Posts Tagged ‘zManager’

Technology Change is Coming for the zBX

November 1, 2013

The zBX hasn’t been subject to much in the way of big new announcements this year.  Maybe the most obvious was a quiet announcement that the zBX would connect to the zBC12, the newest System z machine announced early in the summer. Buried deeply in that July announcement was that starting in Sept. 2013 you could attach the IBM zBX Model 003 to the new machine. Machines older than the zEC12 would need the zBX Model 002.

At Enterprise 2013, however, the zBX managed to grab a little of the spotlight in a session by Harv Emery titled IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension Model 3 and Model 2 Deep Dive Update. OK, it’s not exactly a riveting title, but Emery’s 60 slides were packed with far more detail than can possibly fit here.

To summarize:  a slew of software and firmware updates will be coming through the end of this year and into 2014. Similarly, starting next year and beyond, IBM will begin to stop marketing older zBX hardware and eventually stop supporting the older stuff.  This is standard IBM practice; what makes it surprising is the realization that the zBX no longer is the new kid on the scene. PureSystems in their various iterations are the sexy newcomer.  As of the end of last year somewhat over 200 z hybrid units (zBX cabinets) had been sold along with considerably more blades. Again, PureSystems are IBM’s other hybrid platform.

Still, as Emery pointed out, new zBX functionality continues to roll out. This includes:

  • CPU management for x86 blades
  • Support for Windows 12, and current LDP OS releases
  • GDPS automated site recovery for zBX
  • Ensemble Availability Manager for improved monitoring and reporting
  • Support for Layer 2 communications
  • An IBM statement of direction (SOD) on support for next generation DataPower Virtual Appliance XI52
  • Support for next generation hardware technologies in the zBX
  • zBX firmware currency
  • A stand-alone zBX node to preserve the investment
  • Bolstered networking including a new BNT Virtual Fabric 10 GbE Switch
  • zBX integrated hypervisor for IBM System x blades and running KVM

Emery also did a little crystal balling about future capabilities, relying partly on recent IBM SODs. These include:

  • Support of zBX with the next generation server
  • New technology configuration extensions in the zBX
  • CEC and zBX continued investment in the virtualization and management capabilities for hybrid computing environment
  • Enablement of Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) for Cloud
  • Unified Resource Manager improvements and extensions for guest mobility
  • More monitoring instrumentation
  • Autonomic management functions
  • Integration with the STG Portfolio
  • Continued efforts by zEnterprise and STG to leverage the Tivoli portfolio to deliver enterprise-wide management capabilities across all STG systems

DancingDinosaur periodically has been asked questions about how to handle storage for the zBX and the blades it contains.  Emery tried to address some of those.  Certain blades, DataPower for example, now come with their own storage and don’t need to any outside storage on the host z.  Through the top of the rack switch in the zBX you can connect to a distributed SAN.

Emery also noted the latest supported storage devices.  Supported IBM storage products as of Sept. 2013 include: DS3400, 3500, 3950, 4100, 4200, 4700 4800, 5020, 5100, 5300, 6000, 8100, 8300, 8700, 8800, SVC 2145, XIV, 2105, 2107, and Storwize v7000. Non-IBM storage is possible but you or you’re the OEM storage vendor will have to figure it out.

Finally, Emery made numerous references to Unified Resource Manager (or zManager, although it manages more than z) for the zBX and Flex System Manager for PureSystems.  Right now IBM tries to bridge the two systems with higher level management from Tivoli.  Another possibility, Emery hinted, is OpenStack to unify hybrid management. Sounds very intriguing, especially given IBM’s announced intention to make extensive use of OpenStack. Is there an interoperable OpenStack version of Unified Resource Manager and Flex System Manager in the works?

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

IBM z196/zBX Backup

February 28, 2011

One of the hallmarks of the System z and the mainframes before it has been their rock solid backup and recovery. The arrival of the hybrid System zEnterprise (z196/zBX) combining different operating systems and platforms, both virtual and physical machines, has the potential to make the backup and recovery process a little messy.

In a presentation titled zEnterprise System 196 Overview IBM takes up the question of backup and recovery in just one slide, #23. Its recommendation: a parallel sysplex or geographically dispersed parallel sysplex (GDPS).  That’s basically buying a second system and replicating between them. It is a good solution but it isn’t inexpensive.

Bill Reeder, who handles enterprise sales and strategy for Linux on z at IBM, confirmed the parallel sysplex and GDPS recommendation and went on to note that tape backup, once the mainframe backup mainstay, remained a commonly used option. High availability clusters provide yet another option for Linux on z, he noted, especially when operating stateful servers. If you are running stateless, you don’t even need high availability to resume operations.

Much also depends on what level of backup and recovery you are concerned about. IBM already offers a number of data management products that provide recovery capabilities and are not affected by the presence of the zEnterprise. As software tools these products apply to a zEnterprise configuration just as they do to loosely coupled distributed systems. If the backup concerns revolve around the backup and restoration of server hardware configurations and firmware recovery then the zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager (referred to a zManager) handles it.

JD Williams, an early adopter of the z196, runs the machine primarily for Java and WebSphere applications and image and video serving. Check out the JD Williams case study here. In terms of backup and recovery, the company takes a traditional approach using an ATL to handle regular backups to cartridge. In addition, copies of the tapes are sent off site to a 3rd party storage company. Should it need to recover the z, the cartridges are sent to its DR site (another 3rd party) to begin the recovery process.

However, the company also runs a z10 as well as a z196. This opens new backup and recovery opportunities. “We will be looking at the role of both the z196 and z10 with a view to a failover capability,” says Jeff Cattle, head of the company’s computer service. This probably will begin take shape later this year and into next year when the company reviews its third party DR contracts.

The z196/zBX backup issue recently flared up on a LinkedIn discussion. At one point David Boyes, key developer of the openSolaris on z project, now IllumOS on z, weighed in with a completely different take on the zEnterprise DR issue. His suggestion is to leverage the zEnterprise, especially the zBX, by tapping a hypervisor like VSphere 4 (or even Xen) and take advantage of mobility to move external virtual machine systems to a zBX for DR. “In one stroke, that gets you supported Linux, Solaris x86, and Windows workloads that can be Vmotioned directly into the zBX box (plus the Power workloads). Now you’ve got a very flexible DR platform.”  Sure, simple as pie.

For years companies opted for the mainframe because of its extremely high resiliency and its rock solid backup and recovery. With the zEnterprise that hasn’t changed except that it does open some new DR possibilities to think about.


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