“Virtualization isn’t a priority for us,” says Chris Hilliard, systems programmer for the City of Norfolk, VA. The city operates a z/800 with 12TB of ESS storage. Three-quarters of the storage is dedicated to open systems storage, the remainder for the mainframe. But as far as its mainframe goes, virtualization doesn’t add anything.

Boscov’s Department Store in Reading, PA, upgraded to a z/990 running z/OS, z/VM, and 60 Linux partitions and migrated to 9TB of DS8100 storage in a recent storage consolidation move. Even with all those Linux servers, however, the company has avoided open systems SANs, preferring conventional mainframe attached storage.

“Virtualization doesn’t do anything for us,” says Joe Poole, Boscov’s manager of tech support. “We run Linux for specific functions. There’s no shared storage.”

“CIOs may disagree on the benefits of virtualization, but it will win by the process of attrition,” says Hill. “Once a company tries it, they won’t go back.”

Virtualization may yet penetrate conventional mainframe shops through Disaster Recovery (DR). As part of the SVC announcements, IBM introduced replication and business continuity capabilities, including upcoming support for IBM System Storage DS8000 and DS6000. Combined with SVC’s new global mirroring capability, organizations will be able to replicate data to distant locations for DR purposes.

Storage Management

IBM is trying to close a perceived gap between its storage management and those of rivals EMC and HP. “IBM really needs to simplify its storage management offerings,” says Schulz. Adds Taneja: “IBM’s storage management is still a potpourri of products that lack consistency and cohesiveness.”

For example, IBM offers the TotalStorage Productivity Center for Disk (TPC), which is intended for managing SAN storage devices by letting administrators configure, administer, and monitor the storage from a single console. That, however, does only part of the job.

You have to jump to Tivoli to do another part. Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) is a set of data protection utilities that perform backup, archive, space management, and bare-metal restore as well as compliance and DR for the data in a hierarchy of offline storage. IBM’s Aperi, an open source storage management initiative, is intended to provide a set of low-level storage management utilities as open source software.

“Aperi will let the industry stop developing duplicate low value parts,” says Brenda Haynes, IBM director of the Aperi open source project. “These are the parts that should be part of the infrastructure.”

IBM has committed to providing code to get the project off the ground. The concept makes sense. Companies will freely share base storage management functionality and then differentiate themselves by providing higher-value functionality for a fee on top of the base. Aperi will implement all industry standards from the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) and its various Storage Management Interface Specification (SMI-S) initiatives. To date, 10 companies have signed on for Aperi. Conspicuously missing, however, are some key storage management players, such as HP, EMC, and Symantec.

“At this point, I’m unsure where Aperi will go,” says Taneja. Unless the other big storage management players jump aboard, it probably won’t go anywhere.

Maybe mainframe storage managers can for now safely ignore IBM’s latest storage announcements, except for the tape library announcements, given the open systems emphasis. However, the announcements are indicative of changes that are already sweeping the entire storage industry and will eventually impact mainframe storage.

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