IT Management

“A System z9 for everyone!” trumpeted IBM in the launch publicity for the z9 Business Class (BC). Now that’s a fine idea—a mainframe in every business worldwide and zero downtime for the masses. 

I don’t think we’re there yet, but $100,000 for a 26 MIPS z9 machine should certainly give the Unix and Windows fraternity food for thought. Overall, the BC is a very attractive package, with a daunting 73 capacity settings and 37 percent more capacity at the top end. The new systems are all about flexibility, with more scope to take advantage of “specialty” engines (ICF, IFL, zIIP, and zAAP) and any-to-any upgradeability within each of R07 and S07 ranges. 

IBM has struggled to bring down the mainframe entry level to Small- and Medium-Size Enterprise (SME)-class customers for many years, but the BC stands a very good chance of undermining the TCO arguments that are constantly leveled against the z9. 

So, is this good news for other vendors? Well, the BC will definitely be distributed through third-party channels and offers a good opportunity for specialist software and services companies to add value. IBM has announced separately that it will be offering further support and encouragement to ISVs to migrate relevant software packages, and the general momentum behind the BC should be good news for the market as a whole. However, don’t forget the z9 BC was announced in China, and that’s where IBM expects to sell the majority of its new boxes. So, the BC will undoubtedly make some waves in the months ahead, but you may have to relocate to Beijing if you want to feel the full impact! 

Cybermation and NetIQ Swallowed Up  

The steady stream of mainframe ISV mergers and acquisitions continues unabated, as Canadian company Cybermation was recently acquired by CA. I have long admired Cybermation for its pioneering work in event-driven job scheduling and change management, and its products will provide a significant boost to CA’s workload automation portfolio. 

The AttachmateWRQ conglomerate is expanding again, and has announced the takeover of security specialist NetIQ, a move that will create a $400 million company with more than 40,000 customers in more than 60 countries. 

The host integration market has gone through a long period of consolidation, and many of the smaller names in the business have disappeared. The remaining players are extremely aggressive, as is illustrated by the latest migration offering from RUMBA vendor NetManage, which plays to the fears of customers whose existing products face an uncertain future because of acquisition. The offering, provocatively named “Detach from AttachmateWRQ or Fly Away from Seagull,” promises an easy transition for users willing to make the leap. Meanwhile, AttachmateWRQ is trying to win new business in the airline sector, and Seagull is aiming to lure customers away from IBM’s MDp. 

Standardized CMDBs  

The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is very much in the news these days, and in many companies it provides an essential focus for all change and asset management activity. In a heterogeneous environment with multi-vendor tooling, there might be several (partly incompatible) CMDB implementations involved, particularly if application traffic and data transfer cross company boundaries. So, it’s encouraging to see some of the heavyweights of the systems management world collaborating on a new standard to overcome this problem. BMC, IBM, Fujitsu, and HP (recently joined by CA) are working on what’s described as “an open, industrywide specification for sharing information between CMDBs and other data repositories.” 

Other News  

SSH Communications Security announced Version 5.2 of its Tectia Server for IBM z/OS 5.2 Secure Shell solution for mainframe file transfer. This release provides direct streaming for all MVS operations, with checkpoint-restart functionality for improved file transfer reliability. 

NEON Enterprise Software, Inc. (NESI) announced Total Eclipse, a tool that gives users of the IBM IMS HP utility access to NESI’s reorganization utility suite, promising faster reorg performance at half the overall cost. Software Assist added a module to its FTP/Reporter product, which allows users to gather FTP usage data, in real-time, on their z/OS systems for use in reporting and exception alerting.

 And finally, one for us Brits! William Data Systems, which has given sterling service to the mainframe business over the years, was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Her Majesty’s 80th year. Well done, guys!