Monday, 30 August 2010

Getting your money’s worth

If you’re looking for value for money, then you can’t do much better than attend the 9th annual UK 2010 Guide Share Europe Conference to be held on 2 and 3 November at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire – if you’re using your sat nav, it’s NN12 8QH. This will be the largest UK GSE conference in their history and boasts 13 streams on the Tuesday and a whopping 14 streams on the Wednesday. You can get more information at Registration is now open.

Secondly, there’s now a Version 2.0 available of ZEN, the cost saving z/OS network management suite from William Data Systems. This new version includes enhancements that enable many more companies running z/OS to improve on and completely replace NetView or NetMaster. WDS claims that for some customers, managing networks with ZEN has reduced their annual cost of ownership by as much as 50%. ZEN customers pay for only the functionality they need, which reduces annual costs compared with users of other products who pay for functionality that they don’t use.

ZEN V2’s new Automation component includes a full REXX function pack. This provides facilities for users to totally automate their management of z/OS network environments and create customized ZEN displays and alerts.

ZEN provides a browser interface that is intuitive and customizable to individual user’s needs. ZEN also provides “green screens”, which more traditional users continue to benefit from. You can find out more at

And if you want something that’s absolutely free… you can find a summary of my recent interview with Stephen Ibaraki from the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) at And if that whets your appetite, you can listen to the complete podcast at

Sunday, 22 August 2010

DB2 – faster than a speeding bullet?

Last week, IBM sent out press releases saying that it has achieved the industry's highest ever TPC-C (transaction processing) benchmark using a Power Systems configuration with DB2, hitting 10,366,254 transactions per minute. And in case you don't realise just how fast that is, the press releases goes on to inform us that it beats HP's best result by more than 2.5 times and Oracle's best by more than 35%!

We're told that: "The results place IBM in a unique position as the undeniable leader. With these new clustered results (and with the long-standing single system result), IBM has demonstrated its ability to scale up to handle higher transaction loads and to scale out to optimize more types of workloads than the competition."

This result is the largest ever TPC-C result published (dated 17 August 2010) and was obtained on a cluster of three IBM Power 780 servers featuring a storage subsystem with 116TB of Solid State Drives (SSDs) and running DB2 9.7.

Just to rub in the fact that it beats the Old rival, Oracle, the press releases goes on to inform us that: "The IBM result represents 2.7 times better performance per core than the Oracle result, 41% better price performance, and 35% better energy efficiency per transaction. IBM's performance is also more than 2.5 times better than HP's best result, 69% greater performance per core, and 2.1 times better price/performance."

The new TPC-C benchmark result uses standard IBM software. DB2 9.7 has been around since June 2009, and AIX 6.1 was released in November 2007. IBM says that the selection of software versions reflected levels currently in use by a large number of their clients.

IBM highlights the fact that the IBM TPC-C results on POWER7 technology shows off IBM Storage technology in the form of Solid State Drives (SSDs), which enable higher throughput and lower response times. SSDs also provide reliability, lower energy usage, less cooling requirements, and the ability to reduce data centre footprints. The total storage used was over 800TB while the Oracle/Sun configuration had 686.6TB of total storage.

The Oracle/Sun cluster is 71% more expensive based on published price/performance relative to the IBM Power 780 cluster result. The total system cost of the Sun cluster is 26% greater than the total system cost of the IBM cluster. Because of different discount structures, care should be taken in comparing individual price components.

As a result of these differences, the TPC does not allow comparisons using TPC price information on anything other than the total configuration. The IBM Power 780 with DB2 9.7 result yields greater than 10 million tpmC for IBM (a feat Oracle hasn't accomplished) and significantly better price/performance for the IBM solution.

The configuration for this benchmark achieves an estimated consumption of 65.1 kWatts or 6.3 kWatts per million tpmC, 35% better than the Sun cluster energy consumption estimate of 73.9kWatts or 9.7 kWatts per million tpmC.

You get the idea anyway – there's more of the same in the press release. The bottom line is that IBM can now claim to provide performance in excess of double-digits (10 Million Transactions Per Minute), which, they say, no-one else can do.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Making computing a recognized profession

Is there any reason to make computing a recognized profession? After all, isn’t it like gardening? Something we all do a bit, with varying degrees of competence for varying amounts of time in a week? Why should it be a recognized profession like medicine, law, or accounting? Does it really need demonstrable professional development, with members adhering to a code of ethics, and having globally recognized credentials?

I would argue that it does. Not only that, I would support whole-heartedly the professionalization of computing. Naming no names, but I’ve come across lots of IT personnel who have an incredibly limited knowledge of the choices available or the types of techniques that can be used to make things happen. I worked with someone many years ago who reckoned he could do anything on a computer with a few lines of code. He was a great hit with customers – they liked dealing with him. He wrote Assembler and he really did make things happen. So often these days, particularly with Windows support staff, the answer is always NO – a particular change can’t be made, either because it’s too much effort or because they don’t know enough.

On the other hand, there are things like ITIL – IT Infrastructure Library – which provide best-practice examples for service management. You can find them at or And there’s IP3 ( who are all about setting standards for the IT industry.

I think organizations like this should be supported. I also think they should have some way of including in the membership recognized industry professionals who’ve been round the block a few times and should incorporate their skills and best practice.

At the moment, from a customer’s perspective, when you employ a consultant or an organization to work on your IT with you, you have no way of knowing how good they are or what standards they achieve compared to other similar organizations.

So, yes, I would absolutely support computing becoming a recognized profession – with continuous professional development, code of ethics, and, of course, letters after your name so customers know you adhere to these standards.

What do you think?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Virtual IMS Connection user group - under threat

Virtual IMS Connection is a vendor-neutral, independently-operated, virtual user group for IMS (IBM's Information Management System) professionals. It can currently be found at It was launched at the beginning of November 2007.

Virtual user group meetings take place every other month and a guest speaker gives a presentation relevant to the IMS user community. The user group meetings last a little over an hour in total. Participation in meetings is free to members. The Virtual IMS Connection user group is also free to join.

User group members also get a bi-monthly newsletter. You can see the flip-book version here and the PDF version here.

The Web site contains details of future meetings, information about IMS-related articles (published elsewhere on the Web) and events, a list of IMS tools (software - the listing is free to vendors) and services, a list of IMS consultants, and a job bank (with resumes - CVs - and job opportunities).

New IMS products and new versions of existing products are always included in the News page. There's a link to the IMS-L listserv, where IMS professionals can ask questions and share information.

Members can access PDF versions of presentations and PDF versions of newsletters.

The idea was to create a one-stop shop for IMS professionals, where individuals using IBM’s IMS hierarchical database and transaction processing systems could exchange information, learn new techniques, and advance their skills with the product.

Obviously, there are sponsorship opportunities available to vendors of IMS-related products to help fund this work. Vendors can place banner adverts, etc. However, since its inception, NEON Enterprise Software has provided Web hosting for the site, and funded the WebEx technology that we have used to make the regular webinars possible, as well as meeting other costs. This is now coming to an end, and the Virtual IMS Connection user group is looking for a new home.

If your organization might be able to help keep this important user group running, please contact me on

You can also find the user group on Twitter at
You can become a fan on Facebook at

Let's hope that the Virtual IMS Connection user group can continue to share ideas, information, and skills into the future.

Sunday, 1 August 2010


Just as IBM was basking in the success of its zEnterprise mainframe-in-a-box, along comes the European Union regulators to take it to task for not allowing its operating system to run on other hardware, and not being fair to spare-part vendors.

The European Commission has already warmed up for its probe into IBM’s workings by taking action against Intel and Microsoft. EU antitrust laws ensure that big organizations deal carefully with small competitors. The EU can issue a range of fines and sanctions should it believe a dominant organization in the market place is abusing its position. IBM’s legal team are used to this kind of battle. Back in 1956 the US Department of Justice reached a consent decree with IBM that, in effect, created a market for used mainframes and mainframe parts. In 1984 the EU agreed with IBM that competing mainframe companies would have access to the mainframe platform.

As we’ve mentioned before, the first complaint comes from T3 and TurboHercules saying that IBM ties its mainframe operating system to its mainframe hardware – and thereby destroys the emulation market. The second investigation was initiated by the Commission alleging discriminatory behaviour towards competing suppliers of maintenance services – spare parts to you and I.

How does IBM respond? The company said that it intends to cooperate with any EU inquiries, while denying there was any merit to the complainants’ claims. It then alleged that the accusations were being fuelled by business rivals. Microsoft is a minority stakeholder in T3. IBM went on to suggest some of its larger competitors want “to mimic aspects of IBM mainframes without making the substantial investments IBM has made and continues to make”. IBM declared these competitors, “are violating IBM’s intellectual property rights”. It continued: “IBM is fully entitled to enforce its intellectual property rights and protect the investments we have made in our technologies”.

It will be interesting to see what comes out this. Bear in mind there’s the NEON zPrime case waiting in the wings as well.

In its on-going watch on successful companies, the Commission has also launched a preliminary anti-monopoly investigation into Google, examining its power in the online search and digital advertising markets.