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Oracle VSM brings cloud backup to the mainframe

Oracle upgrades its virtual tape library for the cloud. The Virtual Storage Manager system helps connect traditional mainframe storage to the cloud through tiering.

Oracle is trying to connect the aging mainframe with the cloud by allowing its virtual tape library to treat the Oracle public cloud the same as it would treat on-premises storage.

Oracle this week added native cloud tiering with the launch of Oracle StorageTek Virtual Storage Manager (VSM) System 7, which connects to mainframe environments through FICON. This new capability allows the Oracle VSM VTL to move data from mainframes to the Oracle Storage Cloud. VSM 7 supports object storage in the Oracle cloud, as well as the Oracle Storage Cloud Archive Service.

"This helps make mainframe more aligned with modern computing structures," said Steve Zivanic, vice president of Oracle's storage business group. "You can bring economics to the mainframe, so now, when data is six months old, you can tier it off to the cloud."

The VSM virtual tape system scales to 211 PB of on-premises capacity. The VTL is based on Oracle's SPARC M7 processor, and is used for archiving, backup and disaster recovery.

Oracle VSM supports hierarchical storage management diagnostics on premises and in the Oracle public cloud. Because Oracle VSM can also be used with the vendor's tape libraries, it can provide another DR option.

Because Oracle VSM can also be used with the vendor's tape libraries, it can provide another DR option.

"You can have a VSM buffer connect to the tape library and put everything in the cloud," said Tom Wultich, senior director of tape systems at Oracle. "We give you an off-site copy, which is what people really value. We are offering cloud storage or archive storage at one-tenth of a penny per gigabyte."

John Webster, senior partner and analyst at Evaluator Group Inc., based in Boulder, Colo., said adding cloud tiering to a VTL is a way to reduce costs, because customers don't have to keep adding on-premises storage as capacity grows.

"With the cloud back end, you can drag data out of tape and into the cloud, and keep the tape at a reasonable size," he said. "You can make a more efficient use of the tape library."

He said connecting the mainframe to the cloud adds to its value.

"The mainframe market never went away," he said. "A lot of big, Web-scale guys are using tape. It's not bright and shiny like [solid-state drives], but it's still very viable."

Marc Staimer, founder of Dragon Slayer Consulting in Beaverton, Ore., said the cloud tiering for Oracle VSM means it's the first time the mainframe can use the cloud.

"It's a hybrid cloud for the mainframe," Staimer said.

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Which public clouds would you like to see the Oracle Virtual Storage Manager connect to besides Oracle's?
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AWS, Azure and IBM. While Oracle's tools provide great visibility into Oracle applications, it might be valuable for customers to also have the option to be checking to see how competitive they are on pricing, or just distributing risk across multiple providers.
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