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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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Blog

Jul 30 ’09

Today I am adding four new members to the Mainframe Hall of Fame.  Each of these gentlemen were instrumental in the tremendous success of the IBM mainframe.  

Edgar CoddEdgar Codd invented the relational model for database management. He published his groundbreaking paper, ‘A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks’, while working for IBM in 1970.

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IT Management

Jul 30 ’09

What is job scheduling like in your organization? Have years of adding new systems and applications led to a complex mix of methods and systems for managing operations and workflow? Is repetitive manual intervention by staff the only way to keep critical jobs running? If so, you’re not alone. For many IT organizations, job scheduling could be prone to staff inefficiency, manual errors that aggravate the situation, and limited agility in responding to business requirements. The typical IT organization has a hodgepodge of disparate job and workload solutions that only rarely talk to each other and often…

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IT Management

Jul 30 ’09

In the last two years, actual cyberwarfare attacks have exposed some of the vulnerabilities that exist for societies that heavily rely on the Internet.

Consider the April 26, 2007, cyberwarfare attack on Estonia that lasted three weeks and then suddenly stopped. Estonia’s Internet usage, like many countries, has dramatically expanded since 2000. Almost 52 percent of Estonia’s population of 1.3 million had Internet access at the time of the attack. Officials there report that 60 percent of online Estonians use the Internet every day, and 97 percent of banking transactions take place online. Government systems provide everyday conveniences, such as…

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IT Management

Jul 28 ’09

In May, CA celebrated a month of mainframe madness surrounding its Mainframe 2.0 product announcements, the culmination of a far-reaching overhaul of the company’s z/OS-based management products. Central to this initiative is an upgrade to 143 of CA’s 166 distinct offerings for large systems, designed to help customers position themselves for renewed mainframe growth while the population of mainframe technical specialists is steadily diminishing.

Opinions are divided as to whether we’re really heading for a skills shortage on the System z, but one thing is for sure. If you’re running a…

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Operating Systems

Jul 28 ’09

Assume you’ve been given a directive by IT management to “tune” things. What strategies are available and how do you judge which ones are best? Considering the current economic climate, can any be implemented on a shoestring budget? Can any of these tasks be assigned to resources with basic DBA skills and still be productively accomplished?

A few of the many strategies for approaching and overseeing tuning efforts include:

• Tune from top to bottom. Tune z/OS (i.e., memory, dispatching priorities, WLM environment), then the DB2 subsystem, database objects …

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IT Management

Jul 23 ’09

IT managers can improve efficiency—and cut costs—by recognizing a certain type of opportunity. This opportunity is characterized by a separation between where information is needed to make a decision and where that information is available.

The following examples describe separation between where information is needed and where it’s located. Each provides a different type of solution:

• Capacity planners need to know transaction volumes to ensure there’s enough hardware to process transactions. For example, an end user such as the marketing department might be planning a sales…

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IT Management

Jul 23 ’09

Competitive market opportunity comes from outside the enterprise organization. IT needs to adjust its systems to be responsive to these new market opportunities as they arise. However, these adjustments are fraught with risk. Risks to any enterprise organization come from an inability to control costs as well as the competition. Risks need to be managed in the context of pursuing market opportunity as efficiently as the competition is managing its costs.

Market forces come from customers, technologies, outsourcers, and suppliers external to the organization. IT, though internal to the organization, has a responsibility to be managed as…

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