Archive for the 'systemp' Category

An old man and money

I was just sent a link to this ConnectedPlanet article by Susana Schwartz, and given my background in mainframes and x86 asked what I thought of the central premise. The analogy that came to mind almost immediately was too good not share.

The question the article was addressing was “will the IBM zEnterprise make mainframes sexy again?” My analogy, Hugh Hefner! Do you think Hugh Hefner is sexy? He has all the money, is a great revenue generator has some good products, but mostly while they do the same stuff they’ve always done, are looking a bit long in the tooth. What’s interesting is what surrounds Hugh. Same with zEnterprise, only there are much better ways to get that smart technology.

After a few miss-starts with a google search for “old man and young girls” – that will have set off some alarm bells in Dell IT, I set Google safesearch to strict and search for “old man with young women” and here we have it, my analogy for the IBM zEnterprise.

Image courtesy and copyright of the sun.co.uk

Image courtesy and copyright of the sun.co.uk

Do you want Hugh Hefner in the middle? He’s worth loads of money…

Any similarity between Hugh Hefner and an IBM mainframe is entirely coincidental, after all we all know mainframes are older and come from New York. Hugh is from Chicago.

Feel free to use the analogy to argue either way… just be careful to keep the discussion work safe. I’ve still got that J3000 spoof press release somewhere as well.

Oracle gets big on Sun

Predicting the Future, The Oracle concept watches by Designer Andy Kurovets mixes time with Chinese philosophy

Predicting the Future, The Oracle concept watches by Designer Andy Kurovets mixes time with Chinese philosophy

Fascinating news. I didn’t see a single consultant, analyst, journalist predict this. WRT to the supposed IBM/SUN on/off deal, I guess the biggest part to work out is how this will effect Oracle products on IBM Power Systems servers.

Oracle was definately the most significant software product on Power systems, I assume if Oracle decides it wants to keep the SPARC hardware architecture alive, it’s going to have to start favouring SPARC over Power. If nothing else, one assumes the fees IBM pays Oracle for Power support/currency/testing etc. will likely go up. Fascinating indeed.

I guess that also puts Oracle into competition with Dell and HP too, not just becuase of their SUN x86 hardware, but also again for platform currency. I didn’t dial-in to the investor call this morning, but I wonder how many are already wondering what the chances are of Oracle spending a year to work out how to sell-off the parts of Sun it doesn’t want, like the hardware business, but keeping the bits it does want, like Java and the other key software assets and intellectual property. Fascinating indeed.

However, if this knoxnews.com picture is anything to go by, Oracle have some work to do on their Industrial design and human factors for their hardware.

Virtualization, The Recession and The Mainframe

Robin Bloor has posted an interesting entry on his “Have mac will blog” blog on the above subject. He got a few small things wrong, well mostly, he got all the facts wrong but, right from a populist historical rewrite perspective. Of course I posted a comment, but as always made a few typos that I now cannot correct, so here is the corrected version(feel free to delete the original comments Robin… or just make fun of me for the mistakes, but know I was typing outdoors at the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery, with open toe sandles on and it’s cold tonight in Austin, geeky I know!)

What do they say about a person who is always looking back to their successes? Well, in my case, it’s only becuase I can’t post on my future successes, they are considered too confidential for me to even leave slides with customers when I visit… 

VM revisited, enjoy:

 

Mark Cathcart (Should have) said,
on October 23rd, 2008 at 8:16 pm

Actually Robin, while it’s true that the S/360 operating systems were written in Assembler, and much of the 370 operating systems, PL/S was already in use for some of the large and complex components.

It is also widely known that virtualization, as you know it on the mainframe today, was first introduced on the S/360 model-67. This was a “bastard child” of the S/360 processors that had virtual memory extensions. At that point, the precursor to VM/370 used on the S/360-67 was CP-67.

I think you’ll also find that IBM never demonstrated 40,000 Linux virtual machines on a single VM system, it was David Boyes of Sine Nomine, who also recently ported Open Solaris to VM.

Also, there’s no such thing as pSeries Unix in the marketing nomenclature any more, it’s now Power Systems, whose virtualization now supports AIX aka IBM “Unix”, System i or IBM i to use the the modern vernacular and Linux on Power.

Wikipedia is a pretty decent source for information on mainframe virtualization, right up until VM/XA where there are some things that need correcting, I just have not had the time yet.

Oh yeah, by the way. While 2TB of memory on a mainframe gives pretty impressive virtualization capabilities, my favorite anecdote, and it’s true because I did it, was back in 1983. At Chemical Bank in New York. We virtualized a complete, production, high availability, online credit card authorization system, by adding just 4Mb of memory boosting the total system memory to a whopping 12Mb of memory! Try running any Intel hypervisor or operating system on just 12Mb of memory these days, a great example of how efficient the mainframe virtualization is!

 

2008 IBM Power Systems Technical University featuring AIX and Linux

Yep, it’s a mouthful. I’ve just been booking some events and presentations for later in the year, and this one, which I had initially hoped to attend clashes with one, so now I can’t.

However, in case the snappy new title passed you buy, it is still the excellent IBM Technical conference it used to be when it was the IBM System p, AIX and Linux Technical University. It runs 4.5 days from 8 – 12 September in Chicago and offers an agenda that includes more than 150 knowledge-packed sessions and hands-on training delivered by top IBM developers and Power Systems experts.

Since the “IBM i” conference is running alongside, you can choose to attend sessions in either event. Sadly I couldn’t find a link for the conference abstracts, but there is more detail online here.

RedMonk IT Management PodCast #10 thoughts

I’ve been working on slides this afternoon for a couple of projects, and wondering why producing slides hasn’t really gotten any easier in 20-years since Freelance under DOS? Why is it I’ve got a 22 flatscreen monitor as an extended desktop, and I’m using a trackpoint and mouse to move things around, and waiting for Windows to move pixel by pixel…

Anyway, I clicked on the LIBSyn link for the RedMonk IT Management Podcast #10 from back in April for some background noise. In the first 20-mins or so, Cote and John get into some interesting discussion about Power Systems, especially in relation to some projects Johns’ working on. As they joke and laugh their way through an easy discussion, they get a bit confused about naming and training.

First, the servers are called IBM Power Systems, or Power. The servers span from blades to high-end scalable monster servers. They all use the Power PC architecture, instruction set RISC chip. Formally there had been two versions of the same servers, System p and System i.

Three operating systems can run natively on Power Systems, AIX, IBM i (formally i5/OS and OS/400) and Linux. You can run these concurrently in any combination using the native virtualization, PowerVM. Amongst the features of PowerVM is the ability to create Logical Partitions. These are a hardware implementation and hardware protected Type-1 Hypervisor. So, it’s like VMware but not at all. You can get more on this in this white paper. For a longer read, see the IBM Systems Software Information Center.

John then discussed the need for training and the complexity of setting up a Power System. Sure, if you want to run a highly flexible, dynamically configurable, highly virtualized server, then you need to do training. Look at the massive market for Microsoft Windows, VMware and Cisco Networking certifications. Is there any question that running complex systems would require similar skills and training?

Of course, John would say that though, as someone who makes a living doing training and consulting, and obviously has a great deal of experience monitoring and managing systems.

However, many of our customers don’t have such a need, they do trust the tools and will configure and run systems without 4-6 months of training. Our autonomic computing may not have achieved everything we envisaged, but it has made a significant difference. You can use the System Config tool at order time, either alone, with your business partner or IBMer, and do the definition for the system, have it installed and provisioned and up and running within half a day.

When I first started in Power Systems, I didn’t take any classes, was not proficient in AIX or anything else Power related. I was able to get a server up and running from scratch and get WebSphere running business applications having read a couple of redbooks. Monitoring and debugging would have taken more time, another book. Clearly becoming an expert always takes longer, see the wikipedia definition of expert.

ps. John, if you drop out of the sky from 25k ft, it doesn’t matter if the flight was a mile or a thousand miles… you’ll hit the ground at the same speed 😉

pps. Cote I assume your exciting editing session on episode 11, wasn’t so exiciting…

ppps. 15-minutes on travel on Episode #11, time for RedmOnk Travel Podcast

Time for dinner – The IBM Hydro-cluster

I got an email pointing out that I omitted a link to the youtube video of the IBM hydro-cluster. So, here it is.

Towards the end of the video, Jeff Gluck says “hot water can be moved off site”, “to heat your home or cook a family dinner”. In the famed Larry and Brin, “do no evil” context, I guess this is goodness. While I appreciate that there is a very serious side to the “greening” of the datacenter, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Back in the 1970’s on one of the first large scale computer servers, aka mainframes I worked on, we used to store takeaways inside the server for 4-5 hours to keep it warm on evening and night shift. The really scary thing, back in those days microwaves didn’t exist!

The IBM 370/145 was a T-shaped server, laying on its back, the whole back of the T was largely empty, ready in case you wanted to upgrade to a 370/148 or 155(I think). So it became common place to store stuff in there that you wanted to keep warm and dry. Ideal for takeaway and girlie magazines(so I’m told!).

On Power Systems and Security

One of the topics I’m trying to close on at the moment is Power Systems Security. I have my views on where I think we need to be, where the emerging technology challenges are, what the industry drivers are(yours and ours), and the competitive pressures.

If you want to comment or email me with your thoughts on Power Systems security, I’d like to hear. What’s important, what’s not?  Of course I’m interested in OS related issues, AIX, i, or Linux on Power. I’m also interested in requirements that span all three, that need to apply across hardware and PowerVM.

Interested in mobility? Want your keys to move between systems with you? Not much good if you move the system but can’t read the data becuase you don’t have key authority. Is encryption in your Power Systems future? Is it OK to have it in software only, to have it as an offload engine or does it need to run faster via acceleration. Do you have numbers, calculations on how many, what key sizes etc.

Let’s be clear though, we have plans and implementations in all these areas. What I’m interested in are your thoughts and requirements.

IBM’s new Enterprise Data Center vision

IBM announced today our new Enterprise Data Center vision. There are lots of links from the new ibm.com/datacenter web page which split out into their various constituencies Virtualization, Energy Efficiency, Security, Business resiliency and IT service delivery.

To net it out from my perspective though, there is a lot of good technology behind this, and an interesting direction summarized nicely starting on page-10 on the POV paper linked from the new data center page or here.

What it lays out are the three main stages of adoption for the new data center, simplified, shared and dynamic. The Clabby analytics paper, also linked from the new data center page or here, puts the three stages in a more consumable practical tabular format.

They are really not new, many of our customers will have discussed these with us many times before. In fact, there’s no coincidence that the new Enterprise Data Center vision was launched the same day as the new IBM Z10 mainframe. We started discussing and talking about these these when I worked for Enterprise Systems in 1999, and we formally laid the groundwork in the on demand strategy in 2003. In fact, I see the Clabby paper has used the on demand operating environment block architecture to illustrate the service patterns. Who’d have guessed.

Simplify: reduce costs for infrastructure, operations and management

Share: for rapid deployment of infrastructure, at any scale

Dynamic: respond to new business requests across the company and beyond

However, the new Enterprise Data Center isn’t based on a mainframe, Z10 or otherwise. It’s about a style of computing, how to build, migrate and exploit a modern data center. Power Systems has some unique functions in both the Share and Dynamic stages, like partition mobility, with lots more to come.

For some further insight into the new data center vision, take a look at the presentation linked off my On a Clear day post from December.

Redbooks on PowerVM and PowerVM Lx86

New Redbooks covering some of the key announcements from this week:

  1. PowerVM Virtualization on IBM System p Introduction and Configuration Fourth Edition – Draft(thanks to Monte and Scott for fixing up the title 🙂 ).
  2. PowerVM Virtualization on IBM System p Managing and Monitoring – currently a draft.
  3. Getting started with PowerVM Lx86
  4. i5/OS Program Conversion: Getting Ready for i5/OS V6R1 – draft

Update on Solaris and IBM Systems…

No, not Solaris on Power, but today my long time buddy and fellow IBM Distinguished Engineer, Jim Porell, is gushing about their demo of Solaris on System z(aka the mainframe). Still no word on middleware and application vendor support. Thats when it gets interesting until then it will be a another open source and development option.

Jims’ flow can be read here. My original comment and opinion on this, here.

SOA Entry – point by point

Colin Renouf from Lloyds TSB bank in London and one of the more active and vocal AIX Technical Collaboration Center members, just wrote me an email with a proposal for a joint work effort on patterns for SOA. It’s a great idea.

While we are fleshing that out, I thought I’d highlight the fact that Steve and Tommy, with Johns project management, have been solidly delivering on the System p configurations for SOA Entry points.

There are currently five papers and an overview in the series. You can find the launch page here. The papers are

Process:

IBM System p Planning & Configuration Guide for SOA Entry Point — Process
IBM System p Reference Architecture for SOA Entry Point — Process

People:

IBM System p Planning and Configuration Guide for SOA Entry Point — People
IBM System p Reference Architecture for SOA Entry Point — People

Reuse:
IBM System p Reference Architecture for SOA Entry Point – Reuse

Last weeks announcement recap, Power6 Blades and AIX

Thanks to the folks over at the “Power Architecture zone editors’ notebook” blog here is their summary of last weeks announcements.

Get yours today: Listen UNIX users — the newly available IBM BladeCenter JS22 with Power6 is what you’ve been waiting for. Couple the JS22’s Power6 processor technology with the built-in Advanced Power Virtualization and you’ve got a lot of Power concentrated in a compact container (which can also save you on space and energy costs). It comes loaded with two 4GHz dual-core processors, an optional hard drive, and an Ethernet controller; it supports as much as 32GB of memory; the first shipments are configured for the BladeCenter H and BladeCenter HT chassis. And its virtualization features make it really special (see following entry for more on this).

And what’s a new blade without a complementary OS: Targeted for Friday, November 9, 2007, the release of AIX 6 from the beta bin should provide users improved security management and virtualization features that take advantage of a hypervisor included in the Power6 processor so you can get 100 percent application up time. The Workload Partition Manager should let sysadmins create multiple partitions (each with customized memory settings for users and application workloads) and the Live Application Mobility feature can shift applications from one server to another on the fly (and they keep running while migrating). Then there’s the Security Expert which lets users control more than 300 security settings (role-based access to applications, user-based authentication, etc.). These OS utilities should work well with the Power6 Live Partition Mobility hypervisor which can move an entire OS (AIX, RHEL, and SLES) and its workloads from one server to another while they are running. (In fact, you can preview AIX 6 here if you can’t wait until Friday.)

Managing your career

No, not the verb, the noun.

One of my early posts in this blog was “A. Seven – Q. Ways to measure progress ?”, a response to an entry on Brian Peacocks internal blog. Thursday last week I had the pleasure of doing the pitch behind the post, to the world-wide IBM Assistant Technical Staff Member(ATSM) community. Although “corny“, one of the phrases that is a staple in the presentation is “Make sure change is something that happens for you, not to you”.

It stuck in my mind. When I got off a flight from the UK on Tuesday night, actually early Wednesday morning, I decided that I needed to live up to that mantra.

And so it was after some frantic last minute activities yesterday, I’m pleased to announce that today I signed form to become a full IBM US employee as of today. Nothing much else changes, I’m still leading the marketing requirements, scenarios and related work on Systems Management. I’m pulling together a number of important threads for the p7 based server, and I lead/own the Power Systems Appliance strategy work. But as of today I do that as a full IBM Corporation employee and will be resigning from IBM United Kingdom, and at least for the foreseable future, no more assignments. Colour me really excited.

Make sure change is something that happens for YOU, not to you.

[Update: I’ve uploaded the slides after a couple of requests, you can view them online or download from slideshare.net here. ]

IBM Ships 1,000th POWER6-Based System p UNIX Server

I’ve been busy trying to wrap-up on our fall plan development commitments for the Systems Management updates I was working on earlier in the year; and also starting a new appliance and virtual appliance project, more on that soon.

However, this came across in my email today, and I thought it was worth a quick post. We’ve shipped our 1,000th Power6 based System p server to a customer, Arrow Electronics.

You can read the full press release here. Coincidentally for me, Arrow is based just down Route 110, in Melville NY, from where I used to work at Chemical Bank in the 1980’s, the heyday of my virtualization efforts.

A trapped animal is always dangerous

I initially wrote the following a version of this as a comment to John Meyers blog entry over on sun.com – Somewhere between starting the comment on his blog and finishing it, comments were closed and it didn’t get accepted.

A number of people over the past few weeks having been egging me on to respond to John’s blog entries comparing SUN and POWER offerings. It’s great being an evangelist, being the ultimate believer in a product, technology, cleaning equipment or life saving gadget, you can’t fail, the world is your oyster, your vision is world domination and your business allows you to do it, better still, they encourage you. I’m certainly not going to do a line by line analysis and deconstruction of his writings, it’s just unproductive. He has an opinion, and he is entitled to it.

Over the next few weeks though I will post some thoughts on the general assertions. Here though, is the response I originally wrote to this blog post.

John, it’s been fun reading your POWER and virtualization analysis, you are obviously passionate about your position and the technology at SUN. SUN have clearly done a good job at filling some gaps in their product portfolio over the past few years, some in response to competitive pressure from IBM and others, and some as industry leadership.

There is no doubt that SUN have done some things that have meant IBM has had to respond. However, what you seem to have glossed over, in direct comparison to POWER Systems, rather than IBM Virtualization in general, is the real need for some of the features, and their real usability, rather than just the technical implementation. Hey, but thats life through “rose-tinted spectacles”. Oh yes, this isn’t “hubris”, I didn’t create logical partitioning, but I did contribute to it as well as a number of other important virtualization technologies.

Matais, I assume you mean CTSS which was developed at MIT to run on an IBM 709 computer between 1959-1961.

One of the programmers on that project, Bob Creasey, went on to become the project lead for CP40 the first ever IBM Virtualization implementation. CTSS was really more of a time sharing system, rather than “virtualization.”

Gene Amdahl, then Chief Architect for the S/360 product line at IBM, visited MIT a number of times and had meetings with the Professor and the CTSS team with a view to making enhancements to the hardware architecture. It is reported that they didn’t see eye-to-eye over a number of things.

There is a written history and more of this than you’d ever want to know at: http://www.princeton.edu/~melinda/25paper.pdf

The concept of “domains” and logical partitions isn’t included in the above. It would not be correct though to state that Amdahl created LPARS. He actually lead a company that created a firmware/hardware implementation of multiple domains. IBM’s implementation of logical partitions differed significantly although used a similar basic premiss. Further discussion with revisions, corrections and updates probably belongs elsewhere, where it can be maintained, and not a reply to a blog post where it cannot.

There are number of companion documents that show the roll of other important users and customers which helped IBM improve its’ virtualization offerings.

Regards.

For the record I also wrote comments on the Solaris/Linux/AIX conspiracy theory here


About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I am a Fellow of the British Computer Society (bsc.org) I'm an information technology optimist.


I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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