In the closed world of IBM's iSeries market, alternatives to IBM-sanctioned, FICON-connected storage are practically nonexistent.
At least they were, until FalconStor Software and British IT solutions provider ICM Group came along. Together, the two firms have developed a storage gateway appliance for IBM iSeries, the Nexus Storage Gateway, which allows iSeries users to use open-systems storage. The FalconStor gateway does this by "speaking" iSeries' idiosyncratic version of Fibre Channel and, in general, compensating for the iSeries platform's decidedly nonopen-systems approach to storage.
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"There's been very little available to these users," said John Lallier, vice president of technology at FalconStor Software. Many of these iSeries customers have complained to their suppliers about the lack of access to cheap, open-systems disk, Lallier said. They also want greater access to storage services like snapshot and replication. "The gap between what they [iSeries users] can do and what we can do has become much greater," he added.
Today, ICM is the only provider selling FalconStor's iSeries gateway but, according to Lallier, this isn't an exclusive relationship, and other vendors may soon follow suit.
FalconStor and ICM aren't the only ones opening up proprietary operating systems to open-systems disk. Mainframe connectivity company Luminex Software and data protection software company Diligent Technologies have stitched together Diligent's Virtual Tape Facility Mainframesoftware with Luminex's Virtual|BLUE 3990 direct access storage device control unit. The two products allow mainframe environments to perform disk-based backup and recovery on all open-systems disk -- enabling mainframe users to keep their tape data online for faster recovery.