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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

Recently, the Microsoft-leaning CTO of a large organization showed me the roadmap he had created for dumping the mainframe in favor of either a Lintel (Linux on Intel) or Wintel (Windows on Intel) server farm. So, I asked him if he was familiar with the difference in Disaster Recovery (DR) capabilities between those two platforms, and how Lintel had a considerably better track record for decreasing downtime (RTO [Recovery Time Objective]) and avoiding data loss (RPO [Recovery Point Objective]). His lengthy response revealed his convictions regarding the nobility of keeping the roadmap pure from technology considerations and the importance…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

Companies are relying on Business Intelligence (BI) like never before, given the rapid pace of competition and innovation in a difficult economy. But the new push for system-resident BI goes far beyond the boardroom and executive offices, into the province of line managers who are expected to make real-time decisions as new business situations develop.

“Increased pressure to actively use business intelligence systems is there because you can’t get away from the impact of a tough economy on the business right now,” says Greg Lotko, vice president of Warehouse Sales for IBM. &ldquo…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

Con-way Freight recently reached a milestone marking its arrival near the finish line of a decade-long journey to modernize its mainframe applications. This article reviews the company’s efforts to find a way to make it easy to change and reuse its strategic applications while retaining the advantages of the System z.

Today, the solution (and progress milestone) is obvious—Web services and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), but in 1996, when the effort began, SOA wasn’t a widely embraced concept, especially where the mainframe was concerned.

Background

Con-way Inc. in San…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

BMC Software just released its annual survey results covering perceptions and prognostications about mainframes. A feature article detailing the results will appear in an upcoming issue of Mainframe Executive.

Overall, the findings will no doubt bring cheer to mainframe enthusiasts: The majority of survey respondents see the mainframe attracting more workload due to superior efficiency, security, and throughput. So, the platform isn’t going away anytime soon in shops with existing mainframes.

What I found interesting were a couple of other points in the survey that support what I think is a growing consensus…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

 We continue discussing how to obtain the information you need to do your job well. This column concentrates on managing information to shape the impression non-IT executives have of IT. Let’s assume most managers are asking the question, “What have you done for me lately?”

Our approach has three ongoing steps:

  1. Learn the goals and objectives of other departments— your targets
  2. Determine and implement ways IT can help address these targets
  3. Measure and report results.

Learn Your…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

A company’s strength is generally a reflection of how well it is run. In today’s economy, when so many companies are experiencing financial challenges, it behooves them to look at ways to improve internally. In other words, their objective is to work smarter and be, or become, more efficient. This includes, for example, how effectively they manage their business processes and how they streamline and automate their workflows. While these two areas have become increasingly more important to understand when faced with employee cutbacks or lower revenue, they also represent excellent opportunities to improve performance.…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

In the article “Making Road Warriors More Productive” in this issue of Mainframe Executive, we discuss how most of the time when workers access mainframe data on mobile devices, it’s the result of batch processing— not an interactive exchange with a mainframe application. But sometimes you do need access to a live application. It turns out that in many cases, productivity can be improved by simply allowing a mobile worker to access a 3270-based application from a mobile device.

Let’s illustrate this with two examples: The first is a supply-chain…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

z /OS represents IBM’s “crown jewels.” Its power, reach, and Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RA S) are unparalleled. And its price— and the prices of its associated program products—reflect that.

The z/OS pricing model is both a strength and a weakness. It’s a strength because it lets IBM provide the strong service and continued innovation that keep z/OS attractive to sites needing its power; it’s a weakness because, in this era of “do more with less,” the annual price tag for z…

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Operating Systems

Dec 1 ’09

One of the topics all the major hardware manufacturers have been touting is competition for the structure of the next generation data center. There’s been a lot of sound and fury about “green,” as well as different degrees of virtualization—in the network, in storage systems, and in processor architecture and emulation. Naturally, the output of each vendor’s studies and marketing material tends to favor that vendor’s own proposed structure, but there’s a part missing from all the discussions: How does one actually deploy and manage a next…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

Market uncertainty, strained resources, and “innovation fatigue” are leading many IT organizations to fall into the trap of simply maintaining the status quo. But complacency is often far more expensive and dangerous than it appears to be. This article explores the downside of a “no decision” culture and argues for continued, proactive cost-benefit analysis of various opportunities for worthwhile mainframe innovation.

The High Cost of Inaction

Inaction can be hideously expensive. Consider replacement of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. In 1997, the estimated cost was $2.6 billion. Nine years later, after extensive debates…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

Mature software systems are the alter egos of the “Ugly Duckling” story. These systems start as clean, carefully crafted architectural solutions founded on the best of modern design techniques and good intentions. Over time, the purity of the architectural lines gives way to the practical reality of ad hoc extensions that, for the sake of business expediency, are hastily added to the core system structure. There’s nothing wrong with this; after all, real world and fairy tales rarely meet. In the real world, IT systems are built to perform requisite business functions and not necessarily…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

Workers are increasingly mobile and need effective tools and support in order to do their jobs both on the road and in their home offices. However, according to a surprising finding from a Yankee Group survey, most workers think the technology they use in their personal lives is more effective—even when used for work—than that supplied by their companies. This article explores these survey results and provides insight as to what today’s mobile users need from their IT departments.

Two Use Cases

There are two separate cases in which…

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IT Management

Dec 1 ’09

Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (ELCOT) is a government-owned provider of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) services to various government organizations in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. While ELCOT isn’t exactly a household name, the company would like to establish what could possibly become the first instance of a mainframe “cloud” environment.

ELCOT’s many services include the deployment of systems, storage, and network products and operating environments; custom applications for design and development; technology consulting; and ICT training. ELCOT must support government mandates, including a requirement to promote the…

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Blog

Nov 13 ’09

This is a terrific rant that I wish I had written: It comes from long-time mainframe guru and curmudgeon, Clyde Mitchell III.

A recurring thread on the IBM-MAIN mailing lists bemoans difficulties finding mainframe (mainly z/OS) work. At the same time, IBM and others are concerned about the “graying” of the mainframe workforce, and are building initiatives focused on training new system programmers.

These two statements seem to conflict: if we’re short of mainframe sysprogs, why can’t folks who have been downsized find jobs?

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IT Management

Oct 29 ’09

Did you or your company set resolutions this year? If your goals seem insurmountable in light of our troubled economy, consider a book that can help guide your journey. Jim Collins’ classic work on business management and leadership, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t (HarperCollins, New York 2001), answers the question, “Can a good organization become a great one and, if so, how?”

In the research that yielded Good to Great, Jim and his team sought to identify patterns from the aspirations, efforts, and eventual results…

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IT Management

Oct 22 ’09

For the optimists among us, those who choose to look beyond the overcasts and downpours of the current economic climate, the long-term forecast may be nothing but bright blue skies and puffy white clouds. These are a special kind of cloud— they’re Elastic Compute Clouds from Amazon, Azure Clouds from Microsoft, Blue Clouds from IBM, and a variety of other alluring puffy formations from the likes of Google and Micro Focus. If these visionary vendors were to be believed, these clouds are where your legacy and modern systems will reside in the not-so-distant future.

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IT Management

Oct 22 ’09

The IBM System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) and System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) are designed to lower the total cost of mainframe computing by offloading the processing for many different types of applications, including Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), Business Intelligence (BI), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Java, XML, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and select network encryption workloads.

By using specialty engines and reserving the main processing power of the mainframe for the most intensive processor duties, more work can be processed at less cost, and a mainframe upgrade or replacement can be either extended or avoided. zIIP…

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IT Management

Oct 15 ’09

You would have to be living under a rock to not see all the hype around cloud computing these days. In case you were wondering, you’ve seen this movie before. It’s all about leveraging remotely delivered shared resources—aka time sharing.

Cloud computing does bring some new advantages over the traditional time-sharing model, including the ability to leverage resources at a much more granular level; resources such as database, storage, and application processes. You can mix and match these cloud-delivered resources to create new solutions.

Cloud computing doesn’t…

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IT Management

Oct 15 ’09

Does anybody want to talk about cash? Given the current economic crisis, most companies are even more interested than usual in getting paid as quickly as possible. They need to keep a closer eye on inventory and accounts receivable. A humongous, but still somewhat nimble company, DuPont, has found neat ways of doing this using mainframe applications and mobile devices.

DuPont operates a cluster of mainframes storing a large data warehouse. Every day, they generate reports on accounts receivable, so they know which customers are late on their payment. Salespeople receive excerpts from the report in the…

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IT Management

Oct 8 ’09

This article discusses how to obtain and use the information you need to deal with budget cuts—the kind where management demands across-the-board reductions of 10 percent or more to deal with the current financial crisis.

As outlined in my “The Effective CIO” column in the May/ June issue of Mainframe Executive, several cross-division issues make cost reduction in IT more challenging than in other parts of the organization. Here we concentrate instead on the steps you can take within IT to identify additional ways to cut costs.

We’ll assume that…

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