IT Management

Mainframe Tape Technologies:  Myths and Realities

4 Pages

Best practice: Tape vendors routinely introduce technological advancements to their products. IT decision-makers must plan and document near- and long-term tape storage strategies to accommodate potential migrations to new technologies, responses to business issues such as mergers and acquisitions and redesigns of storage environments—such as site consolidation or reduction of physical tape libraries. Automated tape copy utilities will play a key role in hardware and software conversions, media consolidations and electronic vaulting. They also can be used to migrate physical tapes into a virtual tape system.

Myth 4: Tape storage makes it simple to integrate and manage technology from multiple vendors.

Reality: z/OS users can select IBM or Sun StorageTek for mainframe tape drives, media and tape libraries. Integration challenges in a heterogeneous infrastructure include different recording formats, no tape interchangeability, and manual tape management using niche tools or utilities.

Best practice: Media-neutral and vendor-neutral tape resource management tools will reduce complexity by optimizing heterogeneous tape storage infrastructures without requiring extensive training or knowledge. This can help IT organizations avoid being locked into a specific vendor’s proprietary hardware tape system.

Myth 5: The best strategy is to eliminate tape and put everything on disk storage (DASD). Reality: Although some vendors are promoting tape replacement, tape is still the best solution for offsite storage in terms of efficiency, performance, and recoverability.

Best practice: Tape remains the de facto technology to protect and archive data. Tape backup is a key part of the data lifecycle, protecting data on disk and later archived for disaster recovery and record-keeping policies. Generally, IT organizations should store and encrypt long-term or historical data on tape. Tape also should be used to capture periodic “snapshots” of all mission- critical data.

Myth 6: It’ll be easier to access and read historical data years from now if it’s kept on disk.

Reality: Merely replacing one type of media with another doesn’t ensure future recoverability. The ability to electronically store data in a way that will ensure its readability decades later has more to do with being able to document and use record and tape media formats.

Best practice: IT organizations should establish committees that will identify and define specific policies and practices. When creating historical data files, for example, retention policies should mandate that copies of the record formats, existing source code and libraries be included with each type of file. This can be done by simply creating a “read me” Partitioned Data Set (PDS) member or file that contains this vital information. Another relatively simple technique is to “group” the historical data by type or application during tape file creation, stacking and encryption. Some virtual tape solutions today provide the granularity required for grouping of like data. Virtual tape also can simplify the migration from old to new media formats using recycle processes that automatically copy from one media type to the next.

Myth 7: It’s difficult to exploit new technologies using tape storage.

4 Pages