EMC chases mainframe tape market with Disk Library upgrade

EMC, looking to convert mainframe tape users to disk, ugrades its Disk Library for mainframes (DLm) platform.

EMC Corp., looking to convert mainframe tape shops to disk, today upgraded its Disk Library for mainframes (DLm) platform. EMC upgraded the DLm6000 mainframe virtual tape library (VTL), offering it with the vendor’s VNX7500 unified storage and Data Domain DD890 data deduplication system as a target for backups, archiving, data migration and batch processing.

The DLm6000 is EMC’s third generation of the product, but the first since it acquired partner Bus-Tech last November. EMC sold previous generations of the product through an OEM deal with Bus-Tech.

The new DLm6000 integrates Bus-Tech’s virtual tape controller with the EMC storage and backup systems. Customers can acquire the VNX7500 or DD890 in the same cabinet as the DLm6000 and use a centralized management console to set policies to move data from the mainframe to the appropriate storage system.

Bus-Tech technology provides the FICON connectivity between the IBM z/OS mainframe and the DLm system. The DLm6000 provides more than 2 GBps throughput and scales to 5.7 PB of logical capacity.

“A traditional environment may have multiple, different types of tape platforms,” said Jim O’Connor, senior marketing manager for EMC’s backup and recovery systems division. “Rather than have two or three islands of disparate tape, we have it all in one system, one code base, centralized management, and it’s completely tapeless. This works hand-in-hand with the mainframe telling us what to do, so we can address the appropriate workload to the appropriate storage.”

After years of partnering, EMC acquired Bus-Tech with the intention of luring mainframe backup customers away from tape. EMC began reselling Bus-Tech VTL products in 2004 and struck its OEM deal with Bus-Tech in 2008. Previous DLm versions used EMC’s Clariion, Celerra and Centera platforms as storage targets but did not have integrated management functions and policies.

DLm6000 customers can have backup data automatically moved to the Data Domain DD890 for deduplication and then replicated to a disaster recovery site. The VNX handles data for batch processing, while archived data can be sent to either the VNX or Data Domain system. Unique data types, such as Data Facility Hierarchical Storage Manager (DFHSM) migration, can be directed to the primary storage and be available for near-instantaneous recalls. DLm operations are centralized under a z/OS management console.

EMC's goal: Convert mainframe tape users to disk

Ray Lucchesi, founder of Silverton Consulting Inc., said the DLm6000 is part of EMC’s goal to convert mainframe tape users to disk.

“They’re going after the last bastion of tape in their world,” Lucchesi said. “The mainframe user has historically been a big tape user. DLm originally didn’t have deduplication. It was a high-performance product, its claim to fame was a high ingest rate with low ingest processing. With Data Domain or VNX behind it, it can be used as backup or as a workspace with storage.”

However, Robert Amatruda, IDC’s research director for data protection and recovery, said tape remains cheaper than disk for certain tasks. "Tape is still very cost effective for deep archive," he said. 

The DLm6000 will compete with other mainframe disk backup products such as the IBM TS7720, Oracle's StorageTek Virtual Storage Manager (VSM) and CA Vtape Virtual Tape System (VTS) software-based virtual tape system. The entry-level list price for the DLm6000 is approximately $600,000.

Senior News Director Dave Raffo contributed to this story.

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