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Craig Johnson
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01/13/2010

IBM i Strategy and Roadmap

Welcome to 2010. It will be a busy one for us with the introduction of POWER7 processor-based servers and the next release of IBM i. These will provide Steve, Dawn and me ample material for future posts.

We have recently published a new white paper that you’ll want to put on your must-read list for the new year. The paper is designed to help you gain a better understanding of our strategy and roadmap for the IBM i operating environment. It includes information about the IBM i market, reviews the Power Systems and IBM i roadmap, and concludes with a listing of the wide range of IBM initiatives to help businesses reduce costs, improve service and manage risk. We trust it will be a page-turner.

 

ITG TCO Report – IBM i Wins Again!

ITG has just concluded an analysis of the value of Power Systems and IBM i compared to x86 systems for mid-sized clients. Costs for use of Power Systems and IBM i 6.1 average 41 percent less than for commodity x86 servers and Microsoft Windows, and 47 percent less than for x86 servers and Linux operating systems. Read the new ITG report Executive Summary or Full Report for details. Low total cost of ownership, or TCO, has long been a benefit of IBM i deployments according to numerous consultant reports and feedback from our IBM i clients.

One of the benefits for IBM i clients of the unification into Power Systems has been the fact that IBM i, AIX and Linux run on the same set of servers with the same purchase and maintenance prices. This has made our historically low TCO even better.

 

More Webcasts Are Coming

Our Webcasts through System i Network have been very popular and a great vehicle for us to communicate product announcement and to highlight key technologies. Plans are being finalized to deliver three more in the first half on 2010.

 

IBM i Vouchers

Did you know that clients receive service and education vouchers for no additional charge with the purchase of selected new Power servers with IBM i? You can redeem the services voucher for an on-site service by IBM Lab Services or a qualified business partner. Select from a wide range of services including help with migration, DB2 Web Query implementation, Zend PHP implementation, security assessment and PowerVM virtualization implementation. The education voucher can be redeemed for a no-charge class. Our voucher Web page provides information on qualification requirements, the list of available services and education, and steps on how to redeem your vouchers.

 

Customer Spotlight

Recology turned to IBM to help meet a short runway for designing, building and moving to a new data center. Over its 80-plus years of business, San Francisco-based Recology has been an innovator in waste disposal and resource recovery. It was one of the nation’s first urban recyclers and one of the largest employee-owned companies in the waste management field, serving more than 600,000 residential and 60,000 commercial customers in more than 50 communities, primarily on the West Coast.

Recology turned to IBM Global Technology Services to design and deliver a future-ready data center for its Power Systems running IBM i and System x environment. The data center is now up and running and has improved availability through enhanced redundancy, expanded data-center capacity to support a near doubling of business and reduced costs up to 20 percent through improved efficiency. Learn more about Recology

 

 

12/07/2009

From Zend to Copenhagen, to Moscow, to South Africa, to Rochester

The 4th quarter is typically a heavy travel time. As Steve mentioned in his latest post, he was recently in Japan and China. I was on the road as well meeting with our customers and partners.

My trip started with the annual Zend PHP Conference. Once again, the Zend team put on a great event for the PHP community at large as well as for IBM i customers. There were more IBM i-specific sessions at the conference than any other vendor’s solution. With this being my fourth conference, I’m still amazed at the scope of PHP. Andi Gutmans, Zend CEO, stated in his keynote that one-third of the Web runs on PHP with sites like Yahoo, Facebook and Wikipedia, as well as some of popular TV shows like “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars.” Two of the themes of the conference where “PHP is Thriving” and “PHP is Enterprise Ready.” I heard that firsthand from the IBM i customers that attended the event. For example, check out what Allied Beverage Group has done with PHP.

Another interesting insight from the conference was the popularity of the Eclipse based development environment for PHP. The PHP Development Tools project is the most popular Eclipse project. Very interesting considering that Eclipse has roots in the Java world. As you know, Rational Developer for i (RDi) and Zend Studio for Eclipse, i Edition, are both based on the open Eclipse standard. With the latest versions of both products, RDi and Zend Studio can be installed on the same workbench to create one integrated development environment for RPG, COBOL, CL and PHP. For existing developers and more importantly new developers for IBM i-based applications, RDi provides a familiar, highly functional development workbench. You can check it out in the Rational Sandbox

After the Zend conference, the travel continued with stops in Copenhagen, Moscow and South Africa to speak to IBM i customers and partners. As you might suspect most of the conversations where about the benefits of IBM i 6.1 and our plans for the next release of IBM i due out in 2010. There was also a lot of interest in the Rational development tools, DB2 Web Query, PowerHA and Zend PHP. On a side note, I did learn that while in South Africa that you need to “look under your cars for penguins” and “do not feed the baboons” – valuable lessons for a guy from Rochester.

The “traveling” ended with a meeting in Rochester of the COMMON Americas Advisory Council – a team of IBM i customers, solution providers and partners. We had a great two-day meeting where we reviewed what’s coming in the next release of IBM i and solicited feedback for the major themes for the next, next release of IBM i planned for 2012. We also reviewed and discussed the requirements submitted by members of COMMON for IBM i. We spent the majority of our time discussing future requirements for cloud computing, systems management and high availability. The team at IBM would like to again thank the members of the CAAC for their insight, opinions, and time away from home.

 

IBM i 5.4

In one of my recent posts, I talked about the many benefits of moving to IBM i 6.1. While the install base of 6.1 continues to grow, some customers want to or need to buy new systems with 5.4. Previously, we'd announced that the end of marketing of 5.4 would be January 5, 2010. With the end of marketing, servers can no longer be ordered with 5.4 and customers with 5.2 or 5.3 can no longer order 5.4 to upgrade to a supported release.

As a result of numerous requests, on November 10th we announced the extension of marketing of IBM i 5.4 until January 7, 2011. With this announcement, customers will be able to order POWER6 systems with 5.4 throughout 2010. More importantly, this provides another year for 5.2 and 5.3 customers to order the upgrade to 5.4 to once again be on a supported release and gain the benefits provided by the functions delivered in 5.4. For 5.2 and 5.3 customers who are on an IBM software maintenance contract, IBM i 5.4 is available for no additional charge.

IBM i supports N-2 upgrades to make it easy for customers to move up to more current releases. An upgrade takes a lot less time than a complete installation of a new operating-system release. So you can upgrade to 5.4 from 5.3 and 5.2. You can upgrade to 6.1 from 5.4 and 5.3. And you’ll be able to upgrade to the next release of IBM i due out in 2010 from 6.1 and 5.4.

The end of marketing of a release is one of the key dates in the life cycle of a release; the other is the end of support from IBM. We haven’t announced the end of support date for IBM i 5.4. The end of support is typically one year after the end of marketing, which would place the end of support for 5.4 in 2012.

 

Customer Spotlight

Ostnor is the leading manufacturer of faucets, fittings and accessories in the Nordic countries. The company, based in Sweden, has 600 employees and reported revenues of about 110 million euros in 2008. Ostnor needed to redesign their IT infrastructure to improve business process efficiency. They wanted to upgrade to satisfy their increased need for reliability and performance, and they wanted to consolidate their Lawson Movex software workload. Ostnor replaced their System i 810 running IBM i 5.4 with a Power 520 server and IBM i 6.1. To provide high availability, they deployed a second IBM Power 520 server and enabled geographic mirroring between the two servers with IBM PowerHA for i. The solution manages risk by providing improved security and high availability while reducing IT costs and power usage, provides powerful server performance with built-in POWER6 processors, and provides the right environment to support business process efficiency. Learn more about the solution at Ostnor.

 

10/20/2009

October Announcements for IBM i

It’s October 20 – announcement day! We’re very pleased to bring you these enhancements to IBM i – many of them in direct response to your requirements and feedback. We’re supporting new IBM System Storage solutions, enhancing our PowerVM I/O virtualization support, introducing a new BladeCenter offering, enhancing support for SSDs, offering new I/O options, and the list goes on:

  • We are announcing IBM i 6.1.1. (For those of you familiar with V5R4M5, this is the same type of enhancement, with the updated numbering format). IBM i 6.1 with 6.1.1 machine code provides enhanced support for IBM System Storage, PowerVM virtualization and I/O enhancements. IBM i 6.1.1 is supported on POWER6 processor-based servers and blades as well as POWER5 processor-based servers and System i models 800, 810, 825, 870 and 890.
  • IBM i 6.1.1 expands support for IBM System Storage DS5100 and DS5300 via native Fibre attachment to the IBM i 6.1.1 environment on POWER6 processor-based servers.
  • IBM i 6.1 and 5.4 support the IBM System Storage DS8700 models 941 and 94E enterprise storage system via native Fibre attachment to POWER5 and POWER6 processor-based servers. In addition, the DS8700 and the DS5020 are supported with IBM i 6.1 partitions via PowerVM VIOS attached to POWER6 processor-based servers and blades.
  • PowerVM is providing additional industrial-strength virtualization technology. For enhanced availability, IBM i 6.1.1 partitions can be configured in multipath configurations where one IBM i 6.1.1 partition uses redundant VIOS partitions to connect to the same IBM System Storage device. Also, IBM i 6.1.1 partitions support N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV), providing enhanced support for selected attached IBM System Storage solutions. NPIV provides better backup support in VIOS configurations for our server and blade customers with Fibre Channel Tape Libraries.
  • The i Edition for BladeCenter S has been enhanced with a second configuration option that includes BladeCenter S SAS RAID Controller Modules and preload of IBM i. The SAS RAID Controller Modules provide RAID support up to 12 disk drives in the IBM BladeCenter S chassis.
  • IBM i 6.1.1 provides additional support for solid state drives, including enhanced performance of the SSD data balancer, additional intelligent system data placement and SSD-aware utilities. IBM i 6.1.1 environments can also leverage SSDs in PowerVM VIOS and IBM System Storage configurations. A new SSD Analyzer tool is available to help determine if SSDs can help improve your application performance. The tool runs on your IBM i 5.4 or 6.1 system and gives you an indication if you should do further investigation into the value of SSDs for your specific environment, You can download the tool
  • IBM i 6.1 Integrated File System (IFS) is enhanced with support for a temporary file system. This new option can improve performance for applications that use temporary data in a file system. The files in a temporary file system are deleted by the system when the system is restarted or when the file system is unmounted. Because of this, these files don’t require the extra disk operations that protect the non-temporary files stored in the existing file system. The temporary file system is a special type of user-defined file system (UDFS) and can be created, mounted and then used much like a permanent UDFS.
  • IBM i can now be upgraded from an image on the network. An IBM i 6.1 environment on POWER6 processor-based server can be upgraded to IBM i 6.1.1 with an image on the network file server.
  • The Performance Data Investigator is a tool provided in IBM i 6.1 to analyze IBM i performance information captured with collection services. The tool is part of the Web-based Systems Director Navigator for i. Several enhancements have been made to the Performance Data Investigator, including graphical health indicators for system resources such as CPU, disk and memory. The performance images can be exported to be used by presentation tools. The tool can also take the measured data from collection services and input it into the IBM Workload Estimator (WLE) for system sizing analysis.
  • IBM i is enhanced to support the following I/O configurations and devices on POWER6 processor-based servers:

* Dual SAS RAID Adapter support improves availability by enabling two adapters in an IBM i 6.1.1 environment to be connected to the same RAID set. The following adapters are supported in dual configurations:

    o PCIe 380 MB Cache SAS RAID Adapter (#5903)

    o PCI-X DDR 1.5 GB Cache SAS RAID Adapter (#5904, #5906, #5908)

* Hot Spare for Mirroring enables a drive to be automatically substituted for a failed drive in a mirrored pair in IBM i 6.1.1 environments.

* Higher capacity 139 GB SAS SFF Disk Drive (#1888) in IBM i 6.1 environments.

* 12X I/O Drawer for PCIe adapters (#5877). This diskless drawer is supported with IBM i 6.1.1.

* SSD support in 12X I/O Drawer with IBM i 6.1 environments.

* PCIe 380 MB Cache SAS RAID Adapter (#5903) with IBM i 6.1.1.

 

Windows 7 Anyone….

We’ve firmed up our plans for supporting Windows 7 with the 6.1 version of i Access for Windows. A planned service pack on December 1 will enable support for Windows 7. The 6.1 version of the client code can work with IBM i 5.3, 5.4, and 6.1 on the server side.

 

Customer Spotlight

South Carolina Student Loan (SCSL) is a midsize, non-profit organization that originates and services postsecondary educational loans for students, parents and higher education institutions in South Carolina. SCSL has around 200 employees and has serviced more than $7 billion in federal and private student loans for more than 400,000 borrowers. Their large accounts and demanding compliance requirements make a comprehensive business intelligence (BI) solution crucial to the SCSL mission. SCSL is Implementing IBM DB2 Web Query for i to enable more robust, efficient reporting and significant performance improvements.

“In looking for a BI solution, it was important for us to be able to use the Query/400 objects we had already invested in,” says Alan Taylor, Senior Systems Engineer at SCSL. “Rather than going through a mass conversion, we wanted to be able to leverage that legacy data and be able to do things with it that our legacy BI tools weren't able to do, like providing real-time information and reports to management on key performance indicators.”

With the legacy Query/400 tool, reports were generated and delivered to administrators monthly. By that time, reports were often too dated to allow for timely adjustments to meet goals, so they were simply used for review. To meet the organization's need for real-time data access, SCSL chose IBM DB2 Web Query for i to help improve data query capabilities. “No other solution allowed us to leverage our legacy query objects,” says Tom Dunnigan, CIO of SCSL. “DB2 Web Query was the only one.”

“Within seconds, users are getting information that they previously had to wait up to 30 days for,” says Dunnigan. “Specific departments have certain goals, and they are now able to get immediate feedback on where they stand in reaching those goals. We do a much better job of maintaining compliance with DB2 Web Query because the feedback is real-time.”

You can learn more about the SCSL solution with the IBM case study

10/04/2009

Top 10--strike that!--Top 20 Reasons to Deploy IBM i 6.1

IBM i 6.1, the latest version of the integrated operating system for Power Systems servers, became generally available in March 2008. Are you using it yet? If so, congratulations! Whether or not you've started using IBM i 6.1, you might be unaware of the significant benefits you can get from this rich operating system release. This week, I want to point out some of those benefits. And, because there are so many, I can't just list the top 10 -- we need to go for 20!

  1. Enable consolidation of i and x86 servers with an IBM BladeCenter solution. IBM i 6.1 is supported in IBM BladeCenter S and H with BladeCenter JS12, JS22, JS23 and JS43 blades.
  2. Reduce impact of planned and unplanned outages with a high-availability solution from IBM. IBM i 6.1 supports the new PowerHA for i disk-clustering solution.
  3. Better performance for i and IBM System Storage environments through improved storage-area network (SAN) support. i 6.1 with POWER6 processor based-servers and a new Fibre Channel Adapter can deliver performance with the DS8000 that's comparable to internal disk.
  4. Increased performance for Java and WebSphere applications with IBM i 6.1 enhancements. In Java-application performance tests, IBM i delivered 68-78 percent more transactions per second than i 5.4 running on the same POWER5+ processor-based server.
  5. Reduce IT costs with an easy, integrated, Web-based management environment. IBM i 6.1 delivers Systems Director Navigator for i that enables Web-based management. Navigator integrates with IBM Systems Director 6.1 providing a rich management environment for multiple, heterogeneous servers.
  6. Monitor the performance of your IBM i environment with Performance Data Investigator, a Web-based component of Systems Director Navigator for i.
  7. Meet regulatory requirements by protecting data at rest and backups of critical business information through advanced encryption options available for IBM i 6.1.
  8. Reduce costs and simplify creation of test and development environments through virtualization of IBM i storage. IBM i 6.1 with POWER6 processor-based servers can be a virtual partition, receiving its I/O resources from another IBM i or PowerVM VIOS partition.
  9. Through PowerVM VIOS, IBM i 6.1 partitions support storage consolidation with IBM System Storage solutions DS3000, DS4000, DS5000, XIV and SVC.
  10. Intelligently flow memory from one partition to another for increased utilization and flexibility of memory usage with PowerVM Active Memory Sharing.
  11. Simplify deployment of Java applications and extend value of business applications through a Web application server and Web services environment provided with IBM i 6.1.
  12. Enhance application functionality and performance with new DB2 database functions and management tools provided with IBM i 6.1.
  13. Enhance iSCSI-based integration with System x and BladeCenter servers with support for VMware VMotion and software initiator for Windows servers.
  14. Deliver the performance required for IBM i applications with POWER6 processor-based servers. These 1 to 64 core servers provide industry leading performance for IBM i, AIX and Linux operating systems.
  15. Expand I/O options with IBM i 6.1 including support for Small Form Factor Disk drives and next generation 12X I/O drawers.
  16. IBM i 6.1 provides support for the fastest GHz options for the Power 520 (4.7 GHz) and Power 550 (5.0 GHz).
  17. Support for IBM OmniFind Text Search Server, which enables users to conduct full-text searches across documents stored in DB2 for i database.
  18. Support for IBM Transform Services which delivers Adobe PDF output support to IBM i applications
  19. Support for Network Install of Cumulative Fix Packages and Licensed Program Products.
  20. IBM i is now shipped on DVD media (I have received applause for this one!!!)

As I mentioned before, IBM i 6.1 became generally available in March 2008. IBM has delivered numerous enhancements since then. As we introduce additional software and hardware technologies, you'll see the benefits of IBM i 6.1 continue to grow.

For those of you who are running IBM i 6.1, please let us all know if I have missed your favorite feature.

We recently held a webcast to discuss these and other reasons to move up to IBM i 6.1. Listen to the replay. From this Web site, you'll also see that we're doing a webcast on October 6 covering IBM i support for solid-state drives and IBM System Storage, and on October 27 covering the latest IBM i enhancements.

Customer Spotlight -- Gemeente Goes hosts SAP applications for six municipalities on IBM i

Gemeente Goes and five other Dutch municipalities were running CiVision Belastingen & Kadaster Suite, a qualified SAP Business All-in-One partner solution from PinkRoccade Local Government, on a variety of IBM and HP platforms on separate servers at their own data centers. Hardware costs were relatively high, and obtaining local support was difficult and expensive.

Working with PinkRoccade Local Government, the six municipalities consolidated their SAP Business All-in-One environments into separate IBM i subsystems within a single LPAR on an IBM Power 550 Express server running at the Gemeente Goes data center. The subsystems also run a number of legacy applications in mixed workload mode.

Consolidating to a single Power 550 Express server reduces hardware, maintenance and support costs by approximately 40 percent. IBM i subsystems provide a highly secure and reliable environment even for a mixed workload of multiple legacy and SAP applications while IBM POWER6 processors delivered excellent performance for the combined overall workload. Find out more in the IBM case study

 

08/30/2009

New Customers

If you're reading this, chances are you're a long-standing IBM i customer ... thank you, by the way, for your continued business. Sometime within the last 30 or so years, your company purchased your first IBM Rochester based solution. Paging forward to today, we're often asked if we're still getting first-time buyers of IBM i based solutions? The answer is YES, we are!

 

The key word in this question is "solutions." New customers buy our system based on the solutions provided by our ISV partners. Many of our partners work every day to gain new customers for their solutions and, as a result, IBM i.

Many of our ISV partners offer vertical industry solutions in industries such as manufacturing, distribution, travel and transportation, trucking, banking, insurance, health care, legal, retail and construction. They are companies that focus regionally, nationally and globally. IBM has specific marketing and enablement programs to work with these ISVs who offer these leading industry-based solutions to new customers. 

A typical scenario is that a customer buys a new, integrated application suite based on IBM i to replace standalone, ad-hoc applications on x86 systems that are no longer getting the job done. The justification for the new application is based on support of the customer's business objectives and growth plans.

Other customers move their applications from x86 to IBM i. For example, Svendsen, a specialist distributor in Germany, migrated their business applications from x86 systems to a Power 520 with IBM i. In the words of Lutz Ilgner, CEO, "For the same price as the proposed Intel architecture, we purchased a single, more powerful and scalable Power Systems server, with all the characteristic advantages of IBM i: legendary reliability, high resilience against viruses, and the built-in IBM DB2 database." Learn more about Svendsen

As you might expect, the majority of our new customers are small and mid-sized businesses. This has been the case for 30-plus years. Some of these customers grow to become very large enterprises. For example, one of our customers started with one warehouse and a single S/38 and has grown to having more than 500 warehouses supported by six POWER6 servers. This is something that sets us apart; we offer a great solution for small business and can protect application investments and scale if a small business turns into a mid-sized or large enterprise.     

New customers are attracted to the platform based on the ISV solution as well as the underlying value provided by IBM i:

 

  • Integrated middleware for efficient business processing 
  • Virtualized to manage multiple applications and processes
  • Optimized for exceptional business resilience
  • Trusted security with auditing and compliance tools
  • Simplified operations and storage management
  • Architected for open application design choices
  • Scalable to enable non-disruptive business growth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Spotlight

 

CATCO Parts and Service is a 312-person company with 18 retail locations that provides parts and service to the U.S. heavy-duty trucking industry. CATCO implemented a high-availability solution with PowerHA using geographic mirroring to enable easy switching between a primary Power 520 and a secondary system. The benefits of the new solution to CATCO include:

 

 

  • Provides for 100% system uptime, which helps avoid estimated losses of $20,000 per hour of downtime
  • Automated weekend switchover regularly tests availability to help ensure business remains protected
  • Synchronous mirroring allows the business to resume on secondary system only 20 minutes after an unplanned outage
  • Easy-to-use, hardware-based solution requires maintenance of only 10 minutes per week and no additional headcount

 

 

 

 

Learn more about CATCO

Upcoming Events

We have three Power of i Webcasts with System i Network coming up:

 

  • Sept. 24: Why upgrade to IBM i 6.1 including a discussion of the ISV support we have for our latest release
  • Oct.  6: A look at the latest storage solutions for IBM i including solid-state drives (SSDs) and SANs
  • Oct. 27: A review of the latest enhancements for IBM i

 

 

 

To register for the live events or listen to the replays, visit the registration page

IBM is once again a Platinum Sponsor of the Zend/PHP Conference to be held in San Jose, Calif. on October 19-22. There will be several sessions related to developing PHP applications on IBM i. If you're interested in PHP, this is the major conference where the PHP community comes together.