Enterprise Class Innovation: System z Perspectives
systemzblogger 2700017BYR 4,001 Visits
So, you probably saw the announcement for the Linux enterprise server and maybe thought of the recent Solution Edition for Linux.
If this doesn't line up nicely with all of the virtualization and consolidation efforts going on, I sure don't know what does!
Being December, I find myself looking back and thinking about some of the high-level enhancements in enterprise systems in 2009. From z/OS management facility to CICS Explorer to the 45th Anniversary of the mainframe (CICS turning 40, or COBOL 50), and the Academic Initiative hitting new levels of participation, it has been an interesting year.
Whether from increased integration through enterprise modernization (especially CICS Web services), insights through deeper analytics, or efficiencies from green characteristics, it seems system z keeps pushing forward in meaningful ways on many fronts.
Being December, I find myself paging more than normal -- as many of you probably do --but I wanted to stop by and especially wish you and yours the very best of holiday seasons and hope you join me in looking forward to the exciting developments awaiting us all in 2010.
systemzblogger 2700017BYR 3,577 Visits
Well, I had some folks wondering when the next System z is coming along, since it was February '08 that the z10 came along, and we had those nice Power7 announcements this fall. Naturally, I can't say even if I knew, but I did see a nice counterpoint on the System z skills discussion on gomainframe.com with a document from Clabby Analytics called: The Alleged Mainframe Skills Shortage. It is part of a counterpoint to a recent consultant release on mainframe skills. I will leave you to read it, but not that there are some nice tidbits in it, including: IBM's $100M investment for easier management interfaces for the mainframe, some detailed demographics vs anecdotal information on mainframe support, and a few comments like 'silly' and 'daft' to suggest that there is anymore a crisis than for IT skills in general. Of course, you add the thousands of new graduates and 100's of schools that are flowing from the Academic Initiative, and one wonders what issues are really behind this urban myth.
With the recent bid by SAP to acquire Sybase, I noted in the Financial Times and other sources how IBM is setting aside $20B for acquisitions at a pace that will double the last decade in the next five years. Wow! I maintain a site internally that helps keep track of acquisitions at a high level, guess I will have to ramp it up. And yes, the wheels are spinning for candidates in my brain....
On an unrelated note, while we know the next major phase after services may be cloud, but looking back to a push that is still very much alive, I have been noticing how Enterprise Modernization is very much alive and well, incorporates some aspects of e-business, SOA, and really underscores some potential culture clash issues between the free wheeling internet boys and super systems management Systems z folks. If you happen to be modernizing a part of the company and IT that has not been touched by that upstart internet, just be extra sure you look at ALL the security implications, and review infrastructure, development, and governance! (Hey, there are some acquisitions that relate to these too... like ISS, AppScan (Watchfire), Ounce Labs, and of course Rational itself which now has the system z Rational Developer for z we have talked about.)
In case you have not seen the Fit for Purpose materials from your friendly IBM site or local team calling on you enterprise, there are a number tools available to help you determine 'best fit' for servers and workload. Based on insight from some external studies, they focus on workloads related to business intelligence and analytics, Web and SOA, traditional transaction, and suites like ERP, CRM, SCM etc. Best Fit has been around a long time with concepts like Balanced Systems (a nod to Ray Wicks et al), 'loved ones' ( and a tip of the hat to Seibo Freisenborg), and constant fiddling with levels and amounts of cache to keep data flowing to the big engines crunching away ---even when those engines where what we would now consider little guys.
Yep, some workloads need more or less qualities of service (QoS), or non functional requirements like availability, security, performance and so on. And some are more compute or I/O intensive, shorter or longer transactions, spread across infrastructures or limited to running on isolated or even specialized processors. This all makes sense to the technical mind, but it is a good idea to remember the power of inertia, decisions already made, and what one buddy called Fit for Politics. It is tough to make changes when decisions are often not re-examined or justified -- they get cast in stone or aligned with factions and can be perceived to be linked to career paths even. Don't forget that in you consolidation or movement plans for the z196 and zEnterprise we have talked about! And don't forget that part of the power of being able to QUICKLY move workloads across platforms in the new complex is that you can quickly try things out and over time learn to trust the idea of decisions not caste in stone, maybe not doing lots of analysis ahead of time and just freaking try it!! (Hey, there's an idea....)
On another 'how things have changed' I cleaned my office recently and found I tossed both round and square backup discs galore. Between more reliable cheaper drives, and backup schemes offsite I realized it had been awhile since I did that hours long data backup and labeling fun time. The other thing I found was a folder of magnetic shapes representing e-business server types. Ten years ago or so when the idea of creating these e-business infrastructures with customers was new I'd find a magnetic whiteboard (easier than you think for big companies) and slap these blocks on the wall with new names like web servers, application servers, portal, gateways for voice or files or B2B....and we would plan out the new world of opening up the enterprise to partners, suppliers and customers. Those concepts and server types are common place now, so I felt pretty secure in setting them free too.
...but maybe I should think about making a new set of magnet blocks with lines of business or service types, with event categories and collaboration options as discussions for the next wave of Smart systems start getting built?
systemzblogger 2700017BYR 2,926 Visits
As I went through my feed aggregators the last few weeks, another software acquisition (National Interest Security Company) showed itself along with the Smarter Planet exhibit at Disney World. These juxtaposed themselves with articles and blogs about how technology continues become 'commoditized', how hard it can be to explain the value of z technology ( even though it quietly runs the world's major institutions ), and a haircut where I actually had a barber ask me: 'Does IBM still make computers?' Ouch.
I have been tracking the software acquisitions (well over 80) and acquisitions of other companies that do things like process mortgages, automate and move workload, and other related to systems outsourcing for about a decade. It has been a fascinating puzzle picture building for those who want to watch if form, and the crystallization of the Smarter Planet strategy is one that makes real sense if you are both a tech watcher and futurist.
While some some talk about the cloud as the latest marketing spin (see a recent YouTube video by a sailing officianado..), others recognize it as the next tier in the 'distributed' model.
The pieces are coming together, and the case studies or examples are starting to pop up from hospitals, cities, power grids etc. Imagine if all of these endpoints of intelligence not just in devices, but instruments, industry, and networks, from PCs and phones, temperature regulators and flow valves, assembly lines and portable diagnostic devices.... This is so big and exciting it hurts the brain a little bit BUT... that is why it is so important as system z and Enterprise Systems folks to explain what has quietly been going on behind the scenes for the last 40 some years.
We have been building and refining ways to deal with mind freezing amounts of data, processing, and workload balancing. Virtualization, automation and availability strategies, and frameworks have been improving quietly in this world the general population and popular media rarely becomes aware of.
The pieces are coming to together, and we get to explain the story about not only what happened 'in the beginning', but be able to explain about how 'that is why they were able to make cities livable, find ways to live sustainably and save the planet'.
And then not say: Then End.. but instead: The Beginning....
systemzblogger 2700017BYR Tags:  system z resilience engineering research ibm 1 Comment 2,855 Visits
I was reading the October issue of Popular Mechanics when I came across a column by Glenn Harlan Reynolds entitled Ready for Anything. In the article he defines resilience engineering to include the idea of designing and creating maintenance systems so they have some give, are able to offer extra capacity, handle sudden loads, provide plenty of warning when things begin to break down, backup systems in case they do, and so on. I immediately thought: hey this sounds a whole lot like what System z has been doing for decades!
I wondered what IBM is doing for this newly coined approach (though it was mentioned that resilience engineering was born as an academic idea in response to the 2003
In case you did not know, IBM Research is the world’s largest industrial research organization with about 3,000 scientists and engineers in eight labs spanning six countries. IBM has produced more research breakthroughs than any other company in the IT industry and has led in U.S. patents for the past 15 years. It’s always nice to see our scientists at IBM Research-- which recently celebrated the 20 year anniversary of moving atoms -- ,and the engineers across IBM, are continuing to stay ahead of the curve in designing our systems!
systemzblogger 2700017BYR 2,559 Visits
Ta-da! The zEnterprise is out!! I admit I hinted a while back, and yes a little bit last time, about continued evolution and here… it…. is… the System of Systems, the third dimension of not just making processors with faster engines or specialized function, not just growing the number of processors, but now pulling in other platform systems into the z complex.
After going to the teach the teachers session, I took my notes and summarized them for some internal calls with teams, so have been summarizing and netting out, boiling the ocean and relooking at materials. I won’t try to give an announcement here, but just touch on some highlights.
First, realize the vertical integration this reflects, the added dimension of creating the hypervisor of hypervisors (Universal Resource Manager) on top of the other platforms so that the zEnterprise system now wraps its arms around --and the amount of integration represented here. (I understand our friends at Gartner used the term: 'brilliant' in describing the Universal Resource Manager !)
Next, look at the concept of being able to manage, as in Service Level Agreements, not just workload, but security, availability and virtualization targets. (..and the implied amount of monitoring and reporting behind the scenes…)
Then, look at the absolutely killer numbers BOTH in the base complex of the z196 for the kinds of technology improvements we are used to seeing in new z generations, and also in the incredible impact on space, energy, and operating costs compared to an infrastructure before (yesterday!) the zEnterprise complex.
Note that in the z Blade Extension (zBX), that the Power7 and SAO optimizer blades are first, followed next year by DataPower and x-series blades. Take a hard look at what improvements to certain star queries-- that may be 80 fold (or more)-- might do to the concept of how you build your analytics and process systems. And….. if you have looked at the System z Management Facility, look at the new CICS Deployment Assistant that may reduce administrative time up to 80% !
OK, I am giddy… I promised not to repeat the announcement here. It is just so packed with improvements it will take us all time to fully absorb it. So, dive it, we’ll talk later.
Just got back from Innovate 2010 and I encourage you to view the Keynotes; they will fire you up on innovation, the future, systems of systems and the future-- fer sure!
Take a look at the current IBM System Magazine to learn, among other things, how tape is far from dead -- 29.5 B bits per square inch demonstrated (44x today's capacity)??
The mainframe mag, zJournal, is now at the mainframezone, and the current issue has an article on mashups and Web 2.0 with the mainframe. (have you looked at CICS support for PHP?)
...and IBM has demonstrated a Graphene transistor based chip at 100Ghz -- as in single layer of carbon atoms exceeding cut off frequencies of silicon chips with the same gate length, is getting involved in more auto systems with Daimler, and there is a nice retrospective on Disney and IBM (with videos!) here.
So, I ran across a couple of interesting articles recently that, as a architect working with large systems and large enterprises made me stop and think.
First, in the Financial Times from June 8, a nice bit of thought on outsourcing, governance, and a reminder how key tech is and the importance of managing technology correctly!
Secondly, in the current issue of Strategic Finance (oops, sorry the specific article is for IMA members only it seems..) a good discussion on how to handle Idle Capacity Costs (pg 55). Without going into the detail, the point is execs at your enterprise are looking at these things.
And... what system helps manage resources to minimize excess capacity, maximize utilization?
... and oh by the way have you looked at moving to or consolidated non-System z systems on z lately?
Or would rather wait for your manager to ask why not?
I had a conversation this morning with a longtime consultant who has worked with 'the mainframe' since at least the 60s and is heavily involved in both SHARE and CMG. We found ourselves shaking their heads at the durability of perceptions would suggest, in spite of overwhelming and increasing evidence, that the System z platform is far and away the most cost-effective platform in the world.
One nice recent example of continuing evidence comes from The Clipper Group, and their newsletter, The Clipper Group Navigator (April 23, 2009), which talks about how well System z fits into upcoming Cloud strategies.
This was on the heels of a session I attended that talked again about consolidation efforts. These results showed energy savings of 80%, space savings of 85%, software savings of 35%, and labor savings of 54% -- while reminding us that average servers utilization leave 85% of their capabilities unused.
Next, I took a look at the recent announcement letter, which previewed z/VM V6.1 (letter 209-207). Besides a raft of improvements related to storage, networking, and Linux enablement, my eyes perked up (while I was reading not listening), when I saw this:
Running more Linux server images on a single System z server:Considerably more images than are currently supported by the LPAR modeof operation (up to 60 on z10 EC and z10 BC) may be supported with z/VMguest support. These Linux on System z server images can be deployed onstandard processors (CPs) or IFL processors. Running multiple Linuximages on an IFL-configured z/VM system may not increase the IBMsoftware charges of your existing System z environment. Clients runningz/OS, z/VM, TPF, z/TPF, z/VSE, or Linux on System z can add z/VM V6.1on IFL processors to their environments without increasing IBM softwarecosts on the standard processors (CPs).
Then, at the end, there is a statement of General Direction that talks about a z//VM Single System Image whose intent is to allow all z/VM member systems to be managed as one system, across which workloads can be deployed. There is also something called z/VM Live Guest Relocation, aimed at moving a running Linux virtual machine from one single system image member to another.
Wow, way to move the hypervisor along!
It is easy to think of System z as just the hardware, or focus on the z/OS operating system and forget about the 40 year contribution that VM has made in virtualization; especially over the last few years with consolidating Linux systems.
With each additional step of on demand capabilities, the numbers for total cost of operations improve and the picture of how all these new 'clouds' can actually start to form becomes clearer.
Looking through the current issue of Mainframe Executive, (you are subscribed, right?) and saw a nice interview with some of the Academic Initiative students. I also noted that there will be university program representatives at Share this year to talk with mainframe shop managers in August in Boston (see z Events ). The theme continues in IBM Systems Magazine for the Mainframe
with the article: Educated for Success.
These items made me nostalgic, thinking of Dr. Seuss and "all the wonderful things they'll see!" We old fog-gees saw virtual storage, MVT, SVS, MVS, and up to z/OS and they may see operating systems so many levels of complexity and abstraction above what we have watched it boggles the mind. We abstracted platforms with middleware running anywhere and then raising the bar by abstracting run-times with the evolutionary result of early CSP and VA/GEN to the current Enterprise Generation Language: EGL.
We watched virtualization from basic storage to VM, server consolidation, and federation, and they start by taking steps on the cloud!
On the note of systems evolving, it seems I am hearing about more enterprises looking hard at long term systems that were build over decades to perform incredibly efficiently but, alas, in many cases (since they are rigid and tightly coupled), when it is time to introduce the change monster, the prospect of 'different' overwhelms them. Projected costs, time, & risks start to look pretty scary. Hey, just remember that the remodeling industry is bigger than new housing construction, and build that value case regardless of how large the 'maintenance' is to your application or infrastructure base.
And don't forget, there are many more options with componentization, messaging, event-based architectures, SOA and web services; not to mentionand modernization transformation strategies and tooling that weren't there just a few years ago. Remember VSE to MVS migrations? How about Y2K? The longer you go without changing, the bigger the bump --whatever the system.
Just remember: start small (skunk works and prototypes) , draw some good pictures (architectural models), bring extra sandwinches (resources)....maintain your perspective (humor).
Or maybe, wait for some magic that we have yet to see!!
‘Scientists, at IBM Research - Almaden, in collaboration with colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, have performed the first near real-time cortical simulation of the brain that exceeds the scale of a cat cortex and contains 1 billion spiking neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses. ‘
I asked one of my friends if that meant that when you talk to it …it ignored you.. (drumroll please!)
Another indicator about how things are about to change in some pretty big ways our recent developments from IBM and cloud computing. As I listen to these developments, I can't help but reflect on how many of the goals tie back nicely to enterprise systems kinds of goals. Think of being able to Log onto an essentially dumb terminal (in the old days a WYSE terminal, today through a browser). Imagine the cost and management savings of not having to maintain thousands of endpoints beyond their just being endpoints! (think POT: plain old telephone)
When I hear the story of the Pike County school system (and their implementation of cloud computing for the desktop), there is a part of me that starts to jump up and down and scream: ‘It's coming! It's coming!’ We really are moving into the age of industrialization for information technology. (Our old friend Irving Wladawsky-Berger talked about it earlier this year when he talked about the industrialization of services, and there are other recent articles such as this one by strategist Gene Wright where he references Simon Wardley’s lecture on YouTube.---Look for the cats in his slideshow!!)
I heard a great analogy for the ‘older ones’ in the
audience: …think about when you had to use an operator for phone calls, then
for long distance, then for overseas, and now you don’t even need a phone!
Oh, and what do we think will be running the clouds most efficiently in that sky? Enterprise systems??
Let's look at some more developing trends or patterns... IBM announces the Financial Markets Framework at the annual Financial Services Technology Expo in New York and not only refers to microsecond latencies and millions of transactions, but also builds on existing industry frameworks, adding feeds from disparate sources (think Info stream and stream computing from last year...) adding analytics and process extensions to address risk, regulatory and compliance areas. Do you remember the 20 plus times volume system that was announced about a year ago? Do you think that middleware is evolving still? (Do we need to mention what systems the Financial Industry runs?)
I stumbled on another source I should perhaps have known about called the Dancing Dinosaur blog, pretty interesting reading.
I found it after seeing one of the sessions at Innovate that had a demo to connect System z to smartphones, seeing the redbook, and curious to see if there were any mentions of it on the net. This ties in with a number of announcements to support phones like the recent Android support by collaboration software. Integration of the user to mainframe continues in all kinds of ways.
Well, I know this is a short one, I am off next week and then traveling. Oh, and take a look at the COBOL Cafe hub for the new Rational Developer for z Unit Test feature. It certainly adds some interesting possibilities for managing the test workload on z!
Did you see the entry on IBM being the first to eliminate these PFOS and PFOA compounds from its chip manufacturing processes? The range of announcements from Big Blue seems to be growing with a broad range of technology, collaborative centers for IT and even awards from the American Bar Association ---not for Patent Reform this time but legal assistance to non-profits. I was wondering if IBM is getting better at publicizing things in addtion to doing new and different things. It made me think of today's post theme as: "No one knows unless you tell them".
This started after I visited a client who went on and on about the wonders of virtualization and how being in a rack brought things close together. All true, but how about so close you avoid any network at all ( like hipersockets ---which has been around for years), or being at memory speeds at microseconds (yes, that is one millionth of a second) instead of potentially milli or even just plain seconds delay across a distributed infrastructure with systems laid across server farms?
System z's heritage of getting data close to where it is processed, handling huge amounts of data, and getting transaction levels of tens thousands a second, has lately been referred to in guidelines that say: Get your data and applications back together if one is on and one is off of System z! Our job as large systems folks includes telling others about this often silent world that sits behind the enterprises that run the world too I guess.
No one knows unless you tell them that object oriented programming started with COBOL (commercially oriented business object language), that high availability systems like GDPS can run synchronously and asynchronously and can be across huge distances in anticipation of disaster, or that innovation keeps moving on many fronts at IBM that are not always very visible. (Like the Innovate 2010 Jam that is going on right now internally to IBM, or a presentation I saw a bit ago that revealed System z clients grow twice as fast as non System z ones !)
I had another case recently that falls under the mantle of 'you need to tell or remind folks about things' that related to changes and technology. For those of use who have been around a bit it is like a part of our DNA to understand the key concept of how IT applied with custom implementations can provide true competitive differentiation for clients. In a conversation with some folks, we were reviewing the syndrome of how some enterprises either fall so far behind the technology curve, or get frustrated with IT's ability to deliver, and they abandon huge investments in 'legacy' resources as represented by their application base build over decades.
Now don't get me wrong, sometimes getting new suites of function makes a lot of sense, but sometimes leveraging or modernizing existing assets and processes can by done with strategies that not only take a lot less resource, but are more timely and effective. Think everything from web services to SOA to screen scrapping strategies as part of modernization strategies that can extend differentiation and advantage rather than throwing everything out and starting over again.
Alert System z clients have legacy capabilities that have been around for decades but also are continually updated and refreshed with these approaches. One example I crossed paths with recently addressed some of the older technology bases like Natural, Adabase, RPG, Cool:Gen 4GL. Rational Migration Extensions not only has the capabilities, but partnerships with specialists who have been in this space for years.
Before you throw anything important out with the bath water... see what can be renovated, updated, modernized. You might find with a little elbow grease you have a classic that works great in the 21st century and is surprisingly valuable!
It felt like it's been about six months since the announcement of the z 10, so I took an informal web sampling that reflected the z10 announcement from different points of views. Naturally, I found a couple of excellent articles from Mainframe Executive (one from June entitled: Green Machines: The System z10 Enterprise Class, and the other from April: IBM Unveils New System z10: Vital Signs Remain Strong). I also found a nice entry from an electrical engineers news service in Asia with some comments from IBM z10 designer Charles Web who addressed the design challenges with the increase of speed to 4.4 GHz. Finally, I scanned the spring publication of the z 10 technical Redbooks : IBM System z10 Enterprise Class Technical Introduction SG 24 – 7515 and IBM System z10 Enterprise Class Technical Guide SG24-7516 ( along with loads of consolidation and green related items!).
One of the things that really stood out on the external entries were comments like: ‘The z10 chip is easily the most elegant enhancement in more than a decade’, ‘Rock-Solid Computing for the Next Decade’, and ‘the first ground-up CPU redesign in an IBM mainframe in a decade’. All the articles I read really underscored my initial impressions about how many different areas were changed at once (huge speed increase, buffer structures, infiniband connections, reducing chips from 16 to 7 on the MCM, etc. etc.) but also the commitment to the platform these new capabilities represent.
It's always been fun to see the technical changes, but it seems easier than ever to link them directly to the business behind the workload. Floating-point decimal functions gets moved from millicode (yes, there is a step between microcode and the chip) to the chip for the demands of workloads related to financial institutions. Support is added for growing encryption needs through enhanced cryptographic processor functions. An additional 50 instructions are added aimed at improving compiled code efficiencies for the software (i.e. Java, WebSphere, and Linux )that enables growing Internet and application workloads. These are all good examples of the platform evolving to a changing world.
Besides, seeing that quote: ‘long-time assembler programmers will rejoice’, or the fun fact of 20,000 error checkers on the chip, there seemed to be a lot of discussion about the design effort between the system z and System p teams. I like the phrase “shared DNA" for their collaboration on areas like the design of memory controllers, floating point processors, and I/O bus controllers, but also that the z chip is different due to platform focus on functions like cryptography, compression, and decimal floating point capabilities. (Or the different buffer structures for different workloads, levels of availability mechanisms, and something called local clock gating to reduce power consumption.)
Perhaps the nicest summary I saw was from Bill Carico, president of ACTS (an IBM Premier Business Partner), who wrote at Mainframe Executive: “… and a litany of other advancements, confirming that IBM remains strongly committed to keeping the mainframe on the cutting edge of technology. The one-sentence executive summary of the z10 announcement is simply this: ‘The mainframe still leads the industry in its ability to run mixed workloads, share data, operate consistently at over 90% utilization and near 100% availability at the lowest cost of ownership (TCO) in an impenetrable environment that runs on autopilot.’ No, I’m not saying the mainframe is the best tool for any job. I’m saying it’s the only platform with these unique capabilities”.
Says it pretty well, huh? Let us know what are you hearing about the z10 and its evolving role in the enterprise...
systemzblogger 2700017BYR 2,009 Visits
I had the opportunity to hear a podcast this week of a Town Hall meeting where the story of Baldor Electric and their evolution from a mixed infrastructure to almost exclusively System z was compellingly shared. The journey, also shared on Mainframe Executive here, took 12 years and serious focus to achieve technical and fiscal performance they can be proud of.
The Baldor story reminded me of Project Big Green, where IBM is moving 3900 servers to 30 some System z servers ( which I think is now around 19 wth system z10). We are two years into what may be a five year cycle of better optimizing our own systems and part of a transformation which has already seen a reduction of CIOs from 128 to 1, and data centers from 155 to 5 (east and west coast of North America, Australia, Asia and Europe for the curious out there).
It occurred to me that neither story would be possible if the full usage or exploitation of the platform had been happening right along --including at deal old Big Blue!! Growth, politics, and taking your eye off of optimization in the big picture is an easy thing to do across an enterprise, but fortunately the promise of System z and the Mainframe Charter (innovation, community and value) continues to roll out with happenings this summer including the Solution Edition offerings, IFL and memory pricing actions, and Academic Initiative thresholds being passed as more students and universities become part of the program.
systemzblogger 2700017BYR 1,928 Visits
Consider this an 'extra'. If you have been watching the news lately, here is another great example of IBM depth in large systems. This all started when I did, way back in 1978. There have been articles in the 90's galore up to now....