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Social Media Round-Up

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It is hard to keep up with all the social media sites, but perhaps one worth registering with and following the commentaries is Seeking Alpha. It is often referenced in the Wall Street Journal and on CNBC. Point is, this isn’t a site aimed at technical folks but rather financial folks and sometimes, it proves to be an eye opener and one I cannot resist stepping into.

What follows here is a current exchange initiated by an investor keen on keeping the stock price for IBM high and while his comments for the most part are a good read, he raised a few eyebrows when he made the following observations:

IBM: The Big Blue Innovator Will Lead A Technological Revolution

Jun. 27, 2018

IBM Systems – IBM’s mainframe, cognitive systems, and storage offerings provide the foundation for AI and data-intensive applications and workloads

Z14 is the only server which can encrypt all data pervasively without requiring changes or downtime

87% of all credit card transactions and almost $8 trillion in payments are supported by IBM Z systems

POWER9 are the most advanced servers for AI and data-intensive workloads

My initial response to this:

Some data points are so misleading … when it comes to transaction processing of today’s credit and debit cards, yes IBM may be in the background but HPE NonStop systems do all the heavy lifting as far as authorization or not of credit and debit cards are concerned to the tune of 67% of credit cards and yes 80% of debit cards. Add to that message texting from mobile phones passing through at least one HPE NonStop system so no, IBM is very much on the sideline when it comes to real transaction processing …

The first response to my provocation was predictable and reflects what many of us hear today:

classicguy: Not true. The real action is going into IBM servers… the rest are helper IT…

Helper IT? That’s a new one for me. However, pretty quickly, someone else stepped in to add a little more spice to the exchange:

Blueman1986: Richard Buckle is right about the frontend validations mostly going through HP Nonstop (legacy Tandem) systems (and sometimes still Stratus, Tuxedo and others). The “real action” as you say sometimes does happen on a Z server, but a high percentage happens on Oracle or other non-IBM RDB (sometimes hosted on pSeries but could be HP Superdome, Sparc, Exadata or commodity). Bottom line is the the 87% number is no longer accurate.

But then that only triggered a lengthier response from the first reply:

classicguy: False. To name an example, as far as I know, at least Visa and MasterCard are IBM clients… so any transaction ends up registered to an IBM Z sysplex. I agree that there can be many layers in the middle but the core transaction is ends up there. Same happens with top retailers, governments (US IRS) or top airlines… many systems are involved but at the core there is an IBM Z sysplex that does not fail ever. Otherwise, why IBM Z franchise is still there and driving a lot of revenue every time there is a release of a new Z ? It is a multibillion cash cow that customers still love. They know that there is not anything comparable out there… and they are OK paying a prime for it. After about a decade of the so called cloud revolution why they did not switch to a cheap public cloud provider? Answer: they are in another league. In the end, why do you need a Z if you don’t care about 2/3h downtime in your app from time to time? (see netflix, see amazon outages, google pokemon fiasco, etc etc) I concede that the high/critical business market is not growing like the general cloud market but the core market is still there and will be there. There are always things that never should fail.

Btw, Oracle DB can run on Z/OS on Linux on Z. So, the choice of the DB is up to the customer, but they still run on Z iron.

And the above exchange led to a more relevant comment and one I agree with:

wildpitcher: The long term trend in revenues for IBM z-series sysplexes is down, down, down. Hardware is not going to be the savior for IBM.

I won’t argue the technical merits of the platform. It is a great platform with which I have personal experience. The issue is nobody is buying them – their market share is single digit.


And then there was this little exchange that followed a short time later:

Returnofthemus“Computers but have been seriously modernized on HPE’s watch”

PMSL, How exactly?

PS Mainframes do NOT make use of Intel CPU’s 😉

Which immediately generated the timely response:

Blueman1986: You left off the first word – Tandem. Are you really going to claim that HP has not modernized Tandem? Or that they are not the industry top choice for CC (credit card) transactions?

Aiming to provide clarification vis-a-vis Tandem versus NonStop:

Returnofthemus: If you had eyes and ears, you’d know that HP have abandoned MIPS processors in favor of Intel x86, a kernel migration that took place in 2014, Tandem is DEAD!

But that didn’t seem to help:

Blueman1986: So HP took the Tandem Non-stop platform and re-architected it to use x86, and improve serviceability while delivering the same QOS and greater throughput. In effect re-vitalizing the product-line for the future….

You may find this exchange either amusing or alarming (and I edited out some colorful language) but the bottom line here is that it reflects popular sentiment and it is really up to all of us to keep an eye out for misleading info being exchanged on popular social media sites whether they are technical or financial. This particular exchange is ongoing and it has even more folks involved now and the fact that we can push back and attract some thoughtful commentary is a good thing for everyone in the NonStop community.

As the conversation turns around, it may be worth passing on to our C-level executives as I am sure some early sentiments as expressed here are a reflection of what is being said all along “mahogany row” and we just have to change that. Let’s get after them!