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IT Management

Feb 15 ’10

It’s no surprise the mainframe has stood the test of time. Yet lingering misperceptions about Big Iron are that it supports a black box computing model and is chugging along while sustaining old, albeit critical, data. IT professionals who rely on the mainframe realize that nothing could be further from the truth. The mainframe will continue to be a mainstay in corporate computing environments because of its power, performance, and reliability.

However, three converging factors have led to an increased focus on mainframe modernization:

  • Preserving legacy assets: Critical information that has…
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IT Management

Feb 15 ’10

The magnetic tape industry is changing. In recent years, tape has been relegated to the data center and the middle- to high-end of the Small to Medium Business (SMB) market with decreasing penetration below this level. Disk and tape markets have been shifting roles as disk encroaches on tape’s traditional backup/recovery market; tape is positioning itself to compete in the fast-growing tier 3 storage market that includes fixed content (data that doesn’t change), compliance, and long-life archival applications. Tape remains a viable complement to disk due to its lower cost per gigabyte, lower operating expenses,…

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IT Management

Feb 10 ’10

Databases are costly both on and off the mainframe. My past Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) studies suggest that database administration costs are typically a significant source of overhead in the smallest and largest of enterprises. The right choice of database in a mid-size firm can make a 10-times difference in three-year application TCO—not to mention its effects on speed to upgrade and develop new apps on the same database. An IBM study last year suggested that database administration costs can be as much as 20 percent of overall three-year, large-enterprise TCO.

However, ways to cut…

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IT Management

Feb 10 ’10

Ever since Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) came on the scene, it’s been the subject of much discussion and anticipation. Organizations that understand it well know it isn’t just another new-fangled technology, but an evolutionary discipline of application architecture and design. But whether SOA was pursued with a sense of responsibility or just as a response to the hype, everyone hoped it would become the next “killer app.”

Obviously, that hasn’t happened—partly because more tactical and pressing issues crept into the agenda of the CIO community and also because…

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IT Management

Feb 10 ’10

For 2010 and beyond, some technology trends will be familiar ones. Some trends will be the same as they were in 2009, 2008, 2007 … 2004. Well, you get the picture; however, some technologies also will be renamed or repackaged!

Something that won’t change in the foreseeable future is the fact there’s still no such thing as an information or data recession! The opposite is true, and the result is more data to process, move, and store for longer periods of time in different locations. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more will have…

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Applications & Databases

Feb 10 ’10

Managing IT has always been about ensuring the availability and performance of the application. At one time, applications were simply transactions on a single system. They might have required databases, business logic and networks, but they were all on a single platform. As IT evolved, business needs drove a requirement for application flexibility, but that also increased complexity. Today, applications are often Web-enabled and span platforms, geographies, and even organizations and companies. But as the requirements have evolved, management of mainframe systems and applications hasn’t changed to match business needs. 

Most performance monitoring tools…

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IT Management

Feb 10 ’10

Modern Storage Area Networks (SANs) are challenging to manage due to complex network topologies and the difficulties that can arise in identifying the source of performance problems and resolving them. 

Good tooling for analyzing Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) devices for Linux on System z used to be hard to find. However, that’s no longer the case, as the ziomon toolset released by IBM in early 2009 improves things. It consists of: 

  • ziomon, a tool to collect data on SCSI device topology and performance data for a specified time  <…
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Operating Systems

Feb 10 ’10

The mainframe database landscape has been very consistent for the past 25 or more years. IBM introduced DB2 for the mainframe back in 1983, and it has ruled the mainframe roost ever since. Sure, the legacy DBMSs such as IMS, IDMS and Datacom persist, but new workload runs on relational, SQL database systems—and DB2 is the z/OS DBMS of choice.

There have been other mainframe RDBMS products over the years, but none of them have been very successful. Oracle had a z/OS version of its DBMS, but the company is now focused on Linux on…

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IT Management

Feb 10 ’10

Recently, I read a fascinating article titled “Automated to Death” by Robert N. Charette on the spectrum.ieee.org Website. Charette discusses freak accidents and incidents that have occurred on land, sea, and in the air as a result of (or despite) ultra-high levels of automation. He points out that we’re becoming more reliant on automation on our ships and planes to the extent that when things do go wrong—for example, because of an unprecedented chain of events or exceptional weather conditions—the experts with the right technical expertise are no longer…

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Operating Systems

Feb 9 ’10

With the introduction of Event Processing (EP) in CICS TS V4.1, customers want to know what overhead (in terms of CPU utilization, throughput, and response times) is associated with this new feature. 

Many customers will already be using some form of EP, and will be considering the implications of converting to CICS EP, while other customers will be considering it for the first time. This article reviews the processing associated with EP and potential overhead involved in its use in production environments.

How EP Works 

The conditions under which an event…

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IT Management

Feb 9 ’10

Some IT organizations think screen-based modernization can’t address certain types of business challenges surrounding mainframe line-of-business applications. But your business wants change—and they want it now. What can IT do?

In simple terms, screen-based modernization means reusing a mainframe application’s 3270 user interface to provide new capabilities to the business. These capabilities include leveraging green screens to provide a Web-enabled Graphical User Interface (GUI) and using them as an Application Program Interface (API) to service-enable application business logic so it can be accessed by other applications. If your business is complaining about…

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Spotlights

Feb 8 ’10

Migrate! Modernize! Save money! Be more agile! These messages and many more are probably landing on your desk daily. Is it time to consider moving off the mainframe to another platform, or should you ignore these demands and continue forward secure in the knowledge that IBM is going to look after you?  Unfortunately there’s no formula that is going to generate the right answer to that question for everybody, but this article aims to provide you with guidelines so that you are better able to say “Yes, it’s time I looked into migration…

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Spotlights

Feb 8 ’10

When you move z/OS applications to a Mainframe Alternative (MFA) platform, there are more than only programs and data to move.  There are datacenter and application production procedures and policies and the operational practices in computer operations.  Depending on the MFA platform you have chosen, there might also be a significant new production environment to establish, with the attendant “systems programming” that maintenance of such a complex environment implies. Establish the MFA SystemDoes establishment of an MFA platform imply MFA Systems Programming?  That answer is that it depends on the platform you…

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IT Management

Feb 4 ’10

The recent global economic crisis has caused companies to more closely examine their priorities and investments. Many IT organizations responded by slowing investments in new applications and in general-purpose mainframe capacity growth.

However, results of BMC Software’s online 2009 Mainframe Survey show that the challenging economic climate has an upside. Responses from more than 1,500 survey participants (BMC customers and z/Journal readers who are knowledgeable about their organization’s mainframe environment and who play a decision-making role in mainframe management or operation) indicate that coping with a struggling economy has motivated IT organizations to focus…

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IT Management

Feb 3 ’10

There’s no single definition for Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) since every enterprise defines it relative to its particular business model, often borrowing from several vendors. Of course, every vendor presents sites with TCO formulas that favor their solutions. But if you’re a mainframe site, or one of the 23 non-mainframe shops that opted for a mainframe solution over the past year, labor-saving virtualization capabilities, coupled with attractive pricing on specialty engines, will be a big part of the mainframe value proposition.

“There’s a common trend that we see across all…

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IT Management

Feb 3 ’10

Regarding recommendations from people who haven’t taken the time to understand your business, be advised that prescription without proper diagnosis is malpractice. Beware of promoters using trendy buzzwords. Also be skeptical of vendors who “sell high,” pushing for business execs to mandate massive technology purchases. The goal of those who over-promise and under-deliver is to avoid close scrutiny, a common practice of those selling alleged mainframe alternatives.

Responsible mainframe executives should resist management-by-magazine and beware of not-so-whitepapers that tout the merits of in-vogue technology. To help you make the right choices, here are…

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IT Management

Feb 2 ’10

My Mom used to tell folks we four Thomas kids were all distinctly different from the time we were born. However, we were all the same in one important way: As three-year-olds, our favorite words were “No!” and “Why?”

Inside all of us are three-year-olds who simply don’t like to be told what to do. When someone states that I “have to” do something, I often hear my inner-child popping out that default response of “No!”—even if the adult I am now is nodding yes,…

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Operating Systems

Feb 2 ’10

What is your biggest challenge in managing applications in a DB2 for z/OS environment? Is it continuously keeping data and the application available, meeting increasingly stringent Service-Level Agreements (SLAs), managing the ever-growing complexity in application development environments, or just meeting the deadline for your next project? Chances are, you’re being asked to do all this: provide more services, in less time, with more complexity and less budget than ever. How can you get the most ROI as part of the application development team? You could increase the capacity of your mainframe, or hire more developers and…

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IT Management

Feb 1 ’10

In the past, data center security was simpler to implement; in fact, there was a time when data center managers could see all the inputs and outputs to the mainframe in one or two rooms. However, this was when data was input via punched cards and output was recorded on tape or impact printers using green bar paper. A terminal had to be added as a logical unit and data center managers knew exactly who had access to the mainframe. Even when someone was logged in, managers always knew exactly what users were doing. Because computing resources were so…

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IT Management

Feb 1 ’10

Many magazine articles have focused specifically on issues of data security, risk, and appropriate controls. While information security is a pervasive need, relatively few mainframe professionals focus on data security as a discrete discipline, even though the mainframe is central to many applications and exposed to great risk. Moreover, most mainframe focus has been on operational excellence and increasing ROI, as opposed to focusing on protection of mainframe data assets. As a result, many seasoned mainframe workers and managers could still benefit from a broader understanding of information security risks and remedies.

Data security must start with…

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