IBM DB2 for z/OS V8: The End Is Nigh

Monday Aug 30th 2010 by Julian Stuhler

Despite the traditional news dead zone as many people take a well-earned summer holiday, this month has seen a couple of interesting announcements from IBM, which will impact many of us over the next year or two.

Despite the traditional news dead zone as many people take a well-earned summer holiday, this month has seen a couple of interesting announcements from IBM which will impact many of us over the next year or two.

I've been spending time with a few large customers recently, helping them upgrade from DB2 for z/OS V7 to V8. This upgrade is usually one of the more painful ones, as the move to a 64-bit platform can result in some performance/CPU regression for certain workloads, and there are some other pre-requisites for the upgrade, which can be problematic. However, Version 7 has been out of support for over two years now (end of support was June 2008) and very few large organizations can justify running mission critical applications on software no longer supported by the vendor.

The bad news for those customers who have only just got to Version 8 is that IBM has just announced the end of support for that release as well. The key date is April 30th 2012, which gives V8 users just over 20 months to justify, plan and implement their next migration. This process can take 12-18 months for many large DB2 sites, so if you're a Version 8 customer and you haven't started planning yet, perhaps this announcement will give you the motivation to do so.

As I outlined in one of my previous columns, at Version 8 you have a choice as to whether to follow the normal upgrade process and move to Version 9, or take advantage of the skip-release option and go directly to Version 10. My previous advice still applies: take the normal upgrade route to V9 if you've been on V8 for a while and have your migration to V9 in plan. If you have only just made it to V8 (or worse still you're still in the process of getting there) you might want to consider skipping directly to V10 at some point during the next two years, so you can get ahead of the upgrade curve again rather than constantly having that "End of Support" date hanging over you like the Sword of Damocles.

If you go down the V9 upgrade route and need some help in justifying the upgrade, I've included a link below to a White Paper I produced for IBM a couple of years ago which outlines the underlying business value of the new features and functions within V9 which you might find useful when talking to management. I'll be producing a similar paper for Version 10 over the next few months, and will link to it here when it's done.

pureScale on System x

Last month in this column, I wrote about IBM's DB2 pureScale technology and how I consider it to be the single most important new feature in the DB2 for Linux, Unix and Windows product for the past 10 years.

As originally announced, DB2 pureScale was supported only on IBM's AIX-based POWER6 and POWER7 midrange server platforms. These are powerful machines capable of supporting large workloads using advanced technology such as hardware parallelism, PowerVM virtualization and Dynamic Logical Partitioning. The combination of DB2, pureScale and the POWER6/7 platform provides a compelling solution to organizations needing high performance, extreme availability and scalability for their database without investing in mainframe technology. However, it is also relatively expensive compared to the Intel-based servers used by many small/medium businesses to run their IT systems.

On 5th August, IBM announced that the DB2 pureScale feature would also be available on selected models of their Intel-based System x server line (specifically, the x3650 M3, x3690 X5 and the x3850 X5) running SUSE Linux. This announcement significantly increases the potential customer base for pureScale by decreasing the minimum cost of entry and allowing organizations with a strict Linux OS strategy to consider a pureScale solution. IBM can now offer a highly available, highly scalable, application transparent database clustering solution on System z, System p and System x, covering the complete spectrum of server profiles.

Although the cost for this solution is likely to be lower than that for a POWER7 based environment, it still won't be down to commodity prices. The announcement specifically limits support to the three IBM System x servers I mentioned above, and you'll need to budget for enough capacity to host the coupling facility, either in the form of separate dedicated System x servers or as logical partitions within the main server nodes. (The coupling facility will host the same PowerHA clustering architecture I discussed last month, but in a software-emulation mode running under Linux). You're also going to have to spec Infiniband network links for the various servers, which are significantly more expensive than good old-fashioned Ethernet cards. However, when you consider the scalability and availability advantages of pureScale this will still be a remarkably cost-effective platform.

Triton has been fortunate enough to be involved in the early beta program for DB2 pureScale on System x for the last few months, and I've been absolutely astonished at the price/performance that is possible with this technology. It will be interesting to see where else IBM takes this in the coming months, and what other platform/operating systems will be supported in the future.

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