IT Management

Recently, I’ve noticed a couple of strong indicators that the message is getting out about the favorable cost and resilience of the mainframe platform.

One of these indicators is a report on the Mainframe Blog by Jim Marshall, discussing the cost-effectiveness of his zLinux implementation in the defense sector. Capt. Marshall has been running Linux under zVM with 45 virtual servers in three LPARs, covering production applications, testing, and development. Following an IT financial conference, he decided to compare the cost of his mainframe Linux installation with a comparable Intel setup. His conclusion, when factoring in the various hardware and software elements, was that the distributed alternative would cost at the very least $840,000, compared with his mainframe bill of $240,000. This, he says, was a very conservative estimate on the Intel side, where the total could easily have reached $1 million!

User cost comparisons of this kind are few and far between, and carry far more weight than the hypothetical figures so often offered by analysts and vendors. It would be great to see more of them.

Another “positive indicator” is the result of our own recent research into the performance and availability of heterogeneous data centers. We asked data center managers to give their views on the relative availability and reliability of their mainframes and Unix, Linux, and Windows servers. The results were clear: 95 percent of the respondents rated their mainframes excellent for availability, compared with 45 percent for Unix and Linux, and just 16 percent for Windows.

Our figures are backed up by recent findings from the Yankee Group, cited in the DBTA Five-Minute Briefing: “Analyst Laura DiDio is quoted as saying that in terms of power, performance and reliability, only the high-end Unix systems come close to mainframe performance but ‘even that is debatable.’ Yankee Group’s study found that, on average, individual corporate Linux, Windows and Unix servers experience three to five failures per server per year, resulting in 10.0 to 19.5 hours of annual downtime for each server.”

Of course, some would argue that we pay handsomely in the mainframe world for this level of uptime but, as Capt. Marshall’s analysis shows, that isn’t always the case.

The Viper Leaves Its Nest

DB2 Version 9.1 for z/OS, “Viper” as it used to be known, is now shipping to customers following a lengthy period of preview and anticipation. DB2 9 will provide a wide range of new features for DB2 users, such as hybrid support for relational and pure XML data; improved security with roles and trusted context; a re-designed QMF interface; native SQL stored procedures; and volume-based copy and recover. DB2 9 also will build on the zIIP co-processor cost savings that users are already achieving with V8.

ASG Gets Diversified and Mainstar Succumbs to Rocket

My merger monitor continues to work overtime, and has picked up news of two new acquisitions in the mainframe space. First is the takeover of JCL automation specialist Diversified Software by enterprise software company Allen Systems Group. Second is the acquisition of catalog management and data cloning expert Mainstar by Rocket Software.

These are both sizable changes to the ISV landscape. Looking back over past columns, I’m reminded just how regular mergers are becoming, and how quickly companies that have built up strong customer relationships with mainframe data centers over the years can disappear from view. For some acquired companies, of course, it’s pretty much business as usual. For others, though, it’s more a case of being taken out by a competitor, which isn’t such good news for the user.

Compiler Newcomer Expands Into the SAS Market

Several months back I wrote about a new vendor offering outsourced compiling. Syspoint now has offerings for COBOL, Fortran and PL/1, providing them either as an outsourced service or internally, where companies running multiple mainframes use the Syspoint tools to isolate IBM’s compilers to a single footprint. The company has products running at nearly a dozen Fortune 100 companies, and will soon GA a tool to help cut SAS costs.

Other News

  • GT Software and Relativity Technologies have pooled their expertise in a new partnership to help customers identify mainframe-based business processes suitable for incorporation into Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs).
  • Macro 4 announced the GA of its Fault Analysis Portal, a new tool to help mainframe programmers with some of the more complex areas of debugging and dump analysis.
  • BMC announced the integration of IMS backup and recovery function into its Web-based console, enabling database administrators to resolve data recovery issues more quickly. This development will be particularly valuable in helping DBAs with little IMS experience to get to the root of a potential problem.