“Storage demand grows faster than the effective deployment of management tools, and the supply of trained people to manage storage has fallen behind the demand.” Have you heard these comments before? Much of the IT community is anxiously awaiting the time when it’s perceived to be both easier and more cost-effective to implement comprehensive storage management than to just add more hardware.

Effectively managing storage and data involves far more than ensuring enough capacity is available to meet increasing demand. That’s the easy part. Choosing between a broad range of management tools from hundreds of vendors, selecting from a long list of backup/recovery, data security, virtualization and business continuity products has become too time-consuming and complex for most businesses today, given their limited resources.

It’s particularly time-consuming to evaluate disk and tape technologies from multiple vendors, assess network management issues and identify Storage Area Network (SAN), Network Attached Storage (NAS), and Direct Attached Storage (DAS) trade-offs. The gap between storage management capabilities on the mainframe operating system compared to Unix, Linux and Windows systems remains significant. So delivering the levels of service and availability strategic business applications require makes the reality of effective storage management seem further away for most non-mainframe-based IT businesses.

Early Storage Management Solutions Arrive

Initially, storage management applications didn’t extend far beyond backup and recovery for disk systems and the effective Tape Management System (TMS) for mainframe tape systems. By the early ’70s, TMS was the popular de facto standard mainframe tape management system and it’s now part of CA’s storage management product family, called CA-1 Tape Management. CA-1 facilitated control and protection of tape data sets and physical volumes; it was the first tape management system to enable:

  • Tape library inventory tracking with a complete audit trail
  • Tracking of offsite vaults
  • Standard and customizable reporting
  • Support for pooling to ensure scratch tape availability
  • Utilities for controlling tape and catalog maintenance activities.

Storage management for disk storage was enhanced by Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) functionality employed by IBM in 1975 and followed in 1976 by DMS/OS, an HSM equivalent product from Sterling Software, now called CA-Disk from CA. HSM quickly gained appeal for its performance, ease-of- use, and policy-based capabilities that leveraged the economics of tiered storage. Nearly 30 years later, HSM is just beginning to gain momentum for non-mainframe systems.

DFSMS Announced

In April 1988, IBM announced Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem (DFSMS) for its MVS computers. Now commonly called SMS, this architecture consisted of a set of related software products that marked the most comprehensive set of storage management capabilities ever introduced. SMS provided a policy-based storage management solution for large mainframe computer systems and is now an integral part of OS/390 and today’s z/OS systems. Its primary goal was to provide policies and automate the most significant tasks of data storage administration. Until the arrival of SMS, users were directly involved in labor-intensive, data set-to-volume placement tasks.

In time, SMS became an effective policy engine for managing storage resources and required users to get to know their data and to better understand its value, giving businesses better access to the right data at the right place at the right time. There are several components included with SMS, but the established HSM functionality was the catalyst that enabled businesses to ultimately address the storage capacity dilemma of matching policy-based data attributes with the most cost-effective technologies in the storage hierarchy. HSM use quickly grew because of the cost-saving opportunities associated with mapping the right data to the most cost-effective level of storage in the expanding hierarchy. Today, CA with CA-Disk and IBM with DF/HSM are the only two companies providing comprehensive HSM functionality for mainframes (see Figure 1).

Though SMS definitely wasn’t an end-to-end storage management architecture, the SMS architecture represented the most comprehensive achievement in storage management software and became a mainframe standard after nearly 10 years of evolution. In parallel, a few innovative mainframe storage software companies continued to enhance SMS and its individual components by adding value and robustness to the SMS management suite.

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