IT Management

Thanks to the mainframe, fourth quarter 2010 was a good quarter for IBM server revenue, and indeed for server sales across the board. According to industry analyst IDC, which has long been regarded as a prime source of information on competitive shipments and revenues, IBM accounted for 37.4 percent of the worldwide server market, which reached $15 billion in the quarter, an increase of 15.3 percent from the same period a year ago.

Admittedly, the same period a year ago was relatively poor, but the fact that IBM’s $5.6 billion in fourth quarter server revenue puts it in pole position, ahead of HP, is due largely to the phenomenal performance of the System z. The z196 really took off in the latter months of last year, and although System x also fared well, it was the mainframe that showed a real upturn in fortunes. Jean Bozman, research vice president of IDC's Enterprise Platforms Group, said that the mainframe’s success was due to “the deep investment IBM made in re-inventing its long-lived data center platform by closely linking it to a distributed system blade chassis running POWER and x86 systems for workloads with mainframe affinity."

In other words, the hybrid platform capabilities and advanced “manager of managers” concepts introduced during the year with the zEnterprise announcements are finally beginning to pay off. This isn’t really surprising. One of the greatest requirements of IT departments today is the agility to respond to rapidly changing data management, system capacity, and information security demands. For many organizations, the kind of hybrid architecture and scalability promised by the new System z range is the most realistic way of meeting those needs in the longer term (even if the pieces of this new architecture aren’t all in place yet). Moreover, Arcati’s analysis of early deals suggests it makes good financial sense for z10 users to consider a migration to the z196 sooner rather than later, as substantial savings are being realized by those with well-negotiated contracts.

CA Technologies Launches Mainframe Academy and Unveils Hybrid Technology

For some time now, CA Technologies has been following a two-pronged strategy of investing in mainframe skills development while offering simplified management tools to assist those organizations already facing a shortage of System z technical expertise. To this end, the company’s mainframe general manager, Dayton Semerjian, has announced an investment of $1 million in Mainframe Academy scholarships, an initiative that will see young IT professionals immersed in an eight-week, vendor-agnostic program designed to provide core skills to manage the mainframe environment. 

The scheme, which provides broad-range, instructor-led, Web-based and self-paced learning in z/OS, TSO/ISPF, JCL and Rexx environments, offers a sound investment for the sponsoring vendor and is likely to be well-received within the academic world. Semerjian also announced recently that CA Technologies has installed the new BladeCenter Extension (zBX) for the zEnterprise 196, one of the key elements of the mainframe-based hybrid environment. The company plans to help users leverage the cost and efficiency benefits of cross-enterprise management by building tools and functionality around the zBX; it will also use the zBX to support integrated workloads that span both mainframe and distributed platforms.

Around the Vendors

INNOVATION Data Processing announced a partnership with IntelliMagic, designed to give customers a single offering that combines the strengths of  FDRPAS (V5.4 L75) and IntelliMagic Balance. It will allow FDRPAS users to move z/OS volumes to new storage systems, or relocate them to underutilized existing storage, as determined by Balance.

Syncsort has announced it’s extending its mainframe sort technology leadership with the release of MFX for z/OS 1.4. According to the company, the new release delivers up to a 20 percent improvement in CPU time and 10 percent improvement in elapsed time over release 1.3. Syncsort says this improvement equates to a 50 percent advantage in CPU time and 30 percent for elapsed time vs. DFSORT in similar benchmarks.

William Data Systems has been demonstrating the growing range of mobile devices that can be used to manage z/OS networks. The company’s ZEN network manager can now be used with Apple, BlackBerry and Android technology, extending ZEN's whistle-blower ability to monitor SyslogD, filter the results by many criteria, launch automation commands or Rexx procedures, and transmit the important alerts to mobile devices, all in real-time.

Clerity, the provider of mainframe migration, modernization, and optimization solutions, has announced enhanced automated Assembler conversion tools and services to help companies translate Assembler application components into readable, maintainable COBOL language code. The vendor says that migrating Assembler code to the COBOL platform lowers annual software maintenance fees, improves application portability and flexibility, and helps businesses respond quickly to market changes.