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How to Successfully Implement zBX Hybrid Computing

The IBM zEnterprise* System—the logical integration of System z* central processing with zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager and zEnterprise BladeCenter* Extension (zBX)—has been deployed in multiple industries worldwide to solve various business problems.

For a quick and successful implementation, it’s important to understand requirements, what’s supported and what’s recommended. The IBM Systems and Technology Group System z Lab Services team has assisted in many zBX implementations. Accordingly, the team offers lessons learned to assist clients.

First Steps

Key benefits of this hybrid computing solution include reduced complexity, labor and skill requirements, and the capability to manage workloads on virtual servers across heterogeneous hardware platforms. For organizations ready to integrate zBX into their data centers, the first question to ask is: What’s required for a successful deployment? Several factors can significantly affect the outcome, so to start off right:

  1. Plan for hybrid teams to participate in and pay careful attention to the technical delivery assessment (TDA) and solution assurance product review (SAPR).
  2. Understand the supported and recommended network connectivity options to the zBX top-of-rack (TOR) switches.
  3. Know the supported storage devices and connectivity options.
  4. Identify applications that are good deployment candidates.

Cooperative Planning

Early involvement of all affected cross-platform support and operational organizations is essential. An IT department’s culture can impact the deployment of technologies, business applications and productivity. Organizational boundaries based on hardware or OS platform might exist. Therefore, teamwork across these lines increases productivity and efficiency, and it fosters a broader awareness of how applications operate and serve the business.

A hybrid computing solution often necessitates bringing together teams to integrate the deployment and operational control of the system. The importance of involving all teams in a zBX enablement early in the process can’t be understated. Doing so helps to not only engage the teams but also enable them to contribute productively. Each team will have a deeper understanding of its own platform (e.g., network, storage or processor platform), and can contribute insight and raise awareness of the rest of the implementation team.

IBM will conduct a pre-installation TDA to help clients understand the installation and deployment requirements of the zBX. SAPRs provide the product information, checklists and guidelines to be followed during the TDA.

A zBX TDA is performed as part of the zEnterprise TDA, but the two aren’t interchangeable. The zBX TDA must include other teams, like those responsible for distributed storage, networking and OS support. Topics will include storage requirements for N_Port ID virtualization (NPIV), cable distances, physical network connectivity and supported blade OSs—areas sometimes unfamiliar to z/OS* systems programmers.

George Ng is a senior certified I/T managing consultant for IBM Systems and Technology Group Lab Services at IBM Poughkeepsie. His areas of focus include z/OS Parallel Sysplex, High Availability and Performance.

Richard Young is a senior certified executive IT specialist with IBM Systems and Technology Group System z Lab Services.



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