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Operating Systems

Oct 1 ’09

The bulk of today’s information is still kept in Virtual Storage Access Method (VSAM) files. VSAM endures because of its simplicity, maturity, and to be honest, inertia. However, even with the new technology and techniques available today, it’s important to tune a VSAM data set’s free space attributes for performance. (In this article, which focuses on Key-Sequenced Datasets [KSDS], the words data set and cluster are used interchangeably.)

Records, CI, and CA Free Space

There are several ways to tune VSAM clusters for DASD utilization and performance; the methods…

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Applications & Databases

Oct 1 ’09

Deduplication has been a buzzword in the storage industry for many years now. All storage vendors agree that it’s valuable and each has versions of the technology available, with roadmaps for additional future products that leverage deduplication capabilities. Mainframe operators have learned to be wary about industry hype and have the discipline to stick to what truly works, is manageable, and solves real business issues.

Deduplication for mainframe data centers has generated a mixed bag of information and perspectives from the leading mainframe vendors. Some of what has been said and heard can be summed…

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Operating Systems

Oct 1 ’09

Optimizing Your Code Using the GNU Compiler Collection

The June/July 2009 z/Journal article “Compiling and Debugging Applications on Linux for System z” examined how to compile source code on Linux for System z and how the different tools interact. This article focuses on some advanced optimization issues and security checks and provides insight on how the compiler works internally.

Code Optimization

The previous article mentioned the two most important optimization options specific to System z, namely specifying the target processor using -march and -mtune. There are, however, many additional optimization options; some valuable for fine-tuning application performance.

The…

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Operating Systems

Oct 1 ’09

Most data centers today have one of the models of IBM’s System z processor technology. Many customers have been able to take advantage of specialty processors to facilitate their sysplex environments with Integrated Coupling Facilities (ICFs), and consolidate distributed workloads on a mainframe platform with Integrated Facilities for Linux (IFLs). Now, with z9 and z10 processors, there are opportunities to reduce software license costs with System z Integrated Information Processors (zIIPs) and System z Application Assist Processors (zAAPs). This article examines some of the basic concepts of the technology, the considerations for successful implementation, and exploiters of…

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Security

Oct 1 ’09

Many network security technologies are available these days—from tried and true staples such as network firewalls to newer developments such as Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPSs) and the new anomaly detection and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) technologies. Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) and IPSs are gaining some ground as forces such as regulatory compliance drive end-to-end security requirements. enterprise acceptance for some of the other newcomer technologies varies, but it’s clear that network firewalls are here to stay. They remain among the most important core technologies in the network security arsenal, which makes it important to understand…

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IT Management

Sep 29 ’09

Historically, compliance hasn’t been much of a problem in mainframe environments. The mainframe is a highly mature platform with well-established best practices, and mainframe professionals have generally had a pretty clear picture of what’s taking place in the environments they manage.

However, several factors are now making compliance on the mainframe a significant challenge:

• Increasing regulatory mandates • Increasing mainframe workloads • Decreasing mainframe staff resources.

Combined, these factors increase the likelihood that key compliance tasks will not be performed—or that they will be performed only…

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IT Management

Sep 25 ’09

Brand and product loyalty are increasingly scarce in today’s fast-paced and often fickle culture. Even in industry and business, change is often inflicted for its own sake— sometimes at the encouragement of what’s disparaged as “management by airline magazine.” So, it’s noteworthy when a company builds a steadily growing business that provides innovative, cost-effective, rock-solid data processing on one technology platform for 40 years. Of course, that platform—IBM’s mainframe—has evolved a bit since Antares Management Solutions’ corporate parent adopted it in the ’60s.<…

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IT Management

Sep 25 ’09

Platform wars will continue to be waged, and the voice of reason from seasoned mainframe professionals sometimes still goes unheeded when those who propose dumping the mainframe portray them as “big iron” bigots. One mainframer whose input was falling on his management’s deaf ears lamented, “It’s like I’ve been tainted because of my 20 years working with mainframes.”

As a mainframe executive, you’re wise to question the motives of zealots promoting a move away from the mainframe. Attempts to get off the mainframe are expensive and…

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IT Management

Sep 17 ’09

The story of Miami-Dade County, FL, IT is about customer service in the form of reliable, easy to use applications that address every phase of county business—and careful planning that accounts for all options to deliver premium computing at a cost that optimizes taxpayer dollars. This means continuous assessment of what the strategic applications are, who and what is supporting those applications, how they’re helping customers and employees, and how physical facilities can be acquired and employed to house the technology assets that run the applications.

Miami-Dade County is a typical IT site…

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IT Management

Sep 17 ’09

We continue our discussion of what information you need to do your job well and how to obtain that information. Here we’ll examine a free source of information on basic management tools that also helps you prepare for an audit. This source also describes what information you should be asking your auditors to provide. This will help you turn security audits from checklist-based exercises into demonstrations of the quality of your Information Security (IS).

The Federal Information System Controls Audit Manual (FISCAM) is the Security IS audit approach developed and documented by the Government Accountability…

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IT Management

Sep 10 ’09

Managers of mainframe data centers can be forgiven if they don’t pay much attention to all the hype surrounding cloud computing. Amazon.com, Google, and a host of others are rushing to build highly virtualized, massively scalable, and, hopefully, bulletproof IT infrastructures accessible over the Internet or, to use the latest buzz phrase, ”in the cloud.”

Mainframe data center managers have seen all this before. They’ve considered the mainframe data center their company’s IT infrastructure cloud long before there was a cloud. Virtualized and highly scalable, bulletproof and accessible…

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IT Management

Sep 10 ’09

Parents strive for the best for their children, and in most households, that extends to a litany of manners imposed early on that make no sense to the kid who just wants to be a kid. Sit up straight; don’t talk with your mouth full; say please and thank you. As evolved adults, we realize these “constraints on our creativity” were our parents’ attempts at helping us learn how to play nice with others, employing respect and civility in what would otherwise be a chaotic world. And for that, we thank them.

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Blog

Sep 8 ’09

Most of us are familiar with the traditional applications that have been running on IBM mainframes for years because of the mainframe’s inherent qualities of reliability, availability, security, performance, etc. With the introduction of the System z/10, Linux on System z, specialty processors, and a vastly improved TCO/ROI story: It sure seems that IBM should be racking up a boatload of new mainframe customers in a variety of industries. I haven’t noticed that happening yet. Topping my list of targeted businesses would be companies that depend on a system with five-nines uptime, that is…

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IT Management

Sep 1 ’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

Aug 27 ’09

Distress calls echo throughout the industry about high-cost implementations involving Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs). In many organizations, across-the-board spending cuts threaten SOA’s potential, and that trend might endure awhile. Most published IT budgetary surveys anticipate growth in corporate IT spending for 2009 to be anemic or flat. According to Gartner, budget growth of 2.3 to 0 percent is most likely, with a worst-case projection of cuts in the range of 2.5 percent.

Ironically, SOA delivers considerable value for enterprisewide interoperability, which can improve operational efficiency. Incorporating mainframe-based resources into a Web services strategy or some type of SOA can no…

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IT Management

Aug 27 ’09

Originally beginning as a nursing home in 1961, Louisville, KY-based Humana Inc. is a Fortune 100 corporation that now employs 29,000 associates to market and service its health benefit consumer services in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. Humana’s medical membership, comprised of employers, government agencies and individuals, has rapidly grown over the past few years to more than 10.4 million participants. The company is now the second largest Medicare prescription drug carrier in the U.S. in addition to being the most rapidly growing U.S. Medicare Advantage carrier.

Enjoying tremendous growth, Humana’s challenge was…

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Operating Systems

Aug 24 ’09

Applications running with dynamic SQL are ever-increasing. Without some methods to contain the onslaught of queries, performance drops and phone calls increase. What can a DBA do to remain sane and avoid a visit from the company’s vice president?

This article addresses common bottlenecks encountered in performance of applications containing dynamic SQL, and how to avoid them. While our primary focus is distributed applications that access DB2 for z/OS on the mainframe, most of these bottlenecks and their solutions arise with other DBMSs as well.

Dynamic SQL and the Distributed Environment

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IT Management

Aug 20 ’09

Call it the perfect storm. To the delight of the 24-hour news programs, there will be no shortage of big stories this summer. First on tap will be the debate over healthcare, razor-focused on spiking costs and the possibilities for new information technology to redress them. Next, we will begin to hear the background noise grow to a roar around new regulatory mandates as legislators and interest groups highlight the gaps in business transparency, information governance, privacy, and protection that contributed to our recent economic problems. Finally, newscasters are looking forward to an active severe weather season, which officials…

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IT Management

Aug 20 ’09

With the ever-increasing diversity of equipment to manage, the IT department’s job is becoming more and more complicated. Take, for example, two extreme cases found in many companies today: large mainframe computers and tiny portable devices, such as smartphones. The responsibility falls on the IT department to select both kinds of equipment and accompanying software. By default, IT personnel have to deploy both technologies and provide support services to users.

But the two cases are vastly different. On the one hand, mainframe computers are physically secure. On the other hand, portable devices are carried around…

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IT Management

Aug 13 ’09

IBM recently offered analysts some interesting perspectives on the size and growth of the mainframe platform. As reported in the March issue of the Mainframe Market Bulletin, IBM claimed the mainframe has seen a 20 percent compound annual growth rate in MIPS since 2003, with specialty engine capacity growing at a very impressive 93 percent. In the same presentation, IBM pointed out that the System z has increased its server market share from 17 to 33 percent since 2000, according to data from analyst firm IDC. These are quite impressive figures, and although they need to be treated with a great deal of caution, they…

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