Over 80% of the Fortune 500 companies around the world continue to rely on proven IBM Z Systems® mainframe technologies for their most critical workloads. With over 50 years of excellence, mainframe continues to provide the highest level of reliability, performance, availability and cost effectiveness. A great deal of data is generated during the processing of enterprise level applications. In fact, over 70% of the world’s corporate data resides on a mainframe solution. One critically important requirement for mainframe users is maintaining a vast amount of data in a cost-effective way while continuing to meet performance and business continuance objectives. The IBM TS7700 has continued to answer this need for over 10 years, supporting z/OS®, z/VM®, z/TPF® and z/VSE® and leading the industry with over 80 percent of the enterprise virtual tape market segment. The latest release builds on this excellence by proving even more options for cost reduction and improving redundancy of client’s critical data.
The 4.2 release of the IBM TS7760 virtual tape solution, made available on November 16th 2018, improves on the TS7700’s tradition of cost-effective storage by supporting TS7700 Cloud Storage Tier, allowing cloud object storage to be an extension of the TS7700 grid.

TS7700 Grid Cloud Expands

For over ten years, the TS7700 Grid cloud has provided a method to connect two or more TS7700 clusters through standard TCP/IP connections. Whether within the same data center or spanning oceans, the TS7700 Grid cloud has provided a level of availability that truly differentiates it from all other competing solutions. The technology provides seamless integration with z/OS® DFSMS policy management, supports both synchronous and asynchronous replication and enables an industry unique hands off approach to failover and failback, ensuring 99.999 percent availability to critical data.
For over two decades, IBM virtual tape solutions have emulated tape storage, with the most recent disk-based solutions supporting up to 2.45 petabytes of usable capacity. Using hierarchal storage management concepts, the TS7700 disk-based server can automatically tier to IBM’s enterprise TS1150 tape technology enabling a cumulative capacity of 100 petabytes. These now optional tiering techniques have been available since the inception of the first IBM virtual tape server in 1997, making the TS7700 both the eldest and yet still most successful virtual tape server in the industry. But, industries evolve and so must the TS7700. Cloud centric storage, specifically object or blob based, has become a very popular option for long term archival data. It’s only natural that the TS7700 expand upon its already industry unique grid cloud functions and attach to object-based cloud storage too. Meaning, a TS7700 grid cloud can now work directly with an object store-based cloud.

TS7700 Cloud Storage Tier

The TS7700, specifically a TS7760, can now tier to object-based storage. This includes the private IBM Cloud Object Storage (ICOS) device and the Amazon Web Service’s Simple Cloud Storage Service (AWS S3). Using up to four 1Gb or four 10Gb links, each TS7760 in a grid can tier logical volumes to an object store device. Through DFSMS policy management, users can choose which logical tape volumes can tier to an object store endpoint. If you’re familiar with the TS7700T and how it can tier to physical tape, think object store instead of physical tape. But, since object stores can provide a global common namespace, once a TS7700 premigrates a logical volume to an object store, any other TS7700 which also attempts to premigrate the same logical volume to the object store can skip the premigration. All clusters in a common TS7700 grid can become aware of the logical tape volumes in the global object store. Think one global physical library that all TS7700s in the same grid share. Once one TS7700 puts data in the cloud, others can see it too. We call a TS7760 with the Cloud Storage Tier support a TS7760C.

TS7700 Archive to the Cloud

Most users of the TS7700 have a significant amount of archive content. With ever expanding regulatory rules, compliance can mean retaining data for life. Whether data is viewed as archive at creation or only after appropriately aging without expiration, retaining all that data can be costly unless a tiered approach is used. The TS7700 has always been an ideal tier for primary disk storage given it can retain a large amount of data, while still providing enterprise level performance and business continuance. But even retaining data in a disk-only TS7700 can be viewed as costly. Therefore, additionally tiering data to physical tape behind the TS7700, such as the TS1100 family of tape drives, is even a more cost-effective option. But, physical tape is not for everyone, which is why object storage is an attractive alternative. Once one or more TS7760s in a grid have Cloud Storage Tier support enabled, the TS7700 grid makes available up to 100 petabytes of usable capacity. That’s over 300 petabytes assuming a 3:1 compression ratio. If a logical volume is accessed which only exists within a connected object store, one of the TS7760C clusters in the grid must simply recall it into disk cache making it accessible to any connected IBM Z host. The TS7700 makes available all this usable capacity, while still providing the best in industry performance and reliability that IBM Z customers have always expected.
TS7700 Cloud Storage Tier’s Bright Future
The TS7700 4.2 release is just the beginning of a bright future for TS7700 object storage support. Archiving to the cloud is just one of many use cases the TS7700 will offer. Backup, import/export, data-movement, data-sharing, data-hardening and more will be made available over time. The evolution of the TS7700 continually improves, which is why most IBM Z customers in the world choose the TS7700 over all other vendors combined. Virtual tape will continue to be a critical component of IBM Z clients, through its cost effectiveness, performance, reliability and its always improving feature set. TS7700 grid function leads the industry and it’s only getting better. For more information on the TS7760 Cloud Storage Tier support, please refer to the upcoming TS7700 Cloud Storage Tier Redpaper which will be available soon.

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