Posts Tagged ‘z/VM’

Syncsort’s 2015 State of the Mainframe: Little Has Changed

November 30, 2015

Syncsort’s annual survey of almost 200 mainframe shops found that 83 percent of respondents cited security and availability as key strengths of the mainframe. Are you surprised? You can view the detailed results here for yourself.

synsort mainframes Role Big Data Ecosystem

Courtesy; Syncsort

Security and availability have been hallmarks of the z for decades. Even Syncsort’s top mainframe executive, Harvey Tessler, could point to little unexpected in the latest results “Nothing surprising. At least no big surprises. Expect the usual reliability, security,” he noted. BTW, in mid-November Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. (Clearlake) announced that it had completed the acquisition of Syncsort Incorporated. Apparently no immediate changes are being planned.

The 2015 study also confirmed a few more recent trends that DancingDinosaur has long suspected. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents cited integration with other standalone computing platforms such as Linux, UNIX, or Windows as a key strength of mainframe.

Similarly, the majority (79 percent) analyze real-time transactional data from the mainframe with a tool that resides directly on the mainframe. That, in fact, may be the most surprising response. Mainframe shops (or more likely the line-of-business managers they work with) are notorious for moving data off the mainframe for analytics, usually to distributed x86 platforms. The study showed respondents are also turning to platforms such as Splunk (11.8 percent), Hadoop (8.6 percent), and Spark (1.6 percent) to supplement their real-time data analysis.

Many of the respondents no doubt will continue to do so, but it makes little sense in 2015 with a modern z System running a current configuration. In truth, it makes little sense from either a performance or a cost standpoint to move data off the z to perform analytics elsewhere. The z runs Hadoop and Spark natively. With your data and key analytics apps already on the z, why bother incurring both the high overhead and high latency entailed in moving data back and forth to run on what is probably a slower platform anyway.

The only possible reason might be that the mainframe shop doesn’t run Linux on the mainframe at all. That can be easily remedied, however, especially now with the introduction of Ubuntu Linux for the z. C’mon, it’s late 2015; modernize your z for the cloud-mobile-analytics world and stop wasting time and resources jumping back and forth to distributed systems that will run natively on the z today.

More encouraging is the interest of the respondents in big data and analytics. “The survey demonstrates that many big companies are using the mainframe as the back-end transaction hub for their Big Data strategies, grappling with the same data, cost, and management challenges they used it to tackle before, but applying it to more complex use cases with more and dauntingly large and diverse amounts of data,” said Denny Yost, associate publisher and editor-in-chief for Enterprise Systems Media, which partnered with Syncsort on the survey. The results show the respondents’ interest in mainframe’s ability to be a hub for emerging big data analytics platforms also is growing.

On other issues, almost one-quarter of respondents ranked as very important the ability of the mainframe to run other computing platforms such as Linux on an LPAR or z/VM virtual machines as a key strength of the mainframe at their company. Over one-third of respondents ranked as very important the ability of the mainframe to integrate with other standalone computing platforms such as Linux, UNIX, or Windows as a key strength of the mainframe at their company.

Maybe more surprising; only 70% on the respondents ranked as very important their organizations use of the mainframe for performing large-scale transaction processing or use of the mainframe for hosting mission-critical applications. Given that the respondents appeared to come from large, traditional mainframe shops you might have expected those numbers to be closer to 85-90%. Go figure.

When asked to rank their organization’s use of the mainframe to supplement or replace non-mainframe servers (i.e. RISC or x86-based servers) just 10% of the respondents considered it important. Clearly the hybrid mainframe-based data center is not a priority with these respondents.

So, what are they looking to improve in the next 12 months? The respondents’ top three initiatives are:

  1. Meeting Security and Compliance Requirements
  2. Reducing CPU usage and related costs
  3. Meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

These aren’t the most ambitious goals DancingDinosaur has ever encountered but they should be quite achievable in 2016.

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

Software Licensing for IBM System z Distributed Linux Middleware

October 10, 2014

DancingDinosaur can’t attend a mainframe conference without checking out at least one session on mainframe software pricing by David Chase, IBM’s mainframe pricing guru. At IBM Enterprise2014, which wraps up today, the topic of choice was software licensing for Linux middleware. It’s sufficiently complicated to merit an entire session.

In case you think Linux on z is not in your future, maybe you should think again.  Linux is gaining momentum in even the largest z data centers. Start with IBM bringing new apps like InfoSphere, BigInsights (Hadoop), and OpenStack to z. Then there are apps from ISVs that just weren’t going to get their offerings to z/OS. Together it points to a telltale sign something is happening with Linux on z. And, the queasiness managers used to have about the open source nature of Linux has long been put to rest.

At some point, you will need to think about IBM’s software pricing for Linux middleware. Should you find yourself getting too lost in the topic, check out these links recommended by Chase:

To begin, software for Linux on z is treated differently than traditional mainframe software in terms of pricing. With Linux on z you think in terms of IFLs.  The quantity of IFLs represent the number of Linux engines subjected to IBM’s IPLA-based pricing.

Also think in terms of Processor Value Units (PVUs) rather than MSUs. For a pricing purposes, PVUs are analogous to MSUs although the values are different. A key point to keep in mind: distributed PVUs for Linux are not related to System z IPLA value units used for z/VM products. As is typical of IBM, those two different kinds of value units are NOT interchangeable.

Chase, however, provides a few ground rules:

  • Dedicated partition
    • Processors are always allocated in whole increments
    • Resources are only moved between partitions “explicitly” (e.g. by an operator or a scheduled job)
  • Shared pool:
    • Pool of processors shared by partitions (including virtual machines)
    • System automatically dispatches processor resources between partitions as needed
  • Maximum license requirements
  • Customer does not have to purchase more licenses for a product than the number of processors on the machine (e.g. maximum DB2 UDB licenses on a 12-way machine is 12)
    • Customer does not have to purchase more “shared pool” licenses for a product than the number of processors assigned to the shared pool (e.g. maximum of 7 MQSeries licenses for a shared pool with 7 processors). Note: This limit does not affect the additional licenses that might be required for dedicated partitions.

With that, as Chase explains it, Linux middleware pricing turns out to be relatively straightforward, determined by:

  • Processor Value Unit (PVU) rating for each kind of core
  • Any difference for different processor technologies (p, i, x, z, Sun, HP, AMD, etc—notice that the z is just one of many choices, not handled differently from the others
  • Number of processor cores which must be licensed (z calls them IFLs)
  • Price per PVU (constant per product, not different based upon technology)

Then it becomes a case of doing the basic arithmetic. The formula: # of PVUs x the # of cores required x the value ($) per core = your total cost.  Given this formula it is to your advantage to plan your Linux use to minimize IFLs and cores. You can’t do anything about the cost per PVU.

Distributed PVUs are the basis for licensing middleware on IFLs and are determined by the type of machine processor. The zEC12, z196, and z10 are rated at 120 PVUs. All others are rated at 100 PVUs. For example, any distributed middleware running on Linux on z this works out to:

  • z114—1IFL, 100 PVUs
  • z196—4IFLs, 480 PVUs
  • zEC12—8 IFLs, 960 PVUs

Also, distributed systems Linux middleware offerings are eligible for sub-capacity licensing. Specifically, sub-capacity licensing is available for all PVU-priced software offerings that run on:

  • UNIX (AIX, HP-UX, and Sun Solaris
  • i5/OS, OS/400
  • Linux (System i, System p, System z)
  • x86 (VMware ESX Server, VMware GSX Server, Microsoft Virtual Server)

IBM’s virtualization technologies also are included in Passport Advantage sub-capacity licensing offering, including LPAR, z/VM virtual machines in an LPAR, CPU Pooling support introduced in z/VM 6.3 APAR VM65418, and native z/VM (on machines which still support basic mode).

And in true z style, since this can seem more complicated than it should seem, there are tools available to do the job. In fact Chase doesn’t advise doing this without a tool. The current tool is the IBM License Metric Tool V9.0.1. You can find more details on it here.

If you are considering distributed Linux middleware software or are already wrestling with the pricing process, DancingDinosaur recommends you check out Chase’s links at the top of this piece. Good luck.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. You can check out more of my work at Technologywriter.com

System z Software Pricing at IBM Enterprise 2014

September 17, 2014

DancingDinosaur must have sat through more of David Chase’s presentations on System z software pricing than anyone who doesn’t actually buy System z software. And still it seems impossibly complicated.  The problem is the many different and changing circumstances under which a mainframe shop will use its System z. It speaks to IBM’s willingness to try to accommodate almost any use case for the mainframe while trying to be fair and still make a buck.

The last time DancingDinosaur wrote on mainframe software pricing it looked at IBM’s z/OS discounts for mobile transactions. It generated considerable interest. Well, there is more on mainframe software pricing at IBM Enterprise2014, Oct. 6-10 in Las Vegas. If you are paying workload pricing, you will want to check out these sessions:

IBM System z Software Pricing Overview by David Chase, who has spoken on this at numerous conferences and manages to make it understandable. This session introduces the software pricing options available for IBM’s zEnterprise and System z servers. It covers a variety of Monthly License Charge (MLC) metrics, including the newest ones: Advanced Workload License Charge (AWLC) and Advanced Entry Workload License Charge (AEWLC). It also introduces the IPLA “one-time charge” pricing and how it differs from MLC. Although the primary focus is on z/OS pricing, these pricing concepts also apply to z/VSE and z/TPF. If your organization is not taking advantage of these programs, you probably are over-paying for mainframe software.

Introduction to Sub-Capacity Pricing and Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool, again by David Chase. If your shop decides to adopt sub-capacity pricing for System z software, use of the Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT) will be required whether you run z/OS, z/VSE and/or z/TPF. Attend this session to understand what the SCRT is, how it works, how to use it and how to interpret the output of the tool, the Sub-Capacity Report. This session also covers the planning steps for successful implementation of SCRT and discusses the end-to-end implementation process of collecting the required SMF data, running SCRT, reviewing the reports, and submitting them to IBM.

IBM System z Sub-Capacity and the SCRT Report by David Chase, of course. This session goes a step beyond the session above. Sub-capacity pricing for System z software is the way most customers achieve the optimal price performance available to them. But this means that the way your system is configured and used is very likely to have an impact upon the software charges you pay, and use of the Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT) will be required. Attend this session to understand how SCRT works beyond the introductory level, how to use it, how to interpret the output of the tool (the Sub-Capacity Report), and most importantly, what options you have to tune your system to influence your monthly software charges.  

Software Licensing for Distributed Linux Middleware on IBM System z by David Chase, clearly the public face of IBM pricing. Many people understand how sub-capacity software licensing works for z/OS and z/VSE. Less well known—IBM also offers sub-capacity licensing for distributed Linux middleware when it runs on System z. Attend this session to understand how the Passport Advantage virtualization and sub-capacity licensing rules work in a Linux on System z environment, especially when you are using IFL engines running under the control of z/VM.

Mainframe software licensing is maddening and has little to do with what attracts people to enterprise computing. As a result, mainframe people stay away from it, leaving it to lawyers and the folks in purchasing, who may be even less prepared to tackle the subject than you. Big mistake. Once you are aware of how it works you can arrange workloads to ensure the lowest price. BTW, if you bring in a name brand consultant for advice on reducing mainframe data center costs, the first thing they check are your software invoices. Skip the consultant; bring your questions to David Chase’s sessions at Enterprise 2014. It will pay for your trip.

Also, don’t miss three evenings of live performances: 2 country rock groups, Delta Rae and The Wild Feathers and then, Rock of Ages. Check out all three and more here

Alan Radding is DancingDinosaur. Look for me at Enterprise2014. You can follow this blog and more on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Find Alan Radding on Technologywriter.com.

Best System z TCO in Cloud and Virtualization

May 1, 2014

IBM recently analyzed various likely customer workload scenarios and found that the System z as an enterprise Linux server could consistently beat x86 machines in terms of TCO.  The analysis, which DancingDinosaur will dig into below, was reasonably evenhanded although, like automobile mileage ratings, your actual results may vary.

DancingDinosaur has long contended that the z Enterprise Linux Server acquired under the deeply discounted IBM System z Solution Edition program could beat comparable x86 based systems not only in terms of TCO but even TCA. Algar, a Brazilian telecom, acquired its initial z Enterprise Linux server to consolidate a slew of x86 systems and lay a foundation for scalable growth. It reports cutting data center costs by 70%. Nationwide Insurance, no newcomer to mainframe computing, used the zEnterprise to consolidate Linux servers, achieving $46 million in savings.

The point: the latest IBM TCO analyses confirm what IBM and the few IT analysts who talk to z customers have been saying for some time. TCO advantage, IBM found, switches to the z Enterprise Linux Server at around 200 virtual machines compared to the public cloud and a bit more VMs compared to x86 machines.

IBM further advanced its cause in the TCO/TCA battle with the recent introduction of the IBM Enterprise Cloud System. This is a factory-built and integrated system—processor, memory, network, IFLs, virtualization management, cloud management, hypervisor, disk orchestration, Linux OS—priced (discounted) as a single solution. IBM promises to deliver it in 45 days and have it production ready within hours of hitting the organization’s loading dock. Of course, it comes with the scalability, availability, security, manageability, etc. long associated with the z, and IBM reports it can scale to 6000 VMs. Not sure how this compares in price to a Solution Edition Enterprise Linux Server.

The IBM TCO analysis compared the public cloud, x86 cloud, and the Enterprise Cloud System in terms power and space, labor, software/middleware, and hardware costs when running 48 diverse (a range of low, medium, and high I/O) workloads. In general it found an advantage for the z Enterprise Cloud System of 34-73%.  The z cost considerably more in terms of hardware but it more than made up for it in terms of software, labor, and power. Overall, the TCO examined more than 30 cost variables, ranging from blade/IFL/memory/storage amounts to hypervisor/cloud management/middleware maintenance. View the IBM z TCO presentation here.

In terms of hardware, the z included the Enterprise Linux Server, storage, z/VM, and IBM Wave for z/VM. Software included WebSphere Application Server middleware, Cloud Management Suite for z, and Tivoli for z/VM. The x86 cloud included HP hardware with a hypervisor, WebSphere Application Server, SmartCloud Orchestrator, SmartCloud Monitoring, and Tivoli Storage Manager EE. Both analyses included labor to manage both hardware and VMs, power and space costs, and SUSE Linux.

The public cloud assumptions were a little different. Each workload was deployed as a separate instance. The pricing model was for AWS reserved instances. Hardware costs were based on instances in east US region with SUSE, EBS volume, data in/out, support (enterprise), free and reserved tier discounts applied. Software costs included WebSphere Application Server ND (middleware) costs for instances. A labor cost was included for managing instances.

When IBM applied its analysis to 398 I/O diverse workloads the results were similar, 49-75% lower cost with the Cloud System on z. Again, z hardware was considerably more costly than either x86 or the public cloud. But z software and labor was far less than the others. In terms of 3-year TCO, the cloud was the highest at $37 M, x86 came in at $18.3 M, and the Cloud on z cost $9.4 M. With 48 workloads, the z again came in with lowest TCO at $1 M compared to $1.6 M for x86 systems, and $3.9 M for the public cloud.

IBM kept the assumptions equivalent across the platforms. If you make different software and middleware choices or a different mix of high-mid-low I/O workloads your results will be different but the overall comparative rankings probably won’t change all that much.

Still time to register for IBM Edge2014 in Las Vegas, May 19-23. This blogger will be there hanging around the bloggers lounge when not attending sessions. Please join me there.

Follow Alan Radding/DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

Social Business and Linux on System z at Enterprise 2013

October 17, 2013

The Enterprise 2013 conference next week in Orlando is sold out! However, you can still participate and learn from the session through Livestream, which starts Monday morning (8am ET) with two IBM senior VPs; Tom Rosamilia, followed by Steve Mills. On Tuesday Livestream sessions start at 10:30am ET. Check out the full Livestream schedule here.

Let’s expand on the social business topics to be covered at the conference. Building a Social Environment in an Enterprise Private Cloud looks at the advantages of building a social environment in an on-premise private cloud, exploiting System z where practical. The hybrid System z models seem particularly well suited for this, and the TCO should be quite favorable. Daily Business can Profit from Social Networks for System z looks at how to exploit social on the z to keep current with news and events of importance to the organization and its customers through Twitter and other social networks. Finally, Gaining Competitive Advantage with Social Business separates the social hype from the facts. The session keys in on utilizing social business relationships to help you achieve competitive advantages.

DancingDinosaur has long considered Linux on z as the single most important thing IBM did to save the mainframe from a future as a niche product serving mainly big banks and financial services firms. Today, the mainframe is the center of a hybrid computing world that can do anything business strategists want to do—mobile, cloud, open systems, Linux, Windows. Linux, the key to that, has been slow to catch on, but it is steadily gaining traction. At Enterprise 2013 you can see, to paraphrase a movie title starring Clint Eastwood; The Good, the Great, and the Ugly of Linux on System z.

Linux on System z: Controlling the Proliferating Penguin presents Mike Riggs, Manager of Systems and Database Administration at the Supreme Court of Virginia, sharing his experiences leveraging the power of Linux on System z by utilizing WebSphere, DB2, Oracle, and Java applications in concert with the longstanding success of z/VM, z/VSE, CICS applications, and other platform systems. He will explain how a funds-limited judicial branch of a state government is leveraging all possible resources to manage, grow, and support statewide judicial application systems.

What’s New with Linux on System z provides an overview of Linux on System z. It will show Linux as a very active open source project and offer insight into what makes Linux so special. It also looks at both the latest and as well as upcoming features of the Linux kernel and what these features can do for you.

From there, you can attend the session on Why Linux on System z Saves $$, which will help you build the business case for Linux on z. The presenter, Buzz Woeckener, Director of IT at Nationwide Insurance, will pepper you with facts, disprove some myths, and help you understand why Linux on System z is one of the best values in the marketplace today. DancingDinosaur has written on Nationwide’s Linux on z experience before; it is a great story.

Finally, here’s the ugly: Murphy’s Law Meets VM and Linux on System z. Murphy’s law observes that whatever can go wrong possibly (or probably, depending on your level of pessimism) will go wrong. This can also be the case in some unfortunate Linux on System z and z/VM proof of concepts or improperly configured production systems. Having been called into a number of these situations over the last couple of years, the speaker brings a lot of experience handling these problems. Where some sessions highlight successes, this one will present stories from the battlefield on what it took to get these projects back on track. It will show the mistakes and draw the lessons learned.

Plus there is networking, security, systems management, big data and analytics, development, and more. For those lucky enough to get space, you won’t be at a loss for what to do next. DancingDinosaur will there Sunday through Thursday. If you see me, please feel welcome to introduce yourself.

Mantissa z86VM Virtualization Leverages IBM zEC12 and z/VM

September 19, 2013

Jim Porell, formerly an IBM Distinguished Engineer with hefty System z credentials, has been pushing the idea of running large numbers of cheap virtualized x86 virtual systems on the zEnterprise for over a year, when DancingDinosaur covered the announcement of his STASH initiative then. Now he is working with Mantissa, known mainly as a provider of mainframe emulation products, on its latest product, z86VM, announced here.

Mantissa z86VM promises to simplify cloud deployment while dramatically reducing virtual image costs by potentially virtualizing thousands of x86 VMs on a zEC12 z/VM partition.  Porell actually isn’t ready to estimate how many until he has done more testing. At this point, all Mantissa is promising is a system that permits you to create virtual x86 machines for use as servers or desktop systems in minutes.

As Porell puts it: existing IBM zEnterprise server customers already have the capacity to run hundreds or thousands of virtual x86 machines. Now he invites DancingDinosaur readers (and anyone else) to try a free version of the z86VM beta software—to become a beta participant, send a request using this form and z86VM Beta as the subject. This will let you try out the latest version and see for yourself. The current beta ships with Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Linux. SME Server is a CentOS Linux distribution specifically optimized and configured for use as web, file, email, and database servers. It employs a comprehensive browser UI for all management-related tasks.

Specifically Mantissa’s z86VM provides a 32-bit virtual x86 environment which cannot be distinguished by software from real x86 hardware. That means operating systems like Linux for x86 or Windows will run without alteration under IBM z/VM. An important aspect of this virtual operating environment is that no changes are required to move 32-bit x86 operating systems and applications to the z86VM environment. Current test projection modeling shows that up to 50,000 virtual images may be able to operate efficiently on a fully configured zEnterprise server.  But Porell is not quite ready to promise that.

Mantissa hopes to tie z86VM to cloud computing. “Cloud computing, server consolidation, virtual desktops, security, and resilience are all important considerations for customers of the zEnterprise server,” said Gary Dennis, co-Founder, Mantissa, in the beta announcement. “Most x86 virtualization deployments waste 25- 50% of all available hardware capacity.  The z86VM approach can’t do that because there is no real machine,” he add. Actually, there is a real machine underlying the system, currently the zEC12 or, presumably, any other zEnterprise.

Pricing for z86VM when it is released hasn’t been formalized. “My expectation is we will charge per engine, a la zLinux pricing. However, it may be more like z/VM or VMware pricing,” says Porell. The bigger difference is that there should be many more x86 images per core than you’d see with a conventional x86 system. Since the z can run at 100% utilization without fear of failover, Porell expects to squeeze more systems onto each core, which will reduce application and operating system fees where pricing is based on actual cores.

Hybrid computing looms large in Porell and Mantissa’s hopes for z86VM.  For hybrid computing the z86VM can use the same software binary images as other platforms, Porell explains. It should speed the time to deploy those workloads as no new software versions need to be acquired or developed  while providing an ability to further reduce software license costs, environmental costs, operational expense, and complexity, he continues.

In addition, the z/VM hypervisor already is capable of running thousands of virtual system images in a single server. Most of the redundancy necessary for business resilience, fault isolation and disaster recovery is built into the z and the z/VM hypervisor. The z 86VM takes advantage of the z/VM hypervisor to provide the security functionality that isolates one virtual guest from another in such a way that bad behavior by one cannot compromise the execution or data associated with another.

At this point z86VM is looking mostly like a zEnterprise hybrid computing play.  Whether z86VM offers significant benefits beyond what you can do with a hybrid zEnterprise and z/VM will be seen what happens in the beta program, what other business compute needs they address, what they decide with pricing.

Also, hope you will register for Enterprise 2013 in Orlando, Oct 21-25. It will combine the System z and the Power Systems technical universities with an Executive Summit.  The session programs already are out for the System z and Power Systems tracks; registration has already started. Check it out here. DancingDinosaur will be there. In the coming weeks this blog will look more closely intriguing sessions.

BTW–follow DancingDinosaur at its new name on Twitter, @mainframeblog

New zEnterprise Business Class Entry Model—zBC12

July 23, 2013

IBM introduced its new zEnterprise Business Class machine, the equivalent of the z114 for the zEC12, the zEnterprise BC12 (zBC12).  It offers significantly more power than its predecessor but the $75,000 base price hasn’t changed.

The company has been hinting at the arrival of this machine for months (and DancingDinosaur has been passing along those hints as quickly as they came). Of particular interest is that the System z Solution Edition pricing applies to the zBC12. Solution Edition pricing should make the machine quite competitive with x86-based systems, especially when running multiple Linux instances.

IBM isn’t being coy about its intentions to discount this machine. The initial announcement touted a new Linux-only based version of the zBC12, the Enterprise Linux Server (ELS). The ELS includes hardware, the z/VM Hypervisor, and three years of maintenance at a deeply discounted price. Besides over 3,000 Linux applications it includes two new capabilities, ELS for Analytics and Cloud-Ready for Linux on System z, each acting as an onramp for analytics or cloud computing.

DancingDinosaur has been a big fan of the Solution Edition program as the only way to get serious discounts on a mainframe. The big caveat is the constraints IBM puts on the use of the discounted machine. Each Solution Edition program is negotiated so just make sure you fully understand the constraints and all the fine print so you can live with it for several years. Of course, a zBC12 can be used for anything you would use a mainframe although enterprise Linux serving seems  an ideal use.

Besides its faster processor the zBC12 also offers up 156 capacity settings on each model  to choose just the right capacity setting for your needs along with a new pay-as-you-grow approach. When it is integrated with the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator, the zBC12 can perform business analytics workloads with10x better price performance and 14 percent lower total cost of acquisition than the closest competitor, according to IBM.

Out of the box the zBC12 specs look good:

  • 4.2 GHz processor designed to deliver up to a 36% performance increase per core to help boost software performance for business-critical workloads
  • Up to six general purpose processors designed to deliver up to 58% more capacity compared to the z114, which had five general purpose processors
  • Up to a 2x increase in available memory (496 GB) compared to the z114 for improved performance of memory-demanding workloads such as DB2, IBM WebSphere, and Linux on System z

The zBC12 comes in two models, the H06 and H13. Both are air cooled, single frame, or support 30 LPARS. The H06 has one processor drawer for 9 processor units. These can be divided between SAPs, CPs, IFLs/ICFs, zIIPs and zAAPs, and 1 IFP.  The Model H113 has two processor drawers to handle 18 processor units. It allows the same mix of processor types but in larger quantities and 2 dedicated spares. There are configurations where the H06 requires the second processor drawer. The entry processing level is 50 MIPS, up from 26 MIPS with the z114 with no change in the base price.

As far as other pricing, the zBC12 follows essentially an extension of the z114 stack pricing with a 27% price/performance improvement over the z114 for specialty engine pricing, which translates in 36% greater performance for the money.  Pricing for maintenance remains the same. Software keeps with the same pricing curve with a 5% discount applied. The price of Flash Express for the zBC12 remains at $125,000.

IBM has provided a straightforward upgrade path from the z10 or zEnterprise to the zBC12 as well as from the zBC12 to the zEC12. It also can be connected to the zBX (Model 003) to seamlessly manage workloads across a hybrid computing environment consisting of multiple architectures (Linux, AIX, and Intel/Windows).

The announcement of the zBC12 was accompanied by a slew of other new z announcements, including the new IBM zEnterprise Analytics System 9710,and native JSON support to bridge the gap between mobile devices and enterprise data and services along with conversion between JSON  and the new CICS Transaction Server Feature Pack for Mobile Extensions V1.0 and DB2 11 for z/OS (ESP).  Plus there is the new z/VM v6.3 and enhancements to the z/OS Management Facility.

As DancingDinosaur noted last week, expect z sales to get a boost in the next quarter or two as organizations choose the new zBC12. With its improved price/performance and low entry pricing and the Solution Edition deal for the zBC12 ELS the z should see a nice bounce.

zEnterprise vs. Intel Server Farms

May 17, 2013

How many Intel x86 servers do you need to match the performance of a zEnterprise and at what cost for a given workload? That is the central question every IT manager has to answer.

It is a question that deserves some thought and analysis. Yet often IT managers jump to their decision based on series of gut assumptions that on close analysis are wrong. And the resulting decision more often than not is for the Intel server although an honest assessment of the data in many instances should point the other way. DancingDinosaur has periodically looks at comparative assessments done by IBM. You can find a previous one, lessons from Eagle studies, here.

 The first assumption is that the Intel server is cheaper. But is it? IBM benchmarked a database workload on SQL Server running on Intel x86 and compared it to DB2 on z/OS.  To support 23,000 users, the Intel system required 128 database cores on four HP servers.  The hardware cost $0.34 million and the software cost $1.64 million for a 3-year TCA of $1.98 million. The DB2 system required just 5 cores at a hardware/software combined 3-year TCA of $1.4 million

What should have killed the Intel deal was the software cost, which has to be licensed based on the number of cores. Sure, the commodity hardware was cheap, but the cost of the database licensing drove up the Intel cost. Do IT managers wonder why they need so many Intel cores to support the same number of users they can support with far fewer z cores? Obviously many don’t.

Another area many IT managers overlook is I/O performance and its associated costs. This becomes particularly important as an organization deploys virtual machines.  Increasing the I/O demand on an Intel system uses more of the x86 core for I/O processing, effectively reducing the number of virtual machines that can be deployed per server and raising hardware costs.

The zEnterprise handles I/O differently. It provides 4-16 dedicated system assist processors for the offloading of I/O requests and an I/O subsystem bus speed of 8 GBps.

The z also does well with z/VM for Linux guest workloads. In this case IBM tested three OLTP database production workloads (4 server nodes per cluster), each supporting 6,000 trans/sec, Oracle Enterprise Edition, and Oracle Real Application Cluster (RAC) running on 12 HP DL580 servers (192 cores). This was compared to three Oracle RAC clusters of 4 nodes per cluster with each node as a Linux guest under z/VM . The zEC12 had 27 IFLs. Here the Oracle HP system cost $13.2 million, about twice as much as on the zEC12, $5.7 million. Again, the biggest cost savings came from the need for fewer Oracle licenses due to fewer cores.

The z also does beats Intel servers when running mixed high- and low- priority workloads on the same box. In one example, IBM compared high priority online banking transaction workloads with low priority discretionary workloads.  The workloads running across 3 Intel servers with 40 cores each (120 cores total) cost $13.7 million compared to z/VM on an zEC12 running 32 IFLs, which cost $5.77 million (58% less).

Another comparison demonstrates that core proliferation between Intel and the z is the killer. One large workload test required sixteen 32-way HP Superdome App. Production/Dev/ Test servers and eight 48-way HP Superdome DB Production/Dev/Test for a total of 896 cores. The 5-year TCA came to $180 million. The comparable workload running on a zEC12 41-way production/dev/test system used 41 general purpose processors (38,270 MIPS) with a 5-year TCA of $111 million.

When you look at the things a z can do to keep concurrent operations running that Intel cannot you’d hope non-mainframe IT managers might start to worry. For example, the z handles core sparing transparently; Intel must bring the server down.  The z handles microcode updates while running; Intel can update OS-level drivers but not firmware drivers. Similarly, the z handles memory and bus adapter replacements while running; Intel servers must be brought down to replace either.

Not sure what it will take for the current generation of IT managers to look beyond Intel. Maybe a new business class version of the zEC12 at a stunningly low price. You tell me.

BTW; are you planning to attend IBM Edge 2013 in Las Vegas, Jun 10-14? There will be much there to keep enterprise data center managers occupied.  Overall, IBM Edge 2013 will offer over 140 storage sessions, over 50 PureSystems sessions, more than 50 client case studies, and sessions on big data and analytics along with a full cloud track.  Look for me in the Social Media Lounge at the conference and in the sessions.  You can follow me on Twitter for conference updates@Writer1225.  I’ll be using hashtag #IBMEdge to post live Twitter comments from the conference.

EMC World and IBM Edge 2013 Spotlight Mainframe Storage

May 6, 2013

Two major technology conferences this spring are converging on Las Vegas and each offers session tracks on mainframe storage. EMC World runs today through May 9, and IBM Edge 2013, June 10-14; each will bring enough expert material to divert mainframe storage managers from the gaming tables.

At neither show is the mainframe the primary focus, but considerable material still addresses mainframe storage. For example, EMC World, which opens today offers sessions like:

VMAX Performance: Mainframe Performance with Symmetrix VMAX & Enginuity 5876. Here’s how EMC describes it—Symmetrix VMAX 20K and VMAX 40K running Enginuity 5876 introduce several performance improvements and new features for the Mainframe, which can affect how customers deploy. DancingDinosaur reported on the introduction of the VMAX 40K here last year.

VMAX: What’s New for Mainframe Symmetrix Environments Plus an Update on the EMC & IBM Partnership.  Of particular interest to DancingDinosaur readers may be the details on how EMC develops IBM-compatible technology and EMC’s long-standing working relationship with IBM

DancingDinosaur will miss EMC World and be attending IBM Edge 2013 instead. Please join this blogger at Edge 2013; when not attending a session you can find me where bloggers congregate in the Social Media Lounge.

Here are some of the sessions that look particularly interesting:

IBM z/OS Storage Management Ecosystem Update—provides an overview of IBM’s strategy for managing the z/OS storage ecosystems.  Learn how the strategic z/OS storage management product, OMEGAMON XE for Storage, fits into the strategy and how the rest of the Tivoli z/OS Storage management portfolio works together to address common z/OS storage tasks and problem resolution. The session also promises to include a short review of Tivoli z/VM storage products.

IBM z/OS + DS8K Synergy—offers an overview of the IBM DS8000 architecture and its deep integration with IBM z/OS to deliver performance, high availability, optimization, and manageability. No other storage system has the unique integration with the IBM mainframe, according to IBM.  That becomes particularly apparent when you start looking at Flash storage.

Introduction to the TS7700 Virtualization Engine Grid for the Uninitiated or Those Needing a Refresher—intended to introduce attendees to the IBM TS7700 Virtualization Engine, a virtualized tape solution. This basic level discussion will start by explaining why tape virtualization came about, and then cover basic and advanced concepts, up through the latest enhancements.  If you are not already familiar with virtual tape you don’t want to miss this.

Retention management is an increasingly important and tricky topic these days, particularly as it ties in with compliance and even legal ediscovery. Edge 2013 offers two complementary sessions on retention management.

Untangling Retention Management under DFSMSrmm—DFSMS Removable Media Manager (DFSMSrmm) delivers a wide variety of retention controls for the z/OS tape resources it manages. Often the variety of options and the differences in how they behave can be confusing. The session promises to explain how and why DFSMSrmm does what it does so attendees can make the best decisions for their environment.

DFSMSrmm Best Practices, Features and New Stuff—DFSMS Removable Media Manager (DFSMSrmm) is one of the most regularly enhanced tape management systems in the market. Often, however, new features are overlooked. This session offers an overview of key product features that every DFSMSrmm data center should be taking full advantage of to properly safeguard their environments. In addition, it will detail several little-known product capabilities that can streamline administrator efficiency, allowing more time for other management activities.

Overall, IBM Edge 2013 will offer over 140 storage sessions, over 50 PureSystems sessions, more than 50 client case studies, and sessions on big data and analytics along with a full cloud track.

Full disclosure: this blogger’s trip to Edge 2013 and related DancingDinosaur posts are being underwritten by IBM.  However, the choice of content, ideas, and opinions …even the mention of EMC… are my own. Hope to see you at Edge 2013. Find me in  the Social Media Lounge.

Next Generation zEnterprise Developers

April 19, 2013

Mainframe development keeps getting more complicated.  The latest complication can be seen in Doug Balog’s reference to mobile and social business on the zEnterprise, reported by DancingDinosaur here a few weeks ago. That is what the next generation of z developers face.

Forget talk about shortages of System z talent due to the retirement of mainframe veterans.  The bigger complication comes from need for non-traditional mainframe development skills required to take advantage mobile and social business as well as other recent areas of interest such as big data and analytics. These areas entail combining new skills like JSON, Atom, Rest, Hadoop, Java, SOA, Linux, hybrid computing along with traditional mainframe development skills like CICS and COBOL, z/VM, SQL, VSAM, and IMS. This combination is next to impossible to find in one individual. Even assembling a coherent team encompassing all those skills presents a serious challenge.

The mainframe industry has been scrambling to address this in various ways.  CA Technologies added GUI to its various tools and BMC has similarly modernized its various management and DB2 tools. IBM, of course, has been steadily bolstering the Rational RDz tool set.   RDz is a z/OS Eclipse-based software IDE.  RDz streamlines and refactors z/OS development processes into structured analysis, editing, and testing operations with modern GUI tools, wizards, and menus that, IBM notes, are perfect for new-to the-mainframe twenty- and thirty-something developers, the next generation of z developers.

Compuware brings its mainframe workbench, described as a modernized interactive developer environment that introduces a new graphical user interface for managing mainframe application development activities.  The interactive toolset addresses every phase of the application lifecycle.

Most recently, Micro Focus announced the release of its new Enterprise Developer for IBM zEnterprise.  The product enables customers to optimize all aspects of mainframe application delivery and promises to drive down costs, increase productivity, and accelerate innovation. Specifically, it enables both on- and off-mainframe development, the latter without consuming mainframe resources, to provide a flexible approach to the delivery of new business functions. In addition, it allows full and flexible customization of the IDE to support unique development processes and provides deep integration into mainframe configuration management and tooling for a more comprehensive development environment. It also boasts of improved application quality with measurable improvement in delivery times.  These capabilities together promise faster developer adoption.

Said Greg Lotko, Vice President and Business Line Executive, IBM System z, about the new Micro Focus offering:  We are continually working with our technology partners to help our clients maximize the value in their IBM mainframes, and this latest innovation from Micro Focus is a great example of that commitment.

Behind all of this development innovation is an industry effort to cultivate the next generation of mainframe developers. Using a combination of trusted technology (COBOL and mainframe) and new innovation (zEnterprise, hybrid computing, expert systems, and Eclipse), these new developers; having been raised on GUI and mobile and social, can leverage what they learned growing up to build the multi-platform, multi-device mainframe applications that organizations will need going forward.

As these people come on board as mainframe-enabled developers organizations will have more confidence in continuing to invest in their mainframe software assets, which currently amount to an estimated 200-300 billion lines of source code and may even be growing as mainframes are added in developing markets, considered a growth market by IBM.  It only makes sense to leverage this proven code base than try to replace it.

This was confirmed in a CA Technologies survey of mainframe users a year ago, which found that 1) the mainframe is playing an increasingly strategic role in managing the evolving needs of the enterprise; 2) the machine is viewed as an enabler of innovation as big data and cloud computing transform the face of enterprise IT—now add mobile; and 3) companies are seeking candidates with cross-disciplinary skill sets to fill critical mainframe workforce needs in the new enterprise IT thinking.

Similarly, a recent study by the Standish Group showed that 70 percent of CIOs saw their organizations’ mainframes as having a central and strategic role in their overall business success.  Using the new tools noted above organizations can maximize the value of the mainframe asset and cultivate the next generation mainframe developers.


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