First Major Press Stories on IBM's New Mainframe

Not too many details yet, but there are now stories in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other major outlets. From the Journal:

Martin Kennedy, a managing director at Citigroup who oversees the company's 50 mainframes, says the new machine could help it roll out applications more quickly. "If the promise holds true, we can get some real value out of this," said Mr. Kennedy, who plans to upgrade all of its machines to the new system over the next year or two.

Much more information will be coming, I'm sure. Stay tuned.

UPDATE #1: It looks like there's some sort of press embargo that has been lifted, because the media are starting to carry more details. Here are some examples:

UPDATE #2: I have added some more press articles to the list above. Also, as Patrick Loftus points out in the comments, IBM has just posted several "redbooks" (technical manuals) for the new zEnterprise System:

I'm going to be busy reading.

UPDATE #3: IBM has now issued an official press release: "IBM Unveils zEnterprise System, Ushers in Era of Smarter Data Centers." Here's one section (emphasis mine):

From a performance standpoint, the zEnterprise System is the most powerful IBM system ever. The core server in the zEnterprise System--called zEnterprise 196--contains 96 of the world's fastest, most powerful microprocessors running at 5.2Ghz, capable of executing more than 50 billion instructions per second.

"The world's fastest, most powerful microprocessors." Wow. IBM has also posted a battery of official announcement letters:

IBM has got one heck of a significant set of announcements here.

by Timothy Sipples July 21, 2010 in Innovation, Systems Technology
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New Mainframe Announcement This Week!

IBM's Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge discussed IBM's 2Q2010 earnings and said this:

In the third quarter, we'll have Power7 across our entire UNIX product line, and will introduce and ship our next generation mainframe solution. [....] This week IBM will announce the next generation of System z, the fastest and most scalable enterprise server in the industry. This server provides 40 percent more performance on a mix of workloads than the equivalent z10. Some workloads can achieve greater performance improvements such as Linux which has 60 percent better performance and 35 percent lower cost. This announcement is the foundation for IBM’s first System of Systems, which provides the capability to manage 10 times the virtual machines of VMWare by extending mainframe governance to our other industry leading technologies.

Previously IBM's CFO suggested "second half," which usually means the fourth quarter. Obviously IBM is going to beat those expectations.

Stay tuned to The Mainframe Blog.

by Timothy Sipples July 19, 2010 in Innovation, Systems Technology
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News Roundup for Very Early July, 2010

Here are some of the random bits of mainframe-related news, in no particular order, that merit some editorial comments:

  • Comepay, a Russian payment kiosk provider, becomes the latest company to purchase their first IBM mainframe (a new System z10). IBM's press release highlights the fact the company will be running z/OS, WebSphere MQ, and DB2. IBM has been even more successful lately in payments processing, including replacement of HP/Tandem NonStop machines (which are troubled). Congratulations to Comepay, and welcome to the mainframe family.
  • BMC announced a new IMS utility: Fast Path Online Restructure/EP. The utility allows IMS FastPath customers to maintain near-continuous availability while restructuring their databases. That's not the only way to get the job done (one example), but it's another option.
  • Red Hat is busy prepping Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 for release later this year. RHEL 6 will be available for X86 (64-bit), Power, and System z processors. It will not be available for Intel/HP Itanium nor Oracle/Sun SPARC.
  • George Hulme at InformationWeek quotes John Pescatore at Gartner who describes the iPhone as a "little tiny mainframe," because "It is a closed platform... Apple decides what applications get on the whitelist...." I've met some really smart Gartner analysts and some who occasionally say not-so-smart things. Unfortunately Pescatore stumbles into the latter category with a supremely bad analogy. The iPhone and IBM's System z cannot be more different in their approach to openness. In its famous "Principle of Operations" (yes, "POO") book, IBM publishes the exact instruction set specifications for every revision of z/Architecture so that anybody, including for example Sine Nomine and their OpenSolaris for System z open source project, can write and run whatever software they wish on the mainframe, without even contacting IBM and without any "Application Store" approval. Moreover, unlike Microsoft for example, IBM does not employ anything like "Windows Genuine Advantage" (or whatever euphemism Microsoft now employs to describe their key locking scheme), which entirely prevents their software from running unless you enter a unique vendor-supplied activation code. I don't know what mainframe Pescatore is thinking (or not thinking) about, but it isn't IBM's. (And you can easily access z/OS from your iPhone and from other smartphones.) Now, if you, the mainframe customer and operator, want to lock down your mainframe-based application and information environments with the strongest available security features, you can. (And I've editorialized many times about how IT organizations should and should not apply those wonderful security controls at their disposal.) That's exactly what the best enterprise server must provide, and that means you are in full control, not IBM. What a terrible analogy with Apple! Note that while I am criticizing Pescatore's comment, I am not necessarily criticizing Apple. I buy and enjoy lots of Apple products, including the MacBook Pro I am typing on right now, but I also know what I'm getting into.
  • First Tennessee Bank is hiring in Maryville, Tennessee. Send your resumes.
  • Micro Focus loses its Chief Financial Officer. "Gardening leave"? That's new to me.
  • Jon William Toigo writes at the Continuity Forum that it's much more difficult to assure business continuity when critical application services are not running end-to-end on mainframes, and most businesses are failing to protect themselves. In contrast, the University of Texas announced the results of their mainframe disaster recovery rehearsal: all systems go. Want business continuity? Buy a pair of mainframes, put some kilometers between them, and use them for delivering critical application services, end-to-end.
  • While on the subject of business continuity problems (and in its fullest meaning), Twitter still needs to buy an IBM mainframe. Maybe two.
  • And finally, from YouTube (at about the 0:57 mark): "I tried to make the mainframe as, like, mainframe-y as it could get, with all the pipes and stuff." A historical retrospective, obviously.

UPDATE: I would like to acknowledge Tim Washer, somebody else with an excellent first name, and wish him the best in his new position. While at IBM, Tim was a social media pioneer and also a very funny guy. (He may still be funny.) He became an overnight international celebrity after he appeared in IBM's "Mainframe: The Art of the Sale" viral videos. Tim was also heavily involved in management (such as it is) and content creation for this blog, and obviously that will be his most important accomplishment in his entire lifetime, so he shouldn't even bother trying to top it. Thanks, Tim!

by Timothy Sipples July 1, 2010 in Current Affairs
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Migrate from Mainframe? To What?

Merv Adrian from Clabby Analytics challenges Gartner (in particular) in a very pointed article on Gartner's (sometime) mainframe migration advice and their apparent commercial conflicts. Adrian writes:

Gartner, the industry’s preeminent information technology (IT) research and analysis firm, has published several reports and case studies over the past few years that promote the idea that IT buyers should migrate their applications off of mainframes and move them to other, more "modern platforms." Part of Gartner’s logic, it appears, is that there is an impending-doom shortage of mainframe managers that is about to occur as elderly mainframe managers retire — so Gartner implies that moving applications to other "more modern" platforms might ensure the long term viability of enterprise applications on those platforms.

I have two major issues with Gartner’s perspective and its recommendation:

  1. Where is the proof that mainframe skills will decline to critical levels over the next several years? And,
  2. Which “modern platform” is Gartner advocating?

Just go read the whole article. I am curious to read Gartner's reply.

by Timothy Sipples July 1, 2010 in Future
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