Monday, 31 December 2007

IBM – the future

Directors and shareholders of IBM must have tucked in to their Christmas dinners with a certain amount of satisfaction that the company was still very successful and that there was plenty of revenue coming in from the various parts of the company.

I don’t want to start the New Year being thought of as the blogging equivalent of Cassandra, but things may not be all good at Chateau IBM.
Cassandra, you’ll remember from Greek mythology, was the daughter of Priam, king of Troy. She was given the gift of prescience by Apollo, who later, because she didn’t return his love, cursed Cassandra so no one would ever believe her predictions.

There’s really three areas I want to mention in this blog: hardware, IMS, and little systems.

In terms of hardware, I’m really thinking about selling new computers. Like new cars, every time IBM brings out a new mainframe, someone is going to want it! It will seem like an appropriate time to upgrade – and IBM’s sales figures will look good. But, in fact, it seems that IBM is only selling to the faithful. How often do you hear of a company getting rid of a room full of servers and installing a mainframe? Probably not that often. Exploiting zLinux on a mainframe may make it look like the mainframe is an exciting place to be, but revenues must be small compared to that achieved from z/OS. What I’m really saying is that IBM needs to find a way to reduce drop-out, ie small VM/VSE sites getting rid of their mainframes, and, more importantly, start selling to new customers.

Secondly, I have been doing a lot of work recently with IMS. That’s Information Management System, not IP Multimedia Subsystem. IMS, as you probably know is a database/transaction management system. It’s like DB2 and CICS combined (sort of). It’s used at lots of large mainframe sites and is the core of those companies’ Version 10 was announced a little while ago by IBM. So, IBM has this brilliant piece of software that so many major companies rely on, yet, when was the last time it sold a version of IMS to a new customer? I don’t actually know the answer to that question, but I’m let to believe that almost all IMS users have been users for a long time – ie there are no new customers. Come on IBM! If you have such a brilliant product, why aren’t you selling it?

How do you get people interested in mainframes? The answer is to have lots of them around and let people play with them. Now before you start sneering and saying that will never be possible, let me suggest a way. How about FLEX-ES from Fundamental Software? It provides a way for developers to test mainframe software on a laptop. Or there was UMX technologies. And, of course, Hercules – the Open Source mainframe emulator. Platform Solutions has a product called the Open Mainframe. There’s even Sim390. If IBM was to embrace these technologies and not try to smash them like the Hulk, people would be more familiar with mainframe systems because they would be more commonplace.

I have a final revolutionary thought. How about VM on Intel chips? Everyone says that Microsoft’s attempts at virtualization are a bit weak at the moment. VMware seems to have the lead in the market place. Why not adapt VM itself to run on Intel servers. This would be a good way of training new people in mainframe concepts and it becomes only a short step for them to become mainframers. Why not allow Hercules or FLEX-ES technology to plug in to a server running VM. That way z/OS would become a mid-range system and sales would grow hugely. Eventually those mid-range people would definitely consider buying a shiny new mainframe because it would not be a risky step for them to take.

This is the way to a successful future for IBM, and they might even sell IMS to a new site – but will they believe me?

Happy New Year to everyone.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Is anybody there?

It was 2001 the last time Christmas fell on a Tuesday, and Tuesday seems like the worst day of the week to have such a major holiday. This is because there is only one working day between a weekend of parties and the Christmas holidays, and I’m sure anyone who can, is not going to be working a full day! Yes, nursing staff and similar will be there all day, but I’m thinking of office workers. My impression is that if there are people in the office today (and reading this blog), they are going to be hoping to get away at lunch time. And I’m sure many offices are not going to bother to even pretend to open.

Then there’s Thursday and Friday. Many people will be recovering on Thursday and so won’t go in. And if you’ve had four days off already, who wants to turn up on Friday? Not too many people I would think.

Next week looks a bit of a nightmare too. Monday is New Year’s eve, so who wants to go into the office for one day, knowing you have the next day off? So it looks like next Wednesday before any productive work will be done – wow! If you wanted to invade a western country without anyone noticing for over a week, today would be the day. If you wanted to make a terrorist statement, then today is definitely not the day, because, as I said, no-one will notice until the end of next week!

So, if you are in work, what’s left for you to do?

Obviously, if you work on a mainframe you can spend five minutes completing the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2008 user survey. That’s located at If you’re at a PR company or vendor/consultancy/service provider, you could fill in the form at for a free entry in the Yearbook when it’s published in January – to an anticipated audience of 10,000 to 15,000 worldwide.

What else? Well, if you’re an IMS user you can join the Virtual IMS Connection user group at There’s a free newsletter coming out in January for all members, and the next virtual presentation is on the 5th February, when NEON Enterprise Software's Bill Keene will be talking about IMS disaster recovery preparation. If you’re a vendor of IMS-related software, then there are highly-focused advertising opportunities to reach IMS professionals. Contact for the early-bird pricing structure.

You can view my corporate greetings card at

Have a good Christmas. And, if you don’t have decorated trees, Father Christmas, and presents where you are, have a good time anyway.

Monday, 17 December 2007

SOA – still offering availability

In a year that saw data centres wanting to turn themselves green and mid-range server users discovering that virtualization (or sometimes simply emulation) was the ONLY project worth working on, we find that the acronym of the year 2006 is still with us and still remarkably youthful and invigorated. Yes, despite the important also-rans mentioned above, SOA wins the award of acronym of the year 2007 for the second time in row – a feat last achieved in the heady days of client/server.

SOA – Service-Oriented Architecture (or humorously referred to as Same Old Architecture) – is still, as late in the year as December, getting product announcements linked to it.

For example, Iona Technologies has just announced it is updating its Artix and Fuse SOA products. Artix is a suite of SOA infrastructure products designed to enable customers to deploy SOA in a distributed environment. Version 5.1 of the Artix Advanced SOA Infrastructure Suite include: Version 5.1 of Artix ESB, Version 5.1 of Artix Orchestration, Version 1.5 of Artix Registry/Repository, and Version 3.6.3 of Artix Data Services. Iona claims that Artix Registry/Repository allows customers to utilize their active SOA governance capabilities to effectively develop, test, deploy, and manage the life-cycle of services across their distributed SOA environments. With the update, ActiveBPEL 4.0, which is embedded in the Artix Orchestration software product, now supports BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) 2.0, which offers capabilities for message attachments and additional security.

New to the Fuse line is Fuse HQ, which acts as a management console to manage open source products from a single console. It also can manage software such as Web servers. Fuse HQ is based on Hyperic Enterprise technology. Other Fuse products updated include Version 3.3 of Fuse ESB 3.3 (based on Apache ServiceMix 3.3), Version 5.0 of Fuse Message Broker 5.0 (based on Apache ActiveMQ 5.0), Version 2.0.3 of Fuse Services Framework 2.0.3 (based on the Apache CXF 2.0.3 project), and Version 1.3 of Fuse Mediation Router (based on Apache Camel 1.3).

DataDirect Technologies (part of Progress Software) has announced Version 3.1 of its DataDirect XML Converters and DataDirect XQuery products. DataDirect XML Converters are Java and .NET components providing bi-directional, programmatic access to most non-XML files including flat files and other legacy formats.

Quite separately, Quest Software has agreed to buy PassGo Technologies, a company specializing in access control and identity management products. What makes PassGo interesting is that it was founded in 1983 and was then acquired by Axent. Axent was then taken over by Symantec, and then in 2001 the original founders did a management buyout and got the company back again. OK, nothing to do with SOA, I just thought it was interesting.
So SOA is still an important component of the enterprise environment as we come to the end of 2007.

What else is important? Filling in the mainframe user survey at; if you’re a vendor, filling in the vendor survey at And if you are an IMS site or IMS vendor then join the Virtual IMS Connection virtual user group at

Monday, 10 December 2007

IBM and Sun are very cosy!

It’s like young love – all sharing and caring, and long endearing looks. Yes, IBM and Sun Microsystems, who used to take every opportunity to denigrate each other’s products, it seems are now the best of friends – or even closer than that. Before I sink into a morass of poetic drivel and you find yourselves reaching for the vomit bags, I better explain.
It all started with OpenSolaris running on mainframes, and continued with Sun getting further into the mainframe tape business. Where will it end?

IBM announced back in August that it would now support Sun’s Solaris operating system, but it used the recent Gartner Data Center Conference to demonstrate it. z/VM, that old workhorse for making just about anything appear to happen on a mainframe has, not unsurprisingly, been used by IBM to make Solaris run on IBM hardware.

It’s fairly clear what Sun get out of the deal. They are very keen on virtualization (IBM and VM went through this phase back in the 1960s – and used it as the basis for PR/SM some years later). Sun’s ongoing xVM initiative provides a way to control lots of different bits of kit that a potential customer might have installed. 2007 was the year when data centres went green and one way of achieving a move in that direction was virtualization. Virtualization – and I realise you’re all thinking grandmother, eggs, suck, and teach at this point – reduces the need for hardware boxes to be installed because images of that hardware can appear to exist on other hardware. That hardware can now run multiple images and a whole lot of hardware can be cleared out of the machine room. And a whole lot of hardware that would probably have been bought, doesn’t need to be. So lots of savings and lots of reduction in carbon footprints. So, with this deal, one of the boxes that Sun can link to and help manage is an IBM mainframe.

Sun’s xVM Ops Center is described as a highly scalable data centre automation tool for managing heterogeneous environments. Again, according to Sun, it can be used for discovery, monitoring, operating systems provisioning, comprehensive updates, patch management, firmware upgrades and hardware management.

I’m not so clear what IBM gets from the deal. Perhaps a way to prevent low use mainframe users – the VM/VSE crowd – from dropping their mainframe and using Linux servers instead.

A company called Sine Nomine Associates were responsible for porting the code to z/VM.

Sun has been selling mainframe storage since 2005 when it acquired Storagetek. Sun has just announced a performance enhancement to its StorageTek VSM (Virtual Storage Manager) 5, which they claim adds 53 percent more throughput from the initial VSM 5 release in mid-2006. The VSM 5 architecture uses the StorageTek SL8500 tape library and StorageTek T-series tape drives in its operation to optimize tape application performance. Since the middle of last year when Jonathan Schwartz became president/CEO, Sun has realized just how much money it make from the mainframe world and has been directing its attention in that direction.

I expect Sun and IBM will be meeting each other’s parents soon, and who knows what could happen after that!!

On a different subject, now is the time for all mainframers to complete the survey at This will ensure that this year’s mainframe user survey in the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2008 has the most accurate information about mainframe use. You get a free copy of the survey results.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Another one bites the dust!

Every few years I get involved in a project that requires a list of mainframe vendors to be produced. This task in itself can be quite dull and trivial. The interesting part comes the following year when it needs updating. There are always so many companies that have been swallowed up.

What started me thinking about this again was the news recently about IBM taking over Cognos. Is this a sensible move for IBM? With so many other companies out there, why choose that one? Well IBM has recently been partnering with Cognos, Business Intelligence, and Hyperion to deliver BI (Business Intelligence) to customers. Hyperion was recently taken over by Oracle, and two other BI vendors, ALG Software and Cartesis were acquired by Business Objects, which in turn is being acquired by SAP. So maybe IBM needed to get Cognos before someone else did.

And if that’s the case, who was its main rival? That’s difficult to say, IBM may well have been worried by Oracle or SAP getting their hands on Cognos. But perhaps the most likely rival was Hewlett-Packard. HP offers a business intelligence and data warehousing platform built using products from Cognos. HP may well have felt that getting their hands on Cognos would have been a natural fit – and now IBM has blown that idea out of the water.

It looks like Rob Ashe, the CEO at Cognos is to join IBM, and Cognos will become part of IBM’s Information Management Software division.

But going back to last year’s list of vendors, I notice that Acucorp is now part of Micro Focus, Consul is now also part of IBM, Cybermation was swallowed by CA, Diversified Software is part of ASG, and Farabi belongs to Seagull Software. And that’s just the first half of the alphabet!

Talking of lists... if you’re a vendor, consultant, or service provider, and you would like a free entry for your company in the 2008 edition of the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook, you should complete the form at If you had an entry in the 2007 Yearbook, you can use the form to amend an existing entry. If you are a mainframe user, then the annual survey form is at The Yearbook will appear early in 2008 and is free.

Also, Tuesday 4 December at 10:30 CST (4:30 GMT) is the first free Webinar for the virtual IMS user group at The virtual user group meeting will last about an hour and includes a presentation by NEON Enterprise Software’s Kristine Harper. It’s free to join the group and take part in the virtual meeting.