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Save Money With Mobile

Mobile Workload Pricing for the System z platform can save money as usage increases

9/17/2014 5:28:24 AM | Worldwide mobile payment transaction values reached $235.4 billion in 2013, a 44 percent increase from 2012 when they hit $163.1 billion, according to Gartner. "We expect global mobile transaction volume and value to average 35 percent annual growth between 2012 and 2017, and we are forecasting a market worth $721 billion with more than 450 million users by 2017," predicted Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner, in a report published last year.
 
How much of that action will hit your mainframe? Already, major banks report significant upticks in transactions generated from mobile devices, mainly smartphones and tablets. At some point, the volume of mobile transactions is sure to impact your peak workload pricing.
 
This is a good news/bad news situation. An organization publishes a mobile app and people start downloading it. Then they start using it. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many of these transaction will drive up your workload volume, which you pay for, without directly generating revenue. People are using mobile devices to check balances or review statements or compare prices. Your workload volume goes up but your revenue does not increase commensurately.
 
And the situation is going to grow in the months ahead. IBM intends to roll out a series of business applications that are bound to drive transaction traffic to the mainframe. The new apps initially will focus on retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunication, and insurance. These are back office, mainframe-intensive industries. Your workload volumes are bound to be impacted as the new mobile apps start gaining traction, probably in 2015. In addition, IBM expanded an existingpartnership with Monitise, a U.K.-based mobile banking solutions company. The goal is to create cloud-based mobile solutions for the financial services sector. Again, there likely will be a mainframe in the back office processing these transactions. 
 
Mobile Workload Pricing
 
IBM responded by announcing Mobile Workload Pricing (MWP) for z/OS. According to IBM, MWP can reduce the cost of growth for mobile transactions processed by programs such as CICS, IMS and DB2 for z/OS. Consider it an enhancement to sub-capacity reporting that can reduce the impact of mobile workloads on sub-capacity license charges, specifically in the cases where higher mobile transaction volumes may cause a spike in machine utilization. MWP can normalize the rate of transaction growth and reduce the reported peak capacity values used for sub-capacity charges.
 
The key is to deploy the Mobile Workload Pricing Reporting Tool (MWRT) that, according to IBM, will subtract 60 percent of the reported mobile million service units (MSU) from a given LPAR in each hour, adjusting the total LPAR MSU value for that hour. Think of this as just a standard sub-capacity reporting tool (SCRT) report with a discount built in to adjust for mobile workload impact.
 
Setting up MWRT
 
Depending on your taste for the IBM z/OS pricing process, your comfort with Java and with whom you talk, this may or may not be complicated.
 
To begin, MWRT is a Windows-based Java tool to report sub-capacity MSUs and make adjustments to reported LPAR MSUs based on mobile transaction data. Basically, it uses standard SCRT methodology plus a new capability to adjust for mobile workload impact, explains Mike Perera, vice president, CICS, Transaction Processing Facility and WebSphere on System z at IBM. It will replace SCRT for those who take advantage of MWP.
 
You will have to do some homework to set this up. “You can set it up in different ways. We wanted to give some flexibility,” Perera adds.
 
At a minimum you have to determine what to put on different LPARs and figure out how you are capturing CPU usage and get IBM to agree. Then it is a question of feeding data into the MWRT and letting it take it from there. It will make MSU adjustment and monthly peak calculations for billing. Most importantly, it will subtract 60 percent of the reported mobile MSUs from a given LPAR per hour and adjust the total LPAR MSU value for that hour.
 
Expected Payoff
 
It is early in the process. Customers are just starting to run real data through MWRT. “We don’t really know enough to estimate how much customers will likely save,” says Mike Shipman, manager, Mainframe Software Pricing Strategy at IBM.
 
Initially, the savings will be small unless your mobile apps already generate a sizeable proportion of your peak transaction volume. But jump ahead six months or a year and your mobile transaction volume could be climbing substantially each month.
 
If you’re facing growing mobile transaction volumes and you take the trouble to set up MWRT, you stand to save serious money.
 
Alan Radding is a Newton, Mass.-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology. Over the years his writing has appeared in a wide range of publications including the New York Times, CFO Magazine, CIO Magazine and Information Week. He can be reached through his website, technologywriter.com. 

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