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CA zaps mainframe costs with zIIP specialty engine

CA is releasing eight software tools that it says can save customers money on mainframe software licensing costs by offloading workloads to the zIIP specialty engine.

CA Inc. announced tools today that allow for portions of its Unicenter systems management and BrightStor storage software to run on a specialty processor for the mainframe, a move that CA says could save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Vince Re, CA senior vice president and chief architect, said that IBM and CA don't charge customers for MIPS that run on a zIIP engine, so the more users can throw on there, the better.

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Mike Kahn, managing director of Wellesley, Mass.-based Clipper Group Inc., said savings is going to be very customer-dependent, relying on factors such as how many general purpose engines they're running and how heavy the workloads are that run on them.

"The specialty engine costs significantly less," he said. "The real savings comes when I don't have to buy my next z/OS (general purpose) engine because I've offloaded work to the specialty engine."

Kahn added that savings will depend largely on whether the customer already has a zIIP, which go for about $100,000 each, or has to buy one to offload the work from the general purpose processors.

CA's Re couldn't provide specific claims about how much companies could save using these tools, but he said that if they can move 5 percent of the workload to the zIIP, they generally will be able to break even on the cost of the processor. If the user can offload 10 percent of the workload, Re said that "they can potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars per year."

CA's eight tools for the zIIP, which it is unveiling today at the SHARE mainframe user's conference in Tampa, include:

  • Unicenter NeuMICS Resource Management, a way for customers to determine how much they can save by offloading work to the zIIP (available now).
  • Unicenter CA-SYSVIEW Realtime Performance Management, which uses one display to monitor all mainframe processors -- general-purpose as well as the zIIP, zAAP and IFL -- so users can study which workloads work best on which processors (available now).
  • Unicenter Detector for DB2 UDB for z/OS, which helps users figure out what applications affect DB2 performance or use up a lot of mainframe resources (available now).
  • Unicenter Subsystem Analyzer for DB2 UDB for z/OS, which analyzes DB2 subsystem performance on the zIIP (available now).
  • Unicenter NetMaster Network Management for TCP/IP, which provides network packet flow analysis (available "soon").
  • BrightStor CA-Vtape, virtual tape storage management software (available in June).
  • BrightStor Tape Encryption, to encrypt and protect mainframe data (available in June).
  • Unicenter CA-Insight Performance Monitor for DB2 UDB for z/OS, allows users to study DB2 performance on the zIIP (available in June).

By running these applications on the zIIP, CA is using the specialty engine for more than it was intended.

When IBM Corp. introduced the z9 Integrated Information Processor (zIIP), the claim was that it would benefit database workloads, much in the same way the mainframe's other specialty processors, the zAAP and the IFL, focus on Java and Linux applications, respectively. IBM''s DB2 was the first software able to run on the zIIP.

But Re said the specialty processor can run more than just database workloads.

"It is really technical, but what it comes down to is applications under z/OS can run in lots of different states," he said. "What IBM has done is taken a relatively rare execution mode and said it's eligible to run on the zIIP. So a COBOL program probably isn''t eligible, but management tools generally are available to run on the zIIP."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer, and check out the Blog.

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