The Mainframe Migration Alliance (MMA) recently announced it has reached a major milestone in its development, having attracted more than 100 members. Like many people in the System z community, I’ve tended to believe that the MMA was big on publicity and small on progress, and it’s true that some of those 100 members are lightweight players in search of a bandwagon (running down the list, I was hard pressed to pull out more than a dozen company names that were really familiar). I confess I also have a problem with “mainframe migration” as an end in itself. Legacy migration, now that’s an important topic: Legacy application modernization is a big issue for many companies as they wrestle to remain competitive and continue to support expensive and outdated code. But even then, migration away from the mainframe is rarely the best option. As Mike Gilbert explained in his article in the April/May issue of z/Journal titled “Is It Time for a Mainframe Makeover?” legacy modernization means very different things to different people and it can be a complex process to manage and plan for. Mike and I recently co-hosted a seminar on this topic in London and it was quite clear from talking to the attendees that modernizing core applications in large businesses is rarely achievable through wholesale platform migration.

But let’s not protest too much. The fact that the MMA is growing, attracting interest in the high-end Microsoft server platform, and continuing to provide fresh case studies, leads to the conclusion that migration is a viable route for a significant number of companies. As Arcati’s annual survey recently revealed (www.arcati.com/newyearbook07), the lower end of the mainframe user base is a far more volatile and unsettled place than the upper echelons, and it’s in those lower reaches that companies are most likely to consider jumping ship in an effort to reduce costs and stay current with competitors and legislative demands.

Mainframe directions and strategy are traditionally driven by the top-end users, and there’s a growing danger that smaller users will feel neglected or uncomfortably reliant on channel resellers who aren’t committed to the System z. IBM has done a great deal in recent months—with new pricing schemes and very attractive entry-level Business Class hardware—to restore confidence in this part of the market, but more needs to be done to attract new businesses and prospects.

IMPACT Proves to Be a Great Mainframe Forum

IBM’s recent IMPACT 2007 conference seems to have been an excellent place to demonstrate the mainframe’s SOA credentials. In front of 4,000 attendees, the company unveiled a new version of the WebSphere Process Server for System z, one of the core products for supporting the development of new service-oriented applications. The event also was used to make significant announcements in DB2 dynamic warehousing and Rational asset management; areas where large systems are playing an increasingly important role.

ITIL Takes a Major Step Forward

If you have a strong interest in enterprise service management, you’ve probably noticed that IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has just undergone its first major refresh (version 3) in eight years. The ITIL library of best practices for service management was the brainchild of the U.K. government, which still owns the specification, but it’s now a key element of the IT/business alignment strategy in a growing number of large businesses worldwide. ITIL version 3 is designed specifically to address the growing complexity of business processes, the same issue that’s guiding many enterprises back to the System z, and its philosophy has been embraced by many software and services vendors in the mainframe environment.

Around the Vendors

OpenTech Systems has consolidated its DR/Identify and DR/Backup technologies into a single offering, DR/Xpert. The combined product provides a broad range of disaster recovery functions for business-critical z/OS applications, including automated identification of assets, integrated JCL scanning, and comprehensive reporting.

There have been some interesting developments from Luminex in the virtual tape management space. In partnership with ETI-NET (and its EZX/BlackBox), the storage gateway vendor is offering a way to transfer and share data more efficiently between mainframes and HP (Tandem) NonStop servers. Luminex also is working on a similar partnership with Sun to help transform the latter’s X4500 Storage System into a mainframe virtual tape server.

DataDirect has announced new tools for conversion between dynamic and static database environments. The Dynamic-to-Static SQL Facility in the Eclipse-based Shadow Studio helps companies that rely heavily on DB2 for z/OS to exploit the relative resource consumption and performance benefits of static vs. dynamic SQL where required.

DataDirect also has extended its support for mainframe data sources to IAM, which will assist IAM users to bring their applications into the SOA world. Z