Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2010

The 2010 edition of the celebrated Arcati Mainframe Yearbook is now available to view or download (free of charge) from

It includes a mainframe strategy section with a selection of articles by industry gurus and vendors on topics such as: Mainframe continuity planning 2.0; Leveraging existing mainframe investments in modernization projects; Lowering mainframe TCO through zIIP specialty engine exploitation; SNA mainframe security – because SNA isn’t hacked, instead it is infiltrated; TurboHercules and disaster recovery – an innovative approach to mainframe outage and business continuity; and Software migrations: past, present, and future.
For many people the highlight each year is the mainframe user survey. This illustrates just what's been happening at users’ sites. It’s a good way for mainframers to compare what they are planning to do with what other sites have done. I will be looking at some of the survey highlights next week.

The full vendor directory section gives contact details and other useful information in a summary format for all major vendors, consultants, and service providers in the z/OS environment. It has 25 new entries this year and lost five existing entries (because the companies are no longer trading).

There's also a media guide for IBM mainframers. This lists information resources, publications, blogs, and user groups that are relevant to people working in a z/OS environment.

Next comes the glossary of terminology, which contains a large number of definitions of mainly mainframe-related terms.

The final section contains technical information - z10 model tables; mainframe hardware timeline 1952-2010; and mainframe operating system development.

In order for the Yearbook to be free, it is supported by sponsors and advertisers. This year's sponsors were CA, DataKinetics,, Progress:DataDirect, and Software Diversified Services (SDS).

To see this year's Arcati Mainframe Yearbook, click on If you don’t want to download a large PDF, this year each section is available as a separate PDF file.

Now that the Yearbook is complete... if anyone needs a good technical writer or editor, please contact me at

Monday, 25 January 2010

Mainframe history

We were talking about the history of the mainframe and how most of the sites on the Internet have a very US-based view. We were disappointed by the fact that quite a number of sites ignored the work of others, and we felt not enough was made of the impact of the wartime Colossus machine to the history of computing in general.

Now, you could write books about the history of computing, so I’m just going to fill in a major hole in the histories and shine a light into some of the darker corners.

During the WWII, the Germans had a complicated way of coding messages using Enigma machines, which could put a message into code in over 150 million million million different ways. The British code breakers, working mainly at Bletchley Park, had to try to decode these messages. By changing the rotors in their Enigma machines, the Germans could change the code daily.

Colossus was built by Tommy Flowers and his team of post office engineers in 1943. It could work at 5000 characters a second, four times faster than anything built before. The computer was 5 metres long, 3 metres deep, and 2.5 metres high, and worked by 'reading', through a photoelectric system, a teleprinter tape containing the letters of the coded message. It read 5,000 letters a second. The information was called Ultra.

Tommy and his team went on to further develop Colossus so it was even faster.

In addition, in 1941 Konrad Zuse, originally from Germany, produced the first programmable computer designed to solve complex engineering equations. The Z3 worked using binary.

UK-based J Lyons and Co, famous for their Lyons Corner Houses (cafes) developed LEO I (Lyons Electronic Office I) in 1951. It was the first computer used for commercial business applications. In 1954 Lyons formed LEO Computers Ltd to market LEO I and its successors LEO II and LEO III to other companies. LEO Computers eventually became part of English Electric Company (EELM) and then International Computers Limited (ICL).

Just a few of the developments illustrating that ENIAC wasn’t the only game in town.

The Centre for Computing History in Suffolk (UK) – – provides the light for those dark corners mentioned above. For example

1623, Wilhelm Schickard invented a calculating machine.
1646, Sir Thomas Browne coined the phrase ‘computer’.
1820,The Arithmometer was the first commercially successful mechanical calculator patented
1822, Charles Babbage takes first steps in the construction of machines that would compute numbers
1873, QWERTY keyboard invented
1888, Babbage's Analytical Engine operates for the first time
1889, Herman Hollerith lodges patent for Punch Card technology
1936, at Cambridge Alan Turing invented the principle of the modern computer
1937, Alan Turing Defines the Universal Machine
1938, Zuse Z1 built by Konrad Zuse
1941, Zuse Z3 machine completed
1945, Grace Hopper recorded the first actual computer "bug"
1948, The Manchester Baby, the world's first stored program computer, ran its first program
1951, LEO I computer became operational.

Of course you could go back even further and look at the history of mathematics to get to even the early stages.

Anyway, hopefully some cobwebs have been brushed away.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

2009 – a review

2009 was quite an interesting year considering that we entered it in the middle of the worst financial crisis for x number of years – I’ll leave you to fill in a value for ‘x’, but whatever number you put, things were bad.

So, what exciting things did happen? Well, IBM continued with the inexorable progress of its mainframe software. We saw IMS V11 actually being GAed – it had been available as a beta for a while. The new version boasted even better SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) and Java features and a host of other useful enhancements for IMS users.

The people at Hursley gave us CICS/TS Version 4.1. This again had robust all-round improvements plus featured enhancements in the areas of Web 2.0, dashboards, and business event publishing.

DB2 didn’t exactly manage a new release proper, but did beta Version 10. Again, this is designed to improve performance and save MIPS – which being chargeable is a good thing to have. Obviously someone at IBM owns a Mac rather than a PC because they are calling it DB2 X (like Mac OS X).

Perhaps the most important release is the new version of the operating system. The cool kids are now using z/OS V1.11. Like all good operating system upgrades it is backwards compatible and improves performance. There were also some enhancements to autonomic computing – the software answer to the ageing IT population – which means the software will identify potential faults before they occur and take steps to prevent them. Or if it’s too late for that, they will recover from them – and all without human intervention.

Away from the mainframe, perhaps the biggest news was Oracle buying Sun Microsystems. Reports are coming in of potential massive job cuts at Sun. Interestingly, Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius, co-creator of MySQL (which Sun owns), ran a Web campaign called “Save MySQL” to convince European regulators to prevent Oracle’s buyout.

The other big news for mainframers was NEON Enterprise Software’s announcement of zPrime. Why the excitement? Well, IBM and many independent software vendors (ISVs) generally charge users for software by the amount of General Purpose Processor (GPP) capacity they use. IBM also sells specialty processors, which are available for workloads like Linux, Java (think WebSphere), and DB2. For a typical mainframe site, processing work in a specialty processor saves money because it is not using the chargeable GPPs – and there’s an added benefit that it can save an organization money by putting off the need for an expensive processor upgrade. The controversial zPrime software, according to NEON, allows users to run up to 50% of their workload on specialty processors. So in effect a zIIP doesn’t just run DB2 work, it can also run IMS, CICS, TSO/ISPF, batch, etc, etc. On the plus side this offers the strong possibility of bringing down the total cost of ownership of the mainframe, which is always good for users (though there is some debate about the achievable level of savings). On the negative side, IBM and ISVs may opt to limit the use of zPrime through licence changes (particularly for those users who are tied into Enterprise Licence Agreements) if specialty processors are used for workloads other than those intended. IBM has already issued letters about customers violating agreements if they use zPrime, and NEON has sued IBM. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2010.

Personally, 2009 was an interesting year. I became an IBM Data Champion in an IBM-sponsored initiative that was rebadged as IBM Information Champions. I was also a finalist in the Computer Weekly blog awards in the category of Individual IT professional male. In addition, I qualified as a clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist and added loads of letters after my name. (If you want to know, look at

Looking forward to 2010, the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook will be available shortly with its annual mainframe user survey; the Virtual IMS Connection user group has a full calendar of events for IMS users; you can now follow my IT-related tweets on Twitter (, and become a fan of iTech-Ed on Facebook. It will be interesting to see what else happens.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

zPrime for IMS

The latest webinar from Virtual IMS CONNECTION ( was entitled, “Reducing mainframe costs – in a BIG way”, and was presented by Tony Lubrano, a product author at NEON Enterprise Software. Tony has been in data processing since 1975 and has been a software developer since 1993. As a software developer for Candle Corporation, Tony led the team that developed the Candle Command Center for IMS and DB2 products, as well as developing components of Omegamon II for IMS. Tony has been a product author with NEON Enterprise Software for the past 14 years developing many IMS products. NEON’s IMS Prefix Update Utility, Database Director, Application Director, and HALO are some of the commercial products Tony has developed. Most recently, Tony is one of the product authors of the NEON zPrime product.

Tony started his presentation by explaining what NEON zPrime actually is. He said that:
  • NEON zPrime “facilitates” the movement of processing from a general purpose processor (CP) to a specialty processor (zIIP or zAAP)… It does not guarantee its movement
  • NEON zPrime is a proprietary software solution governed by trade secrets. Details will not be publicly disclosed
  • There is no publicly documented interface that facilitates this capability.
  • There is no privately documented interface, that has been disclosed to NEON, that facilitates this capability.

Tony then clarified exactly what zPrime does not do. He said zPrime does not:
  •  Hook/alter z/OS dispatcher
  • Hook/alter Workload Manager (WLM)
  • Hook/alter System Management Facility (SMF)
  • Hook/Alter Resource Measurement Facility (RMF)
  • Enable/Disable any type of processors on any LPAR.

The workloads that are supported by zPrime are: IMS MPPs (transactions), IMS BMPs (transactions, online batch), IMS IFPs (transactions, online batch), IMS DLI or DBB (batch database), CICS transactions, TSO/ISPF, DB2 application programs, DB2 stored procedures, batch application programs, and all NEON’s IMS utilities.

Tony discussed how the various workloads could be enabled to use zPrime and then focused on zPrime for IMS enablement. These include:
  • IMS pre-initialization exit
  •     –    JCL change
  •     –    IMS Proclib change.
  • Batch Wrapper
  •     –    JCL Change
  • Language Environment (LE) Exit
  •     –    SMP/E Usermod
  • NEON IMS utilities.

The zPrime IMS pre-initialization exit:
  • Enables IMS MPP, BMP and IFP processing
  • Copy ?neonhlq.LOAD(NSLZPIMS) to the IMS Reslib
  • Create/modify the pre-initialization proclib member (DFSINTxx)
  • Modify the MPP, BMP, and/or IFP job JCL to point to the pre-initialization proclib member.

Picking up the point about creating or modifying the DFSINTxx member, Tony said:
  • It must be in the //PROCLIB DD in the BMP, MPP, or IFP JCL
  • Member name is DFSINTxx – where xx is the pre-initialization suffix
  • Add NSLZPIMS to the list of modules in the DFSINTxx member.

When modifying the BMP, MPP, and IFP JCL, Tony told us that the Execution Parameter must specify the preinitialization member name suffix, and the Jobstep must contain a //PROCLIB DD containing the data set with the DFSINTxx member.

Tony explained how the zPrime Batch Wrapper worked, and went on to look at the Language Environment exit enablement. He suggested:
  • Affects all LE-enabled programs
  •     –    Not limited to IMS applications
  • SMP/E usermod for global/production use
  •     –    Updates LE runtime library – usually in Linklist
  •     –    No JCL changes required
  • Linkedit job for local/testing use
  •     –    Link to non-global library
  •     –    Add to STEPLIB/JOBLIB.

Tony talked about using NEON’s IMS utilities and then described in depth customizing the NEON server (NESS). He then continued by talking about enabling zPrime workloads, suggesting:
  • It uses documented exits for all system enablement
  •     –    Implementation of exits are well understood by appropriate systems personnel
  •     –    Implementation of exits are documented in appropriate product documentation
  • zPrime exits and batch wrapper do not force enablement… only make call to the NESS
  • Everything to be enabled must be specified via the zPrime Enablement Console
  • ex ‘?neonhlq.EXEC(zprime)’.

So, how good is zPrime? Tony said that he used the worst values reported by customers and found savings of 44% for CICS, 75% for TSO/ISPF, 84% for Batch Wrapper, 89% for DB2, 91% for IMS MPP, and 93% for IMS BMP!

Tony also identified some known problems. With z/OS V1.9 and below:
  • TPUT SRB specifies CPU affinity resulting in intermittent S072-8 abends. Affinity points to a zIIP or zAAP however, the generated SRB is not eligible for zIIP or zAAP processing.
  • Does not produce a dump – only logrec data
  • No adverse affect to processing.

In terms of the Batch Wrapper:
  • SMF 30 record shows the program name as NSLZPAPP when NESS is not running
  • Not an issue when using the LE, TSO/ISPF, IMS, CICS or DB2 exits.

Membership of the Virtual IMS Connection is free and open to anyone interested in IMS. Webinars are presented free to members. You can join by going to and completing the form.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Social media – a business tool

Social networks started off being ways to stay in contact with friends or make new friends. It also provided an easy way to share photos and therefore keep up with the activities of those friends that you see less often.

You can still do that, but nowadays social networks are becoming business tools and many organizations are already using them in that way. Intel, at the end of 2008, produced its social media guidelines and encouraged employees to use social media to get the corporate message out to as many people as possible.

So, if you’re not doing it already, what should you be doing? First of all there’s Twitter. Twitter was known only to a few people a year ago, but today it’s as well known as any other social media Web site. As you probably know, Twitter is a micro-blogging site allowing 140-digit messages to be sent. You have to publicize that you’re on Twitter so that people will “follow” you – ie read your tweets. You can tweet that you’re just enjoying a cup of coffee or whatever, but for business you probably want to tweet a news headline or an appointment date and time (like the next webinar or a conference). You then put a colon and a URL where people can read more details. It you have a series of tweets on the same topic, you can use hash tags (put a hash in front of a word that’s found in each tweet). And people can now re-tweet, which means they can pass on your tweet to their friends – extending the number of people who see your message. You can use a Twitter widget so your tweets appear in your Web page. That way people who browse your Web site can see the latest information you’re sharing. And you can use things like TweetDeck to see whether anyone else is tweeting about your company. You can find my tweets at

One related thing with Twitter… it’s often a good idea to shorten URLs so they can be included with the text within the 140-character limit. Perhaps the two best-known sites for this are Bitly ( and Tiny URL ( Example short URLs look like: or Other URL shortening organizations are available.

Facebook is also very useful for businesses. It’s easy to set up. I would recommend that you set up a new account so that anyone who becomes your friend doesn’t get access to pictures of you falling down drunk or whatever. Once you’ve set up a company name area on Facebook, anyone can become a fan. It also gives you the opportunity to post photos and meeting dates (in Events). You can also post information about your company and publish press releases, and use the “wall” to tie everything together. If you find people are putting negative comments, you will need to add positive ones so the bad ones disappear out of site further down the page. This can also be linked to Twitter. If you want to see a good example how it can be done, look for Marmite. I also include the Facebook widget on my home page as a second way of giving people up-to-date-information. You can become a fan of iTech-Ed here (

In addition, you can have a presence on Linkedin (, Ecademy (, Fast Pitch (, Plaxo (, Zoominfo (, Naymz (, and a host of other communities.

Get out there and blog. There are a few big blogging sites out there – Blogger (, Typepad (, and WordPress ( – and numerous others. Blogs can be used as ways of chatting about an event or a news item. It shows a friendly face for interacting with clients and potential clients. You should always Twitter a link to your blogs and put them on your corporate Facebook page.

You can also make all your news stories available through an RSS link. For example:
>a href="teblog.xml"
title="Subscribe to news about iTech-Ed" style=
"border:1px solid; border-color:#fc9 #630 #330 #f96; padding:0 3px; font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font:bold 12px; color:#fff; background:#f60; text-decoration:none; margin:4px;"<
 RSS  >/a<

This bit of code gives you a button without needing a graphic. You will need an XML file with it, and numerous examples can be found using Google.

You hope that your “fans” will be monitoring changes on your Web site, and you can do the same with rival organizations by using a feed aggregator. For example, Google Reader lets you subscribe to your favourite Web sites so new content comes to you when it's posted. Reader keeps track of which things you’ve read so that you only see unread items when you come back. If there’s a dark blue border around an item, Reader is marking that item as read.

Another thing to be thought about is shared content. If you have content (and by that I mean photos or videos) that could be shared with a wider audience, you can put it on sites like YouTube (, Flickr (, SlideShare, and others.
What about MySpace ( It gives you the opportunity to create a Web site and listen to music – but if you already have a Web site, I'm not sure what advantage the extra Web presence would give you.

Social bookmarking is very interesting. It's a mechanism that allows people to share, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of Web resources. Users save links to Web pages that they want to remember and/or share. Many social bookmarking services provide Web feeds for their lists of bookmarks, including lists organized by tags. This allows subscribers to become aware of new bookmarks as they are saved, shared, and tagged by other users. Examples of these include Delicious (, Digg (, Reddit (, and StumbleUpon (StumbleUpon), but there are lots of others, with new ones arriving all the time. It’s a good idea to put these on news pages or blog pages, but they can go anywhere. However, this can become a bit of a nightmare because there are so many. I made a start by copying the icons and then using the following code (it went on, but you get the idea):

<a id="digg" title="Share this page on Digg" href="javascript:location.href=''+encodeURIComponent(document.location.href)+'&title='+encodeURIComponent(document.title)+' '"> <img src="digg.jpg" width="25" height="25" alt="Share this page on Digg" title="Share this page on Digg" style="border:0"/> </a>

<a id="stumble" title="Share this page on StumbleUpon" href="javascript:location.href=''+encodeURIComponent(document.location.href)+'&title='+encodeURIComponent(document.title)+' '"> <img src="su.jpg" width="25" height="25" alt="Share this page on StumbleUpon" title="Share this page on StumbleUpon" style="border:0"/> </a>

<a id="delicious" title="Share this page on" href="javascript:location.href=''+encodeURIComponent(document.location.href)+'&title='+encodeURIComponent(document.title)+' '"> <img src="del.jpg" width="25" height="25" alt="Share this page on" title="Share this page on" style="border:0"/> </a>

<a id="reddit" title="Share this page on Reddit" href="javascript:location.href=''+encodeURIComponent(document.location.href)+'&title='+encodeURIComponent(document.title)+' '"> <img src="reddit.jpg" width="25" height="25" alt="Share this page on Reddit" title="Share this page on Reddit" style="border:0"/> </a>

This is not the best way to do it!
My advice would be to use a single button that links to multiple bookmarking sites, for example AddToAny ( or AddThis (

While making sure that staff adhere to guidelines, I would recommend any organization raises its profile and gets into social media – until the next big thing comes along.