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IBM Offers Previews of the Next Generation of z/OS and z/VM

Among the many announcements Feb. 5, IBM issued three product previews of particular note for System z shops and users, including plans for z/OS V2.1, z/OS Management Facility (z/OSMF) V2.1 and z/VM V6.3, which will be released in the second half of 2013. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the highlights planned for each:


With z/OS 2.1, IBM plans to build upon the operating system’s exceptional availability, scalability and security capabilities to enable organizations to build a foundation for private cloud and operational analytics. For clients, this should mean support for highly available, scalable cloud applications alongside business-critical ones, and built-in optimization to support data serving for analytics workloads as well as traditional ones including batch.

Several of the planned features are designed to take advantage of the zEnterprise EC12 (zEC12) hardware’s capabilities. In doing so, they are meant to extend the zEC12 platform’s power to drive immense scale. Such features include:

  • 100-way symmetric multiprocessing support in a single LPAR
  • 2 GB pages
  • Exploitation of Flash Express for availability and paging performance
  • Transactional Execution Facility enhancements

To meet organizations’ expanding data-serving and analytics needs, the z/OS 2.1 release is expected to offer several advancements. These include new storage tiering that use policy-based movement of data for greater cost effectiveness. File system (zFS) directory enhancements will be designed to provide faster processing with a new directory structure. Also planned are simplified I/O configuration and fine-tuned responsiveness to changing workload conditions with enhanced FICON Dynamic Channel-path Management.

Security will continue to be a priority with z/OS 2.1 as well. The new version’s security-ready infrastructure is expected to be bolstered by:

  • The ability to offer mainframe cryptography as a service to Linux guests
  • Continued enhancements to its Integrated Cryptographic Service Facility (ICSF) for banking and finance customers, as well as support for new standards
  • New health checks to deliver key operational warnings, such as expired digital certificates

Clients may also expect a 60 percent longer z/OS support period, resulting in more value at lower overall cost. Extensions to z/OS support are planned to increase from three to five years with optional, fee-based extended service going from two to three years.

z/OS Management Facility

With the forthcoming release of z/OSMF 2.1, IBM seeks to continue to simplify and further automate the administration of z/OS to deliver improved quality and consistency of operations and systems programming tasks. To do so, IBM plans to enable clients to better manage their software portfolio to track end of service, fixes, etc., thus gaining better control over software assets. Likewise, a new workflow infrastructure will be available to manage tasks to completion, driving better quality and productivity. And clients can expect to save time with z/OSFM’s planned capabilities to manage domain configurations and policies, capacity, and configure security. Specific features in the works include:

  • An enhanced z/OSMF resource footprint and faster startup
  • A new software inventory capability for managing SMP/E installed software currency
  • Improved orchestration of system administrator tasks with new Configuration Workflow Application
  • The Configuration Assistant for z/OS Communications Server, which offers new security configuration support
  • Improved capacity provisioning support for functions of the Windows technology-based Capacity Provisioning Control Center
  • An enhanced Jobs REST API for faster information access, and
  • Use of the new Websphere Application Server Liberty profile for z/OS to reduce resource requirements


Planned updates for z/VM 6.3 will feature support for 1 TB of real memory to enable better performance for large VMs, according to IBM. That will include a quadruple increase in memory scalability while maintaining nearly 100 percent resource utilization. The expected result is reduced LPAR sprawl with up to four times more VMs per LPAR.

With greater horizontal scalability, clients should also see reduced administrative expense for managing a smaller number of large-capacity z/VM host servers. Ultimately that should mean a higher server consolidation ratio with support for more virtual servers than any other platform in a single footprint, IBM predicts.

In addition to improved scalability, z/VM 6.3 plans to offer better performance with HiperDispatch. It will be designed to deliver higher and more efficient utilization of CPU hardware resources underneath multiple layers of virtualization running multiple and diverse workloads. With it, clients can expect improved price performance with more efficient dispatching of CPUs.

Mike Westholder is managing editor of IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe edition.

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