A Conversation with Doug Balog, General Manager for System z, IBM: Part 2

SHARE in San Francisco Journal: 
A Conversation with Doug Balog, General Manager for System z, IBM Corporation: Part 2

Continued from Part 1 of the blog series.

Doug Balog, IBM’s General Manager for System z, attended SHARE in San Francisco, delivering a keynote address, participating in an executive panel and demonstrating his organization’s commitment to the mainframe community. Doug was gracious enough to sit down with me for several minutes during the conference. Here’s what we discussed…

Some members of the SHARE community submitted questions for this interview via Facebook. I would like to share a few with you.

Mary Anne Matyaz asks: “z/VM has seen resurgence in popularity due to Linux. What are your plans for the z/OS side of the house as far as increasing market share?”

Many of the new types of workloads we’ve talked about during this conference run on z/OS. A great example is analytics. I have tremendous passion around IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator because it really solves a fundamental client problem that couldn’t be solved before. That is the ability to take operational data, the final version of truth – whether it is “What’s your bank account balance?” to the moment or “What are your grades at school?” to the moment – it’s where the truth resides. You fold analytics around that data to become a smarter company.  That’s all going to happen on z/OS.

The whole platform has seen compound growth now for the last three years. All boats in the harbor are rising.  z/VM is growing. z/OS is growing. Linux is clearly growing. IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) is growing. We’re really seeing growth across the board.

A Facebook user writes: “Why aren't more companies that already have mainframes using Linux on System z?”

I was one of the executives who made the decision to put Linux on System z. Ten years into the future could I ever have predicted 20% of the MIPS we ship every quarter would be running Linux? On one hand, it’s far exceeded our expectations from when we started down this path. Now, am I satisfied with 20%? Of course not. I want every client to be running Linux on System z. We have strong adoption among our top 100 clients. Two-thirds of them are running Linux on System z. You have markets like Japan that are, interestingly, 60% Linux on System z. There’s a lot of heritage around mainframe in Japan, and as they build out their infrastructure we’re seeing mainframe as a natural place for Linux to run. The same could be said of Brazil. Once again, a very mainframe-centric market. We’re pleased how far we’ve come, but we’re not satisfied enough to say we’re done. I think we’re on a pretty good trajectory. We’re impatient, too, though.

Sam Knutson submits: “What can be done to improve the lowest common denominator for the platform UI from TSO/ISPF green screen to a modern UI? IBM RDz is not part of the base z/OS and is viewed as too expensive by many clients. Many customers feel modern z/OS should come with a usable out-of-the-box GUI as other modern OS such as x86 Linux do, one that customers and vendors could rely on to build applications.”

The changing face of how clients interact with System z is an important element. I agree [with Sam] that, if you’re going to be relevant with capabilities, then you have to be modern in terms of the way people interface. So, we started down the path about two years ago of putting a more optimized look on the platform called z/OSMF, IBM z/OS Management Facility. These things are a journey.  You have a platform that’s been around for 49 years. It’s got a lot of heritage in the way you traditionally interact with the system. z/OSMF tries to not only modernize but simplify. We’re moving to the WebSphere Liberty profile in the near future, which will provide a more simplified footprint, and therefore, we think, appeal to larger enterprises and small.

Any closing comments?

We continue to reinvent the System z platform from the day it was born to where we are today. That’s not going to stop. There continues to be innovation in System z, and it’s always based on market trends and what clients are telling us.

Communications strategist Bob Dirkes attended SHARE in San Francisco on special assignment. Follow him on Twitter @RCDirkes.  Follow SHARE on Twitter @SHAREhq.


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