IBM’s DS8880: Sharpening the Focus on Mainframe Storage Needs

It’s been an odd half decade or so for the data storage industry. Despite the central roles that storage plays in IT products of every sort, storage vendors have been under pressure as traditional markets and opportunities continue to erode. Why so? For two reasons. First, because of the ongoing commoditization of storage components and hardware. Second, cloud players are using what are essentially loss-leading storage services to lure consumers and businesses, alike. What are storage vendors to do in such circumstances? There’s no single or simple fix, but one approach is to willingly embrace leading edge storage technologies, like NAND-based flash drives. Another involves closely tracking and developing solutions that address clients’ core business needs. IBM’s new DS8880 all-flash storage family highlights how the company is pursuing both these paths to its customers’ and its own benefit. To read the complete article, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT...

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The Mainframe Is Dead, Dying… or DT/DevOps-ing?
Jan19

The Mainframe Is Dead, Dying… or DT/DevOps-ing?

For decades pundits and competitors have been writing off the mainframe, AKA Big Iron, and while its market share has been eroded by newer platforms — as befits an industry where ‘what have you done for me lately’ is right up there with ‘Moore’s Law’ as Revealed Truth — it’s still alive and kicking: 55% of enterprise apps need the mainframe; 70% of enterprise transactions touch a mainframe; and, 70-80% of the world’s corporate data resides on a mainframe. However at least some are arguing that despite its age — now in its ‘50s — the venerable platform that IBM powered to success is finding new life with a couple of the current industry darlings, Digital Transformation and DevOps. First, some industry factoids: the latest quarterly server data (3Q16) showed a drop in shipments (-2.6%) and revenues (-5.8%) year over year, with IBM plummeting -33% (to $889 million). However the datacenter systems market is expected to grow 2.6% this year, to $176 billion, which should benefit mainframe sales. According to many, the future does look brighter for the mainframe. When not pointing out HPE’s perceived faults, analyst Rob Enderle (and former IBMer) has covered Big Blue extensively and recently (October) noted that developments like cloud, analytics, Linux and Blockchain are offering new optimism for the embattled platform. ‘Suddenly, mainframes are not only not obsolete, they are cutting edge, go figure. Yep the mainframe is back, with a vengeance.’ Reporting on IBM’s annual year-end recap for the Systems group, analyst Joe Clabby, Clabby Analytics, noted that the mainframe’s future is positive. Big Blue was emphasizing Blockchain and HSBN (the company’s “high security business network”). ‘Blockchain serves as the basis for creating a new way to perform transaction processing, one that features a secure “open ledger” that is shared amongst all concerned parties during the transaction. This new approach streamlines transaction and business processes and enables significantly greater security that traditional approaches.’ IBM claims that it is making solid headway with this offering in the securities, trade, finance, syndicated loans, supply chain, retail banking, public records and digital property management industries. ‘For over 20 years, ever since industry pundits in the mid-1990s forecast the demise of the IBM mainframe, Clabby Analytics has taken the position that there is no other architecture better suited for processing secure transactions (and now in-transaction analytics workloads) than IBM’s z System. ‘Given this position, we see IBM’s new LinuxONE mainframe servers as ideally positioned to support a projected major market move toward Hyperledger and Blockchain transaction processing over the coming years. This movement should greatly escalate the sale of mainframe servers. Long live the mainframe!’ Released...

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CA: Shift Left Up The Value Stream
Dec01

CA: Shift Left Up The Value Stream

“If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up this morning as a software and analytics company.” GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt In the late 1980s an analyst said IBM faced two bad choices: it could shoot itself in the foot, make drastic and expensive changes to survive, or it could wait until the market shot it in the head, at which point survival was unlikely. Almost 30 years later, CA Technologies has been grappling with the same dilemma: make drastic and painful changes or hope to survive when the market makes those changes for it. Originally focused exclusively on the mainframe market when it opened its doors in 1976, the company has set its sights on the Digital Transformation segment in general, and the Application Economy in specific. At November’s annual customer and partner event, CA World 2016, it highlighted its new motto — Built To Change — which pretty much says it all about the opportunity/challenge before it (and the rest of us), a world of constant change where the optimal application of speed and agility to new and emerging business opportunities is becoming the norm. While mainframes aren’t disappearing any time soon, they’ve long been replaced by other platforms as the ‘compute’ growth engines, so CA’s focus has had to change with the market. The company’s other core competence, software development, has also been under increasing pressure as the world moves to DevOps and the demand for cheap, fast and secure application development that addresses everything from mainframe to mobile, sensors (IoT) to the cloud. So CA has been remaking itself over the last few years and the new and improved software giant showcased a variety of new and improved offerings last week, including new DevOps capabilities with intelligent analytics and integrations for cloud services and virtual networks, and predictive analytics capabilities with machine learning for the mainframe. The company also reinforced its ‘shift left’ messaging, a term originally applied to moving testing to the left on a timeline, i.e. earlier, in the software development cycle. However, CA is using the term in a broader context. Customer expectations are never met, said CEO Mike Gregoire, they always want more. “We call that shift left.” The new digital world is all about “creative disruption and destruction”, said CA’s Ayman Sayed, President and Chief Product Officer, at last week’s event. The world as we know it is changing: “traditional business models are threatened, fading or obsolete,” and the company’s mission is to help customers win digital transformation, “breaking the barriers between ideas and outcomes.” A big part of the company’s...

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CA Embraces ‘Built To Change’ Paradigm
Nov17

CA Embraces ‘Built To Change’ Paradigm

LAS VEGAS: CA World 2016, November 14-18, is focused — not surprisingly — on the Application Economy, and the role it is playing in the unfolding digital transformation sweeping the world. As CA Technologies notes, we all want ‘great apps’ and it is in the business of helping companies create them across mobile, private and public cloud, distributed and mainframe environments, and has been doing so since it started life as Computer Associates back in 1976. With annual revenues around $4 billion, it has not been a vendor who dominates the industry, although it does lead in a number of areas like DevOps, identity management, APIs and their security. For its most recent quarter (2QFY17) the company exceeded expectations with revenues of $1.018 billion and income from continuing operations of $212 million. However, it’s new theme (they call it a paradigm), Built To Change, best captures everything that has come to be called digitalization, digital transformation and Industry 4.0. It’s not a new or unique view of the current environment — the concept has been around since at least 2006 — but it represents what going digital means to the world, its customers and prospects, and CA itself better than anything else I’ve seen (IMHO). Creating a business model that is built to last is “out of step with the new digital reality” said CA CEO Mike Grgoire in his opening keynote on Wednesday. He said the idea of sustainable competitive advantage has given way to the more contemporary concept of business agility: the ability to automatically sense, react and adapt quickly to shifting market dynamics. According to CA, ‘Built to Change companies understand that current structures and ecosystems are vulnerable to better ideas. From how they manage talent, to how they avoid being tied to fixed assets, to how they take risks, Built To Change companies focus on business agility, which in turn enables them to drive rapid, continuous improvement in customer experience.’ Perhaps to reinforce the importance of change — and its breakneck pace — Gregoire included a large helping of ‘the right stuff’ in his keynote. His opening presentation was followed by a panel session with astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, aerospace legend Burt Rutan, and rocket scientist Natalie Panek. The company announced a number of new and improved products at the conference, spread across its Agile, DevOps, Security and Mainframe portfolios. “Think of these as core capabilities you will need to move your organization into the future,” said Gregoire. The announcements included: -a new identity-as-a-service solution, to address identity and access management (IAM) needs for both on-premises and cloud-based applications; -new DevOps capabilities with intelligent analytics...

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BMC: Mainframes Aren’t Going Away

Even while rumors continue to circulate that IBM is trying to unload its z Systems business, evidence continues to emerge supporting the ongoing — if not growing — need for the mainframe. Key findings from the 2016 BMC Mainframe Research Report indicate that mainframes are helping drive Digital Transformation, with ‘superior reliability, performance, and security’ cited as key factors influencing mainframe investments. “With 89% of survey respondents ( more than 1,200 executives and technical professionals) projecting continued strong support for the mainframe, it is clear that companies view the mainframe as a long-term platform,” said Bill Miller, president of ZSolutions Optimization at BMC, in a prepared statement. It is also clear that the company has a vested interest — and 25% of their annual revenues — tied up in mainframes, but as BMC’s John McKenny, VP Marketing and Customer Support of ZSolutions, told IT Trends & Analysis, the research data, including the information they keep private, provides a better understanding of what the different customer segments are doing, and looking for. The respondents fall into three categories: -58% are in the increasing group and looking to grow their investment and use of the mainframe; -23% indicate they will keep a steady amount of work on the mainframe; and, -19% plan to reduce the usage of the platform. For the third segment, reducing cost was the number one concern, said McKenny. They are “not going to get off in the next few months… or years… and we have developed solutions that can help with cost,” he added. One of the interesting findings with the ‘increasing group’  was that automation and analytics had risen to the fourth priority. “From a tactical perspective, we use a lot of this information… we have a lot more that we don’t share publicly… to help us be laser-focused with customers”. Server shipments — including mainframes — increased 2% year-over-year in the second quarter, but revenue dipped 0.8%. IBM, which held down third place, was way behind front-runners Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and turned in the worst performance, with 9.1% ($1.2 billion) of the market, down -34.4%. Apparently the z Series was the biggest culprit, with a -40% YoY decline, while the Power-based servers fell a mere -24%. One reason Big Blue may be waffling over selling the business is the profits it makes: with a gross margin of 56.5%, it’s second only to IBM’s Cognitive Solutions segment. Another reason is the upcoming release of the Power9 CPU, which is due out next year and is reported will be competitive with Intel Xeon Servers, something the current generation can’t provide. According to IBM, mainframes...

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