Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Big Data/Analytics Performance – Driving IBM Power System Success

By Rich Ptak

It’s no secret that the action today is in Big Data and the associated Analytics! Whether for business, retail, education, government, medical, media, whatever, the focus is on data! Lots of it! Coming from every direction in every conceivable source and format. It is structured, unstructured, transactional, audio and visual flowing from IoT, mobile, social, production…to the tune of some 2.5 quintillion new bytes generated every single day.

IT is tasked with processing this raw data into the insights, wisdom, knowledge that result in new services or deliver solutions to previously impenetrable mysteries. The ultimate goal is to deliver benefits and provide value to users, clients and customers. Processing large amounts of data has been computing’s forte since their inception. BUT now the processing of data and generating results is immensely more complicated and must be delivered more quickly and economically than ever before.

IBM’s Power8 was specifically designed as a Big Data server with industry leading memory bandwidth, thread density, and cache architecture. It has the analytics tools[1], operating systems[2], databases[3] to be the System of Insight equipped to deal with the software, performance and management challenges of Big Data analysis, integration and governance.

And, in discussions with users, we’ve seen that it delivers. See our blogs about customer[4] success at dealing with Big Data challenges using Power8 systems.  Whether the goal is near real-time response (1.5 microsecond Algo-Logic’s Tick-to-Trade); significant cost savings with improved performance (IBM Platinum Partner Redis Labs processes more REDIS-NoSQL transactions with faster response times with fewer CAPI-Power8 servers); or  TalkTalk[5], a UK communications service provider, updating their network and improving the service to their customers by switching to Power-CAPI powered servers. 

No industry-standard benchmark existed for Apache Spark[6] until IBM developed the SparkBench benchmark suite. The first version includes 10 benchmarks covering four use cases: Machine Learning, Graph, SQL and Streaming Spark. The results are that a wide variety of Spark workloads consistently run 2x faster on POWER8 than competitor platforms. (FACT: POWER8 with 24 processor cores runs 37% faster than Haswell with 36 processor cores.) You can get SparkBench details and results here[7]. And, if you want to make sure that the SparkBench is the REAL thing, it is available to the public here[8]. IBM recently announced LinuxONE[9] for the mainframe world, we expect more interesting information in the October 5th webcast on new capabilities and products. We’ve registered and suggest that you do so also at:

[1] Hadoop, Big Insights, DB2BLU and Spark
[2] Red Hat, SuSE and Ubuntu
[3] Oracle, DB2LUW, MariaDB, MongoDB, PostgreSQL
[6] An in-memory distributed compute engine to complete analysis on large-scale data sets up to 100X faster than current technologies. More info on Apache Spark here:


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

IBM’s LinuxONE – Penguins in the Enterprise

By Bill Moran and Rich Ptak

Ever since IBM made a huge ($1 billion) commitment to Linux, its growth on the mainframe has been spectacular. It has a 10-year compound annual growth (CGI) of 45%, as 27% of all shipped mainframe capacity is Linux specific. Linux on the mainframe has penetrated the majority of IBM’s large clients.

Now, Linux is the fastest growing OS in the broader market, and IBM plans to capture a portion of that growth for the mainframe. LinuxONE is their strategy to do so.

What’s the connection between IBM’s new LinuxONE offering and the search for a cure for the deadly disease, ALS[1]? You might say “Nothing” or “Not much,” but that’s wrong. Read on to discover how IBM’s LinuxONE platform plays an important role in the search. But, before discussing IBM’s contribution, let’s review the LinuxONE offering
IBM believes combining the best of Linux with the best of the enterprise computing can be a real winner. They expect the new LinuxONE offerings will appeal to customers already familiar with Linux but who know little about the mainframe. This reasoning appears correct to us with the potential of a very successful system.

We won’t cover all of the details about IBM’s LinuxONE. These are available in the references provided below[2]. Instead, we focus on what we consider the most significant and important features. We also want to explore some humorous side effects of the offering and some problems that IBM may have along the way.

What’s new in the strategy? What difference does it make? First. We’ll look at the new items; then we’ll cover what it all means. The new items by categories are:
1.    Expanded relations with Linux Community
2.    Brand New Cloud offerings
3.    Hardware Systems
4.    Software
5.    Pricing models
These mark a major change in mainframe direction as well as an expansion outside the traditional customer base.

See the rest of our comments at:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

BMC Mainframe MLC Cost Management – Enabling Digital Enterprise Management

By Rich Ptak and Bill Moran

It is not often that a company understates their product’s features, while actually delivering significantly more. Until recently, we found that while BMC products expertly leverage underlying technology, all too frequently, their messaging failed to highlight all inherent significant benefits and features. Happy to say, those days appear over as BMC announces new releases for its Digital Enterprise Management[1] (DEM) portfolio. To optimize mainframes for DEM, BMC is developing new features and improving products to manage data, infrastructure and costs. BMC teams are comprehensively cataloging significant features “designed to make digital business fast, seamless and optimized from mainframe to cloud and beyond.”

Our focus in this paper are monthly licensing costs (MLC) that alone can account for 30%[2] of total mainframe costs. Let’s look at BMC Mainframe MLC Cost Management V2.0.

First, existing customers with paid versions of release 1 will get the release free for those capabilities they have licensed. Customers who have licensed the v1 components (Cost Analyzer, Intelligent Capping, Subsystem Optimizer for DB2, Subsystem Optimizer for IMS) will get the corresponding new V2 features free. After, reviewing the details of the new release, we think you will agree this represents a real bargain.

Those unfamiliar with BMC’s Mainframe Cost Management products or considering evaluating them, should first uncover the true costs of the mainframe. We say this because many companies, wittingly or not, tend to inflate mainframe costs. They do so by including an assortment of general IT costs as mainframe costs. It just doesn’t make sense to assign distributed system air conditioning and staffing to the mainframe.

With real mainframe costs in hand, the next step is to determine the MLC charges for various IBM software products, e.g. z/OS operating system, DB2 databases, etc. This data will help decide if potential MLC cost management savings justifies an evaluation. NOTE: some BMC customers report MLC cost[3] reductions of more than 20%!

This review of BMC’s MLC Cost Management, only hits product highlights[4]. Functions of particular interest include:
  1. Cost Analysis – allows active management based on analyzing all system and cost data;
  2. Intelligent capping – to reduce costs by identifying and tracking system capacity peaks and costs drivers; 
  3. Optimizing sub-system placement – using pre-implementation “What if” testing of changes to quantify their potential cost impact to get the best results.

Let’s examine these.

First is the Cost Analyzer which breaks down the MLC charges into separate elements to identify what drives the peak elements being charged. “What-if” exercises reveal how changes affect MLC costs. A key new feature performs what-if analysis of moving batch jobs to a time when they will not impact MLC peak charges. BMC estimates a potential of 5-10% MLC cost savings from this product. BMC’s estimates could be conservative as some customers report larger savings.

Second is the Intelligent Capping, which lowers MLC costs by putting a cap or limit on the workloads running in a given LPAR. IBM offers very basic capping as a standard zOS feature – BMC’s technology uses intelligence-driven process automation to minimize overall costs. You can control how much or little of the recommended optimization to implement. BMC estimates reductions of between 5-10%. BMC has a patent-pending application for the cost-aware aspect of its intelligent capping technology.

Third is the Subsystem Optimizer, which reduces MLC by allowing customers to separate the running of certain IBM subsystems (like CICS) from other IBM subsystems it accesses (such as DB2), on to different LPARs. This can reduce billed MSUs for the subsystems, which can significantly impact MLC costs. It also has the ability to optimize cross-LPAR access to applications. BMC estimates it can reduce costs by 10-15%.

However, that’s not all. BMC Subsystem Optimizer has attractive features not strictly related to MLC cost, but which we believe will prove valuable. For example, for certain DB2 failures, it can automatically switch to another copy of DB2. This considerably increases the resilience of affected services and applications. Further, for IMS failures, Subsystem Optimizer can reroute IMS transaction requests to another IMS rather than waiting for the original IMS to restart (the default). It not only saves money but improves operational reliability by reducing the risk of an IMS subsystem failure. Both are great bonuses.

BMC began introducing these solutions about two years ago. They have been well received. We’ve mentioned a few benefits. By maintaining close contact with users, BMC is able to provide details on numerous customer experiences demonstrating product potential for direct cost savings as well as from automation. Watch for case studies to appear shortly.

BMC’s mainframe group has shown itself to be especially responsive to the concerns and efforts of mainframe users to optimize, not simply minimize, the costs and expense of mainframe operation. We highly recommend that mainframe users consider an in-depth product evaluation.

[1] BMC – Preparing Businesses for Digital Transformation,
[3] This doesn’t include some potentially significant personnel time savings. Replacing manual MLC cost management with BMC’s product can free-up the time of highly skilled, higher paid staff. A business case would include an estimate of such potential savings.
[4] A more detailed description requires discussing algorithms used by IBM to calculate MLC costs which exceeds the scope of this paper.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

BMC TrueSight Intelligence – a service to transform data into actionable insights for business

By Rich Ptak


BMC continues to expand its solution portfolio, researching the needs of the digital business economy to identify product opportunities. Their new analytics service, BMC TrueSight Intelligence, provides high value, actionable insight from analyzing vast amounts of disparate data.

The difficulty in quickly getting useful information from a variety of volatile, wide-ranging data from IT operations, technical activities and business activities is no secret. Today’s highly competitive, fast moving, globe spanning digital markets need such input to make critical business decisions.  This is just one more in an escalating number of business critical demands on stressed IT and business staffs striving to compete as digital enterprises 

Yet, failing to respond to the demand is untenable risking a rogue ‘departmental’ project or even business failure. IT must respond without increasing the strain on overstretched staff.   

BMC has an answer. Its TrueSight Intelligence service provides users direct access to analytics in a cloud-based digital service. Fully automated and totally managed by BMC, business users self-register to get immediate access to the platform. Collected data feeds directly to TrueSight Intelligence services.

Figure 1 provides a thumbnail view of services available in the initial release. Frequent updates (at least monthly) will expand functionality, supporting more data types and adding services.

Figure 1. TrueSight Intelligence capabilities

Flexible and broad data access is key; therefore, in addition to BMC TrueSight Operations Management the service works with most data collectors. It includes collectors for Linux, VMware, AWS Cloudwatch as well as customized versions from Python library or via REST API. For business users, a natural language interface permits queries into built-in analytics and a variety of options for data visualization.  

The service is initially being provided through Azure cloud services. Expansion to other cloud services is possible as demand grows.

The Final Word
We find BMC’s new services-based approach to resolving IT challenges very appealing. It directly resolves the problems of over-extended, underfunded IT staffs facing major growth in the demand for services as well as potentially overwhelming change. It consolidates the functions of range of specialized tools into an integrated interface and analytics platform that handles data across infrastructure and business functions including customer, business and applications.

We like the public multi-tenant cloud service. We do think that as the service matures, questions of data security and the whether or not extra layers might be needed will surely come up. Also, it is entirely possible that an enterprise may prefer a private cloud option.   

Digital services implemented, even better driven by IT leverages technology without overwhelming existing resources and staff. IT retains overall control avoiding the risks of proliferating rogue ‘one-off’ projects that solve an immediate departmental problem but will eventually strain scarce resources. Digital services assure users get what they need and want, without overloading IT.

BMC’s strategic trajectory supports the trend to expand IT responsibilities as a key driver of business/enterprise success. IT with all enterprise functions face major transformation to an increasingly digitized world. Traditional IT tasks focused on infrastructure are not disappearing. IT maintains those even as they transform to proactively drive the creative application of technology to new service creation and delivery.  

BMC recognizes that future. It is aggressively positioning itself and creating products to be the partner of enterprise IT in getting the job done. We foresee their solutions as interesting to both emerging and established firms.