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  1. Technology
April 19, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

First fruits of IBM’s new policy of trying to offer users what they want, rather than what it wants to build

Launching IBM Corp’s new S/390 Parallel Sysplex, Nick Donofrio, the company’s senior vice-president and general manager for large-scale computing, seemed to have experienced something of a revelation. We’ve decided it’s a much better idea to pay attention to what you want up-front, rather than after we’ve made it, he confided. Be that as it may, the company reckons it’s on to a winner with the new products, and wheeled on half a dozen embarassed but satisfied customers to explain how well it met their needs. The conclusion was that the four basic requirements of a transaction-intensive enterprise are availability of data, access to that data, consistent response time and flexibility. The S/390 Parallel Sysplex offering, according to the company, provides a fundamentally new structure for enabling parallel processing and data sharing across systems. The company claims it provides superior application data availability, data sharing, and a reduction in the total cost of computing. Higher availability is achieved by multiple systems having equal access to all data. No single system backs up another single system. Total system capacity is spread across the Sysplex, and MVS/ESA provides dynamic management of systems resources towards installation-defined goals; dynamic workload balancing is designed to ensure consistent response across a Sysplex. Data sharing has four key advantages over traditional partitioned data. First, usage is better balanced since work can be based on current processor loads. Second, workloads can be dynamically balanced based on current system activity or responsiveness. Third, each processor in a parallel environment can act as a backup to all others in a given configuration, providing high availability through unlimited alternate paths. And, finally, growth can be more easily accommodated since the manual tasks of planning transaction routing and data partitioning are eliminated. The new coupling technology usaesd in the system enables up to 32 MVS/ESA images to concurrently access the same data. In a JES3 environment running DFSMS/MVS, up to eight MVS/ESA images can concurrently access the same data. The idea is to allow for easier and more flexible growth without splitting data and applications across multiple single-image systems. Total systems capacity can be increased incrementally. Initially, existing S/390 applications will be migrated. For applications with significant transaction processing demands, the S/390 Parallel Sysplex offering will provide access to the IBM S/390 Parallel Transaction Server 9672, new Parallel Sysplex software pricing, and a suite of professional marketing services, IBM says. It will be available in June, the company is promising.

The S/390 Coupling Facility is secret of the new systems

IBM’s S/390 Coupling Facility is the technology behind the data sharing features of the S/390 Parallel Sysplex. Its function is to provide high-speed locking, cacheing, and message/list services between coupling-capable S/390 processors running MVS/ESA Version 5.1. The new coupling technology is designed to enable data sharing without partitioning data between multiple systems, allowing incremental growth and avoiding disruption. It can be used by software subsystems, such as CICS or IMS, to ensure the integrity and consistency of data throughout the Parallel Sysplex. Workloads can also be dynamically balanced across systems with the help of the MVS workload manager and subsystems using the Coupling Facility. Multisystem data sharing brings greater capacity against a single large database than previous single-image systems: the data doesn’t need to be partitioned or repartitioned to add another system, and is accessible to all systems. The new coupling technology enables up to 32 MVS/ESA images to access the same data concurrently; Coupling Links are used to connect the Coupling Facility to coupling-capable systems. The 9674 Coupling Facility with Coupling Links can su

pport multiple MVS/ESA images running in logical partitions on the same 9021 711-based processor, 9121 511-based processor, or S/390 Parallel Transaction Server 9672 processor, or MVS/ESA images running on multiple coupling-capable processors. With it, says IBM, you can configure for high levels of availability. Multiple Coupling Facilities can be connected to each MVS/ESA system, making it easier to configure shared data systems that are fault-tolerant. When configured with multiple Coupling Facilities, scheduled outages to the Coupling Facility are fully transparent to the end user, unscheduled outages are reduced or transparent to the end user. Coupling arrives in stages between June and September.

New software pricing rules are thought to be fairer

For the Parallel Sysplex, IBM has introduced a completely new software pricing structure. Customers can opt to be charged a software price based on an overall processing capacity, made up of any combination of machines – IBM calls this granular pricing. It enables users to distribute a large workload’s capacity requirement across multiple machines equal to that capacity to increase availability, without increasing the cost of software. As machines are added to the Parallel Sysplex for a growing workload, only the programs that run on those machines will have increased software prices.

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Measured Usage

The principle is taken a step further for some major subsystem products with the availability of Measured Usage Licence Charges, letting users license only the processor capacity used by those products in the Parallel Sysplex. Parallel Sysplex Software Prices are based on a unit of capacity called the central processing unit service unit – CPU SU or what used to be called MIPS. The CPU SU is a measure of machine capacity that is independent of machine size. A CPU SU represents approximately the same amount of work whether it is being run on a small machine or a large machine. Systems programmers use CPU SUs to specify how customer workloads should be managed across the Parallel Sysplex. Parallel Sysplex Software Prices are based on millions of CPU SUs per hour. Parallel Sysplex Software Prices apply when eligible programs are licensed to a machine with the data sharing function enabled and are run in a Parallel Sysplex environment. The basis for the charges is determined by summing the CPU SU rating of the machines in the Parallel Sysplex to which the program is licensed. The price structure of Parallel Sysplex Software Prices consists of a base charge and a variable charge. The base charge entitles the user to 10m CPU SUs per hour. The next 35m CPU SUs are priced at the Level A price per million CPU SUs. The remaining capacity is priced at the Level B price per million CPU SUs. – Emma Woollacott

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