Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Code, anyone?

Here's a new website (Krugle.com, pronounced Kroo-gull, as their site helpfully informs) focused on helping coders find what else? Code! Basically, you type in a search string, select a programming language and then let the engine go to work. Using Java? No problem. Using Pascal? No problem! It may not be all mainframes all the time here at Mainframe Weekly, but I defy you to not find something cool and useful about this site. 'til next time, -colin

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mainframe information

Trevor Eddolls So where do you get information about mainframes from? Well, obviously, there’s IBM, and there’s third-party vendors of hardware and software like CA, BMC, and lots of others. But where do you go if you want unbiased information? Well you could join a user group, but you’d have to wait for the next meeting. Or you could search on Google – or another search engine – but you never really know how reliable the information is. Sometimes pages have sat there unchanged since 1998 – and the world of computing has moved on a bit since then!! One option is to download The Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2006. It’s a fairly large PDF file (5.8MB – maybe these days not such a giant file) and is available from http://www.arcati.com/yearbook.html. It is also possible to order a printed copy. The Yearbook describes itself as an independent annual guide for users of IBM mainframe systems, and is 124 pages in size. The Yearbook contains some well-written articles and lists of information. For example there are articles entitled, “Software compliance and the mainframe”, “Consolidation and integration in the zSeries environment”, “Event-driven automation: why real-time matters”, “The mainframe market: zIIP and the ‘baby’ z9”, “Linux and z/OS, side by side on Itanium 2”, “Optimizing DB2: get the distribution straight”, “The next generation of Adabas and Natural”, “Taking advantage of the second-user alternative”, and “The main idea: monitor mainframes too”. There are also some interesting quotes about mainframes including this one from a user: “The current IT budget is roughly 5 times what it was five years ago, only a small fraction of which is spent on the bread and butter mainframe system doing almost all the work”. The Yearbook contains the results from a survey of 92 mainframe users, and analyses their profiles, plans, and priorities. A large part of the Yearbook is taken up with a Vendor directory, a media guide for IBM mainframers, a glossary of terminology, and hardware tables. There’s also a timeline showing hardware and software development. I’m told that there will be a 2007 version of the Yearbook very early next year. I just thought I’d draw your attention to the Arcati Yearbook because it is full of useful and reliable information, you can get hold of it straight away, and it’s available at a price you can afford (ie free!).

Monday, September 18, 2006

DB2 9 – some interesting features

Trevor Eddolls The recently announced DB2 9 – don’t call it Version 9 or you won’t sound like you know what you’re talking about – has some excellent new features and I’d like to highlight some of them in this blog. DB2 9 is meant to improve on Version 8 in areas such as performance, scalability, and security – although you would expect any vendor to promise their new software does these three things. The big deal is XML and accessing data, which I blogged about at the end of July. In this blog I want to talk about some of the other features. First off, let’s be clear, DB2 9 runs on Linux, Unix, Windows, (LUW) and z/OS. So here are some of the things that make DB2 9 stand out – and which you might not have noticed in the original announcement letter. There are new methods for copying and moving schemas and changing the ownership of a table. For example, to copy a single schema within a database, use the SYSPROC.ADMIN_COPY_SCHEMA procedure. To copy multiple schemas within a database, use the SYSPROC.ADMIN_COPY_SCHEMA procedure multiple times. To copy/move a single or many schemas from one database to another, use the db2move utility with the -co option. There is a new option with the CREATE DATABASE command that allows users NOT to automatically grant the select privilege on certain objects to public. This can be done using the RESTRICTIVE parameter. For example: >db2 create db testdb restrictive Using the new RESTRICTIVE parameter should make a database more secure and remove the need to issue the revoke from PUBLIC commands. DB2 9 for LUW provides a set of administrative views that can be used in conjunction with the table functions (from V8). While not replacing these table functions, they can offer an easier way of accessing the underlying information. There are 59 administrative views – for some users have to be connected to a specific database and others they don’t. DB2 9 for LUW has 227 registry variables. (Note: DB2 V9 FP10 had 216). There are 14 new registry variables and three have gone – DB2_STATVIEW, DB2_USE_LATCH_TRACKING, and DB2SYSPLEX_SERVER. The introduction of the table function to display the registry variables has made it easier to keep track of these values. DB2 V8 let users drop a column using the ALTOBJ procedure. DB2 9 provides the ALTER TABLE command. Users can continues using ALTOBJ, but should code ALTER TABLE on all new commands. For db2pd there are three new parameters: -pages, -memblocks, and -fmp (that makes 25 in total). -pages displays the pages in the buffer pools; -memblocks displays information about the memory pools; and -fmp displays information about a process in which fenced routines are executed. There is also a new command, db2pdcfg, which is used with the -catch parameter that allows users to issue other commands from a batch file once an event has occurred, for example a timeout. There we are – just a smattering of what IBM has put into DB2 9. My particular thanks to C Leonard for drawing my attention to them. BTW: anyone wishing to contact me directly can get me on TrevorE@xephon.com.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's a Small World (for Mainframe Bloggers)- part deux

Thanks to James Governor over at http://mainframe.typepad.com/blog/ for mentioning us today. It's a small, small world...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Putting it all together…

For the past three blogs I’ve been talking about AJAX and Web 2.0 and that whole end user experience, but at heart I’m a true mainframer. I remember the days of water cooling and machine rooms with false floors and miles of cabling hidden beneath it. So, this week, I’d like to try to tie up the two ends – as it were. I’d like to talk about an interesting product I came across from a company called Illustro – you can find them at www.illustro.com. Back in April, Illustro announced support for AJAX Web services for mainframes. They claim they’re the first company to deliver AJAX Web capabilities for mainframe legacy integration and I couldn’t find anyone else making the same claim – but if you know of another product then do let me know. Illustro – which sounds to me like a villain from a 1960s Batman adventure – has a family of products called z/Ware, and the interesting ones are z/Web-Host and z/XML-Host. z/Web-Host is designed to transform a 3270 application into a Web-based interface. This can be done without altering the original application. z/XML-Host automatically converts mainframe data to XML documents, which can be accessed through Web services using SOAP. So, effectively, the data and business-critical logic become available to any application on any platform. The company claims that you could use Excel to view and update information directly from a mainframe data file. It’s worth noting that these two products run on the mainframe, so there’s no need for additional servers or anything else. Now, to be honest, I haven’t tried these products. But the concept behind them seemed worth investigating further, and I thought I’d pass on the information to you. I would be interested to hear from companies offering similar or better products.

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's a Small World (for Mainframe Bloggers)

While perusing the web as I am wont to do from time to time, I came across an archived posting on James Governor's MonkChips blog where he posed the question, "Where are all the mainframe bloggers?". And as with last weeks posting, a simple, "42" will not suffice. Mr. Governor then proceeds to provide links to relevant mainframe blogs that he has unearthed on the web-- mainframeweekly.com wasn't around at the time, of course-- including, Peter Armstrong of BMC, Jamie Cardoso of JRoller and also, the blog at IT In-Depth. I feel that the very regularly-updated, MonkChips deserves another mention for long carrying the torch for mainframe bloggers everywhere... where ever they are-- ahem, apologies for being so late to the party. So please, visit the blogs I've mentioned above and the many more mentioned in James Governor's article. Stop in, have a cup of tea and tell 'em we sent ya. -colin

Monday, September 04, 2006

Life, the universe, and everything

When Douglas Adams had his characters in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ask the ultimate question about life, the universe and everything, they got the answer 42! In my last two blogs I’ve been talking about AJAX and Web 2.0 and the exciting stuff that’s happening out there. But recently Google seems to have come up with the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Well, maybe not quite, but it does seem to be the most interesting company to follow at the moment. What am I talking about? Well I mentioned previously that Google was using AJAX in its Google Earth project (earth.google.com) and that it was considered right up there with companies that were Web 2.0 adopters. More recently Google CEO Eric Schmidt has joined the board of directors at Apple. Is this because a) Apple need all the help it can get, b) Google hates Microsoft so much it wants to cement links with suppliers of alternative platforms, or c) Apple want you to be able to download iTunes from the Google toolbar? Or is it a combination of all three? More excitingly, Google has announced Google Apps, which will develop into a real alternative to Microsoft Office. I run Widgets on my laptop – so I can see my wireless signal strength, I can see a calendar, I get a BBC newsfeed, and I get the weather. I also have the drumkit widget, which I think is very clever, and sometimes, for no good reason at all, I have a dalek wander round my screen. But widgets are owned by Yahoo – another would-be rival to Google. Google (which offers its own widget-like Web apps) is going for something much more useful. It plans to offer for free (although paid for through advertising) e-mail, calendar, and instant messaging, plus Web site creating software. But this is only the first step. Next Google will make available word processing and spreadsheet software. Word processing will be based on Writely, which Google acquired a little while ago. The spreadsheet will most likely be called Google Spreadsheets (how do they come up with these names!). The clever plan behind this is remarkably simple. Everyone, or so it seems has Word and Excel on their computer so who needs another similar application? But, everyone seems to have a different version of Word, etc, and, even though Microsoft now employ Ray Ozzie – the man behind Notes and Domino – they are not so good at sharing files so that different people can work on them. This is where the Google strategy scores heavily. Not only does every user work with the latest version of the software, they can easily e-mail and edit shared files. The other thing that will happen is that these files will be stored on Google’s disks. This makes them easier to share and, kind of, makes Google indispensable. Google already operates a photo storing facility with its Picasa software. Will Microsoft take this lying down? Of course not – they already have plans for their Live brand. And they’ll be making other plans already. It’s just Google is being dynamic at the moment with agreements with other companies (like Sun and Dell – and even BA, www.ba.com, is using Google Earth in a mash-up), and it has leading-edge software that people want to use and can use fairly easily (although Google Earth V4 still won’t run on my laptops!!). So maybe not the answer to life, the universe, and everything, but certainly very interesting and useful all the same.