IT Management

For a change, IBM chose August to make some pretty radical mainframe announcements, further reinforcing its long-term commitment to the zSeries as its most scalable and cost-effective hardware platform.

Among the highlights of the August 22 announcements was the Mainframe Charter, a hand-on-heart statement of direction, subdivided into sections on innovation, value, and community. Under innovation, the company underlined its determination for the mainframe to remain the system of choice for large, complex workloads, and promised to deliver further on-demand capabilities and simplified system management and autonomics. For some years, the S/390 lost strategic impetus and developed almost in parallel with other platforms. Key areas of innovation and “new” application support often appeared first under Unix or Windows and then limped slowly onto the mainframe. The Charter acknowledges that zSeries is now firmly back on the critical path, and the technologies that have singled it out for complex commercial workloads are now filtering into other platforms, particularly Linux.

The second section of the Charter, value, can be summarized as lower prices, and IBM has left no doubt as to what this means: substantial savings—up to 80 percent—for new workloads; rebates on hardware; finer granularity for monthly license charges; much more attractive workload-based pricing for medium-size users (under 315 MSUs); on/off capacity on demand (CoD) for Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) at the end of October; $10K/GB for memory across the board; and the list goes on. This is one of the most far-reaching announcements on mainframe pricing in years, and one that should be particularly heartening for the midsize users who so often get overlooked. The bottom line is that IBM is determined to encourage companies to move their new applications to the zSeries, and it plans to remove every last cost obstacle.

The third pillar of the IBM Charter, community, is about building up the number of strategic software partners and encouraging third-party activity. I always think being an IBM independent software vendor (ISV) is a little like hitching a ride on a tiger—it’s great as long as you remain firmly in place. IBM will be doing everything in its power to encourage new partnerships in the Open Source world, while maintaining existing partnerships with SAP, Siebel, and other application providers whose cooperation is so essential to the company’s long-term plans for the zSeries.

The more traditional legacy mainframe ISVs, however, will need to remain very cautious. The tiger they’re riding has a thirst for blood, and IBM is working very aggressively to offer customers a way of breaking away from third-party vendors that are not toeing the official line on support for usage-based pricing and other cost initiatives. Of course, many would claim that IBM is just as guilty of issuing conflicting and incomprehensible pricing schemes as its competitors, and there’s still plenty of room for streamlining and simplifying zSeries costs. However, these announcements at least offer a large step in the right direction.  


BMC has announced an alliance with GoldenGate (not to be confused with BMC’s own data management strategy of the same name), which will add further function to its SmartDBA console. SmartDBA is designed to control multiple mainframe and non-mainframe database formats from a single point. GoldenGate’s tools, which will be marketed by BMC under the SmartDBA banner, add bidirectional data synchronization and replication, backup, and disaster recovery capabilities.  


It seems that Computer Associates has spent the latter part of the summer gearing up for a massive advertising campaign to tell the world it is back on top. According to a recent survey from International Data Corp. (IDC), CA now holds the lion’s share—12.3 percent—of the enterprise system and storage management software market, thanks mainly to its strong focus on Linux and Windows. A July IDC report claimed that CA also leads in performance and availability management software.


Just when you thought you’ve heard everything . . . At the Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, thieves apparently walked off with a couple of mainframes from a customs cargo processing and intelligence center. Whether these machines were MVS systems isn’t clear. As Australian Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Bob Charles succinctly put it, “If someone can walk into a secure government environment and walk out with mainframes, then I don’t know what guarantee we have of IT security.”

I knew it was a mistake to make those new mainframe boxes so small and lightweight—“big iron” has its advantages. If you’re concerned about theft, try weighting down your zSeries with a couple of PCs!Z