pricing discounts, which significantly reduces the level at which mobile activity is calculated for peak load pricing. With the expectation that mobile activity will only grow substantially going forward, these savings could become quite large.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran mainframe and IT writer and analyst. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of my writing at Technologywriter.com and here.

Compuware Topaz Brings Distributed Style to the Mainframe

January 30, 2015

Early in January Compuware launched the first of what it promised would be a wave of tools for the mainframe that leverage the distributed graphical style of working with systems.  The company hopes the tool, Topaz, will become a platform that hooks people experienced with distributed computing, especially Millennials, on working with the mainframe. The company is aiming not just for IT newbies but experienced distributed IT people who find the mainframe alien.

Compuware is pitching Topaz as a solution for addressing the problem of the wave of retirements of experienced mainframe veterans. The product promises to help developers, data architects, and other IT professionals discover, visualize, and work with both mainframe and non-mainframe data in a familiar, intuitive manner.  They can work with it without actually having to directly encounter mainframe applications and databases in their native formats.

compuware topaz screen

Topaz Relationship Visualizer (click to enlarge)

DancingDinosaur has received the full variety of opinions on the retiring mainframe veteran issue, ranging from a serious concern to a bogus issue. Apparently the issue differs with each mainframe shop. In this case, demographics ultimately rule, and people knowledgeable about the mainframe (including DancingDinosaur, sadly) are getting older.  Distributed IT folks, however, know how to operate data centers, manage applications, handle data, and run BI and analytics—all the things we want any competent IT shop to do. So, to speed their introduction to the mainframe it makes sense to give them familiar tools that let them work in accustomed ways.

And Topaz definitely has a familiar distributed look-and-feel. Check out a demonstration of it here. What you will see are elements of systems, applications, and data represented graphically. Click an item and the relevant relationships are exposed. Click again to drill down to detail. To move data between hosts just drag and drop the desired files between distributed hosts and the mainframe.  You also can use a single distributed-like editor to work with data on Oracle, SQL Server, IMS, DB2 and others across the enterprise. The actions are simple, intuitive, and feel like any GUI tool.

The new tool should seem familiar. Compuware built Topaz using open source Eclipse. It also made use of ISPF, the mainframe toolset. Read about Eclipse here.

With Topaz Compuware is trying to address a problem IBM has been tackling through its System z Academic Initiative—to answer where next generation of mainframers will come from.  With its contests and university curriculum IBM is trying to captivate young people early with job possibilities and slick technologies, and catch them as young as high school.

Compuware is aiming for working IT professionals in the distributed environment. They may not be much younger than their mainframe counterparts. but Compuware is giving them a tool that will allow them to immediately start doing meaningful work with both distributed and mainframe systems and do it in a way they immediately grasp.

Topaz treats mainframe and non-mainframe assets in a common manner. As Compuware noted: In an increasingly dynamic big data world it makes less and less sense to treat any platform as an island of information. Topaz takes a huge step in the right direction.

Finally, expect to see Topaz updates and enhancements quarterly. Compuware describes Topaz as an agile development effort, drawing a pointed contrast to the rather languid pace of some mainframe ISVs in getting out updates.  If the company is able to achieve its aggressive release cycle goals that alone may help change perceptions of the mainframe as a staid, somewhat dull platform.

With Topaz Compuware is off to a good start, but you can see where and how the toolset can be expanded upon.  And Compuware even hinted at opening the Topaz platform to other ISVs. Don’t hold your breath, but at the least it may get other mainframe ISVs to speed their own efforts, making the mainframe overall a more dynamic platform. With the z13 IBM raised the innovation bar (see DancingDinosaur here and here). Now other mainframe ISVs must up their game.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a long-time IT analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. You also can read more of my writing at Technologywriter.com and here.

IBM z13 Chip Optimized for Top Enterprise Performance

January 23, 2015

With the zEC12 IBM boasted of the fastest commercial chip in the industry. It is not making that boast with the z13. Instead, it claims a 40% total capacity improvement over the zEC12. The reason: IBM wants the z13 to excel at mobile, cloud, and analytics as well as fast extreme scale transaction processing. This kind of performance requires optimization up and down the stack; not just chip speed but I/O processing, memory access, instruction tweaks, and more.

 z13 mobile

Testing mobile transactions on the z13

This is not to suggest that the machine is not fast.  It is.  Timothy Prickett Morgan writing in his 400 blog notes that the z13 chip runs a 22 nm core at 5 GHz, half a GHz slower than the zEC12. The zEC12 processor, the one touted as the fastest commercial processor, was a 32nm core that clocked at 5.5 GHz.  Still, the z13 delivers about a 10 percent performance bump per core thanks, he writes, to other tweaks in the core design, such as better branch prediction and better pipelining in the core. The slightly slower clock speed reduces heat.

Up and down the stack IBM has been optimizing the z13 for maximum performance.

  • 2X performance boost for cryptographic coprocessors
  • 2X increase in channel speed
  • 2X increase in I/O bandwidth
  • 3X increase in memory capacity
  • 2X increase in cache and a new level of cache

At 5 GHz, the z13, given all the enhancements IBM has made, remains the fastest. According to IBM, it is the first system able to process 2.5 billion transactions a day, equivalent of 100 Cyber Mondays every day of the year.  Maybe even more importantly, z13 transactions are persistent, protected, and auditable from end-to-end, adding assurance as mobile transactions grow to an estimated 40 trillion (that’s trillion with a T) mobile transactions per day by 2025.

Given that mobile is shaping up to be the device of the future the z13 is the first system to make practical real-time encryption of all mobile transactions at any scale, notes IBM. Specifically, the z13 speeds real-time encryption of mobile transactions to help protect the transaction data and ensure response times consistent with a positive customer experience.  With mobile overall, the machine delivers up to 36% better response time, up to 61% better throughput, and up to 17% lower cost per mobile transaction. And IBM discounts transactions running on z/OS.

To boost security performance the machine benefits from 500 new patents including cryptographic encryption technologies that enable more security features for mobile initiated transactions. In general IBM has boosted the speed of encryption up to 2x over the zEC12 to help protect the privacy of data throughout its life cycle.

Combined with the machine’s embedded analytics it can provide real-time insights on all transactions. This capability helps enable an organization to run real-time fraud detection on 100 percent of its business transactions.  In terms of analytics, the machine deliver insights up to 17x faster at 13x better price performance than its competitors.

Further boosting performance is the increase of memory in the machine. For starters, the machine can handle up to 10 TB of memory onboard to help with z/OS and Linux workloads. To encourage organizations to take advantage of the extra memory IBM is discounting the cost of memory. Today memory runs $1500/GB but organizations can populate the z13 with new memory starting at $1000/GB. With various discounts you can get memory for as little as $200/GB.

So what will you do with a large amount of discounted memory? Start by running more applications in-memory to boost performance.  Do faster table scans in memory to speed response or avoid the need for I/O calls. Speed sorting and analytics by doing it in memory to enable faster, almost real-time decision making. Or you can run more Java without increasing paging and simplify the tuning of DB2, IMS and CICS. Experience 10x faster response time with Flash Express and a 37% increase in throughput compared to disk.

As noted above IBM optimized just about everything that can be optimized. It provides 320 separate channels dedicated just to drive I/O throughput as well as performance goodies only your geeks will appreciate like simultaneous multithreading (SMT), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and single instruction, multiple data (SIMD). Overall about 600 processors (in addition to your configurable cores) speed and streamline processes throughout the machine.

Mainframes have the fastest processors in the industry –none come close–and with the addition of more memory, faster I/O,  and capabilities like SMT and SIMD noted above, the z13 clearly is the fastest. For workloads that benefit from this kind of performance, the z13 is where they should run.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a long-time IT analyst and writer. You can follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Check out his other 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.

IBM Ends 2014 with Flurry of Outsourcing, Cloud Activity

January 4, 2015

Happy New Year. There is much to look forward to in 2015. At the least it probably is time for IBM to rev the System z. The zEnterprise EC12 was introduced in Aug. 2012. You should expect a new machine this year.

ibm cloud centers

IBM ended the year with a flurry of deals involving outsourcing in various forms, hybrid clouds, and the expansion its cloud centers globally. The company made it clear throughout this past difficult year that its focus will be on cloud computing, analytics, and mobile, and that’s what they did. DancingDinosaur will leave to the Wall St. analysts the question of whether the deals represent enough action at a sufficient margin.

IBM believes its future rides on the cloud. To that end it writes: Enterprise cloud deployments, specifically hybrid cloud, are growing at a significant rate.  According to Gartner, nearly half of all enterprises will have a hybrid cloud deployed by 2017.  Chief among the driving forces behind the adoption of cloud computing worldwide, including hybrid cloud, are requirements for businesses and governments to store certain data locally to comply with data residency regulations, as well as a growing desire for startups to expand their businesses globally.  IBM estimates about 100 nations and territories have adopted laws that dictate how governments and private enterprises handle personal data.

The expansion of the company’s global footprint of its cloud centers, now up to 40 locations, represents an effort to capitalize on cloud interest. Since the start of November, the company announced more than $4 billion worth of cloud agreements with major enterprises around the world. These include Lufthansa, ABN AMRO, WPP, Woox Innovations, Dow Water, and Thomson Reuters. Some of these, you will notice, are mainframe shops. DancingDinosaur is assuming they are augmenting their z with a hybrid cloud, not replacing it.

In addition, there are new organizations, referred to by IBM as born-on-the-web innovators, which are building their business on the IBM Cloud. Since November, IBM has announced wins with Diabetizer and Preveniomed, Hancom, Musimundo, and Nubity. Collectively these wins reflect IBM’s ability to deliver a full range of services through the cloud. Some of these are analytics-driven wins.

An interesting recently announced win was Westfield Insurance, which began working with IBM to transform their claims operations. To this end, Westfield is looking at business analytics to increase flexibility, operational efficiency, and effectiveness while enabling the company to keep pace with its evolving customer base and business growth. When DancingDinosaur last checked, Westfield was a z196 shop running DB2.

As IBM reports, leading insurers are leveraging cloud, analytics and social technologies to stay ahead of their competition. Specifically, more than 60% of identified leading insurers are focused on advanced analytics to improve their claims handling in order to streamline processes and increase customer satisfaction. Westfield’s multi-year claims handling transformation initiatives, including process, organizational and technology changes, focus on using data and analytics to better serve customers.

For Westfield, IBM developed a new protocol to migrate data for use with predicative models, built simulation models to evaluate bottlenecks in the claims process, and designed a strategy for expedited workflow.  This simulation helped expedite organizational changes. The new claims system will also utilize a suite of IBM counter-fraud capabilities to detect suspicious activity.

In addition, IBM helped Westfield optimize its current claims handling process to provide a seamless, fully-integrated customer experience. Westfield’s claims system with Guidewire is now consolidated to ensure efficient operations across its network.

To further drive its cloud business IBM simplified its cloud contract with a goal of reducing the complexity and speeding the signing of cloud agreements. The result is a standard, two-page agreement that replaces the previous longer, more complex contracts, which typically entailed long negotiations and reviews before a deal was signed. By comparison, its cloud competitors require customers to review and commit to more complex contracts that commonly are at least five times longer and also incorporate terms and conditions from other websites, IBM reports.

Citing leading industry analyst firms, IBM claims global leadership in cloud computing with a diverse portfolio of open cloud solutions designed to enable clients for the hybrid cloud era. IBM has helped more than 30,000 cloud clients around the world. It boasts of over 30,000 cloud clients, invested more than $7 billion since 2007 in 17 acquisitions to accelerate its cloud initiatives, and holds more than 1,560 cloud patents. IBM also processes more than 5.5 million client transactions daily through its public cloud.

IBM’s initiatives in cloud computing will not diminish its interest in the System z enterprise cloud platform. To the contrary a recent IBM analysis shows the z enhancing the economic advantages of the cloud: a business scaling up to about 200 virtual machines (VM) gets far more efficient and economical results by using the Enterprise Linux Server as an enterprise cloud than with a virtualized x86 or public-cloud model. And the deal gets even better if you acquire the Enterprise Linux Server under either the Solution Edition program for Enterprise Linux  or the System z Solution Edition for Cloud Computing.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a longtime IT analyst/writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Check out more of his work at Technologywriter.com and here.

The Mainframe at the Heart of the Security Storm

December 18, 2014

A survey of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) released by IBM in early December found more than 80% of security leaders believe the challenge posed by external threats is on the rise, while 60% also agree their organizations are outgunned in the cyber war. Even mainframe shops—the zEC12 has received the highest security rating, EAL 5+ —should not get complacent. There are a lot of bad guys gunning for the data center. Just ask Sony.

 ciso study ibm 2014

At least top management is putting resources into security. Three quarters of the CISO respondents expect their security budgets to increase dramatically over the next 3-5 years. IBM is jumping in with a security paper geared specifically for mainframe shops titled Security Intelligence for Mainframe Environments.

So what are the threats keeping CISOs awake at night?  Based on the study sophisticated external threats were identified by 40% of security leaders as their top concerns. Expect the extra budget to be thrown at these threats, which will require the most organizational effort over the next three to five years, as much as regulations, new technologies, and internal threats combined, according to the IBM analysts.

Although a majority of the CISOs surveyed appear confident their mature, traditional technologies that focus on network intrusion prevention, advanced malware detection, and network vulnerability scanning will fend off outside threats, nearly half reported that deploying new security technology is the top focus area for their organization. Their top worries: data leakage, cloud security, and mobile/device security.

Some other interesting findings from the survey:

  • While concern over cloud security remains strong, still close to 90% of respondents have adopted cloud or are currently planning cloud initiatives. Of this group, most expect their cloud security budget to increase dramatically over the next three to five years.
  • Over 70% of security leaders said real-time security intelligence is increasingly important to their organization. Yet about half found areas such as data classification and discovery and security intelligence analytics have relatively low maturity and require improvement or transformation.
  • Not surprisingly, despite the growing mobile workforce, only 45% believe they have an effective mobile device management approach. According to the study, mobile and device security ranked at the bottom of the maturity list.

Although your data center provides a tempting target to attackers, it also can protect you with an effective counter-punch. That counter-punch is delivered through increasingly powerful and fast analytics, especially real-time analytics. The objective is to identify attacks as they are underway. Otherwise, you are left scrambling to close the proverbial barn door after the horses (data) have left.

This will entail systems that identify who did what and when, recognizing what’s normal behavior versus abnormal, and obtaining visibility into subtle connections between millions of data points. This requires a great deal of contextual data and the analytical means to make sense of it. And here is where you come in: your team needs to integrate mainframe data with distributed events to gain insights that apply to the entire enterprise.

In fact, IBM identifies a series of issues that put the mainframe squarely at the heart of the challenge and the solution:

  • Complexity: The mainframe is an integral component of multiple, often large and complex business services, making it difficult to identify and analyze threats.
  • Visibility: Mainframe processes, procedures and reports are often siloed, impeding cross-enterprise information sharing to combat threats. (But silos also help protect mainframe data—be selective in breaking down the silos.)
  • Compliance: Verification of compliance is frequently a manual task—with problem alerts all too often received only after a problem has occurred.
  • Cost: Mainframe management requires highly skilled administrators, who often are costly and in short supply.

You already have many of the solutions IBM recommends, like RACF, CA-Top Secret, and CA-ACF2. The mainframe security paper cited above covers the rest. Given what happened to Sony, it’s worth reading the paper closely.

Best wishes for the holidays. DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. You can follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Check out more of my IT writing and analysis at Technologywriter.com and here.

Syncsort Leverages zIIP to Reduce Mainframe Costs

December 11, 2014

Last month Syncsort released two related products, the ZPSaver Suite and MFX Sort for z/OS, release 2.1. Both maximize the use of the System z’s zIIP co-processor to enable mainframe shops to reduce monthly software charges.

syncsort zpsaver High_Res Syncsort_Blog_ZPSaver[1]

 There are a handful of proven ways z data centers can save money, which DancingDinsosaur covers periodically:

  1. Reducing CPU usage, particularly peak software workloads
  2. Leveraging low cost assist processor MIPS, which reduces the amount of GP MIPS you need to acquire
  3. Rationalizing , consolidating, or reducing the overall amount of software you run

The new Syncsort tool plays to points 1 and 2. Citing reports from various customers, a mainframe shop reported saving 17 MSU in one month, which translates into savings of about $250k over the year. Please note: Syncsort was unable to connect DancingDinosaur with any users to validate the savings.

MFX 2.1 forms the foundation of the ZPSaver Suite, which also includes ZPCopy and ZPCompress. The first sends copy processing to the zIIP; the second directs compression processing to the zIIP.  Together, these allow the mainframe data center to remove COPY and SMS compression workloads from the GP processor and run them on zIIP engines. Reportedly, there is no degradation in performance and possibly even potential improvements.

With assist processors like the zIIP, IBM in effect sells discounted mainframe MIPS. In addition, workloads running on assist processors are not included in monthly workload charges, further adding to the potential savings. In short, you are able to replace billable GP cycles with already discounted zIIP processor cycles. Savvy mainframe data center managers can plan to purchase fewer full priced GP MIPS by deploying more assist processors and direct more workloads to them. This reduces the workload on the core GP processors from the start. By replacing GP processor MIPS with assist processor MIPS the organization can acquire the same overall number of MIPS at a lower acquisition cost while saving more money each month though lower fees. The trick, of course, is to redirect the workloads to the assist processor.

Syncsort MFX also promises to effectively reduce Copy and SMS Compression for those tasks up to 90%. This also has the potential to improve SLA compliance the company reports. Again, DancingDinosaur has not yet been able to connect with actual users to validate this.

Sort functions and compression have been part z/OS almost since the beginning. IBM offers its own sort and compress functionality. Syncsort didn’t invent sort and compress; they just architected the functions to work with the zIIP.  They should work as expected with the most noticeable change coming in the monthly software charge, which is where you want to see it.

Many z/OS shops also rely heavily on the COPY function during data transformation. According to Syncsort, a good percentage of its customers actually had more COPY executions than SORTs, making it an area ideally suited for zIIP offload.  Syncsort also decided to include its DASD Parallel Access Volume (PAV) support to improve the elapsed time of these COPY applications as well as reduce the billable CPU time. The result: a reported 90% reduction in CPU time for COPY applications by offloading that workload to a zIIP engine. If the input and output for these COPY applications, the company continues, are on DASD devices, its PAV support will reduce the elapsed time by 25%.

Mainframe SMS compression initially was created when storage was far more expensive than it is today. Still according to Syncsort, five out of six z/OS customers today continue as heavy users of SMS compression.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Find him on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Or read more of his IT analysis and reporting at www.Technologywriter.com and here.

New IBM Initiatives Speed System z to Hybrid Cloud and IoT

November 20, 2014

Cloud computing, especially hybrid cloud computing, is going mainstream. Same is happening with the Internet of Things (IoT).  For mainframe shops unsure of how to get there IBM promises to speed the journey with the two recent initiatives.

Let’s start with hybrid clouds and the z. As IBM describes it, enterprises will continue to derive value from the existing investments in IT infrastructure while looking to the cloud to bolster business agility. The upshot: organizations increasingly are turning to hybrid clouds to obtain the best of both worlds by linking on-premises IT infrastructure to public cloud.

To that end, IBM has designed and tested various use cases around enterprise hybrid architecture involving System z and SoftLayer. These use cases focus on the relevant issues of security, application performance, and potential business cost.

One scenario introduces the cloud as an opportunity to enrich enterprise business services running on the z with external functionality delivered from the cloud.

hybrid use case

Here a retail payment system [click graphic to enlarge] is enriched with global functionality from a loyalty program that allows the consumer to accumulate points. It involves the z and its payment system, a cloud-based loyalty program, and the consumer using a mobile phone.

The hybrid cloud allows the z data center to maintain control of key applications and data in order to meet critical business service level agreements and compliance requirements while tapping the public cloud for new capabilities, business agility, or rapid innovation and shifting expenditure from CAPEX to OPEX.

Since the z serves as the data backbone for many critical applications it makes sense to connect on-premises System z infrastructure with an off-premises cloud environment. In its paper IBM suggests the hybrid architecture should be designed in a way that gives the businesses the flexibility to put their workloads and data where it makes most sense, mixing the right blend of public and private cloud services. And, of course, it also must ensure data security and performance. That’s why you want the z there.

To get started check out the uses cases IBM provides, like the one above. Already a number of organizations are trying the IBM hybrid cloud: Macy’s, Whirlpool, Daimler, and Sicoss Group. Overall, nearly half of IBM’s top 100 strategic outsourcing clients already implementing cloud solutions with IBM as they transition to a hybrid cloud model.

And if hybrid cloud isn’t enough to keep you busy, it also is time to start thinking about the IoT. To make it easier last month the company announced the IBM Internet of Things Foundation, an extension of Bluemix. Like Bluemix, this is a cloud service that, as IBM describes it, makes it possible for a developer to quickly extend an Internet-connected device such as a sensor or controller into the cloud, build an application alongside the device to collect the data, and send real-time insights back to the developer’s business. That data can be analyzed on the z too, using Hadoop on zLinux, which you read about here a few weeks ago.

IoT should be nothing new to System z shops. DancingDinosaur discussed it this past summer here. Basically it’s the POS or ATM network on steroids with orders on magnitude more complexity. IDC estimates that by 2020 there will be as many as 28 billion autonomous IoT devices installed. Today it estimates there are nine billion.

Between the cloud, hybrid clouds, and IoT, z data centers will have a lot to keep them busy. But with IBM’s new initiatives in both areas you can get simple, highly secure and powerful application access to the cloud, IoT devices, and data. With the IoT Foundation you can rapidly compose applications, visualization dashboards and mobile apps that can generate valuable insights when linked with back office enterprise applications like those on the z.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT writer/analyst. You can follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Also check out my other IT writing at Technologywriter.com and here.

Compuware Aims for Mainframe Literacy in CIOs

November 13, 2014

Many IT professionals, especially younger ones, are clueless about the mainframe. Chris O’Malley, president of the mainframe business at Compuware, has met CIOs who are versed in everything about IT and have seemingly done everything there is with computers, but “they are not literate about the mainframe.” That means the mainframe never comes to mind. IBM could give away a zEnterprise for free, which it comes close to doing today through the System z Solution Edition program and these CIOs would ignore it. O’Malley wants to address that.

compuware MainframeExcellence2025_cover

In response, Compuware is following the path of the IBM System z Academic Initiative, but without the extensive global involvement of colleges and universities, with a program called Mainframe Excellence 2025, which it describes as a generational call for strategic platform stewardship. “We’re also trying to debunk a lot of issues around the mainframe,” O’Malley continues.

compuware O'Malley headshot

Chris O’Malley, Pres. Mainframe, Compuware

Compuware refers to Mainframe Excellence 2025 as a manifesto, something of a call to arms for millennials to storm the IT gates and liberate IT management from enslavement to x86 computing. Somehow DancingDinosaur doesn’t see it happening exactly that way; it envisions coexistence and synergy.

Most of the Mainframe Excellence document goes over ground DancingDinosaur and many others have covered before. It is delightful, however, to see others refreshing the arguments. And, the document adds some interesting data. For instance, over 1.15 million CICS transactions are executed on System z every second of every day! That’s more than all Google searches, YouTube views, Facebook likes, and Twitter tweets combined.

It also pays homage to what it refers to as the mainframe’s culture of excellence. It characterizes this culture by rigorous adherence to a standard of excellence demonstrably higher than that associated with other platforms, notably x86. IT organizations actually expect, accept, and plan for problems and patches in other platforms (think Microsoft Patch Tuesday). Mainframe professionals, on the other hand, have zero-tolerance for downtime and system failures and the mainframe generally lives up to those high expectations.

Ironically, the document points out that the culture of excellence has created a certain chasm between mainframe professionals and the rest of IT. In fact, this ingrained zero-failure culture of the mainframe community—including both vendors and enterprise IT staffs—can sometimes put it at odds with the very spirit of innovation that allows the mainframe to deliver the repeated advances in price/performance and new capabilities that consistently produce tremendous value.

Compuware concludes its report with an action checklist:

  • Fully inventory existing mainframe data, applications (including business rules), capacity, utilization/MSUs and management tools, a veritable trove a value embedded in mainframe code and business rules.
  • Build a fact-based skills plan with a realistic timeline.
  • Ramp up current and road-mapped mainframe capabilities.
  • Rightsize investments in mainframe application stewardship.
  • Institute an immediate moratorium on short-term cost-cutting that carries long-term negative consequences.
  • Combat denial and hype in regards to non-mainframe platform capabilities, costs and risks.

And Compuware’s final thought should give encouragement to all those who must respond to the mainframe-costs-too-much complaint:  IT has a long history of under-estimating real TCO and marginal costs for new platforms while over-estimating their benefits. A more sober assessment of these platforms will make the strategic value and economic advantages of the mainframe much more evident in comparison.

Compuware certainly is on the right track with Mainframe Excellence 2025. Would like, however, to see the company coordinate its efforts with the System z Academic Initiative, the Master the Mainframe effort, and such.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT writer/analyst. You can follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Also check out my other IT writing at Technologywriter.com and here.


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