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IT Management

May 27 ’10

The IT department is the core of the modern enterprise and one of the keys to its success. While making decisions that affect the technology and systems deployed by the IT department is difficult, business success depends on correct decisions being made to minimize costly errors that can impact a company or organization’s ability to remain competitive in the marketplace. One area where costly errors can easily be made is in the understanding of the true cost and the Return on Investment (ROI) of various information technology expenditures.

According to Dot Alexander, senior analyst at…

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IT Management

May 25 ’10

Linux on System z will celebrate its tenth anniversary in June 2010. This open source project has come a long way and benefited many. This article explains how open source software development is organized, how IBM contributes System z-specific parts, how customers get this software, and what services are available from IBM. In particular, you’ll learn how Linux on System z is developed and maintained.

The Open Source Model

The term “open source” software means the source code of such projects is publicly available. Everyone interested in an open source project can…

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Spotlights

May 24 ’10

Think about it. Could any large business today operate without reports? The answer is a resounding “no.” Yet, we take for granted the ability to receive the reports we need on a timely basis and formatted in a very readable, organized manner.

Some Background

From the late 1960s through the 1980s, printing was a centralized affair that occurred in the data center. Each night data from the day’s transactions would be processed, and the resulting reports would be printed on high-volume printers connected to the mainframe. Printed reports would be distributed…

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IT Management

May 24 ’10

In the next few months, we will see the arrival of “zNext,” the replacement for IBM’s current top-end z10 system (IBM is apparently offering Early Support Programs for the second quarter of this year). Exactly when the system will reach general availability still isn’t clear, but the signs are that we may see a roll-out by summer. What it will be called is also uncertain: z11 would make sense, but IBM doesn’t always favor the logic of sequential numbering! 

What is certain, however, is that the new system…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

This article describes the need for identity and resource access management on the mainframe to mitigate inappropriate use of applications and data. It will compare and contrast how such management is implemented by the three top security servers: IBM RACF, CA-Top Secret, and CA-ACF2. It points to the System z mainframe as the most secure platform, making it the best choice for hosting highly sensitive data, including electronic keys required to access encryption-protected data and to sign and authenticate sensitive data exchanges. Finally, it considers how the three security servers are evolving to manage such keys as well as…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

Univar, an industrial chemical company, had been on an extended acquisition trail going back to 1986 when it acquired McKesson Chemical. By 2007, when the company acquired CHEMCENTRAL Corp., Univar found itself operating a network of more than 170 distribution centers throughout North America, Europe, and China.

An application modernization effort begun in 2003 led Univar to migrate from VSAM to DB2 on System z. The organization also had a decade-old, Oracle-based data warehouse long overdue for modernization. The IT group wanted to modernize the data warehouse as part of a Business Intelligence (BI) effort led by Kevin Campbell, Univar&rsquo…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

The focus of IT infrastructure management has never been static for long. Early on, for expensive mainframe systems, the focus was exclusively on job management and control to ensure high utilization rates. The IT staff focused on keeping the infrastructure busy, but as available as possible to serve business needs. This remains true today as Business Service Management (BSM)—the ability of IT to understand and adapt its operations to support business operations—gains attention.

One significant element of BSM is capacity planning and forecasting. Years ago, the cost of technicians, operations managers, Job Control…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

 “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”  -- Henry Ford

Whether the ink on your diploma is still fresh or you have long ago forgotten where you put the thing, real learning begins when you graduate and ends only when you give up. In the IT profession, continuing education must be a part of your career plan; the industry just changes too fast. But how do you find the time? Many struggling to work while attending school imagined how much easier life would…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

An Interview With IBM Distinguished Engineer David Petersen

David Petersen is an IBM Distinguished Engineer currently working on the System z platform. He has more than 20 years of experience with IBM and is recognized as a continuous availability and disaster recovery expert. As chief technologist and program manager of the Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS) Continuous Availability/Disaster Recovery (CA/DR) solution, he’s responsible for the overall strategy and leads the worldwide development organization. Additionally, he’s responsible for the System z Platform Business Continuity strategy.

Mainframe Executive: Please tell our readers…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

Consider this scenario: Your CFO just came back from a software conference and is energized by some of the new, exciting technologies discussed. He would like you to look into moving your applications off the mainframe and onto other platforms that offer promises about how they will save money for the business.

Yet, you know this effort could take years to complete, would be costly, is of questionable business value, and there’s no guarantee you would be able to provide the same level of service to your customers. You’re pretty sure the CFO…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

Mainframe modernization via Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and other means introduces certain risks to the quality and accuracy of data. Even though the mainframe has the most durable protections in the industry, necessary integration with small platform systems—to provide user productivity interfaces—opens the door to “man-in-the-middle” attacks and other threats far beyond those contemplated in the system’s initial design. 

Market needs for improved operational efficiency and quicker time-to-market compel modernization in all its forms, particularly through Web application integration. IBM clearly recognizes this, as demonstrated in the recent release…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

Like all inventions that fundamentally cause positive change, COPAN Systems deserves recognition for the creation of the first Multiple Array of Idle Disk (MAID). As James Burke pointed out in his PBS television series “Connections,” discovery and invention are evolutionary. A new creation depends on what comes before it as a foundation for improvement. COPAN sought to address the issue of managing and economizing the use of energy. MAID positively added value by vastly reducing energy consumption as compared to other disk subsystems. From that point of view, it was a bull’s eye. However, what…

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IT Management

May 17 ’10

One way of helping mobile workers access enterprise applications is by providing a data interface that operates on the worker’s Smartphone. However, you can also reach out to mobile workers through a voice interface to back-end applications. To do this, you need software that can perform both Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Text To Speech (TTS). 

TTS is relatively easy. Many people use this feature on their laptops. The voice sounds a little mechanical, and most systems have trouble pronouncing certain words, but overall, it does the job. The tougher part is to perform…

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Spotlights

May 16 ’10

If you were going to create a documentary about the mainframe, where would you start?  You could reasonably start with the birth of Alan Turing in 1912 or with the “birth” of ENIAC in Pennsylvania in 1946.  How about when the Turing Pilot ACE ran its first program in London in 1950? 

Other schools of thought might point to the Konrad Zuse Z1 in 1936, a mechanical calculator considered the first binary computer, and others could point to the earliest general-purpose stored-program electronic digital computer known as the Manchester “Baby” which performed its first…

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Operating Systems

May 11 ’10

The February/March column identified one user’s issue with the partition limit for Programmer Logical Units and solicited input from the user community. From the responses received to date, it appears that only the original reporting user expects to encounter this issue in the future.  

The affected user certainly should submit a requirement to IBM identifying the issue. But, since the affected base of users is limited, it’s unlikely a requirement against the product would generate sufficient interest and support for a high-priority vote. Therefore, it doesn’t appear the…

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IT Management

May 11 ’10

Mainframe Executive recently visited with Dayton Semerjian, corporate senior vice president and general manager of CA’s mainframe business unit, and discussed CA’s Mainframe 2.0 initiative and the future of mainframe management.

Mainframe Executive: You’ve garnered a lot of visibility for your Mainframe 2.0 initiative. What market realities are driving your strategy?

Dayton Semerjian: There’s a lingering perception that the mainframe is dead. The truth is, the mainframe has undergone a renaissance that isn’t well-understood by IT professionals outside mainframe circles. This renaissance started after Y2K, and…

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IT Management

May 10 ’10

For more than four decades, various incarnations of IBM’s popular Virtual Machine mainframe hypervisor—VM/370, VM/SP, VM/XA, VM/ESA, and now z/VM, plus mutations such as High Performance Option (HPO)—have provided unparalleled virtualization of mainframe operating systems for testing, resource sharing, and all the other uses for which virtualization has become trendy. 

In the late ’80s, VM/XA introduced the CP SET MACHINE command to set each virtual machine’s architecture to the original 370, XA, or (later) Enterprise System Architecture (ESA). Eventually, 370 emulation was removed; but…

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Spotlights

May 8 ’10

The 10 commandments of TCP/IP performance are a distillation of hard-won experience. Monitoring and tuning TCP networks on the mainframe is complex for the basic reason that each network is a mixture of many applications and pieces of hardware. Like an onion, each connection contains layers of protocols and subprotocols that must be decoded to make sense of the traffic patterns. Making sense of it all is the first step to tuning and improving performance.

For example, if you’re trying to find a problem with an IP printer, you may need to understand the IP…

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Spotlights

May 7 ’10

SOA (services-oriented architecture) is an established development methodology today because it equips companies with agility as they respond to rapidly changing business conditions. It also offers a way to reuse software in a multiplicity of present and future system and application contexts that conserve IT costs. SOA’s modular software reusability is facilitated because software components like Web services are decoupled from tightly integrated legacy systems. In theory, this reduces the risk of software changes impacting other areas of software that they interface with. But as software becomes more and more decoupled, is there a corresponding risk that…

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IT Management

May 5 ’10

Common wisdom in the industry holds that mainframe professionals comprise a demographic with an average age of 56. Ageism, therefore, probably plays a role in the perception of mainframers by senior managers, who increasingly make decisions about the future of corporate IT. As “isms” go, ageism is actually a neutral term. It refers to a predisposition about age that can be either positive or negative. It’s sometimes “anti-age” and sometimes “pro-age.” Let me explain. 

On one hand, there’s the “don’t trust anyone over 30”…

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