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February 18, 1993

IBM ES/9000 ANNOUNCEMENTS

By CBR Staff Writer

OpenEdition Services for MVS/ESA promised

IBM Corp is being railroaded into rapid implementation of Posix compliance by the fact that more and more public sector procurements require it, and in the mainframe world, the move is via OpenEdition Services for MVS/ESA, a feature for MVS/ESA SP 4.3, which supports some Posix standards – IEEE Posix 1003.1 1990, Posix 1003.2, and 1003.4a Draft 6. OpenEdition Services provides an application programming interface, shell and utilities and an extended user interface, and works with a hierarchical file system that will be provided by Data Facilities System Managed Storage, better known as DFSMS/MVS. For the shell and utilities, IBM has licensed Mortice Kerns Systems Inc’s InterOpen/Posix Shell and Utilities Package. IBM didn’t say so when it announced MVS/ESA SP 4.3 back in June, but it supports the new hardware data compression feature of the new ES/9000 models and becomes generally available next month. But OpenEdition Services is still in the IBM romises promises labour ward, and is not planned to be generally available until March 1994.

IBM bows to merciless bullying from VSE users

IBM has been having more trouble than it bargained for with its low-end – or less complicated – VSE users, and last June had to announce VSE/ESA 1.3 for delivery next month to fulfil its statement of direction to deliver enhanced function to VSE users, such as 31-bit addressing, Enterprise Systems Architecture data spaces, virtual disk capability and support for the Escon fibre optic channel connection extender. And again, it didn’t let on at announcement, but VSE/ESA 1.3 now runs natively on high-end ES/9000 uniprocessors and supports optical storage devices. New client-server capability is provided by CICS/VSE’s enhanced distributed program link function, IBM notes. And there is a new release of the SQL/DS relational database – the product that first introduced IBM’s Structured Query Language to the world, and enabled it to become one of the few IBM-created industry standards that never met with much opposition or grumbling. The new SQL/DS 3.4 enables 31-bit application programs to be developed – that’s 31 address bits, not word-length, and still looks rather parsimonious in this day and age when 2Gb can be stored on a single 3.5 disk drive. A VSE/ESA can also be used as a server in a distributed relational database architecture environment, but in its frantic efforts to play catch-up with all the industry trends it has studiously ignored and rubbished for so long, IBM is increasingly having to go out of house for the things it needs, and new VSE/ESA communications to heterogeneous networks via a TCP/IP gateway will be provided by Open Connect Systems Inc. IBM’s REXX high-level general purpose programming language is also to be available under VSE/ESA.

Customers’ View of Quality: not in front of the children

IBM has never been reticent about coming up with cringe-making terminology for things that the rest of the industry takes for granted, the classic in the new announcement being to call ripping up the price list Customer Value Pricing (IBM does realise, doesn’t it, that with no price list to guide them, all those users that have never previously thought of straying from the True Blue path will now have to call in Amdahl Corp and Hitachi Data Systems to bid against IBM to be sure they’re not paying over the odds?) In the same creepy vein, IBM says that the MVS/ESA 4.3 and VSE/ESA 1.3 enhancements are being released under the Customers’ View of Quality programme, under which new products are shaped by a wide cross-section of customers’ requirements. It goes on, To improve quality, IBM has targeted problems beyond strict code defects, such as those that affect ease of use, installation, maintenance and documentation. As a result, the quality of MVS/ESA 4.3 and VSE/ESA 1.3 is significantly better than that of previous releases. the company says. VM/ESA users have to make do with promises, promises once again

Left out in the cold in the present round of announcements are VM/ESA users, a d

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eclining band thanks to IBM’s neglect of what many at one time saw as potentially its most promising operating and the basis of what could have been its most convincing answer to Unix – not hindsight: we were saying it back in 1984. VM users have to make do with a statement of direction promising support for some components of the Open Software Foundation’s Distributed Computing Environment as client-server enabling services. In addition, VM/ESA will support IEEE 1003.1 Posix System Interfaces and applicable Federal Information Processing Standard, FIPS 151 and IEEE 1003.4a, Threads. As additional Posix standards and other worldwide open standards become formally aporoved, IBM will evaluate the applicability of those standards to satisfy customers’ requirements, and will implement them as appropriate, it says. IBM also plans, one day, to offer a new version of Query Management Facility to support capabilities of SQL/DS under VSE/ESA. And it is seeking X/Open Co Ltd Portability Guide 4 branding for AIX/ESA – but then the mainframe Unix would be little use without it.

Jury still out on the benefits of hardware-based compression

On the hardware – or firmware – side, most attention has been directed to the hardware-based data compression function in the new ES/9000s, though the jury is still out on whether it will prove as significant an advance as it has been billed. IBM highlights the fact that hardware-based compression incurs less overhead than software compression, provides better price-performance and facilitates more cost-effective data compression than was available with software alone. It means that less data needs to be moved between central storage, expanded storage, disk storage, and tape, thereby increasing hardware storage efficiency and improving response time – which makes it sound like bad news for IBM’s AdStar, which is in business to shift more disks. Problem with compression is that it is unpredictable – two files that uncompressed occupy the same space in memory can compress very differently, just as a facsimile cover sheet with 10 lines on it shoots through the fax machine, where a sheet of newsprint seems to take forever. In other words, as IBM says, the level of compression depends on the characteristics of the data being compressed. Tests on customer data have resulted in compression ratios of between two and three to one, but somehow it always seems that yours is the non-standard data that is hard to compress very much. On networks, the amount of data that needs to go over communications lines can be reduced, so fewer or lower-speed lines and fewer communications facilities may be required. Wait until year-end to find out.

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