What (More) Open Source Software Do You Want for z/OS?

One of my colleagues recently asked me, "So, Tim, what open source software do you think z/OS users want?"

"Why, that's an excellent question," I replied. "I have lots of ideas." [I shared my wonderful ideas — all quite brilliant, in fact. :-)] "But why not also ask other z/OS users that question?" (As IBM's Bob Hoey often reminds his trainees: "Ask the customer? Brilliant!")

There's lots of open source software already available for z/OS. The z/OS Ported Tools collection is only one example. To give some more examples, Dovetailed Technologies explains how to install and configure Apache Tomcat, Apache Derby, and JSPWiki on z/OS.

What else do you want to see? Post a comment with your open source wishlist. The more information you can provide about why particular open source products are important, the better. And in some cases you may discover the open source product you wish for is already available.

UPDATE: Dovetailed Technologies has established the Open Source for z/OS Wiki. There's still missing content, but it's a good start to help focus the open source community and z/OS users alike to promote further development of open source software. Please head over there, register, and fill in missing Wiki entries.

by Timothy Sipples April 21, 2009
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1Q2009 IBM Earnings

IBM reported 1Q2009 earnings earlier today. IBM does not report System z software results separately, but System z hardware revenue declined 19 percent year to year (12 percent at constant currency). However, MIPS shipments grew by 18 percent — the fifth consecutive quarter of double digit MIPS (mainframe capacity) growth as mainframe customers continue to expand their installations aggressively. (Simple math suggests they enjoyed lower per-MIPS pricing in the process.) And, while North America and particularly Western Europe were weak performers, System z revenue grew a whopping 37 percent in growth markets (up 60 percent in constant currency).

The System z10 EC model started shipping in 1Q2008, so this past quarter is the first with a year-to-year System z10 comparison.

by Timothy Sipples April 20, 2009
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Oracle Bids on Mainframe Tape Vendor

According to The Wall Street JournalOracle offered $9.50 per share to buy Sun Microsystems, and Sun's board accepted the offer. Sun is the second largest vendor of mainframe tape systems.

UPDATE: Yes Mark, our headline writer had a lot of fun. Thanks!

by Timothy Sipples April 20, 2009
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Vern Watts: Computing Pioneer

Vern Watts died on April 4, 2009, at the age of 77. He is widely and famously known as the "Father of IMS" because of his multi-decade role as its chief architect, beginning when IMS began. He "retired" in 2004 after 48 years, but Vern never left IMS or IBM. As "Distinguished Engineer Emeritus" he worked at IBM two days per week until he passed, mentoring and advising colleagues, and extending his IBM career to well over half a century. (He also worked three days per week at ScaleDB after his "retirement.") He is survived by his loving wife, Carol, several other family members, and, of course, the amazing IMS middleware, with the new Version 11 now undergoing testing. His incredible work lives on, every minute, round the clock and around the world.

by Timothy Sipples April 19, 2009
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Mainframe Potpourri for Mid-April, 2009

Once again it's time for everyone's favorite Mainframe Blog featurette: The Mainframe Potpourri. Are you ready for some pseudo-random reads?

  1. Miya Knights writes about 21st Century Mainframes.
  2. An article in HPCwire, Hard Times May Boost Linux in Financial Services, mentions the Bank of New Zealand's efficiency gains with Linux on System z.
  3. InfoSec, an IT services company, takes advantage of the stimulus buzz and announces a Mainframe Services Stimulus Package.
  4. MetLife has far better disaster recovery capabilities now, thanks to mainframe technologies. Previously it took MetLife three days (!) to recover in the event of a disaster. Now they're down to 4 to 6 hours. For real, because they thoroughly tested and rehearsed. (Have you rehearsed your end-to-end disaster recovery plan lately? Don't forget to eliminate at least half your employees during the rehearsal, including your most "critical" IT employees, because they'll be busy protecting their families or gone in a real disaster.)
  5. Big Iron's Appeal to Young IT Pros, reports Baseline. In the same publication Elizabeth Bell writes about The Magic of Mainframes.
  6. The Guardian (U.K.) celebrates COBOL which just reached its 50th birthday. You're looking more beautiful (and useful) than ever, COBOL. Happy birthday!
  7. Big Iron Bucks a Trend, says Enterprise Systems Journal. 
  8. Akhtar Pasha reports for Express Computer (India) on the growing success of System z among India's corporations and government agencies. (Full disclosure: I have supported some of these customers and/or associated IBM teams.)
  9. Will U.S. state governments ever get mainframe computing right? Or are they too busy making the same mistakes private industry did 20 years ago? You be the judge. Here are two dispatches, one from Texas, and the other from Florida. Of course, it'd be awfully nice if The Orlando Sentinel could report accurately on technology. I've read their article twice, and it's a mystery what's going on. Is Florida really running an actual System/360 or System/370? I doubt it, but that's what the article says.
  10. Jason Perlow has sage advice for Twitter, which is increasingly unable to scale and is experiencing various and growing service problems: buy a System z mainframe, maybe two. To which I'd add (if Twitter is reading): check out z/TPF. That's what Visa uses, and your application is an awful lot like Visa's. And you get to do all your programming in Linux. You guys can figure that out, right?
  11. Meet Bob Woods: musician, locomotive engineer, and mainframe programmer.
  12. Novell announces SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 for System z.
  13. Remember I said that IBM is investing heavily in new business intelligence capabilities for System z? There's yet another example to report: IBM announces InfoSphere Data Warehouse on System z.
  14. Using Microsoft .NET applications with DB2 for z/OS? Optimize them using pureQuery.
  15. Yes, it's 2009, but rewind to 1982 when IBM published The Economic Value of Rapid Response Time. Given today's ever more complex and delay-prone multi-multi-tier architectures versus the vastly simpler System z architectural pattern, that article is more relevant than ever. Learn well, Grasshopper.
  16. Marist College has published executive interviews from its Enterprise Computing Community Forum last month. There are some informative videos to watch.
  17. Can you make it to Belgium in early May? (Do you like fantastic chocolate?) Attend the System z Technical Conference.
  18. Or can you make it to Gaithersburg, Maryland, U.S.A. on April 21 and 22? Then you can attend the TCP/IP Networking Technologies Update, covering z/OS 1.9 and 1.10. There's no tuition charge. Contact Chris Newman by April 16 if you'd like to reserve a seat. First come, first served, just like z/OS with only a single WLM service class.
  19. Happy birthday, IBM mainframe! The revolution continues...with Portuguese subtitles:

by Timothy Sipples April 13, 2009
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Happy Birthday, Mainframe!

On April 7, 2009, the IBM mainframe "officially" celebrates its 45th birthday. That's because on April 7, 1964, IBM announced the System/360, the direct ancestor of today's System z10. (The first System/360 machines actually shipped in early 1965.)

There's just nothing else to point to that's even remotely similar to this accomplishment. The mainframe, if anything, has widened its lead in the computing industry. A partial analogy can be found in Boeing's 737. Boeing began designing the original 737 in May, 1964. But even that analogy doesn't quite fit.

There's a lot of credit to go around, but the biggest credit has to go to mainframe users. Mainframe users continue to challenge IBM to keep pushing the boundaries of technology, but with a fanatical focus on enterprise business needs. You know, all the "dull, boring" stuff like being able to generate millions of customer bills perfectly, every time, and before deadline — and satisfy 100 or more other business functions concurrently in the same highest quality way. It doesn't matter whether those business functions are over 40 years young or less than 5 minutes old, they just run and run and run and....

Next up: the mainframe's 50th birthday, in 2014. I expect IBM's engineers, software and hardware, will continue to amaze and thrill.

by Timothy Sipples April 8, 2009
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IBM Introduces PC-DOS for System z

We've continued to see an increase in the number and scope of operating systems running on the IBM mainframe. Mainframes now run z/OS, Linux on System z, z/VM, z/VSE, z/TPF, OpenSolaris for System z, and UTS. Mantissa is even working on bringing Microsoft Windows to System z. Yet while these operating systems (except Windows) are modern enough for many customers, other customers told me that they wanted even more cutting edge technology, and they wanted additional options for consolidating their most important workloads.

Fortunately IBM listened carefully to customer requirements, including requirements from SHARE (MR0401200900, MR2009040100, and MR0020090401). Today IBM introduces an innovative, new mainframe operating system: PC-DOS for System z.

PC-DOS for System z is compatible with the broad range of PC-DOS and MS-DOS applications available in the marketplace today. However, the System z version of PC-DOS offers unprecedented scalability, performance, availability, and security. In testing conducted together with Marist College using a prerelease version of PC-DOS for System z running under z/VM, each incoming student received a new virtual instance of PC-DOS for each day of the academic year. All PC-DOS instances ran flawlessly, offering every student an average of 0.5 seconds response time per task with no task taking more than 2 seconds. (The students ran a mix of Castle Wolfenstein, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?, and original Doom workloads, with some batch-oriented XCOPYs and PC-DOS REXX programs.) Marist's installation demonstrated an impressive 99.999% service availability to their students, with only a brief few seconds of interruption when a (now expelled) freshman tripped over a set of FICON cables, triggering an automatic and transparent recovery at Marist's PC-DOS for System z alternate site.

PC-DOS for System z inherits most of the features found in PC-DOS for PCs, but there are a few differences. The PC-DOS kernel has been recompiled to exploit System z hardware decimal floating point, if available, and there is a special high performance zBIOS that supports the new kernel. EMS and XMS memory regions can reside above the bar, in 64-bit storage, and they are now key-protected. (PC-DOS for System z requires a z/Architecture machine.) The "C:\" prompt and about 80% of the COMMAND.COM shell can execute on zIIP engines, although most PC-DOS applications execute on CPs unless individual vendors have zIIP-enabled them. While floppy disk support has been deprecated, IBM extended PC-DOS to support ECKD storage devices, although they appear to PC-DOS users as ordinary hard disks compatible with FDISK. IBM has added a special version of Lotus 1-2-3 to PC-DOS for System z, called "Lotus 1-2-3 for PC-DOS for System z Enterprise Edition with Tivoli OMEGAMON XE Enablement." This version is provided with PC-DOS for System z at no additional charge. IBM issued a Statement of Direction indicating that the company plans to enhance Lotus 1-2-3 to exploit hardware decimal floating point in the future.

This new operating system will be generally available on April 26, 2009. IBM has not yet set exact pricing, but IBM says that PC-DOS for System z will have a new pricing metric known as "Hiper Capacity Quarterly License Charge" (HCQLC) which offers customers increased flexibility and better alignment with quarterly corporate financial reporting. Like z/OS, PC-DOS for System z will be available as a base product plus several optional elements. DFSMSdos, DFMSMSdos,hsm, Security Server (including RACF), RMF, HLASM Toolkit, and even GDDM features are among the optional elements.

Borland's Vice President of Marketing, Sarah Smythe, said, "We at Borland enthusiastically applaud IBM for introducing PC-DOS for System z to an eager market. PC-DOS for System z helps our customers scale their mission critical applications to the Web and beyond. Borland plans to release many of its development tools for this new operating system, including Turbo Pascal for System z which will be available within 30 days."

Gartner's lead platform analyst, Trevor Tanner, noted that "IBM has at least a 5 year lead (0.8 percent probability) in the fast growing enterprise PC-DOS/MS-DOS virtualization market with their announcement (0.82 percent probability). In the midst of a severe global recession (0.99 percent probability), PC-DOS for System z should elicit considerable interest, especially among clients who do not currently do much business with IBM. Gartner advises our clients to subscribe to our latest report (0.2 percent probability) for details on the value of PC-DOS for System z in their enterprises."

by Timothy Sipples April 1, 2009
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