The Mainframe Skills Shortage Urban Myth

Contributed by Joe Clabby (www.clabbyanalytics.com)

In this CounterOpinion, we challenge the advice and opinions of the Gartner Group, a well-known and highly respected IT research and analysis firm, on the subject of IBM System z (mainframe) migration. In March, 2007, Gartner put forward research suggesting that, due to the aging of the current generation of System z managers, mainframe customers might someday find themselves short of the skilled labor they need to manage their systems.  As a result, Gartner recommended that organizations might want to consider moving from mainframes to other, “more modern” platforms. (This opinion is still available on the company’s web site — search for the “Impact of Generational IT Skill Shift on Legacy Applications” [document ID number: G00146492]). Since that first report, Gartner has published other reports suggesting that enterprises reevaluate their application portfolios — and move various applications to (again) “more modern” platforms. (Note: Gartner never quite articulates which more modern platforms it is talking about…).

Clabby Analytics has two major issues with Gartner’s perspective and advice:

  1. Where is the proof that there has been/will be a major decline in mainframe skills that should cause IT executives to abandon their mainframe platforms? And,
  2. Which “more modern” platform(s) does Gartner have in mind? Read more of this post

IBM Gets Feisty — Mobilizes Analytics for Oracle Battle

In July 2009, IBM announced the Smart Analytics System 7600, a workload-optimized, pre-integrated bundle of hardware and software targeted at the business analytics market. Included in that package are an IBM POWER 550 running AIX, storage, plus InfoSphere Warehouse Enterprise Edition (which consists of DB2, Warehouse design and management tools + Cubing, Data Mining and Text Analytics services), and Cognos 8 Business Intelligence, configured and tuned, and “health check” features. Accommodations are made if the customer already has licensed some of the software and wants to use it on the platform; in this sense, the software is described as “optional.” This month, IBM broadened the story and upped the ante, making Smart Analytics System a key weapon in its widening battle with Oracle.

This post is a slightly updated version of a piece that appeared in the PUND-IT newsletter. Read more of this post

IBM’s Hardware Sneak Attack

From Judith Hurwitz:

Yesterday I read an interesting blog commenting on why Oracle seems so interested in Sun’s hardware.

I quote from a comment by Brian Aker, former head of architecture for MySQL on the O’Reily Radar blog site.  He comments on his view on why Oracle bought Sun,

Brian Aker: I have my opinions, and they’re based on what I see happening in the market. IBM has been moving their P Series systems into datacenter after datacenter, replacing Sun-based hardware. I believe that Oracle saw this and asked themselves “What is the next thing that IBM is going to do?” That’s easy. IBM is going to start pushing DB2 and the rest of their software stack into those environments. Now whether or not they’ll be successful, I don’t know. I suspect once Oracle reflected on their own need for hardware to scale up on, they saw a need to dive into the hardware business. I’m betting that they looked at Apple’s margins on hardware, and saw potential in doing the same with Sun’s hardware business. I’m sure everything else Sun owned looked nice and scrumptious, but Oracle bought Sun for the hardware.

I think that Brian has a good point. In fact, in a post I wrote a few months ago, I commented on the fact that hardware is back.  It is somewhat ironic. For a long time, the assumption has been that a software platform is the right leverage point to control markets.  Clearly, the tide is shifting.  IBM, for example, has taken full advantage of customer concerns about the future of the Sun platform. But IBM is not stopping there. I predict a hardware sneak attack that encompasses IBM’s platform software strength (i.e., middleware, automation, analytics, and service management) combined with its hardware platforms.

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And Then There Were Three: POWER, x86 and z

by Joe Clabby, President, Clabby Analytics. Updated from a November 2009 publication

There is a major shakeout underway in the midrange/high-end server marketplace as sales of Sun SPARC/CMT (cellular multi-threading) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Itanium-based servers decline significantly — and as new, more powerful versions of Intel’s Xeon and IBM’s POWER micro-architectures come to market. Read more of this post

IBM’s “Smarter Planet” Will Capitalize on HW, Analytics

Rod Adkins, the SVP and Group Executive of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group (STG) took the time to engage the influencer community quite early in his tenure for a well-run event at the Watson Research Lab in Yorktown Heights. “I’ve been in this position for 38 days,” he  reminded us, as STG’s AR team widened the usually hardware-focused invited audience to include generalists and more software-focused folk like me.  IBM execs from IBM’s Software Group, its Research organization and corporate, joined us  for a look at the science behind the systems, a compelling addition to the agenda. And another pitch for IBM’s analytics thrust was a scene-stealer. Read more of this post

IBM InfoSphere Now Supports Informix and z

IBM’s InfoSphere Data Warehouse has been a steady growth asset. As IBM has created and acquired pieces of the infrastructure and progressively created a more complete, end-to-end offering, it has continued to add new customers to (and from) one of the largest installed bases in the world. In reviewing 2008, IBM CFO  Mark Loughridge asserted compound growth of 18% since 2006. For 2008 the claim is 100 more transactions, and 50 InfoSphere customers new to DB2 while in Q4 “distributed (non-mainframe) DB2″grew at 30% growth in constant currency terms. Read more of this post

DB2 9.7 Focuses on Costs, Simpler Management

IBM has announced, a bit earlier than originally planned, DB2 9.7 as well as InfoSphere Warehouse 9.7 (we’ll cover the latter in another post). A steady 3rd place in the DBMS market behind Oracle and Microsoft, DB2 nonetheless continues to make gains. IBM claims that its non-mainframe (IBM calls it “distributed”) DB2 revenue grew at a compounded 14% rate for the last 12 quarters. And in the face of a very difficult economic environment, IBM claims 30% growth for distributed DB2 in Q408. Read more of this post