IT Management

z/Vendor Watch: Scalability on a Grand Scale

There are 9 million bicycles in Beijing, as any enthusiast of Katie Melua’s music will know. That’s just one of hundreds of fascinating statistics about the scale of the Chinese nation that has made the headlines in recent months. The Chinese economy is growing at an unprecedented rate, and mainframe sales in the Far East are booming. Many of China’s larger banks, businesses, and government institutions are catering to hundreds of millions of customers (far more than the biggest U.S. or European data centers would like to consider), and the high level of centralized support involved makes the zSeries an attractive choice.

Nevertheless, in such a booming economy with relatively cheap labor, users aren’t necessarily interested in the same mainframe characteristics as their counterparts in more mature Western enterprises. In his article, “The Great Wall” on the Mainframe Blog (, IBM zSeries Vice President, Bob Hoey, makes the point that customers in China are most enthusiastic about virtualization, scalability, and reliability. As they set about building a gargantuan new infrastructure for the future that will scale up to unprecedented levels, it’s the mainframe’s sheer size and availability that matter most. Issues such as reducing manpower costs through automation (a primary consideration in the West) are of secondary importance.

This difference in perspective highlights the technical diversity of the mainframe platform. But whatever particular benefits customers prize most highly, it’s clear there are huge opportunities for the z/OS market in the Asia-Pacific market in the coming years. Indeed, of the 20,000 new mainframe technicians that IBM has pledged to supply through its zNextGen initiative, 10,000 are destined for China.

This is good news for IBM. However, not all the mainframe ISVs will find it easy to tap into these new markets. Building a sales and support operation in China presents cultural and geographical challenges that are likely to limit the prospects of all but a small number of software vendors. Indeed, as the market grows, we will no doubt see a new, indigenous, third-party software and services sector growing up around the zSeries in parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

Vendor News

-        Software Engineering GmbH (SEG) announced Bind ImpactExpert, which is designed to manage all DB2 bind and rebind processes. It additionally ensures consistent or improved performance during migrations. This product is being marketed in the U.S. by NEON Enterprise Software, Inc. (NESI).

-        Mainstar is previewing a new solution, DataSet Level Migrate (DSLM), which will allow storage administrators to migrate to higher capacity volumes, reducing the overall number of physical devices and potentially the size of the storage footprint. The release is scheduled for fourth quarter.

-        BluePhoenix Solutions announced DBMSMigrator, a fully automated converter for migrating ADABAS/Natural applications to a Java relational database environment.

-        NewEra Software announced support for the Health Checker Framework, a new feature in z/OS 1.7 that identifies configuration problems before they impact system availability. From NewEra’s perspective, the Health Checker Framework is being viewed as an enabler for thousands of System Inspectors currently available in its products, IMAGE Focus and IMAGE Sentry.

-        I/O Concepts announced the Enterprise Management System, a multi-platform management solution allowing organizations to improve the efficiency of operations staff and lower the overall cost of managing complex computing environments.

-        Farabi Technology announced Version 4.0 of HostFront Enterprise Server (HFES), its suite of .NET and COM integration components that enable developers to expose legacy data to new applications through Screen Logic Integration (SLI).

-        Princeton Softech announced Release 5.4 of Archive for DB2 and Relational Tools, which enables companies to implement Information Governance strategies, improve performance, and mitigate business risks.

-        Compuware announced Version 3.2 of Abend-AID Fault Manager, which is designed to help IT organizations better manage the growing complexity of enterprise application environments.

The latest release of Axios Products’ SmartProduction suite of tools provides additional tuning capability for both WorkLoad Manager (WLM) and Unix System Services (USS). Version 4.3 allows WLM users to analyze the use of service classes and provides fine-grain detail on goal mode performance data. For USS users, the product helps organizations identify areas of the batch workload that are using USS, increasing SmartProduction’s ability to identify potential heavy resource consumers that were previously invisible to the product.