Sep 25 ’07

Pete Clark on z/VSE: A z/VSE 4.1 User Experience

by Editor in z/Journal

z/VSE 4.1 became available in March 2007. Alabama Judicial Data Center (AJDC) was one of the first to install and enter production with z/VSE 4. Thanks to Mike Moore and Steve Stokes of AJDC for sharing their z/VSE 4 installation experiences with us this month.


Mike and Steve report that installation was fast, easy, and foolproof. No problems were encountered with a Fast Service Upgrade (FSU) or a Base Install (BI). Execution times were very quick; 60 minutes for the FSU and 20 minutes for the BI on a new z9 (500-plus MIPS) with Shark DASD.

Tailoring Again, Mike and Steve say this task was fast and easy. Since there’s only one supervisor (previous releases had two), no thought or selection was required. PNET (POWER Networking) and POWER generations are the same as prior releases; just be sure to perform them, if needed.

Mike cautions that you load Standard Labels only once during the FSU, so be sure they reflect your updates.

Other products shipped with z/VSE installed and worked fine without any changes.

Maintenance and Support Information

The only problem AJDC encountered was a third-party software interface issue. This problem was resolved by installing the latest IBM PSP suggested maintenance. Therefore, ordering and implementing the latest PSP bucket prior to install should remain a must-do, high-priority item.

As always, check with all your third-party software vendors to see what release levels and maintenance are required to support operation on z/VSE 4. Some small fixes may be required, depending upon which software products you have.

z/VSE New Feature Implementation

According to Mike, “64-bit addressing was a lot like the 31-bit VTAM fix—incredibly simple for what it does. I gave the LPAR 6GB, changed our IPL to NOPDS, and that was all it took.”

So, there’s no reason not to implement 64-bit real support and do away with the page data set. It’s simple and easy to implement, and you will see a performance improvement. The improvement could be as little as 2 to 4 percent (if you weren’t paging and didn’t need additional real storage) or significantly greater, if you were paging and needed additional real storage.

Software Cost

AJDC replaced its z800 processor with a new z9 as part of the z/VSE 4 upgrade to reduce its z/VSE 4 software cost. AJDC is implementing the z/VSE 4 sub-capacity pricing IBM offering and expects to see an additional reduction in software cost.

For cost comparison, the z9 software pricing netted a 20 percent savings over the cost of the z800 software. By implementing the sub-capacity pricing option, AJDC expects to save another 33 percent if the four-hour rolling average CPU utilization is between 40 and 60 percent. Granted, some of the software savings will be used to offset the cost/lease of the new processor.

The savings and cost cited here are environment dependent, so each site should do its own analysis to determine cost/savings. However, the expectation is that a user can move from older hardware/software to newer hardware/software and potentially reduce their overall cost. Remember to factor in the following cost/savings:

Also, if you’re in the last year or so of a lease, look very closely at pricing, as your potential for overall savings appears excellent.

Please note that sub-capacity pricing, an option of Midrange Workload License Charges (MWLC), is a monthly license charge on the IBM System z9 only, and requires z/VSE 4 and implementation of the sub-capacity monitoring software.


z/VSE 4.1 is an easy, quick, straightforward install, and as of this writing, there are no known issues that would impact installation and moving to production, provided you install the latest fixes. Also, be sure to investigate the new pricing options to see if they will provide savings over your site’s current hardware and software combination.

As always, thanks for reading the column; see you all in the next issue.