The Buzz


Aug 27, 2013

IBM zBC12 Takes Center Stage at SHARE in Boston

Just weeks after IBM announced the new zEnterprise BC12 (zBC12) and the zEnterprise EC12 GA2 as well as many other enhancements to System z technologies, the latest addition to the mainframe line was the star of SHARE in Boston. The zBC12 was the centerpiece of keynotes, technical sessions and the expo hall, generating considerable buzz around the event Aug. 11-16 at Hynes Convention Center.

“Even some of our hands-on lab sessions use the actual machine that’s running on the trade show floor,” noted SHARE President Brian Peterson. Being the first place to learn about and get firsthand access to the latest and greatest IBM technology is nothing new for SHARE, however. It’s one of the many benefits its members and conference attendees enjoy, he said.

Offering unique insights into the zBC12 were co-presenters Greg Lotko, IBM vice president and business line executive, System z, and Kevin Barber, associate director of the Medication Management Center at the College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona. In their keynote, Barber discussed an analytics application his organization developed to help pharmacists and doctors be more effective in providing medications to their patients.

Initially, Barber ran the application on an Intel technology-based server but as users of his solution grew exponentially, he had to move it to a more scalable, robust environment, Peterson recounted. As the number of customers exploded, Barber shifted from platform to platform, eventually moving to the zBC12, which could meet capacity demands now and into the future, at an approachable price point. The ability to start at a modest entry point and scale extremely high to meet growing business demand, without changing the architecture, is extremely attractive.

“It’s one of those stories where it’s great to a have customer proof point to make real,” Peterson said. “That’s what makes it compelling.” 

Those types of stories, offered in sessions or personal conversations, are what make conferences like SHARE so valuable, he added. “There’s nothing like talking to someone face to face, in a hallway or over coffee or in a session. I hear story after story of people who have talked to someone at SHARE and was able to go back to their work and solve a problem.”

Peterson, himself, noted one case where he saved the company he worked for hundreds of thousands of dollars based on alternative approaches he learned engaging with someone at a SHARE conference. “That’s one of the drivers for many people--tangible results they can bring back to their organizations. If you watch people here, you see them talking to each other, engaged.”

And there were many people to see at SHARE in Boston, he noted. “I believe we’re seeing the largest attendance in the last three years.” He attributed the attendance numbers to the recent IBM announcement and improvements in the economy. “Not only do we have more people involved face to face, we have more participating with newer ways like SHARE Live—all to the good,” Peterson noted. Offered for the past three or four years, SHARE Live allows subscribers to view select sessions remotely via as they happen or after the fact (for about six months). “It’s a way for those who can’t travel to share in the conference experience and get premium content,” he added.

 In addition to the larger crowd, its makeup appears to be changing as well, Peterson noted. Over the past few years, generally, the attendees are younger. “One of the most optimistic things I’ve observed—it’s very much of mix,” he said. “I think people who come to our events get a lot out of it. We’re picking up new people. The tenor is changing a bit; it’s a little younger, which brings in new perspectives.”

“There’s an extraordinary sense of community with SHARE,” Peterson said. “All of these amazing individuals do the tangible work of putting up the next show and moving the industry forward through user input. They do all of that and have been since SHARE started in 1955.”

Next up, those volunteers will be preparing for the next SHARE conference to be held March 9-14, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif.

Aug 06, 2013

Countdown to 50

 Like a bullet train hurtling forward through space, the IBM mainframe is an unstoppable and unprecedented force in IT—quickly approaching its 50th anniversary milestone. And just as a bullet train bears little resemblance to the first steam-engine locomotive, today’s zEnterprise EC12 has advanced far beyond the System/360—the first mainframe with a compatible, upgradable architecture—which IBM announced to the world on April 7, 1964. Similarly, while the steam engine helped usher in the Industrial Age, the mainframe ushered in the Computer Age. 

To mark nearly 50 years of computing innovation, IBM Systems Magazine has launched a new site— A sort of historical and social gathering place, built around next years’ milestone, the site offers the “mainframe generation” a chance to share their memories or thoughts, through multiple media:

  • Write a post recounting your first mainframe job—whether you started 30 years ago or 30 days ago
  • Upload a video about what’s made mainframe a lasting, one-of-a-kind computing icon
  • Or submit an audio podcast recounting your favorite mainframe-related anecdote 

Some of the audio, video and written contributions may be used in future print or online features as well. So please help us mark this unprecedented computing milestone, and be part of history in the making.




May 14, 2013

Keene: The Future of IT Is 'Information Manufacturing'

“The world is changing,” noted Terry Keene, CEO of Integration Systems (iSys), during his keynote May 8 at the IBM System z and IBM Power Systems Technical Symposia in New Orleans. “We’ve come a long and we’re reaching the final stage of maturation in the computer industry.”

That means information itself, which IT organizations deliver through technology, is becoming a commodity, Keene explained in his speech titled, “The State of the Data Center.” More accurately, he explained, “You are no longer in IT. It’s over; today, you’re in a brand new business: IMS—information manufacturing systems.”

Siting power and telco industries, as examples, he said their commodities are electric service and dial tone, respectively. Consumers don’t care about the underlying technology that allows them to make a call or turn on a light, they just care that it works. So it will be with information.

 He pointed to and its software as a service model. “It provides its service for $100 per person per month,” Keene said. “That is the new metric. That’s how we measure information, and the technology is in the background.

“Do you care if they’re running Linux on Intel? No. All you care about is what you pay for. It’s a new world,” he reiterated.

In this new world, the technology professional’s job is to deliver information to customers—internal or external—where they need it, when they need it, how they need it, and in a form they can use and will pay for. “It has to be the way they want it,” Keene added. “Get that technology in order. Make it consumable.”

As a result, the total cost of ownership and total cost of acquisition concepts are old models that made technology departments a cost center. The new perspective, total cost of information, transforms departments into profit centers, he said.

To do that Keene recommended moving database, data warehousing and analytics efforts onto Power Systems or System z platforms—in large part because they can run at 85 percent utilization or better.

“The first lesson in running a factory is the benchmark for a successful factory is to run it at 85 percent continuous utilization,” he added. “Less than that and you go out of business.”

He proceeded to ask the audience, “How many here are running Intel servers at 85 percent? Don’t raise your hand or I’ll call you a liar.”

Therefore, the raw materials for an information factory, data, should be on Power or mainframe. “If you’re using mainframe, you’re already ahead of the game,” he said.

The advantages of these two IBM server platforms are performance, scalability, virtualization, and resilience, Keene noted. “Virtualization is the secret sauce.” It enables the Power and mainframe to run at 85 percent utilization or better.

Resilience is key as well because consumers assume reliability when dealing with a commodity, he continued. “You expect it to work, if it fails, you through it away.” So you must keep applications running. At IBM in general, and mainframe engineers in particular, availability and disaster recovery are top priorities. “They’re maniacal about that stuff.”

Keene asked audience members, “What kind of utilization are you getting in the factory?” And he challenged them to go back and explain to their organizations that they have work to do. In order to focus on their core competencies, they need to start with a mainframe or Power platform to run at 85 to 90 percent utilization.

“They just keep churning,” he added. “Then work on core competency.” Use the data your company has to develop new insights and sell it to your customers in your organization so they can use it to beat the competition.

“It’s up to us to go back and tell this story,” He concluded. “Drive this train. Tell them you’re in manufacturing; you’re running a plant, and our plant sucks at 10 percent. Let’s get up to 85 and win.

 “It’s up to you. You’re going to win this war. But first you have to get rid of the Linux on Intel mindset.”

May 01, 2013

IBM Systems Magazine Hits the Road for the IBM Symposia

The IBM Systems Magazine team will be out in force next week at the IBM Power Systems and IBM System z Symposia May 8-10 in New Orleans.

Unlike many IBM events that focus on a single line of hardware, this one will bring together IBM experts on System z, Power Systems, AIX, IBM i, Storage, PureSystems, etc., under one roof with sessions covering the gamut of IBM technology. As a content publisher, it’s a great opportunity to learn the latest in terms of hardware, software and OSs, database technology and more, all at once. 

Kicking things off at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 8, will be keynote speaker Terry Keene, the CEO of iSys, who will explain “The State of the Data Center—Where IT is Headed and How to Set the Agenda First.” 

In addition to attending sessions, meeting with business partners and IBMers, IBM Systems Magazine staffers will host a booth in the Solution Center over the lunch hours and the early evenings (5:30-7:30 p.m.) on May 8 and 9. Before experiencing the New Orleans nightlife, stop by and share your thoughts about article topics or ways we can improve the magazine, enewsletters and website. Sign up for a free subscription to our print, digital or enewsletter content. And if you’re tired of lugging around tchotchkes from vendor booths, you can pick up one of our stylish bags.

Not attending the symposia? Follow us on Twitter for updates @mainframemag, @ibmimag and @AIXmag, or check out additional coverage in this blog. It’s the next best thing to being there (not really, but it’s better than nothing).


Dec 10, 2012

Lack of IT Expertise Keeps Many Organizations Grounded

Myriad companies have booked their flights, packed their bags, and prepared for takeoff to the technology destinations of their dreams. The allure of trends like mobile and cloud computing, social business, and analytics is undeniable as organizations increasingly draft plans to adopt one or more.

However, nearly 90 percent of enterprises are stuck on the proverbial tarmac, because they don’t have the knowledgeable pilots, flight crews or mechanical staff to get off the ground.

Only one in 10 organizations worldwide reports it has all the skills needed for adopting the four key technologies of mobile, cloud, social business and analytics. That’s according to the 2012 IBM Tech Trends report, an international survey of more than 1,200 IT and businesspeople, 250 academics and 450 students, which was conducted by developerWorks and the IBM Center for Applied Insights and released Dec. 5. Here’s an interactive graphic illustrating the report’s key findings:

Not coincidentally, IBM launched a new education program designed to fill what Jim Corgel, IBM general manager, Academic and Developer Relations, describes as “a yawning skills gap.” This gap is the result of the simultaneous emergence of the aforementioned four tech trends, Corgel explains in his recent Building a Smarter Planet blog post:

“Each of them is a force to be reckoned with. Together they have the potential to transform businesses, government services and society. I believe that these new technologies could help rekindle economic growth around the world. But only if we close the skills gap—and fast.”

Accordingly, IBM announced programs and resources to help students and IT professionals develop these skills to prepare for these expanding employment opportunities. These include:

  • New training courses and resources for IT professionals
  • Technology and curriculum materials for educators
  • Expanded programs to directly engage students with real-world business challenges

Theses new effort represents the largest expansion of the Academic Initiative since its inception, according to IBM.

So as 2012, winds down, IBM, educators, and IT professionals and their employers are rightfully turning to the future. The next generation of IBMers is out there. Equipped with the right skills, they’ll all reach their destinations.