Potpourri for Early January, 2009

Happy New Year everybody. Are you ready for a year without a financial crisis? Me too. Let's hope.

So here's some of what I randomly find interesting and perhaps even fascinating right now:
  1. IBM has a bunch of teleconferences scheduled on various mainframe-related topics. They're free, and often their quite educational. Some examples: Four Expert Tools to Advise You with DB2 for z/OS, Benefits of DB2 Stored Procedures and Web 2.0, Let pureQuery Improve the Quality of Service and Reduce Costs for WebSphere and DB2 Applications, Web 2.0 Made Simple for System z, Exploring the Human-Centric Aspects of BPM for System zUnderstanding the Impact of Networks on DB2 and IMS Performance, IMS and Web 2.0 Go to Work, Rational Developer for System z and Problem Determination Tools, WebSphere MQ for z/OS V7 as the Messaging Backbone for SOA/Web 2.0/File Transfer, and CICS Performance Series: Blow the Doors Off CICS and DB2. Update: There's also a webcast on Migration to z/OS 1.10. Update #2: Novell also has a webcast exploring the benefits of running SAP on Linux on System z.
  2. Over at z/Journal, Mike Moser puts mainframe software costs into welcome context ("Mainframe Software Costs Too High? Think Again!"), while Jon William Toigo wishes for a more rational 2009 in mainframe appreciation ("Returning to Business Value Focus in Mainframe Computing").
  3. Ted Banks over at Law.com shares his thoughts about recent IT trends. For example: "...I hate cloud computing -- relying on Web-based tools or 'Software as a Service.' Anything that takes power away from individual users and moves it elsewhere is horrible. Apart from debates about reliability and security, it is a retrograde move back to the era of the mainframe, where we were reliant on the high priests of the systems department to get anything done." Don't lawyers do things like sue if there's poor reliability or security? But I think Ted is missing the point. Centralized computing models make an awful lot of sense to solve many business problems. For example, does he really want to re-run NOAA's weather model on his own PC to confirm that it's going to rain tomorrow? Does he grow his own wheat to bake his own bread? Computing models succeed (or not) based on how well they (and the people running them) deliver valuable -- and, yes, reliable and secure -- customer services. And we need both centralized and decentralized capabilities, although lately as wired and wireless networks pervade our lives centralized is certainly roaring back into vogue, and the mainframe with it. But don't conflate lousy people with choice of computing model. It's certainly possible to have the right computing model and the wrong people, in which case the solution is to get better people.
  4. A long-awaited sequel to (or perhaps remake of) Disney's mainframe-centric film "Tron" is nearing production.
  5. Will the popular press ever get it right about mainframe-hosted applications? I'm still waiting after seeing this one: "...the computer mainframe handling unemployment claims is 30 years old and won’t take many more technical improvements." I can guarantee that the State of Florida is not running a 30 year old mainframe. And "won't take many more technical improvements"? What on earth do they mean by that? That the application is holding a picket sign and threatening to march on the state capitol building, angrily knocking on the doors of legislators? Good grief, this is lame, Florida. Go appropriate some funds and develop whatever improvements you want already. Want to write new functions in Java (to pick something at random)? Go for it -- you already have it (on that not-30-year-old mainframe). Geez!
  6. Anne Altman, IBM's head of System z, is #49 on somebody's list of people with the most "Federal IT Power."
  7. Dana Blankenhorn thinks Microsoft is becoming a mainframe software company. I wonder if Ted Banks (see above) is concerned.
  8. Gizmodo thinks Wal-Mart's mainframes are as big as the Death Star from Star Wars. Actually, no, the commercial freezers in Wal-Mart stores are bigger (and more numerous). But the animation is quite fascinating (take a look), and those (small) mainframes have had a big business impact.
  9. Glenn O'Donnell at Forrester Research also wonders what the heck is wrong with HP: "It is almost a bit of a religious point for HP; the company is trying to be the anti-mainframe, but in reality, you are ignoring a big piece of most businesses if you ignore the mainframe." Memo to HP: don't do religion.
  10. IBM veteran and industry pioneer Jack Kuehler passed away just before Christmas.
  11. BluePhoenix is helping a Scandinavian bank move its mortgage loan application from a Unisys ClearPath mainframe to IBM System z, including DB2.

by Timothy Sipples January 8, 2009


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U.S. banks will have to raise fresh capital in 2009, and a sharp increase in credit-rating downgrades on mortgage-related securities will lead to further stresses on the companies' capital, according to prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney.

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