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IT Management

Jul 16 ’09

Gururaj Rao, Ph.D., is an IBM Fellow, the highest honor awarded to an IBM technical contributor. Working through the dramatic decline and rebirth of the mainframe during the ’80s and early ’90s, Dr. Rao was a key technical leader at IBM responsible for the mainframe’s resurrection. Today, his official title is IBM Fellow, systems chief engineer, IBM Systems & Technology Group, where he’s responsible for establishing the technical direction for IBM’s enterprise systems. He leads an inter-divisional team of hardware, software, and research engineers. Working with enterprise customers and IBM…

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IT Management

Jul 16 ’09

The time to write this column always seems to be found in the little nicks of time that spur creativity. This one was no exception. Written on a train en route from New York City to Albany, the car I was traveling in started to fill with smoke at a train stop. Looking out the window, we saw Amtrak personnel with fire extinguishers working feverishly. The problem was there was no one on board to tell us what to do. So, we all asked each other what to do. We knocked on the window to get the employees’…

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Operating Systems

Jul 15 ’09

z/VSE is a constant changing environment of software and hardware, and as technicians, we’re the conductors and agents of that change. One segment of that change that has been dramatically affected in the last 10 years is performance management and tuning.

Ten to 15 years ago, we tuned disk subsystems by measuring I/Os per file or device, channel busy percentages, and I/O service times. We would then move files to obtain the best performance.

Today, using those techniques with the current disk subsystems may net a performance improvement, but it would be…

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IT Management

Jul 15 ’09

It appears the proposed IBM acquisition of Sun isn’t going to happen after all. That’s both positive and negative. The Linux world has both opportunities and challenges in either case, and maybe Oracle has an idea that may take them places they never thought they could go.

First, the positives. For Sun, it certainly saves them the ignominy of being consumed by their worst bogeyman. The pattern of pushing the “reconsider the mainframe” message, and the TCO studies of discrete hardware vs. the traditional mainframe-plus z/OS combination, were well-thought out,…

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CICS / WebSphere

Jul 14 ’09

On July 8, CICS celebrates its 40th anniversary as an IBM product. That makes CICS the grand master of transaction processing. Since 1969, CICS has evolved, adopting new technologies as appropriate, reacting to customer requirements to ensure it remains at the forefront of enterprise processing. There were some name changes along the way, but customers can still expect the Qualities of Service (QoS), performance, security, and integrity that have ensured CICS’ place as the mainstay of most mainframe installations.

What’s CICS Been Up To?

CICS Transaction Server Version 3.2 was released in June 2007. While there…

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IT Management

Jul 9 ’09

Millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours were spent dealing with Y2K less than a decade ago. There was the menu of industry-standard approaches to fixing the problem, ranging from pivot year, to sophisticated algorithmic logic and bridge programs. None was a magic bullet then and none is a magic bullet now. Date field expansion was the only sure-fire remediation that alleviated future issues.

So why is the issue resurfacing this quickly?

The biggest reason is that companies decided to do as little as possible, believing “that system will be replaced.” This…

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IT Management

Jul 9 ’09

The quantity of new enterprise application workloads being placed on the mainframe is growing, and the new IBM System z10 is playing a key role. In the choice between using a mainframe or distributed servers, the mainframe has many advantages, especially in today’s tough economy where cost-savings are critical.

IT directors report moving new workloads onto System z10 due to the lower hardware and software costs, lower energy costs, better security, better risk management, and better governance. Interviews with enterprise IT directors and CFO IT managers reveal renewed interest in moving new workload onto the…

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Jul 8 ’09

CICS Celebrates 40th Anniversary

On July 8, 2009 CICS celebrates its 40th anniversary as an IBM product. That makes CICS the grand master of transaction processing. Since 1969, CICS has evolved, adopting new technologies as appropriate, reacting to customer requirements to ensure it remains at the forefront of enterprise processing.

Read more about how CICS TS 4.1 builds upon the rich heritage of 40 years of superior transaction processing support here.

Mainframe Trivia Contest

The Mainframe Trivia Contest #11 is now over. Fred Brooks wrote the legendary…

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Operating Systems

Jul 7 ’09

What’s your definition of IT resource (e.g., server, storage, network, facilities, and software) efficiency and optimization? If it’s consolidation or boosting utilization to do more with what you have, or to do more with less, including server or storage virtualization, you would be correct. However, if you said it meant boosting performance, doing more work, storing more data, and moving more information in a smaller amount of time while using less energy and floor space to meet a given service level, you also would be correct.

For legacy enterprise environments, this goes…

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Applications & Databases

Jul 6 ’09

We all know the power and significance of the mainframe in the corporate and public sectors. Mainframes—secure, scalable, reliable and efficient—host more than 70 percent of the world’s critical business data and help solve many of today’s enterprise computing challenges.

This brings us to integration. Mainframes need to coexist with the other platforms, including Windows, Linux, UNIX, etc., but how do companies tie their mainframes in to all their distributed platforms? How does data get exchanged between the various systems and applications?

Demand for Enterprise Integration

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IT Management

Jul 6 ’09

In late 2007, researchers reported that worldwide mobile device penetration had reached 3.3 billion, and that number has been steadily climbing since. That amounts to billions of handheld devices capable of communications and, increasingly, sophisticated computing.

“Mobile devices today far outnumber PCs,” says Robbie Higgins, vice president, Security Ser vices at GlassHouse Technologies, a technology consulting firm based in Framingham, MA. “We reached that crossover point a few years ago.”

Imagine billions of devices more powerful from a computing standpoint than 3270 terminals; granted it’s 30- year-old technology, but it’s…

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IT Management

Jul 2 ’09

I recently read the results of a survey of how more than 100 different companies managed IT service. The study covered a variety of subtopics, including questions on how IT personnel are notified of an urgent situation in the middle of the night. It turns out that manual dispatch is still a common method, and those companies that have moved beyond that—setting up an electronic dispatch system—generally use set and forget methods that are passive and lack audit trails. Nobody can be sure the message was received, and no automatic actions are taken when the dispatch…

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IT Management

Jul 2 ’09

Thanks to increasingly affordable processing power, bandwidth, and a greater awareness of the strategic value of automating business functions, many companies have spent years building function-specific applications in all areas of their organization. However, the ability to automate discrete processes— for marketing, finance, sales, or manufacturing, for example— has created its own daunting challenges.

Today, enterprise IT organizations are often charged with maintaining these vast portfolios of data-centric applications—special-purpose, “siloed” systems—many inherited from the user departments themselves. A data-centric application typically embodies a narrow view of its purpose. It…

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IT Management

Jun 25 ’09

Your application portfolio runs your business. It automates core operations from finance to customer management, so it’s critical these systems operate as expected. Outages, security issues, and privacy exposures are significant concerns.

Most development organizations have created best practices to ensure these challenges are avoided by coding, documenting, and delivering high-quality applications. But enforcing these standards has become increasingly difficult as:

• Time pressures have increased, leading to a greater rush to deliver code.• The global nature of development makes monitoring standards more complex.• Resource pools are spread across a wider…

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IT Management

Jun 25 ’09

Although my previous column promised to discuss cost-cutting methods, these methods will be examined in an upcoming issue as a full-length article. This column will instead describe two information problems relating to cost-cutting and two tools to deal with them.

The first problem is that other divisions in the company view the world in terms of orders processed, paychecks printed, and so on. But IT has to translate these counts into hardware usage. For example: Processing 10,000 online orders will likely use about x prime shift CPU seconds, y I/Os, z amount of memory, and w amount…

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IT Management

Jun 23 ’09

You don’t need a political science degree or an MBA from Harvard to know that additional regulations, particularly in the financial industry but also for all publicly traded firms, will shortly pass the legislatures of most developed countries. Accountability and transparency are in; abstractions and derivatives are out. And, as usual, the systems and networks that process the work data of companies will shoulder most of the burden of change.

There’s nothing wrong with regulation, provided goals and objectives are clearly understood and business isn’t hamstrung in performing acceptable, aboveboard transactions.…

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Storage

Jun 23 ’09

Virtual Memory Operating Systems first arrived during the ’60s. Storage virtualization was pioneered on mainframes during the ’70s as virtualization concepts began to advance from the processor into storage subsystems. In the mid-70s, the original IBM 3850 Mass Storage System used virtualization to make a helical scan tape cartridge look like a disk drive to the mainframe operating system. The late ’70s witnessed the introduction of the first solid-state disk, a box of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) chips that appeared to the operating system as several rotating magnetic disks.

Virtualization reached a new…

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IT Management

Jun 18 ’09

In 1993, when the mainframe was under heavy fire from alleged alternative platforms, I created a presentation titled “Downsizing, Rightsizing, and Fantasizing: Is Client/Server Really the Answer?” During the Total Cost of Computing (TCOC) section, I discussed my daughter’s first year at college. Though I had planned for tuition, books, and board, I quickly learned the total cost of college also included new clothes, a mini-refrigerator, dormitory accessories, bank account overdrafts, long-distance telephone calls, and extra trips home.

Also in 1993, U.K.-based consultant, Barry Graham and I conducted a seminar tour across 14…

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IT Management

Jun 18 ’09

CIOs and CTOs should take a fresh look at modernizing mainframe applications. The impact of a sluggish economy on capital expenditure is one of the many forces that could converge this year, perhaps with a vengeance, to make the case for modernization stronger than ever. Modernization in many organizations is 10 years or more overdue; it’s time to plan for and act on this opportunity with urgency, responsibility, and foresight. Modernization should be a multi-year initiative to carefully take the enterprise through a planned, flawlessly executed path of constant, responsible transformation—not a hurried agenda of modernizing…

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Applications & Databases

Jun 16 ’09

If you had to guess, what was the most overused word or phrase during the 2008 Presidential Election?

• Maverick

• My friends

• Joe the plumber

• Change

• Historic.

Did you select change? The word is overused in political circles and in corporate IT. How many new initiatives, methodologies, or procedures were subject to change in IT departments last year? Gartner analyst Steve Prentice states, “People resistant to change will not survive changes to the industry” (see www.cobol.com/MainMigLeg/detart.asp?cat…

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