Friday, 28 January 2011

The Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2011 - now available

Every year, about this time, we welcome a new edition of the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook. It really is the standard reference work for all IBM mainframe professionals – whether they’re grizzled old-timers nearing retirement or that new batch of recently graduated enthusiasts, and everyone in between.

Why is it such an important publication each year? The simple answer is that it provides a one-stop shop for everything you need to know. For newcomers (and people moving to an area slightly outside their comfort zone) there’s a technical specification section that includes model numbers, MIPS, and MSUs for z196 and z10 processors. There’s a hardware timeline, and a display of mainframe operating system evolution. In addition, there’s the glossary of terminology section explaining simply what those acronyms mean.

One section provides a media guide for IBM mainframers. This includes information on newsletters, magazines, user groups, and social networking information resources for the z/OS environment. Amongst the things it highlights are zJournal, INSIGHT-SPECTRA, IBM Listservs, SHARE’s Five Minute Briefing on the Data Center, blogs, Facebook fan pages, and LinkedIn discussions. As well as user groups such as SHARE and IDUG.

The vendor directory section contains an up-to-date list of vendors, consultants, and service providers working in the z/OS environment. There’s a summary of the products they supply and contact information. There are a number of new organizations in the list this year, and a few have ceased trading.

The mainframe strategy section contains articles by industry gurus and vendors on topics such as: XML and SOAP data binding for enterprise applications; DataKinetics solutions for mergers and acquisitions; Thinking outside the box – monitoring DB2 security on z/OS; and CA Mainframe Chorus.

For many people the highlight each year is the mainframe user survey. This illustrates just what's been happening at users’ sites. It’s a good way for mainframers to compare what they are planning to do with what other sites have done. I will be looking at some of the survey highlights in my next blog.

The other good thing – as far as many of the 15,000 people who download it are concerned – is that it is completely FREE.

It can only be free because some organizations have been prepared to sponsor it or advertise in it. This year’s sponsors were CA Technologies, Canam Software, DataKinetics, and Type80 Security Software.

To see this year’s Arcati Mainframe Yearbook, click on If you don’t want to download a large PDF, again this year, each section is available as a separate PDF file.
Don’t miss out on this excellent publication.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Virtual IMS user group

With so much of IBM’s software now in its 40s, it’s no wonder that using it requires quite a lot of knowledge. And many people have developed a whole range of nifty tips and tricks that they can use when things go wrong or to help make things work better. That’s where user groups come in. A user group provides an opportunity for people to share their hints and tips with others, and, in return, learn some tried-and-tested new ones.

One problem that managers sometimes have with staff going to user group meetings is that they are unavailable at work should there be a problem. In addition, there is often a cost associated with going to meetings – travel costs, meals, parking, subsistence, etc. That’s where the Virtual IMS user group scores. Not only do members get all the benefits of user group membership, but there’s no need for them to leave the office – they just join the meeting through their computer (hence the ‘virtual’ part of the name).

And the Virtual IMS user group is going to be busy in 2011. If you’re not already a member and you’d like to be, then go to and sign up. User group membership is FREE. This year there is an exciting programme of presentations at the virtual meetings – using GoToMeeting – starting on 8 February at 10:30 CDT with a presentation by Fundi Software’s Jim Martin entitled, “Solving the problem when IMS isn’t the cause”.

Jim describes the presentation like this: “Users might report slow response times from IMS, but you suspect that other systems are responsible. For example, what appears to be an IMS performance problem could be a CICS, DB2, WebSphere, or z/OS performance problem. Your challenge is to correlate performance data in IMS with activity in these other systems in order to discover the cause of the slow response time. In this session, we discuss how to approach this type of situation, how to gather the necessary information from multiple subsystems, and then analyse, diagnose, and resolve the problem.

On 12 April the user group meeting includes a presentation from Ron Haupert, a Senior Technologist with Rocket Software. His presentation is entitled: “Simplify and improving database administration by leveraging your storage system”. Ron is a database professional with over 30 years of related experience. He has developed relational database software, implemented large database systems, conducted database design reviews, and consulted with companies around the world on various aspects of relational database technology, database management tools, and integrated data management solutions.

On 14 June Ronnie Parker from Logic Online talks about: “The ripple effect of making changes”. The session describes storage-aware data management tools. These tools integrate storage-based fast-replication facilities with database management systems to provide fast and non-disruptive IMS and DB2 backup and cloning solutions. Storage-aware data management tools improve database backup, recovery, and cloning solutions by using storage-based fast-replication facilities to copy data; saving time and host CPU and I/O resources. The session explores how storage-based fast-replication facilities offered by IBM, EMC, and Hitachi storage systems can be used to backup, recover, clone, and refresh IMS and DB2 systems.

And there will be more great sessions in the second half of the year.

The user group is very grateful to Fundi Software for stepping in to sponsor the group (in much the same way that BMC sponsors the IMS Listserv at Fundi Software is an Australian software product development company. Established in 1982, Fundi is today one of the leading providers of tools for IMS and CICS systems. Taken from the Zulu language, Fundi means “expert”.

The Virtual IMS user group is an independently-operated vendor-neutral group run by and for the IMS user community. The Web site contains an up-to-date list of IMS-related software that can be used with IMS; IMS news (information about new IMS products and new versions of existing products); a list of IMS consultant (let me know if your company needs to be added to the list); links to recent IMS articles that are available on the Internet; and links to IMS resources – in fact, it’s a one-stop shop for IMS professionals and other people interested in IBM’s Information Management System.

Find out more at

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Mainframe computing 2011

This is the time of year when people make predictions for what we can expect to see in the coming year, so here are my predictions...

I predict that the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook will appear in early January and be downloaded by around 15 000 mainframe professionals. The Yearbook includes an annual mainframe user survey, an up-to-date directory of vendors and consultants, a media guide, a strategy section with papers on mainframe trends and directions, a glossary of terminology, and a technical specification section.

I also predict the Virtual IMS user group will restart its virtual meetings and newsletters early in the New Year. Virtual IMS is a user group established as a way for individuals using IBM's IMS hierarchical database and transaction processing systems to exchange information, learn new techniques, and advance their skills with the product. The first virtual meeting takes place on Tuesday 8 February at 10:30 CDT. The presentation is by Fundi Software’s Jim Martin and is entitled, “Solving the problem when IMS isn't the cause”. Users might report slow response time from IMS, but you suspect that other systems are responsible. For example, what appears to be an IMS performance problem could be a CICS, DB2, WebSphere, or z/OS performance problem. Your challenge is to correlate performance data in IMS with activity in these other systems in order to discover the cause of the slow response time. This talk will explain how to do it.

With all the hype about cloud computing, 2011 is the year cloud computing will become commonplace. In many ways, this is a major technology change that is being driven by users. They like the simple life (or should I say, we like the simple life). It’s very easy to turn on your browser and have all the applications you want just there waiting for you – like the apps on your phone. You then use the applications as you want them. Users are looking for the same simplicity in their working environment and organizations are going to have to provide this paradigm-shift way of working.

And talking of smart phones, I predict that the device of choice is not going to be a small laptop or netbook, but a large smart phone (or small tablet). Something that you can fit in your pocket, but has everything you need to do a day’s work on it. And, of course, cloud computing makes this easier too.

I predict there will be more GUI-looking software on mainframes so that youngsters will feel right at home using the technology. And I predict there will be much more mainframe automation going on – which will allow the few experts available within an organization to do more work with fewer resources.

Social media will have embraced all sizes of businesses, so if you want to find out what IBM or any other major (or less major!) vendor is up to, you’ll be able to do it in the Twitter, Facebook, whatever, environment you are currently familiar with.

In the consumer market, I predict more people watching TV programmes through laptops and smart phones. It’s so easy and convenient to catch the latest news on a smart phone.

I predict that mainframes will NOT disappear in 2011.

I predict the arrival of more mainframe monitoring apps on smart phones – so you know straightaway if there is an issue with the network etc. You’ll then pull out your tablet or laptop and solve the problem using the nice GUI on the software.

I’d also like to predict world peace and harmony – maybe next year!