IBM Executes on Mainframe Simplification Agenda

Big Blue touts simplified mainframe admin features along with new versions of Tivoli, WebSphere, and DB2 software for z/OS

At last week’s SHARE user conference, IBM Corp. touted several milestone deliverables in its mainframe simplification effort, including the incorporation of new point-and-click controls to help administrators manage system performance along with new versions of Tivoli, WebSphere, and DB2 software tweaked for tighter SOA integration and improved monitoring of z/OS health.

Last October, IBM announced plans to spend $100 million to make its mainframe systems easier to use. The idea, according to IBM officials, is to make it less difficult for mainframe operators and system programmers to maintain and code for Big Iron systems—in part by automating the development and deployment of mainframe applications.

“There’s been a lot of talk in the industry about a year 2007 problem. Most analysts will tell you that by the year 2007, about 50 percent of those people with mainframe skills will be retirement-eligible. So there’s been a tremendous focus on the part of IBM to ensure that we bring the next generation of mainframe skills to the marketplace,” said Bob Hoey, worldwide vice-president of System z sales, in an interview late last year.

Last week’s SHARE deliverables were of part of this plan. In addition to new GUI workspace (i.e., point-and-click) functionality in its OMEGAMON z/OS Management Console, that product now supports several additional languages, including Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish.

“These new software upgrades and enhancements to the System z software stack not only incorporate the latest technologies, but as well represent real progress towards the goal of making the mainframe easier to use and administer,” said Jim Stallings, general manager for IBM System z, in a statement.

Big Blue also touted a new version 7.0 release of its WebSphere Developer for System z, which includes a System z Application Pattern Generator; improved SOA access to CICS TS V3.1 and IMS V9; and an UI upgrade to the Eclipse 3.2 IDE designed to increase developer productivity.

Other Announcements

Last week IBM also trumpeted the first fruit of its acquisition of the former Consul Risk Management last December. Big Blue announced Consul zSecure Suite v1.8, which it says gives z/OS shops an easier way to generate and review XML security audit reports on their mainframe data.

Big Blue also touted DB2 9 for z/OS—currently in beta—which it expects to ship sometime in the first half of 2007.

The revamped DB2 promises to provide enhanced support for high-volume transaction processing workloads, as well as improve DB2’s performance for both data warehousing and OLTP reporting scenarios. In addition, officials say, DB2 9 for z/OS can help reduce System z TCO—in part because of its simplified administration capabilities, which require fewer System z-specific skills. IBM’s mainframe simplification program is expected to unfold throughout 2011.

“What IBM decided to do … is to put a stake in the ground and say, ‘We’re committed on a five-year journey in reducing the amount of complexity in managing a mainframe compute environment.’ This is a statement that applies equally to the other IBM middleware products that run on the mainframe platform,” Hoey explained.

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About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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