Sunday, 22 November 2009

Guest blog – Shadow ROI

This week, for a change, I’m publishing a blog entry from DataDirect’s Jeff Overton, product marketing manager for Shadow. Jeff looks at the return on investment for Shadow users through Mainline/DataDirect TCO calculator.

For horizontal technologies, like integration, it is difficult to quantify Return On Investment (ROI) because it underpins many business systems. What can be quantified is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Nowhere is TCO more important than mainframes, where a single IBM System z10 can have the capacity of 1500 or more Intel servers. Licensing hardware and software on such an enterprise scale can be costly, so there is, and always has been, a need to manage this capacity and understand how its resources, such as processor time, are being allocated.

IBM’s line of specialty engines, including the System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP), are designed to help lower mainframe TCO by processing qualified workloads rather than having this work processed on the General Purpose Processor (GPP). These engines are just like a GPP except:
  • Their capacity is typically not used in calculating software licensing fees based on mainframe capacity.
  • Their processing speed is not governed, that is they run at full speed all the time
  • Their processing capacity is enormous – a single zIIP engine for an IBM System z10 machine has a capacity of 920 MIPS.
At Progress DataDirect ( we recognized the potential TCO savings from these engines, and four years ago re-architected DataDirect Shadow, our single unified platform for mainframe integration, to exploit these engines. In 2007 we introduced the first generation of that effort, and earlier this year introduced the second generation. Today we can offload up to 99% of the integration processing performed by the product. It is important to note that our implementation is in strict accordance with ISV use of the zIIP and does not cause IBM or any other third-party code to become zIIP-enabled. The market reception to leveraging zIIP specialty engines to legally reduce integration costs has been extremely well received.

However, IT decision makers requested we provide more estimates of the potential savings based on THEIR workloads. In response we partnered with Wintergreen research (, a well-respected analyst firm specializing in TCO/ROI analysis, to deliver a Web-based calculator ( The Calculator models the potential capacity savings, measured in MIPS, as well as the monetary savings. It uses what is called the Willhoit constant, named after Gregg Willhoit, our Chief Software Architect, who developed the algorithm that estimates the offload of DataDirect Shadow processing. Today the calculator covers two processor-intensive types of integration processing: Web Services and SQL. In as little as an hour, our field-engineering team can quantify the savings using your workload profile for:
  • Number and type of Web services (requester or provider) or SQL statement type (join, aggregate, etc.)
  • Size of SOAP payload or estimated result set size for SQL
  • Invocations over a modelled timeframe – such as per-day or per-peak period to help model peak capacity requirements
  • Cost per MIPS. Because cost can be calculated differently, the model offers the option to use the comprehensive Wintergreen mainframe-costing model, which includes hardware, software, data centre, and labour costs, or a way to use your own numbers.
Using these core metrics, the capacity and monetary savings are presented immediately. The Calculator goes further by modelling this workload out over an additional five years and provides parameters to account for changes in workload, mainframe capacity, and MIPS costs. This is a great, low-investment process to quickly get a clear picture of the costs over the typical five-year planning horizon that many organizations rely on.

In as little as an hour, IT can be in a much stronger position to provide detailed and accurate information to support ROI analysis of not only mainframe integration investments but the potentially large MIPS dividend available to the entire mainframe from utilizing zIIP specialty engines to process up to 99% of the integration processing performed by Progress DataDirect Shadow.

Thanks Jeff for being our first guest blogger. And remember, there's still time to complete the mainframe user survey or a vendor entry for the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2010.

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