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IT Management

Aug 1 ’09

Here in Florida, summer means two things: tropical heat and tropical storms. For three or four months, power and preparedness become front-of-mind issues.

The power issue has three dimensions: cost, supply, and reliability. As in many other parts of the country, the price of electricity in Florida is accelerating. The national average increase in cost per watt was something like 23.2 percent between 2006 and 2007. I’m not sure where Florida fits in that equation, though I know my energy costs spiked this year.

Data centers being the power-hungry environments they are, and the economy being…

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IT Management

Aug 1 ’09

IT Management: Why We Need SHARE

Not everyone remembers when it took a machine the size of a room just to do payroll. But that’s how things were back in 1955, when a group of computing professionals founded the user group SHARE to exchange ideas with each other and with IBM about how technology could better support business.

Nine years later, IBM announced the System/360 mainframe—which had the fingerprints of SHARE’s collective input all over it. And over the next 45 years, SHARE has continued to contribute to the mainframe’s ongoing evolution. The result is a platform…

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Operating Systems

Aug 1 ’09

The title of this month’s column refers to an IBM Redbook that’s available from the IBM z/VSE Website at http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/redbooks/pdfs/sg247436.pdf. Or, you can access it via the z/VSE Website at http://www-03.ibm.com/servers/eserver/zseries/zvse/. At the bottom of the page under the heading “z/VSE in Action,” click on “z/VSE Basics.” If you use a different IBM operating system from z/VSE, a Redbook also may be available; please check the IBM Redbook archives.

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Security

Aug 1 ’09

When my brother, sister, and I were kids, we loved to play Three Stooges. We’d walk into ladders, carry boards so they’d smack into things, and yell, “Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk!” as we twisted each others’ noses and tried to poke out each others’ eyes.

The problem with this game was our mother. If we were indoors when we were playing, the chaos and screams would eventually get her attention. She’d then speak those dreaded three little words: “No roughhousing indoors!”

And that was…

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Applications & Databases

Aug 1 ’09

Although robust performance and administration tools are probably the best solution for gathering information about your DB2 subsystems and databases, you can gain significant insight into your DB2 environment simply by using the DISPLAY command. There are multiple variations of the DISPLAY command, depending on the type of information you’re looking for.

DISPLAY DATABASE is probably the most often-used variation of the DISPLAY command. The output of the basic command shows the status of the database objects specified, along with any exception states. For example, issuing -DISPLAY DATABASE(DBNAME) shows details on the DBNAME database,…

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Storage

Aug 1 ’09

Mainframe systems have always used sophisticated I/O data buffering to mask disk mechanical activity, and with up to 1.5TB of memory, today’s System z servers can buffer massive amounts of data. Similarly, System z storage has traditionally used a large data cache to retain frequently referenced data in memory to also avoid disk I/O service times. So, given current memory and subsystem cache data buffering, how can SSDs help?

These days, one disk I/O can take anywhere from 10 to 20 milliseconds to service, and reading data from subsystem cache can take from 1 to 2…

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IT Management

Aug 1 ’09

For the first time in 300 years, the Royal Mint, which produces currency here in the U.K., has made a serious mistake in the design of a new coin. A quantity of 20- pence pieces (face value: about 33 cents U.S.) were struck before someone noticed the date was missing, and British coins always display a date. In days gone by, the poor designer might have ended up in the Tower of London. Happily, this particular error has had a more positive effect, with coin collectors scurrying to track down the rogue coins—or “mules”&mdash…

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Operating Systems

Aug 1 ’09

With the fuss about Oracle and Sun mostly settling into a “wait and see” mode (albeit one that seems to be driving more interest in OpenSolaris for System z), I think it’s time to spend a little time on the System z Linux distributors to see what they’ve been up to lately. As the challenger to the historically dominant Novell SUSE on the System z platform, they often have an uphill battle to fight when discussing the mainframe and how it fits into their overall strategy. In recent months, new staff and new…

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IT Management

Aug 1 ’09

Given COBOL’s humble beginnings in 1959, few would have imagined it would become one of the most enduring and continuously improved computer languages.

Still Productive

Many articles have been written predicting the death of COBOL. Many businesses have tried to convert their substantial arsenal of COBOL code to various languages on other platforms at great expense. Some have succeeded; many have failed.

In the May 28, 2009, article, “Happy Birthday COBOL! 50 Years Old and Still Kicking Butt,” Jon Erickson states that an estimated 60 to 80 percent of the world’s enterprises rely…

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Applications & Databases

Aug 1 ’09

The fact organizations are facing tough economic times is an understatement. Mergers, acquisitions and compliance projects are in the forefront, leaving us minimal time to handle projects, such as conversions, within our limited time and budget. We’re regularly challenged to do more with less: less time, manpower and money. What happens when critical projects require an amount of analysis far beyond expectations? Must we accept the costs and inaccuracies of manual analysis or is there a better way to quickly and accurately determine the time and resources required for these projects?

This article presents an…

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Operating Systems

Aug 1 ’09

As the saying goes, “There’s never time to do it right; always time to do it over.”

Computer systems are never designed to fail, but in modern complex environments, failures do occur. Properly designed error routines that provide useful diagnostic information to the user and production support teams can significantly help decrease the costs of a failure by reducing the problem identification and restoration of service periods.

With the fast pace of modern business, companies must quickly react to market requirements. The time-to-market cycle for products is shrinking across all industries…

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Applications & Databases

Aug 1 ’09

IBM’s Information Management System (IMS) celebrated its 40th birthday last year. You might be forgiven for thinking that a piece of software that’s been around for that long must be coming to the end of its useful life. You might think that perhaps only a few older sites that haven’t updated their software and hardware for years are using it, and that most people would want something newer with more up-to-date facilities and features. This view couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to sources at IBM—the…

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Applications & Databases

Aug 1 ’09

Integrating the Mainframe With Java

Why integrate the mainframe? Mainframe-based legacy systems contain a wealth of data and functionality crucial to the business. It isn’t practical or cost-effective to replace them with any other system. People have worked on integrating the mainframe with other platforms over the last few decades to protect their huge mainframe investments. Integrating the mainframe with other platforms provides the flexibility of using the latest Graphical User Interface (GUI) and networking power.

 

This article describes three popular methodologies for…

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Operating Systems

Aug 1 ’09

Ask anyone what they look at when a system is reported as running slow and invariably they will respond with “CPU utilization.” Yet, this metric is the one value that’s fundamentally meaningless in this situation. Given how common the use of this measure is, let’s explore what it means and what kind of insight it may actually provide.

Overview

In considering CPU utilization, we need to review precisely what this means. Utilization means how much of a resource is used, but such a metric doesn’t reflect what…

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Operating Systems

Aug 1 ’09

Tape continues to be the lowest- cost option for data storage and is an essential component of data backup and disaster recovery. Recent advances in tape technology provide even more compelling value—significantly decreasing costs and lowering access speeds. Virtual tape systems ensure the use of the full tape media, DASD caches provide access to tape data at DASD speeds, and robotic drives decrease mount speed when real mounts are required.

These technological and cost-saving advances have led to an increase in the number of applications that rely on tape. As tape usage increases, it&rsquo…

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Operating Systems

Aug 1 ’09

A major new CICS performance issue is the Task Control Block (TCB) switching required to access VSAM data sets when supporting threadsafe applications running DB2. Prior to the announcement of VSAM threadsafe support in CICS Transaction Server (TS) V3R2, any threadsafe application running on an L8 or L9 TCB would have to do a TCB switch to the Quasi-Reentrant (QR) to service the VSAM request because file control wasn’t threadsafe code. Unfortunately, although VSAM threadsafe was announced with CICS TS V3R2, only the Record-Level Sharing (RLS) portion was available at general availability of the product.…

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Operating Systems

Aug 1 ’09

Passwords have become a ubiquitous way to protect user access. This article explores the evolution of passwords in the z/OS environment, with a focus on RACF. Passwords have matured from being short and having a restricted character set to being longer and allowing more symbols.

Initially, passwords were eight-character strings allowing combinations of uppercase letters, numbers, and three special characters: #, $, and @. RACF inherited this syntax from Time Sharing Option (TSO). This format was sufficient then, but as application environments grew in size and into the network, it became clear the password needed to change its appearance.…

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CICS / WebSphere

Aug 1 ’09

As mentioned in the June/ July 2009 z/Journal article, “CICS TS 4.1: Building on 40 Years of Superior Transaction Processing Support,” CICS celebrated its 40th birthday on July 8. IBM is now shipping CICS Transaction Server for z/OS Version 4.1, delivering a wealth of new capabilities. While the June/July article briefly introduced TS 4.1, this article will look “under the hood” of this latest addition to the CICS family.

The grand master of transaction processing again lets you exploit the latest advanced technology while ensuring your existing workload runs unchanged. CICS is the gold standard when…

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Security

Aug 1 ’09

One reason IBM mainframes are considered more secure than other platforms is that their network security has a reliable architecture. Unfortunately, this security can be easily compromised if available tools aren’t effectively implemented. This is often the result of lack of understanding of how the security works and of what tools are available.

While many people understand IBM’s System Network Architecture (SNA) and many more understand TCP/IP, few understand both. Many mainframe network security exposures originate in the gray area between the two. If you haven’t conducted a systematic network…

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IT Management

Aug 1 ’09

Long before the current economic downturn began, IT managers were regularly hearing demands from management to do more with less. It’s been repeated so often that most tune it out. How exactly can a System z shop do more with less when demand for System z processing and services keeps increasing?

There are proven ways to do more with less: namely, consolidation and automation. The System z, with its inherent virtualization capabilities, has become the prime vehicle for IBM’s consolidation pitch. The company touts the ability to run dozens, even hundreds of virtual…

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