IBM has upgraded the VSE mainframe operating system to include storage, security and networking improvements, as well as introduced pricing schemes that can lower mainframe software licensing costs.
With z/VSE 4.1, IBM has introduced pricing that includes a so-called subcapacity measurement tool. Using this, mainframers can pay for the MIPS that they use on z/VSE, rather than being charged for how many total MIPS are on the box. The z/VSE 4.1 is now generally available.
"There are a couple of new pricing facilities," said Pete Clark of CPR Systems, which provides education on mainframe operating systems. "There may be a class of customers out there who can reduce their cost by taking on one of these pricing facilities."
Other new features of z/VSE 4.1 include:
- 64-bit storage addressing, which allows use of up to 8 GB of storage for each z/VSE image to reduce paging.
- Large volume support of IBM storage devices formatted for the mainframe for up to 64 KB cylinders.
- Support for SecureFTP and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for 128-bit keys available later through a program temporary fix.
Larry Eckblad, executive vice president at FirstBank Data Corp., the centralized operations subsidiary for the FirstBank Holding Co., said the company has been using z/VSE "forever," meaning since it first bought a mainframe more than 40 years ago. The bank now runs a System z9 Business Class mainframe, which IBM released last year.
"It's what we wrote our applications in," he said. "We have a lot of capital investment in that."
The company is looking to upgrade from z/VSE 3.1.2 to z/VSE 4.1 later this year, though Eckblad said there isn't a specific timeframe. He said the bank is particularly interested in the new encryption features, specifically the tape encryption that z/VSE 4.1 will support on IBM TS1120 tape drives.
Meanwhile, CA Inc. announced that its mainframe software for z/VSE, including Explore Performance Management and Top Secret, will be supported on the new version. Mark Combs, a senior vice president and general manager at CA, said z/VSE users tend to be small to midsized businesses with smaller mainframes. Large operations, such as big financial banks and financial houses, will run z/OS because it can do more.
"It's sort of a light version," he said. "A less sophisticated, less expensive, less complicated version."
Combs said z/VSE has it tougher than z/OS because it has more to compete with. While z/OS is the only viable operating system for Fortune 100 companies running the biggest mainframes, z/VSE sometimes has to compete with Unix and even x86 systems for a share of the marketplace.
But it's still kicking.
"It's been an issue throughout the history of VSE," Clark said. "Its demise has been predicted a number of times over the last 40 years but it hasn't happened. VSE is alive and well."
Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.