IT Management

Things seem to be looking good for IBM’s z890 system. Launched alongside the S/390’s 40th birthday celebrations, the new system was designed both as a cost-effective solution to keep smaller users on track and as an attractive alternative to other midrange platforms. With highly competitive pricing, particularly at the bottom end of the range, improved Linux support, and that real show-stopper—the zAAP (zSeries Application Assist Processor) engine for processing Java applications on the cheap—it looked as if IBM was onto a winner.

Well, if the sales figures are to be believed, the predictions were correct. Big Blue says it has shipped the equivalent amount of capacity on the z890 in one-third the amount of time as its predecessor, the z800. Even if top-end sales—on the z990—have slowed in anticipation of a follow-on model, the low-end is looking up. For IBM, a great deal hinges on the success of the z890: This is where “new” mainframe sales will come from, and the vendor hasn’t been slow to publish details of new applications that have been acquired recently on the new hardware. While many of these deals are largely down to IBM, others rely heavily on input from specialist ISVs (including those that focus primarily on the VSE market) and third-party integrators.

Consolidation of the ISVs

There’s no shortage of diversity in the z/OS software and tools market. The directory in our recently published Mainframe Yearbook lists details for 80 vendors and consultants, and I’m pretty sure that’s just scratching the surface. Mind you, while new players pop up from time to time with specialist products, the ISV sector has seen its fair share of mergers and acquisitions in recent months. Let’s face facts: This isn’t a market sector that can boast growth in the high double-digits. Business is reasonably good for those companies with strong technologies and a solid customer base, but consolidation allows companies to combine their complementary strengths as well as expand their list of customers.

Hence, we’ve seen NEON Systems and ClientSoft come together, Seagull Software absorb SofTouch, and Attachmate merge with WRQ—all well-known names in the mainframe integration business looking forward to reinforcing their market position by leveraging “the power of two.”


Meanwhile, of course, the Candle name is gradually slipping from public view as IBM moves to integrate OMEGAMON firmly into the Tivoli product set. The Tivoli OMEGAMON XE range is a formidable addition to the IBM armory.

Awesome News

It was good to see a product announcement recently from the folks at Trident Services. Trident is one of those low-profile companies with some very interesting technology. Its core product is OS/EM (pronounced “awesome”), a hard-to-define collection of tools that have achieved some amazing cost savings and efficiencies in large data centers. The tools can be used to reduce the number of SMF, JES2 and TSO EXITS supported, streamline the management of HSM, and route resources more effectively between logical partitions. New functions in OS/EM V6.0 for z/OS include tools for managing Data Set Name Enqueue conflicts, additional JCL selector criteria for batch resource routing and job classing functions, and enhanced RACF password content controls.

Other News

Other recent announcements include:

-         Version 3.3 of William Data Systems’ Implex product, offering a two-tier, browser-based client interface for the company’s Sysplex IP network performance monitor

-         New performance and convenience features for Diversified Software’s PRO/JCL and INFO/X Enterprise, its tools for automating and maintaining the JCL environment

-         A new release of Synapta Services Builder from Attachmate, allowing developers direct access to 3270 applications residing in multiple CICS regions via IBM Transaction Server

-         New versions of Strobe and iStrobe from Compuware, with a focus on performance management of DB2 distribute data sources, and added support for zAAP.

Keep Them Coming!

Please be sure to send me details of any product announcements or other interesting developments in the ISV world.