Mainframe Solutions

FICON CUP and Advanced Diagnostics

by Dr.Steve.Guendert on ‎07-18-2016 01:36 PM (1,140 Views)

As z Systems environments have grown, and configurations have become more complex, FICON fabric issues can result in unacceptable I/O service times.  Various RMF/SMF records may show several abnormalities, but it typically has been very problematic to identify a single root cause for the issue(s), especially if the issue is in the FICON SAN fabric.  FICON CUP Diagnostics helps solve this challenge.


IBM TS7700 Grid Networks and IP Extension (IPEX)

by Dr.Steve.Guendert on ‎03-30-2016 01:38 PM (23,102 Views)

The IBM TS7700 Grid solution is a key component to z Systems disaster recovery and business continuity implementations. The TS7700 Grid solution offers the end user a highly available, resilient mechanism for improving RPO/RTO.  The Brocade 7840 Extension Switch, in combination with Brocade’s Fabric Vision suite of tools offers an innovative, unique IP Extension solution for TS7700 Grid implementations.  This Brocade solution improves the TS7700 grid replication performance, data availability, and security while providing a suite of management features that make management of the TS7700 grid network a more proactive, simplified process.



It’s now mid-March, and with that comes the annual NCAA American college basketball tournaments for men and women, AKA “March Madness”. To be perfectly honest with you, I really don’t care about March Madness. I’m a hockey guy, and this time of year, with the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs (my favorite time of year) just around the corner, I have hat tricks on the mind. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a hat trick is when a player scores three goals in a game. The combination of z13s, DS8884, and IBM SAN48B-5 is 3 scores for the end user who implements them together: in other words, the z13S-DS8884-SAN 48B-5 is a “mid-range” hat trick.


The Challenges of Supporting Multiple OEM Partners

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎03-08-2016 07:32 AM - edited ‎03-08-2016 10:40 AM (1,112 Views)

You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”-Abraham Lincoln


Brocade Gen 5 FICON SAN, EMC VMAX Mainframe Storage and IBM z13: A Winning Trio

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎02-28-2016 02:36 PM - edited ‎02-29-2016 03:09 PM (1,516 Views)

Enterprises running on IBM z13 demand the highest levels of performance, scalability, and availability, particularly for their data storage subsystems. Today, longtime Brocade OEM partner EMC announced several major innovations with the EMC VMAX and EMC Disk Library for mainframe (DLm) that revolutionize mainframe environments.  These innovations from EMC, combined with EMC Connectrix B-series Gen 5 FICON SAN platforms can provide IBM z13 end users with extremely high performance, low latency, and “6 9’s” levels of reliability for their mission critical workloads.


Brocade and SHARE Antonio 2016

by Dr.Steve.Guendert on ‎02-26-2016 12:51 PM (1,409 Views)

Next week in San Antonio will mark the first SHARE Conference of 2016 and the 126th SHARE Conference since its 1955 inception. SHARE San Antonio runs February 28 through March 4th at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.


New Brocade IP Extension technology enhances virtual tape IP replication and enhances virtual tape solutions.


PREVIEW: SHARE Orlando 2015 and Brocade

by Dr.Steve.Guendert on ‎08-06-2015 12:00 PM (3,297 Views)

SHARE Inc. is a volunteer-run user group for IBM mainframe computers that was founded in 1955 by Los Angeles-area IBM 701 users. It evolved into a forum for exchanging technical information about programming languages, operating systems, database systems, and user experiences for enterprise users of IBM computers.


At next week’s 125th SHARE Conference in Orlando there promises to be a lot of great educational content delivered and here are a few of the topics I am specifically looking forward to discussing:


Day 2 – A mainframe guy at EMC World 2015

by Dave Lytle on ‎05-06-2015 09:00 AM (1,243 Views)

Day 2 of EMC World 2015 kept pace with the energy and activity that began on day 1. Every session seems to be well attended and in some cases overflowing. Lots of knowledge transfer occurring both in the formal sessions and in all of the many vendor booths at the Expo – especially the Brocade booth.


Day 1 - A Mainframe Guy at EMC World 2015

by Dave Lytle ‎05-05-2015 10:08 AM - edited ‎05-05-2015 10:15 AM (1,266 Views)

Brocade is a Diamond sponsor for EMC's largest customer event of the year. As a mainframe subject matter expert I was chosen to attend this industry gathering to gain greater insight to EMC solutions as well as to participate one-on-one with other attendees at the Brocade pavilion. This is a great event and I will be chronicaling each of my days of attendance.


EMC World 2015: Brocade, EMC and Mainframe

by Dr.Steve.Guendert on ‎05-01-2015 08:16 AM (2,059 Views)

Brocade and EMC have a great history of working together to provide world class FICON attached storage solutions to IBM z Systems end users all over the globe. While that history is important, the future looks even brighter! I will be delivering a presentation as part of the mainframe track at EMC World 2015 and wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the things I will be discussing in the presentation.


Brocade GEN5 Forward Error Correction (FEC) technology is now available for FICON Express 16S channel connected F_ports, in addition to E_ports.


FICON Express16S Arrives with IBM z Systems z13

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎02-09-2015 01:23 PM - edited ‎02-17-2015 12:47 PM (3,771 Views)

16 Gbps FICON channels have arrived!


The Holy Grail of Extension for IBM System z: Introducing the IBM System Storage SAN42B-R

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎12-01-2014 02:34 PM - edited ‎12-02-2014 06:50 AM (2,816 Views)

The IBM System Storage SAN42B-R (aka Brocade 7840 Extension Switch) is a true game changer for business continuity in IBM System z environments. It is a quantum leap forward over all existing extension products in the market today in terms of performance, advanced features, management, scalability, and availability.


Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) continues to be a primary challenge and top of mind concern for most IT organizations running their businesses on IBM System z. The Brocade 7840 Extension Switch offers an ideal, high availability, high performance extension solution platform for IBM System z.


Cascaded FICON, available since the introduction of 2Gbps switch technology, allows mainframe enterprises tremendous flexibility and the potential for fabric cost savings in their FICON architectures. It is extremely important for business continuity and disaster recovery implementations. But if a customer is to take full advantage of the capabilities of a cascaded FICON fabric they must pay attention to the performance aspects of those deployed fabrics. This article will explore a few of the features of FICON switching devices and fabrics that affect the performance of FICON I/O.


The Need For an End to End Connectivity Architecture Team

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎09-05-2014 02:42 PM - edited ‎09-05-2014 03:01 PM (2,785 Views)

System z enterprises span multiple data centers, often times over multiple countries.  How do you handle the technical and political issues of end to end network architecture?


To the mainframe, I/O is arguably just as important as the computing done by the host on behalf of its applications. While a mainframe processor complex may be capable of running thousands of applications simultaneously across as many as 60 logical partitions (LPARs), each System z (or zEnterprise) has only 256 channels (paths) that it can supply to any given LPAR… so channel addresses are a precious commodity. Making the best use of all of a system’s I/O resources is imperative if the full value of your host and storage assets is to be achieved. Suggested in this article are five tips for making better use, and driving more value, out of your I/O subsystem.


Proactive vs. Reactive Management of your Storage Networks

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎07-15-2014 01:04 PM - edited ‎07-15-2014 01:06 PM (3,860 Views)

I work for a networking company, and have worked with storage networks for nearly 15 years.  I will be the first to admit that at least in the realm of storage network management, management software has historically been far more reactive in nature.  Recently there have been some significant efforts made to change this at Brocade, based in large part on feedback received from end users.


Cut-through the complexity of Storage Networking Management!


Complexity in the data center not only complicates your day-to-day tasks it also exacerbates the problem of maintaining high availability, impairs your ability to provide acceptable performance and efficiency, often increases your overall data center costs and too often inhibits your ability to scale and grow to meet internal demands.


Expensive, home grown expertise is often utilized in data centers to coax as much benefit and value as possible, using a maze of tools and techniques, from your growing FC fabrics and I/O interconnects. However the value actually achieved from these efforts is always variable depending upon each SAN administrator’s capabilities. And troubleshooting actual problems that occur within a SAN infrastructure can be very frustrating and time consuming.


Brocade has been delivering a Gen5 switch portfolio solution that has evolved and now offers you a smarter and more consistent answer for managing all of your storage networking fabrics. Brocade Network Advisor contains several new Fabric Vision technologies that will cut through SAN management complexity while improving your level of confidence and satisfaction in your Brocade I/O infrastructure. Monitoring and Alerting Policy Suite (MAPS) along with Flow Vision, two of those Fabric Vision technologies, deploys breakthrough capabilities that dramatically simplify open systems and mainframe SAN administration, improves the availability and performance of fibre channel SANs, reduces operational costs and can be deployed in a matter of just a few minutes.


So, the truth is, the old mainframe way of doing things that I grew up with back in the 1960’s and 1970’s is gone. The mainframe back then was a monolithic approach to computing. Within a few decades it became a dinosaur – a large and efficient dinosaur – but a dinosaur nonetheless. It became slow moving in a faster and faster paced world. Users wanted, and needed, new applications and application updates at a rapid pace while the mainframe programming staffs seemed to move at glacial speed. As a direct result of this disconnect between expanding user’s needs and the inability of the centralized computer system to respond appropriately, the users looked for new ways to fulfill their needs. And off they went to decentralized processing and direct control of their computing resources. Over time, the terminal result was that computer platform competition was reducing the mainframe’s feeding ground to the point that by the latter part of the twentieth century it was headed for extinction. But then, rather than succumbing to obsolescence it reinvented itself and evolved into the magnificent machine that it has become today. In the end the twentieth century “computer wars” made the mainframe supremely powerful, more agile and incredibly more capable. Let's see why.


The mainframe blogs that I have written in the past have typically been about technology and how our customers can better use their FICON capabilities. But on this occasion I am going to provide a more personal blog about my own 45 year journey through this historical era of the Mainframe and what being a Mainframe Practitioner has meant to me. The reason that you might want to read about this journey is that you will discover that I had to reinvent myself a number of times during all of these years. I made changes to my career in order to continue to challenge myself professionally and to continue to provide value to my employers. Change is not bad. It is usually uncomfortable being taken out of one’s comfort zone but the end result is a better, more talented and valuable you. If you can embrace change, as I have, then your experiences in computer technology and, in particular, the mainframe world, will be absolutely amazing. Also in this reading, for those of you with some decades of experience, you’ll relate to the way things were at various times in our industry – it is kind of fun to remember it all.


Happy 50th Anniversary IBM System Z!

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎04-05-2014 07:49 PM - edited ‎04-07-2014 08:38 AM (5,536 Views)

April 7 is a momentous occasion in the history of computing.  It marks the 50th anniversary of IBM's announcement of the System/360 and 50 years of IBM mainframe computing.  Brocade has been right there in partnership with IBM for over 25 of those fifty years, introducing innovations in I/O and storage networking that have helped change the world.




Top 5 Reasons Why Brocade Should Be Your FICON Partner of Choice.

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎03-17-2014 07:46 AM - edited ‎03-18-2014 12:55 PM (5,725 Views)

The 30 largest banks in the world run their mission critical mainframe business workloads on a Brocade FICON SAN infrastructure. Why does the world's financial system run on Brocade FICON SANs?  


SHARE Anaheim 2014 and Brocade

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎03-07-2014 07:01 AM - edited ‎03-07-2014 07:09 AM (4,446 Views)

Brocade continues its long relationship and history of participation in SHARE



Fabric OS Firmware: The Intelligence Behind Switched FC Fabrics

by Dave Lytle ‎12-06-2013 02:27 PM - edited ‎12-06-2013 02:40 PM (7,498 Views)

When working in any industry, there are many technical names, terms and acronyms that are used constantly.  For those of us in IT one of those familiar terms is “firmware”.  Like most professional organizations, I have found that when firmware is being discussed it is about “what it does” rather than “what it is”.  We often take for granted that, since firmware just seems to be part of today’s intelligent devices, everyone knows exactly what it is.  However, I suspect that is not always the case so read on to find out more about “what it is” in regards to switched Fibre Channel protocols.


FICON Dynamic Channel Path Management (DCM) 2013

by Dr.Steve.Guendert on ‎10-22-2013 03:03 AM (2,570 Views)

My last blog posting discussed the 23 July 2013 set of IBM System z announcements, and how those announcements encourage channel consolidation by IBM System z customers.   One of the items I briefly covered was Dynamic Channel  Path Management (DCM) for FICON.  This blog post will discuss DCM in more detail, and make the case why you should seriously consider implementing DCM.


DCM support for native FICON channels was originally introduced in z/OS V1.11 with support for a single, intermediate FICON switching device between the FICON channel and storage control units.  The recent IBM z/OS V 2.1 announcement significantly enhanced DCM for FICON.  In z/OS V2.1, DCM was enhanced to support FICON channel path connections through two intermediate FICON switching devices, i.e. with z/OS V 2.1, DCM for FICON now supports cascaded FICON configurations.


This really is an important step in the evolution of System z I/O architectures.  With DCM for FICON now supporting cascaded configurations, it will be much easier to use a smaller number of channels (channel consolidation) and optical fiber connections for FICON I/O, particularly for multi-site installations that rely on cascaded FICON.  Remember, z/OS V2.1 also introduced support for up to 24K subchannels per FICON channel...


On 23 July IBM made a series of hardwareoperating system and software announcements for the zEnterprise platforms.  IBM also announced the eagerly awaited new business class zEnterprise with the zBC12 announcement.  There were several parts of each announcement that pertained to I/O and channel technology. One common denominator of each of these parts was that they 1) encourage a movement towards consolidation of channels on the host, and 2) encourage avoiding direct attached FICON channels and adopting switched FICON architectures.


The first channel subsystem enhancement IBM announced was very big news: IBM announced increased addressing with up to 24k subchannels per channel (port) for the FICON Express features.  To help facilitate growth as well as continuing to enable server consolidation, IBM now supports up to 24k subchannels per FICON Express channel (channel path identifier - CHPID). End users will now be able to define more devices per FICON channel, which includes primary, secondary, and alias devices. The maximum number of subchannels across all device types addressable within an LPAR remains at 63.75k for subchannel set 0 and 64k-1 for subchannel sets 1 and higher. This support is exclusive to the zEC12 and the zBC12 and applies to the FICON Express8S, FICON Express8, and FICON Express4 features when defined as CHPID type FC. This is supported by z/OS , z/VM , and Linux on System z...


Out of (South) Africa

by Dr.Steve.Guendert on ‎07-12-2013 06:01 AM - last edited on ‎10-28-2013 09:05 PM by bcm1 (1,534 Views)

I recently returned from a week long business trip to South Africa.  I typically go to South Africa every 12-15 months to meet with our OEM partners, and our FICON/mainframe customers.  Brocade has a great two man team in South Africa with Nick Pateman and Carlos Isidro.  On this most recent trip I met with several FICON customers as well as IBM, HDS, and EMC.  Our meetings consisted of a general Brocade FICON update: how our new technology enhancements with FOS 7.0 and 7.1 work, a product roadmap discussion, and usually some more technical Q&A.  I will be going back in late November to teach our FICON architect certification course.


One of the things I have noticed since my first trip to South Africa in early 2008 is the growth in the IT industry.  The three OEM partners I work with most often (IBM, HDS, EMC) are all experiencing tremendous growth in their business.  The same is true for Brocade.  This growth from our OEMs is not just in South Africa-it is in the entire African continent.  They already have, or are opening offices and facilities in Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Senegal, and Cameroon.  IBM is even apparently opening a mainframe skills center in Johannesburg to cover the continent and train new mainframers.  Africa is the next great growth market for the IT industry, and with that it is the next great growth market for mainframes, mainframe attached storage, and SAN.  It could even be thought of as the last frontier of IT.  And the growth is being driven from South Africa.


Here are some interesting facts:


According to the Harvard Business Review:

1) Over the past decade, Africa’s real GDP grew by 4.7% a year, on average—twice the pace of its growth in the 1980s and 1990s.

2) By 2009, Africa’s collective GDP of $1.6 trillion was roughly equal to Brazil’s or Russia’s.

3) Telecom companies in Africa have added 316 million subscribers—more than the entire U.S. population—since 2000.

4) According to UN data, Africa offers a higher return on investment than any other emerging market.


How important is Africa to IBM?  According to an article in the February 16, 2013 issue of The Economist

1) Since mid-2011 it has set up shop in Angola, Mauritius and Tanzania, as well as Senegal.

2) IBM now boasts a presence in more than 20 of Africa’s 54 countries.

3) Last August IBM opened a research lab in Nairobi, one of only 12 in the world.

4) And between February 5th and 7th 2013, Ginni Rometty, IBM chief executive, and all who report directly to her met dozens of African customers, actual and prospective, in Johannesburg and the Kenyan capital. It was, Mrs Rometty said, the first time the whole top brass had assembled outside New York since she became the boss just over a year ago.


According to a February 21, 2013 Bloomberg Business Week article titled For IBM, Africa Is Risky and Rife With Opportunity":


"IBM’s global revenue dipped 2.3 percent, to $104.5 billion, in 2012, about the same level it was in 2008. Of that, sales out of Africa kicked in about $400 million and are forecast to more than double and surpass $1 billion in 2015...... That’s faster growth than IBM saw in India, where it started a push in 1992 and surpassed $1 billion in revenue in 2007, the person said."


Here is a slide from a recent IBM Investor Briefing:





Over the past three years, IBM has new mainframe customers in Senegal, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Namibia.  Financial institutions in Africa are rapidly realizing what the rest of the world has known since April 1964: the mainframe is the best platform to run mission critical business applications. 


Africa truly is the next great frontier for IBM mainframes, as well as mainframe storage and its connectivity. And, it's being driven out of South Africa.  Brocade is right there.


I look forward to future trips to South Africa, and meeting many of the new mainframers in other African nations.


Dr. Steve

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