Posts Tagged ‘zIIP’

BMC MainView for Java Manages Critical Digital Business

May 16, 2016

A large European financial services firm increasingly handles a lot of critical transaction functions with Java running through CICS and WebSphere.  As the firm looks forward, its managers see Java playing a bigger and more critical role in its core business as it shifts more of its business functionality to agile programming in Java. This firm is not even thinking about abandoning its workhorse COBOL code ever, but all new work is being directed to Java.

bmc mainview java 2

With that in mind, BMC last week announced MainView for Java Environments, part of BMC’s MainView integrated systems management suite of tools that provides insight into how Java is consuming resources and affecting application performance on the z System.  It is no surprise, therefore, that the firm became an early beta user for MainView for Java Environments.

According to a BMC survey, 93% of mainframe organizations in a recent BMC survey said Java usage is growing or steady, and Java is the language of choice for writing new or rewriting existing mainframe applications. BMC MainView for Java Environments provides insight into Java resource usage and how it impacts other workloads and applications. For example it automatically discovers all the Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) across z/OS. That alone can help with identifying performance problems in an effort to find and fix problems fast.

Java is the key to both performance and cost savings by running on zIIP assist processors. Java workloads, however, can affect performance and availability on the mainframe, as they consume system resources without regard for the needs of other applications or services, which is another reason why zIIP is essentially. Also, an integrated management approach gives IT operations a holistic view of the environment to quickly and easily discover Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) and to manage the effect of their resource consumption on application performance.

Java was the first object oriented programming language DancingDinosaur tried.  Never got good enough to try it on real production work, but here’s what made it appealing: fully object oriented, produces truly portable write-once, run-anywhere code (mainly because it results in Java virtual machine bytecode) and had automatic garbage collection. For a run-of-the-mill programmer, Java was a joy compared to C or, ugh, COBOL. Some of the new languages becoming popular today, the ones driving mobile and cloud and analytics apps look even easier, but DancingDinosaur would feel too embarrassed to sit in a programming class with twenty-somethings the age of his daughters.

Java usage today, according to the BMC survey, is growing or steady, while Java has become the language of choice for writing new or rewriting existing mainframe applications. The only drawback may be that Java workloads can affect performance and resource availability on the mainframe as JVMs consume system resources oblivious to the needs of other applications or services or the cost of uncontrolled resource consumption, which is what Java unrestrained produces. An integrated management approach that allows for a holistic view of the environment can quickly and easily discover JVMs and manage can constrain the effects on resource consumption on application performance and offset any drawback.

Explained Tim Grieser, program vice president, at IDC’s Enterprise System Management Software: “Since Java manages its own resources it can consume excessive amounts of processor time and memory resources leading to performance or availability problems if not proactively managed.” The key being proactively managed.  BMC’s MainView for Java Environments promises exactly that kind of proactive management by monitoring z/OS Java runtime environments and provides a consolidated view of all resources being consumed. This will enable system admins and operators to identify and manage performance issues before they impact end users.

“Java on the mainframe is being used to develop and deploy new applications faster and more economically to meet dynamically changing digital business needs and to take advantage of widely available programming skills” IDC’s Grieser continued. Something like BMC’s MainView for Java Environments can be used to constrain Java. IBM’s Omegamon can fulfill a similar function.

According to the financial firm beta test manager, with BMC’s MainView for Java Environments tool, Java can be effectively used to unlock Java’s potential on the mainframe  vital in a changing application and systems environment as part of an integrated performance management solution that discovers and monitors JVMs. As such, it provides a single graphical console which enables you  to quickly understand the Java applications impact on resources and its effect on the performance of other applications and transactions. The solution promises to improve application performance and ensure availability while reducing Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and lowering Monthly License Charges (MLC) by monitoring zIIP offloading, which is the key to both performance and cost management.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst and writer and occasional wanna-be programmer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at and here.


Exploiting the IBM z13 for Maximum Price/Performance Advantage

February 4, 2016

The z13 is the most powerful general purpose computer IBM has ever made. The key to capturing the maximum value from the z13, however, lies in how you plan, design, configure, and optimize your systems and software for everything from COBOL and Java to process parallelization and analytics. What you do in this regard will have significant impact on not only the price/performance you experience but on your success at achieving the business outcomes you are expecting.

z13-under the covers

IBM System z13

This really becomes a software configuration challenge. By tapping approximately 600 internal processors IBM already has optimized the hardware, input, output, memory, and networking/communications about as much as it can be. Your job is to optimize the software you are running, which will require working closely with your ISV.

The place to start is by leveraging the z13’s new compiler technology, parallelism, zIIP and assist processors. This will enable you to save significant money while boosting workload performance. You will literally be doing more for less.

Similarly, in the not too distant past Moore’s Law would virtually guarantee a 15-20% price/performance gain automatically just by taking a new machine out of the box and plugging it in. That’s no longer the case. Now you will have to partner with your ISV to exploit advanced software to maximize the hardware payback and continue the ride along the favorable Moore’s Law price/performance slope.

Then look at the latest COBOL V5.x and its compiler on the z13. Out of the box it is better optimized than previous compilers. In general, the strategic value of COBOL V5.x comes from migrating high CPU usage programs as quickly as possible, effectively saving organizations considerable money by running optimized code.

Some organizations report a 15% on average reduction of CPU time, which adds up to significant savings in monthly CPU charges. How significant? Up to $150k less on a $1 million bill, with some reporting even higher percentage reductions producing even greater savings. Just migrate to COBOL V5.2 (or at least V5.1) to achieve the savings. In general, staying on the software curve with the latest releases of the OS, languages, and compilers with applications optimized for them is the best way to ensure your workloads are achieving top performance in the most cost-effective way.

For example, the new z13 processor leverages a new Vector Facility for certain COBOL statements and expands the use of Decimal Floating Point Facility for packed decimal calculations. Well-structured, compute-intensive batch applications running on z13 and compiled with the Enterprise COBOL V5.2  compiler have shown CPU reduction usage of up to 14% over the same applications running on zEC12 (compiled with the GA release of Enterprise COBOL V5.1), according to IBM. The result: improved workload price/performance.

Enterprise COBOL V5.2 also includes new features to improve programmability, developer productivity, and application modernization. Supporting JSON, for instance, will provide mobile applications easy access to data and the processing they need from business critical production applications written in COBOL.

The z13 and its z sister, the latest LinuxONE dedicated Linux models, were designed and optimized from the start for cloud, mobile, and analytics. They were intended to run alongside traditional mainframe workloads with z/OS or Linux running on the appropriate models.

Finally, plan to take advantage of the new assist processors and expanded memory capacity to further boost performance and lower cost. With the z13, there is a mandatory migration of all zAAP-enabled applications to zIIP. Expect the usage of the zIIP assist processors to surge when all those Java applications move from the zAAP.  ISVs like Compuware should be able to help with this.  In addition, if you enable SMT on the z13, you’ll immediately get more Java capacity.  Applications that run under IBM WebSphere (WAS) on z/OS will benefit too.

The z13 and especially the LinuxONE are breaking new ground. IBM has established, in conjunction with the Linux Foundation, an Open Mainframe Project to support and advance ongoing open source Linux innovation on the mainframe. IBM also is breaking with its traditional mainframe pricing model by offering a pay-per-use option in the form of a fixed monthly payment with costs scaling up or down based on usage. It also offers per-core pricing with software licenses for designated cores. See DancingDinosaur here.

An upcoming DancingDinosaur will look at more of the enhancements being added to these machines, including some of the latest LinuxOne enhancements like support for Google’s Go language and Cloudant’s NoSQL services. The message: the new z System can take you to the places you will want to be in this emerging cloud-mobile-analytics era.

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


Compuware and BMC Aim to Lower Mainframe Cost

July 9, 2015

Last February, Compuware and BMC announced a joint initiative to coordinate the use of their respective tools, BMC Cost Analyzer, BMC MainView, and Compuware Strobe, to reduce mainframe software licensing cost. DancingDinosaur wrote about it here. The announcement made this week confirms that the necessary integration between the various tools has been completed and is working as promised. Compuware this month also introduced the latest rev of its Topaz graphical management toolset for the z.

compuware topaz screen

Compuware Topaz visual management screen (click to enlarge)

The tight integration between the BMC and Compuware tools enables mainframe staff to quickly and easily identify tuning opportunities that will have the greatest impact on their monthly software licensing costs. They do this by applying BMC Cost Analyzer’s visual mapping to the detailed batch and transaction information provided by Compuware Strobe. The cost savings result from moving workloads to non-peak periods, running IBM subsystems on fewer LPARs, and capping LPAR utilization.

Driving the need for this is the continuing growth of mainframe workloads, which are being pushed today by mobile workloads and, down the road, by new IoT workloads. These workloads already are driving up the Monthly License Charge (MLC) for IBM mainframe software, which led IBM to initiate z/OS discounts for mobile workloads on the z as well as introduce its new ICAP and country multiplex pricing. Compuware estimates that the integrated tools alone can reduce an organization’s mainframe software licensing costs by 10% or more.

“Mainframe cost conservation is an imperative for public- and private-sector IT organizations attempting to fulfill customers’ escalating digital expectations within ever-limited budget constraints,” said Karen Robinson, a former CIO and now a consultant. “The work BMC and Compuware are doing together is a perfect fit for this universal imperative.”

Besides discounting mobile workloads, IBM also has been actively working to help organizations drive down mainframe costs in other ways. Moving workloads to z assist processors is a top choice. Another is to take advantage of a variety of IBM discounts; DancingDinosaur’s favorite is the Solution Edition program, which offers the deepest discounts if you can live with the constraints it imposes. And, of course using tools like those from Compuware and BMC can save money every month. At a time when mainframe workloads are growing—Did someone say the mainframe was going away?—this is a sure path to relief.

Compuware made a second announcement impacting the mainframe this month. This involved adding capabilities to Topaz, its set of graphical z management tools aimed at millennial workers. The new capabilities address Java on the z, which is a key way to cash in on the savings available by shifting workloads to z assist processors, specifically the zIIP. The announcement is here. Again, DancingDinosaur initially wrote about Topaz earlier this year here.

As Compuware describes it, Topaz for Java Performance delivers comprehensive visibility into the performance and behavior of Java batch programs and WebSphere transactions running on the mainframe—including peak CPU utilization of specific Java methods and classes; garbage collection issues such as memory leaks and excessively long collection intervals; and threads that are blocked or not actually doing useful work.

According to Tonya Robison, VP Legacy Integrations, Conversion, De-commission at Alfa Insurance:  “Topaz is enabling us for a multi-channel, multi-platform future. Its functionality will allow us to work with mainframe and non-mainframe data in a common, visual, and intuitive manner, providing our next-gen developers the same agility and speed as our seasoned IT pros.” Robison is convinced that “products like Topaz will protect our current investments and enable the next generation of application developers.” These are the millennials everyone is trying to attract to the mainframe.

The new release of Topaz, the third this year alone, delivers two capabilities that enhance customers’ ability to maximize value from their mainframe:

  1. Topaz for Program Analysis gives developers intuitive, accurate visibility into the flow of data within their COBOL or PL/l applications—including how data gets into a field; how that field is used to set other fields; and how that field is used in comparisons. This promises to be especially useful for Millennials who may not have a wealth of experience with IBM z Systems.
  1. Topaz for Enterprise Data brings high-speed, compression-enabled host-to-host data copying that exploits IBM z Systems zIIP processors, thus reducing the burden on its general processors. This fast, efficient copying enables developers to complete their work more quickly and at less cost.

Efforts of Compuware, BMC, and others are rapidly changing the mainframe into an agile platform that can rival distributed platforms. Let’s hope the Millennials notice.

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

Rocket z/SQL Accesses Non-SQL Mainframe Data

August 2, 2013

Rocket Software’s z/SQL enables access to non-SQL mainframe data using standard SQL commands and queries.  The company is offering a z/SQL free trial; you can install it no charge and get full access for as many users as you want. The only caveat, the free version is limited to three files. You can download the free trial here.

z/SQL will run SQL queries against any data source that speaks ANSI 92. “The tool won’t even know it is running relational data,” explained Gregg Willhoit, managing director of the Rocket Data Lab. That means you can run it against VSAM, IMS, Adabas, DB2 for z/OS, and physical sequential files.  In addition, you can use z/SQL to make real-time SQL queries directly to mainframe programs, including CICS TS, IMS TM, CA IDMS, and Natural.

By diverting up to 99% of processing-intensive data mapping and transformation from the mainframe’s CPU to the zIIP, z/SQL lowers MIPS capacity usage and its associated costs, effectively reducing TCO. And, it opens up the zIIP to extend programs and systems of record data to the full range of environments noted above.

z/SQL’s ability to automatically detect the presence of the z’s zIIP assist processor allows it to apply its patent pending technology to further boost the zIIP’s performance advantages.  The key attributes of the zIIP processor—low  cost,  speeds often greater than the speed of the mainframe engines (sub-capacity mainframe license), and its typical low utilization—are fully exploited by z/SQL for lowering a mainframe shop’s  TCO while providing for an accelerated ROI.

Rocket z/SQL is built on Metal C, a z/OS compiler option that provides C-language extensions allowing you to specify assembly statements that call system services directly. The DRDA support and the ANSI 92 SQL engine have been developed using what amounts to a new language that allows even more of z/SQL’s work to continue to run on the zIIP.  One of the key features in Metal C is allowing z/SQL to optimize its code paths for the hardware that it’s running on.  So, no matter if you’re running on older z9 or z10 or the latest zEC12 and zBC12 processors, z/SQL chooses the code path most optimized for your hardware.

With z/SQL you can expand your System z analytics effort and push a wider range of mainframe data analytics to near real time.  Plus, the usual ETL and all of its associated disadvantages are no longer a factor.  As such z/SQL promises to be a disruptive technology that eliminates the need for ETL while pushing the analytics to where the data resides as opposed to ETL, which must bring the data to the analytics.  The latter, noted Willhoit, is fraught with performance and data currency issues.

It’s not that you couldn’t access non-SQL data before z/SQL, but it was more cumbersome and slower.  You would have to replicate data, often via FTP to something like Excel. Rocket, instead, relies on assembler to generate an optimized SQL engine for the z9, z10, z196, zEC12, and now the zBC12.  With z/SQL the process is remarkably simple: no replication, no rewriting of code, just recompile. It generates the optimized assembler (so no assembler work required on your part).

Query performance, reportedly, is quite good.  This is due, in part, because it is written in assembler, but also because it takes advantage of the z’s multi-threading. It reads the non-relational data source with one thread and uses a second thread to process the network I/O.  This parallel I/O architecture for data promises game changing performance, especially for big data, through significant parallelism of network and database I/O.  It also takes full advantage of the System z hardware by using buffer pools and large frames, essentially eliminating dynamic address translation.

z/SQL brings its own diagnostic capabilities, providing a real-time view into transaction threads with comprehensive trace/browse capabilities for diagnostics.  It enables a single, integrated approach to identifying, diagnosing and correcting data connectivity issues between distributed ODBC, ADO.NET, and JDBC client drivers and mainframes. Similarly z/SQL provides dynamic load balancing and a virtual connection facility that reduces the possibility of application failures, improves application availability and performance, as well as supports virtually unlimited concurrent users and transaction rates, according to the company. Finally, it integrates with mainframe RACF, CA-TopSecret, and CA-ACF2 as well as SSL and client-side, certificate-based authentication on distributed platforms. z/SQL fully participates in the choreography of SSL between the application platform and the mainframe.

By accessing mainframe programs and data stored in an array of relational and non-relational formats z/SQL lets you leave mainframe data in place, on the z where it belongs, and avoids the cost and risk of replication or migration. z/SQL becomes another way to turn the z into an enterprise analytics server for both SQL and non-SQL data.

Rocket calls z/SQL the world’s most advanced mainframe access and integration software. A pretty bold statement that begs to be proven through data center experience. Test it in your data center for free.  As noted above, you can download the free trial here. If you do, please let me know how it works out. (Promise it won’t be publicized here.)

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.

Bye Bye zPrime on System z

June 6, 2011

Just before court action in Texas was scheduled to ramp up, Neon gave up the battle for zPrime. It issued the following statement May 31:

 NEON zPrime to be withdrawn

AUSTIN, Texas – May 31, 2011 – NEON Enterprise Software, LLC today announced it has settled its legal dispute with IBM and will immediately withdraw zPrime from the market. Pursuant to the terms of a permanent injunction, NEON and its distribution partners and affiliates will no longer market, sell, license (including any renewal or extension of any existing license), install, distribute, export, import, offer to sell, offer to license, offer to install, offer to distribute, offer to export or offer to import zPrime.

The U.S. District Court has ruled that (1) only workloads expressly authorized by IBM may be processed on Specialty Engines (including zIIPs and zAAPs) and (2) IBM’s contracts, including the IBM Customer Agreement and the License Agreement for Machine Code, prohibit software (a) that enables workloads not expressly authorized by IBM to be processed on Specialty Engines or (b) that circumvents IBM’s technological measures in Machine Code that protect the Built-in Capacity of Specialty Engines and enables workloads not expressly authorized by IBM to be processed on Specialty Engines. Neon has agreed to a permanent injunction under which it will withdraw zPrime from the market and request that licensees and customers remove and destroy their copies of zPrime. Neon will not renew, extend or transfer any existing zPrime license or any warranty, maintenance or service period of any existing zPrime license (or any portion thereof).

Other NEON products are not affected by this settlement.

In the interest of anything that helps lower the cost of mainframe computing DancingDinosaur has covered zPrime repeatedly, starting in Oct. 2009 and even referencing it as recently as this past March in reference to J.D. Williams use of specialty processors on the z196.

Earlier this spring DancingDinosaur spoke directly with the data center manager of a z10 shop with two zIIPs. He reported that the software licensing savings that resulted from shifting software, authorized and UNauthorized, from the System z general processor to the zIIP were stunning, around $900 million Euros each year.

The System z specialty engines have long been a proven way of lowering mainframe costs. DancingDinosaur has reported on it previously, most recently here with J.D. Williams’  strategy to reduce the number of z196 MIPS the company needed to purchase. As the British web retailer discovered, the z196 specialty engines represent a considerable bargain in terms of MIPS delivered for the dollar compared with the specialty engines provided for the z9 or z10. By shifting authorized workloads to the specialty engines, J.D. Williams could buy a z196 for about the price of a comparably powered z10.

The z196 pricing story should be improving later this year when IBM introduces smaller, lower priced business class versions of the machine. Shortly after, you should expect System z Solution Edition bundles including the z196, again at deeply discounted prices for qualifying new z workloads.

BMC Tools for DB2 10 Drive z/OS Savings

April 25, 2011

This month BMC announced the upgrading of 23 tools for managing DB2 10 databases running on System z9, z10, and zEnterprise/z196.  When IBM introduced DB2 10 in 2010 it implied the database would reduce costs and optimize performance. Certainly running it on the z10 or the z196 with the latest zIIP engine would do both, but BMC’s updated tools make it easier to capture and expand those benefits.

IBM estimated 5-10% improvement in CPU performance out-of-the box. BMC’s solutions for DB2 10 for z/OS will help IT organizations further maximize cost savings as well as enhance the performance of their applications and databases by much as a 20% improvement if you deploy using their upgraded tools.

These DB2 improvements, which IBM refers to as operational efficiencies, revolve mainly around reducing CPU usage. This is possible because, as IBM explains it, DB2 10 optimizes processor times and memory access, leveraging the latest processor improvements, increased memory, and z/OS enhancements. Improved scalability and a reduced virtual storage constraint add to the savings. Continued productivity improvements for database and systems administrators can drive even more savings.

The key to the improvements may lie in your ability to fully leverage the zIIP assist processor. The zIIP co-processors take over some of the processing from the main CPU, saving money for those organizations that pay for their systems by MIPS (million instructions per second).

When IBM introduced version 10 of DB2 for z/OS in 2010, it promised customers that upgrading to this version would boost performance due to DB2’s use of these co-processors. Even greater gains in performance would be possible if the customer also would be willing to do some fine-tuning of the system. This is where the new BMC tools come in; some of tools specifically optimize the use the zIIP co-processors.

Some of BMC’s enhanced capabilities help offload the DB2 workload to the zIIP environment thereby reducing general purpose processor utilization. The amount of processing offloaded to zIIP engines varies. With the new release, for example, up to 80 percent of the data collection work for BMC SQL Performance for DB2 can be offloaded.

The BMC tools also help companies tune application and database performance in other ways that increase efficiency and lower cost. For example, BMC’s SQL Performance Workload Compare Advisor and Workload Index Advisor detect performance issues associated with changes in DB2 environments. Administrators can see the impact of changes before they are implemented, thereby avoiding performance problems.

An early adopter of BMC’s new DB2 10 tools is Florida Hospital, based in Orlando. The hospital, with seven campuses, considers itself the largest hospital in the US, and relies on DB2 running on a z10 to support dozens of clinical and administrative applications. The hospital currently runs a mix of DB2 8 and DB2 10, although it expects to be all DB2 10 within a year.

Of particular value to the hospital is DB2 10 support for temporal data or snapshots of data that let you see data changes over time. This makes it particularly valuable in answering time-oriented questions. Based on that capability, the hospital is deploying a second instance of DB2 10 for its data warehouse, for which it also will take full advantage of BMC’s SQL performance monitoring tools.

But the crowning achievement of the hospital’s data warehouse, says Robert Goodman, lead DBA at Florida Hospital, will be the deployment of IBM’s Smart Analytics Optimizer (SAO) with DB2 10 and the data warehouse. The SAO runs queries in a massively parallel in-memory infrastructure that bolts onto the z10 to deliver extremely fast performance. Watch for more details coming on this development.

DancingDinosuar doesn’t usually look at tool upgrades, but DB2 10, especially when combined with the updated BMC tools, promises to be a game changer. That certainly appears to be the case at Florida Hospital, even before it adds SAO capabilities.

zAAP / zIIP Lower IBM z196 Cost

March 21, 2011

JD Williams, the big UK-based online retailer, was the first IT shop there to put the z196 into production, and central to its decision to buy was the availability of powerful specialty processors. As it turned out, the specialty processors, particularly the zAAP for running Java workloads, delivered sufficient MIPS to allow the company to order fewer general processor MIPS, effectively lowering the cost of the z196. See the full case study here.

The z196 specialty processors deliver 1,200 MIPS each, compared to 580 MIPS for the z9 specialty processors, which JD Williams had run previously. The same number of z196 zAAPs would deliver better than twice the number of specialty processor MIPS than before.

Data center managers assume that the z196 will be way too expensive. However, for organizations that analyze and plan their workloads with the goal of taking maximum advantage of the zIIP and zAAP specialty engines they can, as JD Williams discovered, boost their MIPS while getting a z196 for the cost of a z10.

The z196 was designed to tightly integrate with the full set of IBM System z assist processors, which are implemented in microcode on the new machine. JD Williams, from the outset, intended to take full advantage of the specialty processors to run its extensive Java workloads. Given the increased power of the specialty engines, JD Williams didn’t need to purchase as many general processor MIPS, which trimmed the acquisition cost considerably. And, as the company shifted more of the workload to specialty processor MIPS, it also could realize significant software licensing savings.

The initial JD Williams plan called for implementing as many 10 specialty processors.  Since the z196 implements specialty processors through microcode, however, the company could start with just 4 zAAPs, 1 zIIP, 4 IFLs. If it wanted to add another specialty processor later, it could do so easily, without having to add more hardware or central processor MIPS first, as was the case with the z9. In the end, the company bought a 2-book, 28 processor z196 for the same cost as a z10 with comparable aggregate MIPS although they would be distributed differently between specialty and general processors.

The JD Williams experience shows the common assumption that the z196 will be outrageously expensive need not be true. You can juggle the mix of central and specialty processor MIPS to deliver the MIPS you need at the lowest possible price. Of course, you must plan workloads that make effective use of the specialty processors.

In the case of JD Williams those workloads were Java and WebSphere. For other organizations the workloads may be business intelligence, analytics, or Web 2.0. It pays to expand your thinking about what constitutes suitable mainframe workloads today. Between the lower cost specialty processor MIPS and the accompanying software licensing savings, a z196 running diverse workloads might be quite a bargain. And, if you consider running zPrime on the z196 specialty processors you can dramatically increase the amount of workloads you run and substantially boost your software licensing savings.

When the z196 BC models arrive later this year, lower cost models will be available . When the System z Solution Editions for the z196 arrive,  the cost for new workloads will drop again.

Any organization can make the kind of deal JD Williams did. All it takes is planning your workloads to tap the specialty processors and shift cycles off the general processors. You’ll lower your acquisition cost and you’ll lower ongoing software licensing charges. If that’s not enough, throw in zPrime and amplify your savings even more. (In coming weeks DancingDinosaur will report on a zPrime user in Europe that is capturing huge savings in software licensing.)

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