Huh? Mainframe storage has been virtualized for decades. In a presentation at the latest SHARE gathering, however, Dave Lytle from Brocade and Bill Smith from Hitachi Data Systems gave a joint presentation about bringing virtual storage to the z.
In the presentation they explained how the Brocade DCX 8510 Backbone switch combined with the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) provide an alternative for mainframe-attached storage environments. They aren’t suggesting you replace the workhorse DS8000 mainframe storage but, rather, augment it.
They call for an open virtualized storage infrastructure that makes it possible to deploy lower cost storage devices in conjunction with automated data tiering to lower the overall total cost of storage. The cost savings result from shifting more of the storage to slower but less expensive open systems storage through the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP). When a piece of data needs the faster, more costly primary z storage, the automation brings it back. Without the automation, this would be a slow, error-prone operation that almost nobody would bother with.
The promise, say Lytle and Smith, is faster deployment of new applications and non-disruptive re-deployment of storage assets between mainframe and open system environments. This kind of dynamic tiering already has gained traction in the open systems world. Even the big mainframe storage players, IBM and EMC, have products there. IBM has the automated System Storage Easy Tier offering and EMC brings its Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) product.
In addition to the HDS VSP offering the approach described by Lytle and Smith is built around a new 16 Gbps Fibre Channel Brocade DCX 8510 Backbones switching infrastructure. According to Brocade, they match the industry’s fastest and most scalable System z mainframes with the highest-performing and most reliable FICON infrastructure to maximize consolidation and virtualization of traditional mainframe and emerging Linux and Windows workloads. All the while they simplifying fabric management for FICON and Fibre Channel intermix environments. The Brocade DCX 8510 directors have been qualified for mainframe environments, allowing enterprises to fully exploit the capabilities of the IBM zEnterprise FICON infrastructure.
The reference to traditional mainframe and emerging Linux and Windows workloads sounds like the zEnterprise/zBX combination. Basically, you should be able to connect your lower cost, lower performing open system storage for use with your zBX Windows blades and manage it all through the z. DancingDinosaur sees some definite cost, efficiency, and convenience advantages in that alone while providing one more reason for organizations to consider the zBX with Windows blades.
The Brocade and HDS products do boast some impressive capabilities. The Brocade FICON product offers a simultaneous send-and-receive 16Gbps line rate on all chassis ports concurrently (no blocking), five-nines (99.999%) availability, and 4x improvement in energy efficiency over competitive switches.
The HDS VSP is fully mainframe compatible. It provides frontend and backend directors, cache, and processors to handle time-sensitive processing tasks and supports multiple types of disk drive (SSD, SAS and SATA) to meet a variety of performance and cost requirements. The virtual storage directors and cache combine to deliver performance throughput of over 1 million IOP/s with full FICON support.
The issue of connecting zEnterprise and open systems storage for the purposes of tiering is just ramping up. Lytle and Smith report plans already underway for the next SHARE gathering (Aug. 5-10, 2012) in Anaheim, CA. The MVS group at SHARE apparently is preparing to bring IBM, EMC, and HDS together to talk about tiering on the mainframe.