Kenya Power, Kenya’s national electricity distributor and retailer, has recently taken delivery of a new IBM zEnterprise mainframe to run its first data warehouse, business intelligence, analytics, and forecasting applications. Kenya Power thus becomes the first zEnterprise customer in all of East Africa.

It’s a beautiful day in Nairobi today, and I couldn’t be more excited and thrilled about this big step forward Kenya Power is taking on their journey to deliver reliable, clean electricity more efficiently. KP selected the most powerful, most capable, most reliable, and most secure analytics solution to help them continuously improve their business. For the first time KP’s managers will see a current, single view of their business in unified dashboards, even when they’re out in the field using mobile devices.

IBM’s Colin Page and I, along with Symphony, spent literally years working with Kenya Power to design and to refine the best, most innovative solution to meet or exceed their current and future needs. (And a score of individuals then worked/are working, sometimes round the clock, to meet KP’s February, 2015, in-service goal for their first BI services.) We arrived at a solution architecture that is at once elegantly simple and extraordinarily powerful: the IBM zEnterprise Analytics System 9710 tailored to KP’s specific needs. Everything Kenya Power needs to improve their business insight dramatically runs on their new, mission-critical zEnterprise zBC12 server.

Their server is equipped with 4 types of main processors: CPs, a zIIP, IFLs, and an ICF. They’re running z/OS 2.1 and DB2 11 for z/OS on the CPs and zIIP. They’ll use their ICF to take advantage of DB2 data sharing in the near future to support continuous service data warehousing and business intelligence. On the same machine they run IBM InfoSphere DataStage to extract, transform, and load data regularly and frequently from a variety of data sources (billing, the grid, financial planning, etc.) into their new DB2 for z/OS data warehouse. Some real time and near real time feeds into their enterprise warehouse, particularly from the grid, are planned. They also use InfoSphere QualityStage to cleanse data properly, a critical part of gaining better business insight. IBM Cognos Business Intelligence provides reporting, dashboards, and mobile services for securely accessing their warehouse from Nairobi and from across the country, out in the field. Before long well over 1,000 employees will be using this new analytics and reporting system. They also have IBM SPSS Modeler to help a few KP business planners predict trends and recommend next best actions for the organization to serve its clients better. Yes, all of these advanced capabilities run on zEnterprise, with z/VM and Linux.

They also have the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) powered by Netezza technology. Thus Kenya Power joins the world’s most cutting edge customers in being able to process complex, long-running business intelligence queries in seconds rather than hours or days. It’s no exaggeration to say that IDAA is revolutionizing what businesses can do with their enterprise data, dramatically raising their business performance based on quick, current, actionable insight.

The IBM DS8870 Enterprise Storage System provides Kenya Power with the reliable, high performance storage space they need to grow and the option to add much more in the future.

Kenya Power has now embarked on a journey to transform and to modernize nearly all of its business operations. We’ll continue to work with Kenya Power to achieve even greater efficiencies (including reducing their own data center’s electric power consumption) and to add new capabilities and applications to their already world class infrastructure.

Thank you, Kenya Power, and welcome to the mainframe family.

Kenya Power Sign

New z/VM Guest

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a multi-post series on CSL-WAVE, a systems management GUI for z/VM analogous to VMWare’s VCenter or Microsoft’s System Center. This software promises to simplify the task of administering Linux guests running on z/VM.  To view part one of this series, click here.

Many customers who will be installing and implementing CSL-WAVE will no doubt have an existing z/VM and Linux for System z environment.  In this context the customer most likely will already have “gold master” Linux for System z images that are cloned to create new virtual machines to be used for applications and middleware that run the business.  CSL-WAVE easily integrates into an environment such as this by providing the capability to identify an existing virtual machine as a “prototype”.

How to convert a VM User to a "Golden Master" Prototype in CSL-Wave
Right Click on Guest and select “Convert VM User to Prototype”
Create Prototype from VM User Panel
Complete the “Create Prototype from VM User” Panel

Marking a virtual machine in this manner causes CSL-WAVE to ensure that the virtual machine will not be logged on to the system, and also to create a prototype directory entry to be used when creating clones of this virtual machine.

VM User is now Prototype
Your VM User is now a Prototype

Before designating a virtual machine in this manner, it is a good idea to execute the “init for wave” process so that all clones created from this base will already have that step completed.

Once this setup work is done, creating a clone from this base is as simple as right-clicking on the prototype icon and selecting “clone from this prototype”.

Select "Clone from this Prototype"
Select “Clone from this Prototype”

Before the clone process begins you will have an opportunity to specify the name for the new virtual machine, the z/VM password for the new virtual machine, and network connectivity for the new server.

Complete the "Clone from z/VM Prototype" Panel
Complete the “Clone from z/VM Prototype” Panel

The information provided will then be used by CSL-WAVE to create a series of background tasks to complete the clone process.  These tasks consist of creating the new virtual machine directory entry, and then copying the minidisks from the base image to the new image.  You can follow the progress of these tasks through the log viewer.

Work Unit Details
Work Unit Details for “Clone z/VM Guest” Task

When the clone process is completed, you will have a new server that can be activated and populated with applications and or middleware.  One step you might want to do at this point is to specify the group this new virtual machine should be part of.  The topic of projects and grouping is quite powerful and will be the subject of another blog on CSL-WAVE.

Assign Site Defined Group
Assign Site Defined Group

To activate the new virtual machine you simply right click on the icon and select Activate.   A window to confirm this and begin the process will be displayed.

Activate the new z/VM Guest
Activate the new z/VM Guest

With just a few clicks and a few minutes of time you have provisioned a new server all without knowing the many individual z/VM commands to execute the process.  When your new server is up and running it will already be ready for management by CSL-WAVE, so you will be able to gather performance data from it, as well as add resources when needed.

New z/VM Guest
New z/VM Guest

Traditionally, IBM Mainframe system administrators must be very proficient at navigating and operating z/VM through the z/VM command line, knowing all the commands, understanding what operations and files are on every disc and learning how to create a new guest and allocate resources. All of which are intricate and difficult to learn with no prior experience. However, when I started working with our research z114 and zBladeCenter at the Marist/IBM Joint Studies, one thing took me by surprise: much of the operations of z/vm were now automated thanks to IBM’s new Unified Resource Manager.

The Unified Resource Manager (URM) also known as zManager is a new interface supported on the z196 and z114 mainframes. It provides the user with a single graphical view of every guest on the z/VM system through the Hardware Management Console. From this single screen an administrator can see the amount of processors allocated to it, the amount of memory and its current operating state.

(Above) The Graphical view of z/vm guests provided to the HMC by zManager.

zManager also provides complete graphical automation when a new guest server is to be spawned off. Creating a new virtual server is as easy as going through a few screens which prompts you for information such as the name, disk that is to be used, the workload, resources and network card/vLan settings. Once finished going through the steps, URM will automatically create the virtual server and it will appear along with the other guest operating systems. From this point, the server can be activated through the Hardware Management Console and you operate the server from z/VM by logging in and IPLing as usual. This replaces the complicated process of creating a new directory entry for the userid or going through dirMaint to create the server.

(Above) The Graphical confirmation screen for creating a new Guest Server with URM

zManager does not stop at managing z/VM, it also excels at managing zBladeCenter blades as well. Similar to z/VM, URM provides an overall view of the virtual servers on every blade and provides automation in creating and managing the virtual machines.

The Unified Resource Manager is a great step for IBM. The simplification of creating and managing guests on z/VM or blades makes it much easier for administrators who are new to system z to effectively operate the system. This is extremely valuable today because there are very few millennials graduating with any kind of mainframe experience, let alone z/VM. The system must be friendly to new users otherwise; when the current z/VM system administrators are gone there will be no one with the skills necessary to replace them.

Although complete automation is valuable when first starting off, it is very important for a new system z administrator to learn the inner workings of z/VM and understand exactly what is happening during the automated process. It is important not to be reliant on the easy automation because you will soon learn (just as I did), that there are many operations which you cannot just automate, and you must login to maint and do it yourself.

About the Author

Douglas Rohde
B.S Information Technology, Marist College (In Progress)

Doug is a National Science Foundation funded student intern Systems Administrator for Marist College’s research Mainframe. He has a passion for working in the System Z environment which he found not long after he began working with big iron on a daily basis. As a full-time student he hopes his coursework and work experience will ensure an easy transition into a career of mainframe administration in a production environment when he graduates in December. Connect with Doug on LinkedIn!