Happy Birthday, zAAP!

On September 24, 2006, IBM's zAAP celebrates its second birthday. The zAAP (System z Application Assist Processor) is the world's first and only enterprise server processor dedicated to accelerating Java™ code.

Yes, I know, the zAAP hardware debuted in late June, 2004. But the final required software ingredient, z/OS 1.6, became generally available on September 24, 2004, so that's the zAAP's official birth day....

....Except it isn't, much to IBM's surprise. One pioneer began their first zAAP production day with two zAAPs roaring on September 1, 2004, at about 1100 UTC. They asked IBM for early z/OS 1.6 support, and IBM obliged. That insurance company is still blazing through their Java workloads thanks to four zAAPs now, and they've saved millions of very countable dollars compared to any other implementation — dollars their competitors wasted and may still be wasting. Their users enjoy the best WebSphere Application Server J2EE service every day, without fail.

Congratulations to Mike, Bill, Harold, and everyone else in Wisconsin, and happy belated 2nd birthday. You all done real good. [For the record blog readers, no, IBM did not send 100 engineers to make history. Mike's extended team did all the hard work in house while a small group of IBMers simply provided standard-excellent mainframe support. This was no publicity stunt. It was and is real business with a "boring" mainframe class result: it worked the first time, perfectly, and slightly better than planned.]

So what is your zAAP doing today?

by Timothy Sipples September 22, 2006
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Hello World: a new mainframe blog launches, talks AJAX for 3270

The good people at Xephon have started a blog - mainframeweekly. It has a nice conversational tone - and I look forward to tracking it. But a word to the wise- you chaps really need to open comments, or at least put your contacts there. A blog without a feedback mechanism is like a mainframe without I/O.

Go read it. Go comment. They were also nice enough to call out monkchips' original Where Are The Mainframe Bloggers post.

by James Governor September 13, 2006
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Nationwide Extreme Virtualization

I love trendwatching. Do you deploy virtual anthropology? Well, check out who came up with that word creation here. VIRTUAL ANTHROPOLOGY in a business setting is about finding out what consumers (may) need, what may delight them, what you could or should do next to better serve them. It's about inspiration and curiosity. Guru Vasudeva from Nationwide gave a presentation at LinuxWorld in August on their use of the Mainframe and Virtualization and Linux. You can still watch a recording including Q&A here.

by Boas Betzler September 12, 2006
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Selling New zSeries installs to the Board

I wrote up a recent conversation with a new mainframe customer on my own blog here.

One section I thought I might reuse however- concerns how Nexxar CIO Wim de Ridder sold a new, greenfield mainframe install to his Board of Directors. There is some nice advice in here about how to make the case:

Selling zSeries to the Board

The case presented by Wim, the CIO, as he sold zSeries to the board, is very interesting.

1. Pitching z for business alignment. Align the idea of a shared asset center with mainframe thinking. Then push the notion of optimised resources for that environment- CPU, memory and so on. With the mainframe "we can do production and web serving and even email from the one box, with a high Quality of Service.

2. Simple Cost Matters. The calculus for the board was made quite simple. Total Cost of Ownership for 5 years, including hardware, software, maintenance, disaster recovery, expert services and training for $1.9m.

3. The feature sale. Wim sold the mainframe as an on demand box, that would grow as Nexarr did. This is one area where IBM's marketing materials are legion, to help "make the sale". At Nexarr On Demand is particularly attractive because of the bursty nature of the business. Being in the payment processing business, Nexxar finds that Mothers day, the back to school rush and Christmas are peak times-accounting for 25% of the company's (and mainframe's) yearly volume.

4. Mainframe security as a comfort blanket. One of Nezzar's business offerings is called "private label" - where it provides seamless back end services for other banks. These banks tend to be cautious and risk averse and like what they know. "This was the sweet spot for Private Label: banks are comfortable when you tell them you're running on the same box they use. But they want dedicated resource. We can of course provide that using logical partitioning and role based security through RACF."

by James Governor September 12, 2006
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Another reason to skip class


College students don’t need another activity to distract them from their studies, but the mainframe team is providing one. More than 700 students pulled themselves away from curricula to participate in the first contest to experience the big iron.

Sadly, the grand prize was not a new mainframe for the dorm room. Some won iPods -- not the same level of scalability, but to be fair, they do store a lot of MP3s.

The contest experience offered absolutely no contribution to their GPA, but a few students got jobs with IBM, so who cares. One freshman landed a mainframe internship with a big financial services corporation. Five students won a trip to Poughkeepsie (not the top prize) and a lunch and hiking trip at nearby Mohonk Mountain House. And perhaps most inspiring, many of the students wrote a haiku about the mainframe, which was covered by BusinessWeek.

Registration opens this week for students in the US and Canada, and later this year in the UK.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to go back to college, this could be it. Or, if you know a college student who would be interested, please forward the link.

by Timothy Sipples September 7, 2006 in Contest
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