Friday, 23 July 2010

zEnterprise - three into one does go!

On Thursday 22 July 2010, IBM announced not just their latest mainframe – the zEnterprise – but also a roadmap of how data centres should be – unified, in a single box, and controlled by the best equipped platform in that box. Once code-named Gryphon (you know, the mythical creature with an eagle’s head and lion’s body), IBM’s new hybrid machine (although in the UK you might hear it referred to as a coalition!) brings together the latest mainframe technology with POWER7 and x86 IBM blade systems, giving potential users z/OS, AIX, and Linux all on the one box. And all this is controlled from the mainframe console by the new Unified Resource Manager. You might like to think of this new mainframe as a virtualization hub that manages other workloads in the data centre. Three platforms in one box.

IBM’s view is that data centres are running more than one lot of hardware, and sites are experiencing problems with space for the hardware, keeping control of these different systems, and even communicating between them – so integrating them seems like the obvious answer. And that’s what they’ve done.

But more has come out of the $1.5 billion spent on research and development. The zEnterprise 196 (IBM's name for the two-rack mainframe) includes 96 5.2GHz (up from 4.4GHz on the z10) quad processors (80 of which are used by the client, and the rest are used by the machine itself) and up to 3TB of memory (double the z10s). The new microprocessors offer 100 new mainframe machine code instructions.

In terms of performance, the zEnterprise can handle 50 billion instructions per second, providing a 40-60% performance increase over the z10 without using any more power. A water cooling option, could help reduce energy consumption by up to 12 percent by removing air heat. It also includes the first implementation of RAID memory, which is like RAID for disks, and could be used to increase uptime to beyond the 99.999 availability of current mainframe technology.

The zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) operates as a tightly-coupled extension to the mainframe through a high-performance private network. The users then add POWER7 or System x blades to four racks. IBM says that POWER7 blades will be available by the end of this year, with System x blades scheduled to ship in the first half of 2011. The new Unified Resource Manager will allow users to install, monitor, manage, optimize, diagnose, and service resources and workloads from a single console across the entire infrastructure.

The new machine includes a DB2 accelerator, called the Smart Analytics Optimzer, which is able to routes database queries either to the mainframe DB2 system or a specialist blade server optimized for smart analytics. IBM estimates that complex database queries can experience up to a ten-fold performance improvement in this environment.

Can you afford it? IBM suggests using zEnterprise will reduce cost of ownership by 55% – but didn’t disclose the actual price. They did say that its price relative to capacity would be lower than for the z10!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Mainframe Workbench from Compuware

Compuware are excited about their "ALL NEW Compuware Mainframe Workbench". They tell me the product is a modernized open development environment that introduces a new graphical user interface for managing mainframe application development activities currently performed in the character-based TSO/ISPF environment. It provides a common framework and single launch-point from which to initiate Compuware's mainframe products. And if your site has other products installed then don't worry, because it's extensible to support other development tooling as well.

Compuware assure me that the look-and-feel of the Workbench is familiar to users accustomed to developing in a GUI, and enables users to interact with mainframes in an intuitive, standardized, and familiar environment. Workbench makes use of Eclipse.

It seems that this initial release consists of a framework (Compuware Workbench 3.0) and modernized user interfaces for Compuware's Abend-AID, Xpediter, and File-AID. It provides:
  • Mainframe fault diagnosis.
  • Application data browse and edit: sequential, indexed, VSAM, DB2, and IMS (to be phased in during this year).
  • Mainframe-hosted COBOL, PL/I, C Language, and HLASM debugging.

The Mainframe Workbench provides a framework that delivers additional ISPF-like functionality, including:
  • Source code edit (powered by SlickEdit).
  • Invocation of mainframe compiler
  • JES functions: job submission, review, print, purge.
  • Dataset management, ie allocation, compression, deletion.

Full details are here:

I guess the big focus of attention this coming week is the new zWow (or is that z11, zNext, etc) mainframe announcement from IBM. More on that next week!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Guide Share Europe letter to sponsors/exhibitors

This is the letter from Mark Wilson, Chairman Large Systems Working Group and UK Conference Manager. If you're interested, then contact Mark on, or phone +44(0) 7768 617006, or write to GUIDE Share Europe, 26 Gower Road, Halesowen B62 9BY, UK.

Dear Potential Sponsor/Exhibitor

I am very pleased to be able to invite you to take part in this year’s GSE Working Groups Conference, which will take place on the 2nd & 3rd November 2010. After the success of the 2009 conference, we will be returning to Whittlebury Hall. Whittlebury Hall is located in Whittlebury, Near Towcester, Northamptonshire, NN12 8QH. Further details of the hotel can be found at

In the next few pages you will find descriptions of the conference, vendor exhibition and sponsorship opportunities.

As you know, Whittlebury Hall is a wonderful setting and we intend to build on the growing success of last year’s conference. We aim to offer an attractive event that is great value for money. I hope you will agree and feel that you would like to be involved as an exhibitor or sponsor. In previous years a number of companies have expressed an interest in giving presentations. If you wish to do this then you should make contact with the chairman of the relevant working group(s), as the detail of the agenda is put together by the working groups and coordinated centrally. If you are unsure who to contact then let me know of the likely topic(s) and I will point you in the right direction.

In an effort to keep the attendance numbers as high as 2009 we will again be offering each GSE member company five free places at the conference.

I hope you will be interested in participating in this exciting event and I look forward to working with you to make it a great success for our members and your customers. If I can be of any assistance please contact me via e-mail, phone or letter as shown at the top of this letter.


Building upon the successful format used in recent years, we will once again have a number of parallel streams covering a large range of subjects, including:
  • CICS   
  • zOS (Large Systems)
  • IMS   
  • Enterprise Security
  • DB2   
  • Software Asset Management
  • Networks   
  • zLinux and zVM

We have negotiated a deal with the hotel, which means we can offer overnight accommodation, including breakfast at £100.00 or £125.00 for double occupancy Including VAT. This can be reserved using your credit card.

As mentioned previously attendance at the conference for GSE member companies will be free. We are hoping to keep attendance costs for non-GSE members similar to last year, again in an effort to keep the attendance high.

For the latest information on the event and news on the agenda as it develops, please visit

Mark Anzani (IBM) will be joining us again for his very popular Birds of a Feather session. It is always surprising that so many people make it to the session. Once again bacon rolls and tea/coffee will be available to help start the day.

We are hoping to organise a plenary session with the ever popular Resli Costabell, to give us all something to talk about at the conference dinner or in the bar.


Last year’s exhibition was the most successful and popular yet and we are confident that this year’s will match that success.

The size for each stand will be an area of approximately 3 metres by 3 metres. Note that we will only be providing a power connection and a table; all other facilities will have to be arranged with the hotel directly. This would be the responsibility of the exhibitor; we would simply provide the introduction. The hotel has wireless access and I am hoping to secure that FOC for the duration of the conference.

The basic cost for a stand will be £1,000, which will include attendance at the conference for two people (to staff the stand), but not accommodation.

Larger or more complex stands may also be available, subject to negotiation. Please let us know your requirements and we will do our best to accommodate them.

A proposed stand layout will be available by the end of September. Stand locations will be allocated to sponsors first (see below) and then on a first come, first choice basis.

This year we plan to utilise the same large room as 2009, with some modifications to the layout. All coffee/tea and lunch breaks will be served from a central location within this room. We are hoping this will maximise your opportunities for networking with your current and future customers.

We are also proposing to serve Pre-Dinner drinks in the vendor area with each vendor stand having a variety of drinks to offer guests in an effort to facilitate greater interaction between the vendors & attendees. Please let me know if you have any issues with this.


We are offering the following sponsorship tiers;
  • Platinum Sponsor - £4,000
  • Gold Sponsor - £3,000
  • Silver Sponsor - £2,000
All of the above options would offer the privileges of
  • A free stand in the exhibition area
  • Free delegate entry for two people on each day
  • Free attendance for two people at the conference dinner/social event
  • Billing as a sponsor (with company logo) in the conference materials higher tiers given higher prominence. Conference materials will include the web site, conference pack, exhibition guide and conference signage
  • Choice of stand location (higher tiers first and first come first choice within tier)

In addition, Platinum and Gold Sponsors will receive the right to have their own promotional displays, subject to prior agreement of the organising committee, in the common areas of the conference.

Platinum Sponsorship includes sponsorship of the conference dinner on a sole or joint basis.

Each of these will give the sponsor(s) some control over the format of the event (in conjunction with the organising committee) and the right to sole (or joint, as appropriate) billing and promotional opportunities at that event.

In addition to the above, we have several other sponsorship opportunities as follows (and we are more than happy to discuss your own ideas for sponsorship - just give us a call);
  • Provision of Conference USB Sticks (1 available). Over the last two years we have provided all conference material on a USB sticks for the delegates. There is an opportunity to provide 300 USB sticks with your company logo and marketing material
  • Sponsored Pre Conference Dinner/Social Drinks event (1 Available)
  • Cost of £1,500, offers the opportunity to display promotional materials, posters etc. during the break concerned and billing in the conference brochure
  • Sponsored Lunch (2 available)
  • Cost £250, offers the opportunity to display promotional materials, posters etc. during the lunch concerned
  • Sponsored Refreshment Break (3 available)
  • Cost £150, offers the opportunity to display promotional materials, posters etc. during the break concerned
  • Sponsorship of the Daily Delegate Feedback Form (2 available). The prize will most likely be some form of gadget: iPod Touch; SatNav; etc. We would agree a form of recognition for your company in the form of a card insert or letter with your company name & logo for a cost of £150 each or the gadget itself
  • Sponsorship of the Conference Feedback Form. This would take the form of a draw at the end of the conference for all completed forms (1 available). The prize will most likely be some form of gadget: iPod Touch; SatNav; etc. We would agree a form of recognition for your company in the form of a card insert or letter with your company name & logo for a cost of £150 each or the gadget itself
  • Sponsorship of the speaker gifts. Each speaker is presented with either a bottle of wine, wine glasses or Amazon vouchers. If you were interested in this please contact me so that we can discuss the costs.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


I’ve been variously involved in securing mainframe data over many years. I’ve looked at encryption of data, External Security Managers (ESMs), certificates, and public key encryption at various times. I’ve only recently become aware of steganography and how that can be used to send covert information in plain sight!

Steganography means concealed (the “stegano” bit) writing (the “graphy” bit), and there was a book about it written in 1499 by Johannes Trithemius – although not published until 1606. Trithemius was Abbot of Sponheim, but, even so, the Catholic Church banned the three volumes of his book (called Steganographia) for almost 300 years. So that must give you a clue as to how difficult it would be to control the use of hidden messages by ordinary people – you and I really!

Here’s an example – this week’s shopping list:
Allspice, lemon, banana, avocado, peanuts, strawberry, pomegranate, sweets, anchovies.
You’d look at that and think there’s nothing hidden in that list. Now look at it again:
Allspice, lemons, bananas, avocado, peanuts, strawberry, pomegranate, sweets, anchovies
It says LEAVE TOWN. Obviously more complicated messages could be included if I had a longer shopping list – but you get the idea.
But there’s an even better and more modern method of steganography – and that’s using images. You can hide messages in the least significant bit in an image. I have hidden a message in the photo below. Can you read it?

 If you want to create your own hidden message, you can have a go at You can also read hidden messages by clicking on “tools” from the menu and “decrypt”.

The pixels in 24-bit images have their colour defined using three numbers. There’s one for red, one for green, and one for blue (RGB). Making a small change to a pixel alters its colour but not so much that the human eye will detect the change. These small changes can be combined to give the ASCII code for a letter – and those letters when put together give a word, a sentence, a complete hidden message. It would be completely plausible that the images in an innocent Web site could contain messages for banned organizations. Those pictures on the MI5 Web site could actually be coded messages to UK operatives (with Internet access) across the globe. But think how many other Web sites could contain coded messages – just who could those messages be for?
Almost any message that can be send – any picture, any digital message, any written or printed message – could contain a hidden message in it.
I’m not trying to make your paranoia worse, I just thought it might be worth checking those images, or reading every second character in a list (or third or fourth!), and making sure someone isn’t sending a message from your Web site that you don’t expect.
Sleep well!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

z11, zNext, zEnterprise System, zWOW!

Even though everyone’s signed non-disclosure agreements, there’s lots of buzz about IBM’s latest mainframe announcement. We thought it would be called the z11, but now we think it will be zNext or zEnterprise System, but whatever it’s called, when it’s announced on the 22 July (the date everyone’s guessing), people are going to say, “Wow!”

Why wow? Well the rumours suggest that this new “mainframe” is going to be a giant step into the future. Not only will the box run z/OS on its 5.2GHz quad-core z processor, but also AIX on Power 7 blades and Linux on x86 blades – all in the same box, and all sharing memory and disk space. Have you said “wow” yet? Well how about this? The multiple OSes will, allegedly, function as one single, logical, virtualized system!

So, although everything is more secretive than a new iPhone launch (although no-one has left a mainframe behind them in a public toilet!), we’ll publish more information as it becomes available.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

What is fair?

Is it fair to treat all people equally? This isn’t the start of some philosophical discussion, just the starting point for this blog. So, if you agree, it’s not fair to treat all people equally (remember how the prodigal son was treated), then can it be fair to treat all organizations equally? And, if different organizations should be treated differently, who is to decide what is fair and what criteria they should use for deciding what’s fair?

Part of the answer is that these decisions are usually left to the courts. And so, Neon Enterprise Software, which is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with IBM in the US courts, is filing a complaint with the European Commission alleging “ongoing anti-competitive and abusive conduct” by IBM.

Neon originally filed a lawsuit in December 2009 accusing IBM of intimidating potential customers away from its zPrime software. zPrime, as you’ll recall, allowed businesses to run workloads on specialty processors (zIIP and zAAP) – giving money to NEON. That saved organizations running those workloads on their central processors and the associated usage charges – money that would have gone to IBM. In January, IBM filed a countersuit against Neon, suggesting an attempt to hijack IBM’s intellectual property. They suggested it was like stealing cable TV.

The European Commission is already familiar with anti-IBM cases. T3 Technologies, which was a clone mainframe distributor, has filed a complaint in Europe. And TurboHercules, with its commercial version of the open source Hercules mainframe emulator, has similarly filed a complaint. Microsoft faced the EU from about 2003 to 2009 – you may remember suddenly having a choice of browsers being made available on your PC.

So is IBM acting fairly? Are these other organizations being fair? We’ll wait and see what the courts say, but I wonder what you think?

Interestingly this week NEON offered zPrime for IMS for just 1 dollar to customers. You can find the announcement at

On a completely different note, IBM has a new White Paper entitled “Enterprise and Web 2.0 Application Support in a Modern Mainframe Environment”. It can be found at It discusses how IBM WebSphere Portal allows mainframers to make applications available on the Web.

IBM WebSphere Portal Enable for IBM z/OS leverages z/OS resources (eg RACF and z/OS Workload Manager technology) and the White Paper discusses how to add Web-facing workloads. By using WebSphere Portal, organizations provide added value to their customers and employees while at the same time enjoying the advantages of mainframe performance, scalability, and quality of service.