EMC Disk Archive Challenges Tape Storage For Mainframes

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EMC has combined its DLm8000 disk archive with the VMAX storage array to create an alternative to physical tape libraries for mainframes

EMC is offering businesses a high-end disk archive for their mainframe systems that will give them an alternative to physical tape libraries, which can be problematic, particularly for such areas as disaster recovery.

With EMC’s new DLm8000, introduced on 6 August, large enterprises using IBM’s z/OS mainframe systems can move from tapes to disk for their backup and archiving needs.

The DLm8000, which leverages EMC’s Symmetrix VMAX enterprise storage array, ensures synchronous replication of data for disaster recovery, ensuring consistency of tape data at production and backup sites, according to EMC officials.

Consistency an increasing problem

Such consistency has become an increasing problem for many enterprises, particularly for larger, transaction-oriented organisations, such as banking, financial services and insurance companies, according to EMC. At such businesses, having quick and predictable recovery times is crucial. However, physical tape storage solutions have been a roadblock, increasing the time to recovery.

There are other problems with tape storage, as well, according to company officials. Tape drives can occasionally be unavailable for such tasks as batch processing, archiving and backup applications, all of which can threaten service-level agreements (SLAs). This is particularly difficult when unplanned service interruptions occur.

EMC is aiming to address those issues with its DLm8000, combined with other technologies from the company. EMC is making VMAX, which is used as the key storage platform in many mainframe environments, available for the first time in its disk library for mainframes. In addition, the DLm8000 will take advantage of EMC’s SRDF technology, which is used for remote replication to ensure high levels of availability in disaster recovery situations, company officials said.

Combining the DLm8000 with VMAX offers high-end enterprises high levels of performance and availability for both disk and tape storage, giving mainframe users a consistent and automated solution for both. To the mainframes, the disk libraries look like tape libraries, the company said. The combination of DLm8000 with VMAX gives businesses the synchronous replication they need, according to Shane Jackson, vice president of marketing for EMC’s Backup Recovery Systems Division.

“The ability to replicate tape data synchronously has been in high demand from large enterprise mainframe users, but thus far they have been forced to accept sub-optimal recovery options in an effort to approach their desired SLAs,” Jackson said in a statement. “With the introduction of the DLm8000, EMC becomes the first to solve this problem for our customers. They can now confidently deploy synchronous replication and industry-leading VMAX storage systems integrated into a single solution. The DLm8000 enables these users to consistently achieve their recovery objectives and remove physical tape and its associated problems from their mainframe environments.”

Desk libraries

The DLm8000, which will be available in the fourth quarter, is the latest offering in EMC’s line of desk libraries, following on the company’s DLm1000, DLm2000 and DLm6000, all of which leveraged EMC’s midrange VNX storage array or its Data Domain virtual tape solution. The DLm8000 brings VMAX into the mix.

The DLm8000 offers throughput of up to 2.7GB per second, which company officials said is 2.5 times the performance of competing solutions. In addition, with its continuous replication to the disaster recovery site, data will always be available immediately, speeding up the time to recovery for enterprises. The solution also offers up to 2,048 emulated drives that can be used for various purposes, which EMC officials said improves the systems’ processing capabilities. More features of the DLm8000 can be found on EMC’s website.

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