IT Management

The research was published in the Illuminata report, “IBM System z TCO: Man Bites Dog,” although the data itself was supplied by IBM, and I have to confess it was a little difficult to figure out where the IBM work stopped and the analysis began. Nevertheless, the report is useful in that it revisits some of the cost issues that are often forgotten. Among other things, it points out that the mainframe’s real cost advantage comes into its own above the 10-application level, and increases as we move toward 50 applications, where the complexity of managing dedicated distributed servers becomes prohibitive. The report claims a cost advantage of 30 to 60 percent over 30 Sun Solaris servers or 300 Linux servers.

Another issue the research tackles is the growing proportion of IT expenditure that comes down to people (burgeoning from 14 percent to 43 percent in the last 10 years, while hardware costs have shrunk from 65 percent to 20 percent). With the mainframe’s sophisticated system management and relatively small requirement for support staff, this tipping balance in IT costs strengthens the argument in favor of a single centralized solution, a point we’ve been making in the “Dinosaur Myth” for many years. Of course, things are changing, and virtualization on blade servers, in particular, is changing the economics of running large numbers of apps in a Linux or Windows environment.

Nevertheless, the System z still has a distinct cost advantage in managing large and complex workloads, as the Illuminata report highlights, while attractive pricing for new workloads is opening up a whole new market for big iron.

Hello zNALC, Goodbye z/OS.e

IBM announced a new version of its New Application License Charge (zNALC) that replaces the older versions of NALC and z/OS.e. NALC provides very attractive pricing for new software, but has been restricted to a relatively confined list of apps. zNALC will offer a single pricing metric for qualified new workloads, which will mean it’s far easier to apply and build into pricing contracts with customers. It also offers some price/performance benefit over the old NALC (above 45 MSUs) and it can be implemented in an LPAR rather than requiring a dedicated machine for the new workload. It also supports Parallel Sysplex aggregation. The new version will be available March 16. IBM will be withdrawing the original NALC later this year, and service for the closely associated z/OS.e pricing scheme will disappear in 2009.

Carrot and Stick for VSE Users

Along with the zNALC announcements, IBM unveiled details of z/VSE Version 4.1, which also is set for March availability. V4.1, which is 64-bit mode only and runs on z9 EC/BC as well as z990/890 and z900/800, provides a range of new features, including tape encryption and enhancements to SOA/Web service support, bringing VSE users in line with z/OS in a number of key areas. More significantly, IBM has introduced a new pricing metric—Midrange Workload License Charge (MWLC)—which acts as a significant incentive to bring reluctant VSE sites onto the latest hardware and software. MWLC requires a z9 EC or BC and VSE Version 4, but it promises substantial savings. It also is sub-capacity-based, and allows z/OS sites that are running a VSE application on an old server to consolidate the two environments on one z9, a move that could result in dramatic MSU and cost reductions on the VSE side. VSE users tend to be a conservative group, but IBM is clearly making it a no-brainer for them to stay current with the latest hardware and software.

Around the Vendors

Seagull Software announced GA of the LegaSuite IMS Gateway and Version 4.1 of its BlueZone Access Server. IMS Gateway offers a new method of SOA integration directly to IMS transactions that doesn’t require IMS Connect or the installation of any other software on the mainframe. BlueZone Access Server provides secure, browser-based pure HTML and thin-client terminal emulation for System z and System i.

IBM has taken over the respected Dutch security audit and compliance specialist Consul Risk Management. The company’s technology focuses on identifying internal threats and reporting exceptions and will add considerable functionality to IBM’s Tivoli security toolset.

SOFTWARE ENGINEERING announced GA of Recovery HealthCheck for DB2 z/OS, a solution that is able to reliably interpolate RTOs for a DB2 subsystem at the object level. It automatically aligns itself to an individual environment and different workloads.

GT Software announced Version 5.3 of its Ivory VisualConnect, which brings Web services and email integration to the system and converts cumbersome and complex 3270 or 5250 screens into graphically intuitive Web front-ends without any programming. Z