Storage

Availability problems usually center on access to data and space availability. Intelligent SRM tools can direct allocations, regardless of whether the allocation uses SMS, to places where the data will be available, helping to ease both concerns.

In terms of access to data, a data set might be created on tape in a manual tape library with the issue of a human finding and mounting the tape (a real challenge when the tape is located offsite). In other sites, a robotic tape library might be used, but there are issues with the availability of cartridge slots or how busy the robot or tape drives are.

Availability is considered as the space that can be used for new allocations in a storage group. HSM keeps storage groups at desired occupancy levels by migrating, deleting, or consolidating data sets based on their SMS attributes. Sometimes, storage groups can fill to the point that new allocations fail; sometimes, the space simply gets so fragmented that it’s impossible to allocate the space needed without exceeding allocation rules. To avoid these problems, storage administrators can rely on monitoring solutions that understand and interpret SMS and HSM activities into easily understood reports to show the effectiveness of their storage operations.

Space availability remains a major issue to resolve. Through monitoring, reporting, and automation capabilities, storage administrators can easily prevent runaway storage allocations and monitor pools and storage groups for exceptions.

Installing new microcode can also be a difficult task. This may require a series of regression tests or studying the documentation to ensure that applicable tests occur. Few problems are harder to troubleshoot than microcode errors.

Recoverability

Application and data set recovery is never fun. Recovery is always a pressure situation and one that can cause small problems to snowball into major issues. Often, the storage administrator is responsible for recovering data. The usual exceptions are databases and (sometimes) the operating system itself. Databases have specialized tools for backup, but HSM, Data Set Services (DSSes), or another vendor product handle most data sets.

Intelligent SRM tools report on backups in HSM, integrating the database information into the storage environment. Automated recovery tools make it easy to back up and recover all types of data, even to the point when the failure occurred. One reason mainframe storage is inexpensive to manage and requires fewer people to manage it is that mainframe storage administrators implemented tiered storage, including migration, several years ago. This means not as much data needs to be backed up because some of it may have already been migrated.

Authorization

Storage administrators are responsible for the corporate crown jewels. Yet, often, the practice of securing authorization to these resources is left to staff or individuals unfamiliar with the specific data protection mechanisms built into the system. In the case of storage management, certain authorization profiles must be in place to prevent the system or users from inadvertently causing damage. For example, SMS introduced the requirement that every managed data set must have a catalog entry. Even today, however, it’s not widely known that the security profiles to ensure catalog entries aren’t created by default.

In large, multi-system environments, Global Resource Serialization (GRS) or its equivalent is required to prevent systems from damaging one another. Components such as SMS and HSM depend on multi-system serialization functions to keep vital system structures safe. The most frequent reason HSM control data sets get corrupted is that serialization specifications are set incorrectly. The same philosophy applies to catalogs; they must be locked to ensure that users don’t inadvertently damage them. Even where tape data sets are concerned, the storage administrator gets involved because today’s environments require catalog integrity. As part of implementing automated storage management, companies can establish catalog rules that ensure storage environment security.

Problem Management

There’s never a good time for a problem and they often come in bunches. Much of a storage administrator’s time is spent managing problems. Given the storage administrator’s responsibilities, to shirk this area would only lead to bigger problems. Types of problems vary, but they generally fall into one or more of the major areas we’ve discussed. The tasks most likely to consume a storage administrator’s time are adding DASD, moving files, or finding data sets users have lost. Intelligent SRM automation tools, when combined with tools that prevent out-of-space abends, can drastically reduce or eliminate these problems. SRM reporting tools can help administrators quickly resolve the problems that do occur.

Conclusion

In today’s fast-paced, unforgiving, storage environment, learning on the job is like a trial by fire. SRM solutions give the storage administrator the information needed to solve problems on the first try by immediately getting to the root cause of a problem.

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