- IBM announced the z15 family of mainframe processors on September 12th, 2019. On first glance, the announcement looked like a rehash of all the IT industry buzzwords du jour – Cloud, Crypto, Analytics, DevOps, Open Source, and so on. The z15 has many security-related enhancements, but for the rest of us, it initially seemed like just a bigger, faster, z14. However, as we dug into the details for our z15 article, we found many small, but valuable, enhancements; what we initially expected to be a 10-page article turned into a 31-page one. And that doesn’t include any of the security enhancements! One of our (non-IBM) reviewers commented “It made the z15 sound more interesting than I had expected, based on the stuff I had already seen from IBM!”. We are heartened to see that a number of our customers are taking this opportunity to evaluate a move from full-speed z13 or z14 7xx models to sub-capacity z15s, based partially on the experience of NASCO that we documented in Tuning Letter 2018 No. 3. Performing a thorough evaluation of such a move is not a trivial exercise, however, the potential software savings far outweigh the evaluation effort.
- In 2017, IBM issued a Statement of Direction stating that JES3 was to be functionally stabilized, with all new JES development taking place in JES2. As you can imagine, this ruffled a few feathers in the JES3 user community. Not content with having provoked a sleeping bear into action, IBM then announced in February 2019 that the last release of z/OS to provide JES3 would be the release after z/OS 2.4. I think it is fair to say that this was akin to going back to that grumpy bear and poking him in the eye with a stick. JES3 customers were sufficiently riled up that SHARE issued a formal statement about their position on IBM’s announcement. But, as they say, “all’s well that ends well”. On October 2nd, 2019, a white knight in the form of Phoenix Software International arrived on the scene, and announced that they have licensed the JES3 code from IBM, and will be launching their own JES3-compatible product, called JES3plus, in 2020. This announcement gives JES3 customers an alternative to migrating to JES2. And JES2 customers benefit from all the JES3-inspired enhancements that IBM has added to JES2 over the last few years.
- IBM formally announced z/OS 2.4 on July 23rd, 2019. The big headline item was the long-rumored support for ‘Linux under z/OS’. The z Container Extensions (zCX) feature provides the ability to run Linux applications in Docker containers in a z/OS address space. If you have applications running under Linux on x86 that access z/OS data, zCX certainly deserves your attention. But zCX is just one of many enhancements in z/OS 2.4. Even if you don’t have plans to move to z/OS 2.4 in the near future, ‘What’s New in z/OS 2.4?’ on page 53 is still of interest to you because many of the enhancements in z/OS 2.4 are also being rolled back to z/OS 2.3, and even to z/OS 2.2 in some cases. Remember that z/OS 2.4 is the same price as z/OS 2.3 and 2.2, but you are getting all those additional functions if you move to z/OS 2.4. If you are still running on z/OS 2.1 and have an extended defect support contract, you are paying even more than you would be paying if you had z/OS 2.4. All releases of z/OS V2 cost the same amount, but with z/OS 2.1 you have the added cost of the extended support contract – so you are paying more for less function. If the new function in z/OS 2.4 is not sufficient enticement to upgrade to a new release, the potential financial savings will hopefully convince you.
- You might recall an article about the z/OS Erase-on-Scratch function in Tuning Letter 2015 No. 1. Erase-on-Scratch ensures that deleting a data set doesn’t leave behind residual data that could be read by someone else. IBM developers are proposing additional performance enhancements that we strongly support. We believe that every z/OS site should use Erase-on-Scratch, and with the proposed enhancements, it should be possible to enable this function for every data set. We include more information about this enhancement and how you can support it in this issue.
- We provide our usual reviews of New Function and performance-related APARs, Redbooks, and Techdocs. Your staff have more valuable uses for their time than reading APARs that are not relevant to your company. And yet APARs can deliver valuable performance and functionality improvements, especially in this age of continuous delivery, so not checking APARs can result in your being unaware of valuable enhancements. So why not let us do the reading and research, and then your team can concentrate on the small number of APARs that are important? Because everyone is so busy these days, we added information about an easier way to search for IBM announcement letters. We also provided new information about the number of HIPER and New Function APARs closed by each of z/OS and the major subsystems over the last quarter and the quarter before that. For the first time, the APARs are grouped by product – this should make it easier for the members of your support teams to quickly find the APARs that apply to them.
- If you have any involvement in software pricing, you will be aware that IBM has been rolling out new pricing options at a dizzying pace. We are sure that some of them will be a perfect fit for some customers, but not so much for others. Every customer, large or small, should thoroughly evaluate these new offerings and model how they would impact your cost and your growth plans, now and out into the future. Some of these options are effectively a one-way decision – once you make them, there is no cost-effective way to go back, so it is vital that you understand all the implications and options. Here in Watson & Walker, we only have one objective – we want our clients to get the best value for their money. It makes no financial difference to us whether you select one option or another, we just want you to make a fully informed decision. We do have the advantage that we have worked with multiple customers to evaluate their options, so we know the benefits and the gotchas. In the words of one of our clients, “The combined experience of the people on the call from W&W is astounding. No matter how hard I would have worked to understand xxxx, I would never have considered all the angles as you have… so real value!” We provide a description of our new software pricing evaluation offerings that cover CMP, DevTest Solutions, Tailored Fit Pricing (TFP), Software Contracts, Software Pricing Health Checks, and MLC to OTC Flips.
- We provide options for how to access the SHARE conference proceedings, an impressive archive of technical presentations, and include our Tuning Letter pricing for 2021 to help you with your budgets.
- If you would like more information, click here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have also been kept busy with calls about IBM’s Tailored Fit Pricing (TFP) option, with clients as far afield as Africa and all over Europe. Given that IBM software costs are the largest single expense in many IT budgets, it is good to see customers taking the time and effort to gather the required information to make a fully-informed decision about whether TFP is a good fit for them. It doesn’t make any difference to Watson & Walker if customers switch to TFP or not; we simply want our customers to achieve the lowest possible cost per z/OS transaction, so we are honored to be treated as the trusted adviser by our clients. In fact, while on the topic of Tailored Fit Pricing, we had hoped to have a TFP article ready for this issue. For a variety of reasons, that wasn’t possible, so we decided to go ahead and publish this issue, to give our readers a chance to read up on the z15 in parallel with us finishing the TFP article. We hope to make that available on our publications website within
the next two weeks, and will inform all our subscribers when that happens.
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Stay Tuned, and thank you for all your support.