Late February, 2009, Mainframe Potpourri

Here's my semi-regular update on what's fascinating in the mainframe computing world, or at least what's interesting to me. Enjoy!

  1. IDC figured out that the server hardware industry suffered its worst quarterly drop in sales since the dot-com bust nearly a decade ago. (Has it been that long already?) However, high-end servers (that'd include especially mainframes) did best. Here's my theory why: Mainframe-related expenditures are always scrutinized. Those tend to be the upfront and honest expenses, with little or no hidden cost. However, in these distressing economic times, every other expenditure is under a microscope, and many of them are not (and never were) financially justified, especially when exposing previously hidden (but painfully real) costs.
  2. IBM announced full disk encryption, including support for safely and securely managing keys with z/OS. (Remember: If you lose the keys, you lose the encrypted data. It's a great idea for z/OS to manage your keys, including through disaster recovery procedures.) One interesting benefit: you no longer have to worry about wiping or destroying encrypted hard disks at the end of their lifecycles.
  3. Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS) selects a new and highly resilient System z solution to provide interbank funds transfer in that fast growing southeast Asian market.
  4. Mantissa Corporation will show how you can run unmodified X86 software on System z under z/VM, including X86-based Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems, middleware, and applications. (Yes, you read that correctly. Ain't virtualization nifty? Maybe IBM should call mainframes "System u," for universal.) Mark your calendars and ask lots of good questions at SHARE: Mantissa's unveiling starts at 8:00 a.m. Texas time on March 6.
  5. Looking for a talented z/OS mainframe professional or three? You might want to interview some of the most recent "Master the Mainframe" contest winners. The top 5 winners all receive MSI Wind computers, and IBM awarded many other prizes to nearly 1,000 other contestants. Bryan Weaver from Northern Illinois University took the top spot, followed by Yeming Hu (Dalhousie University), David Jones (West Texas A&M), Bin Sun (Syracuse University), and Jinhu Huang (Seneca College). Congratulations all! Missed this year's contest? Don't worry: check this page every so often for details on the next contest which will likely start in August or September.
  6. According to that Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the other": 1. "The Social Security Administration has no way to back up its data, and it's still six months away from bringing its initial backup online." 2. "....The agency still is using more than 38 million lines of Cobol code in a siloed and mainframe environment." I'm going to take a wild (but educated) guess that those 38 million lines of COBOL, along with their directly accessed data, are backed up and, further more, are the only valuable IT asset fighting against the Social Security Administration's data center space and power constraints referenced elsewhere in the article. Am I right?
  7. Erika was shot dead in the mainframe room? I guess I missed that episode.
  8. Henry Newman says that file system management is headed for (or is already in) trouble. "The funny thing is that ... mainframe people are laughing at us, as MVS has had this type of information for years."
  9. David Stephens has a new book and answers the question What on Earth is a Mainframe?
  10. Unisys drops support for the long-troubled Itanium CPUs, leaving HP as the lone major (or even medium-sized) remaining Itanium server vendor.
  11. Jason Perlow writes: "The mainframe never died folks, he was just sleeping and waiting for this moment to arrive."
  12. IBM has many more teleconferences scheduled, including "Build a Cost-Effective ESB Solution." Also, the z Oracle Special Interest Group meets April 20 to 24 for its annual conference, and IBM has a great Communications Controller for Linux on System z (CCL) installation and configuration workshop scheduled March 24 to 27 near Washington, D.C. (CCL replaces and consolidates 3745 and 3746 controllers. Contact Linda Harrison if you'd like more information on attending.)
  13. Sun Microsystems builds an "eco-friendly" data center in Colorado. Oh, there's a big reason why it could be so eco-friendly. (Take a look at the photo, front left.)

by Timothy Sipples February 25, 2009
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Paving the On Ramp to the Super Highway Mainframe!

For you friends of the mainframe, you know that its the "super highway" of computing. But a lot of people believe it has a dirt road for an onramp! IBM Rational has been paving that road with a number of offerings to modernize your current mainframe programming environment, but to also simplify new workload deployments as well. There are a couple of web casts targeted toward financial customers in the month of February.

First is on Feb 12 - Overcoming IT Challenges and meeting business objectives in the banking industry.  Here's a link to register for that webcast.

Then on Feb 25th and 26th, there will be a webcast entitled: Faster payback for the banking industry using application development solutions from IBM.
These are broadcast at different times to meet worldwide needs. Register for those webcasts at: 

And for your expeditionary planning, Rational will be hosting it's annual Software Development Conference in Orlando, FL, USA from May 31-June 4, 2009.
Top 10 reasons not to miss this year’s IBM Rational Software Conference!
    1.    Over 400 sessions in 18 tracks
    2.    Interact with over 4,000 of your industry peers 
    3.    Keynotes with industry-leading experts
    4.    IBM Expo featuring key IBM Business Partners and the IBM Solution Center
    5.    IBM Rational Labs (see possible future capabilities in our products!)
    6.    3 and 5 hour Technical Workshops 
    7.    Free Certification testing
    8.    Executive Summit 2009
    9.    Interactive Birds-of-a-Feather Sessions
    10. Unlimited networking opportunities
And just as important in this cost conscious environment, register today with discount code SZ09 and get $100 off the registration fee.
Register at

by JimPorell February 11, 2009 in Systems Technology
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Dynamic Infrastructure + Mainframe = Smart Planet

The electronic age has changed the world remarkably in a single generation. Communication is now instantaneous, across the globe, making it smaller and flatter. And now, with information at our finger tips, with so many electronic devices, the world is getting smarter as well. IBM recently introduced its initiatives for a Smart Planet. Today, IBM brought more offerings toward that objective through the announcement of its Dynamic Infrastructure.


The Dynamic Infrastructure is intended to make the best use of the computing resources available to solve any type of problem that we can foresee. Its objective is to improve service toward satisfying a problem, while reducing costs and managing risks. Problems today can be much more complex thanPicture1 they were in the past. They are no longer single threaded transactions that might have been quickly solved. Many problems today might be a series of transactions, across a workflow with dependencies from pre-existing information that might have occurred just moment ago. This form of coordination requires rapid response and coordination. To that end, the role of a mainframe has evolved to be an important element of this dynamic infrastructure, in collaboration with other systems to meet business problem objectives.


Businesses have learned the hard way that, yes indeed, they can throw technology at a problem. Hundreds of individual servers can be strung together to create a complex workflow from which a series of problems can be solved. But in many cases, these processors may be under utilized, require massive power and by the sheer redundancy necessary to meet the business problems goals, there will be replication of information and data across the infrastructure which can add security risk and complexity in managing risk.


The goals of the Dynamic Infrastructure are to improve the service of the overall heterogeneous computing infrastructure and to manage this community toward common goals. In addition, costs for computing and risks must be reduced at the same time. This is where the ever evolving mainframe can be of tremendous value. The mainframe’s heritage includes meeting strict service level agreements for business resilience, security, utilization, storage management and business process integration. The goal of IBM’s System z is to extend these strengths into other computing architectures when they are used in collaboration with the mainframe. As a result, a heterogeneous computing infrastructure, made up of IBM’s Power and Modular and storage systems, in conjunction with System z will be enabled to tackle business problems in creative ways. The use of management software and middleware from IBM's Tivoli division, as well as the experience of IBM’s Global Technology Services personnel, will further improve the capabilities to a business to improve service, reduce costs and manage risks.


And examples of Dynamic Infrastructure are already evident where organizations see tremendous value. From managing traffic more efficiently to providing a more resiliently financial trading environment to meet customer demands, businesses are seeing operational savings that are yielding savings and benefits to their consumers as well. In essence, it’s yielding a Smarter Planet for all of us to benefit.

by JimPorell February 9, 2009 in Systems Technology
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Acts Corp Technical Awareness Series (TAS) May 5-7 Hilton Head


    Invitation for IT Executives:
Please join us for the 22nd annual Technical Awareness Series (TAS) seminars May 5-7 at Hilton Head Island, SC.
Our teach team this year includes IBM Fellow Dr. Guru  Rao, and prominent IT consultants John Kirschner and Bill Carico.
All the info, including instructor bios and online registration, may be found at
Each session is standalone so you can attend all or part as your needs dictate.  Please register today!
Here is the agenda for this 3 day event:
Day 1 morning:

  • IT Trends - Virtualization, Server Consolidation, Unified Communication, Green Computing, Cloud Computing, SaaS, SOA, exposing myths.
  • Vendor Strategies (HP, Sun, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Novell). Where are vendors trying to take us? Looking to the Future.
  • The Executive's Guide to the Mainframe - The latest on System z, the next wave of Specialty Engines update on z/OS, zLinux, and z/VM

Day 1 afternoon:

  • IT Security - protecting your business, protecting a nation, vulnerabilities, costs of breaches, evolving malware, future threats, insider threats (fascinating stats from 150 incidents), NATO's prep for Cyberwar, Methods of Attack, Lines of Defense

Day 2 (all day):

  • Enterprise Alignment: Linking Business Strategy and Enterprise Architecture - first steps, governance, roles, portfolio management, Master Data Management, Optimizing IM and IT, Zachmann, Federal Enterprise Arch, DOD, architectural patterns from and IBM and Microsoft
  • Getting Ready for Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) - motivations, first principles, levels of integration

Day 3 morning:

  • The Modernizaton of Applications: Merits and Demerits - extreme programming, agile development methods, scrum masters, best practices.

Day 3 afternoon:

  • Federal IT Woes and Remedies - Why federal IT projects fail and how to fix them. Discussions on best practices, complexity, politics, and bureaucracy.
  • The Executive's Guide to ITIL V3 - An overview of ITIL, learning from ITIL successes and failures, the need for ITIL champions.


by JimPorell February 2, 2009
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