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EMC upgrades DLm to woo mainframe tape users to disk

EMC pumps up its Disk Library for mainframe virtual tape library (VTL) boxes with faster speed and more capacity.

EMC today released new versions of its Disk Library for mainframe line, collapsing the platform from four to two models as it tries to appeal to mainframe tape users looking to move to disk backup.

The DLm2100 and DLm8100 are the new versions of the Disk Library for mainframe (DLm) platform that EMC began selling after it acquired Bus-Tech in 2010. The libraries contain virtual tape engines (VTEs) that perform tape emulation and connect to mainframes (through FICON channels) and back-end storage.

EMC claimed the new DLm models are 80% faster than the previous generation, due mainly to support for 8 Gb per second FICON (up from 4 Gbps) and the new VTEs.

The DLm2100 for small enterprises can be used as a gateway for Data Domain backup targets or as disk backup for the EMC VNX unified storage platform. It scales to 143 TB when used with the VNX5300, and holds up to 512 virtual drives with two VTEs. EMC claimed the 2100 can ingest up to 700 MB per second.

The DLm8100 is for large enterprise mainframe environments. It scales to 11.4 PB and 2,048 virtual devices with eight VTEs, and it has from four to 16 concurrent 8 Gbps FICON channels. EMC claimed the 8100 has a maximum throughput of 4.8 Gbps. It works with EMC VMAX enterprise arrays, VNX or Data Domain storage, and it supports Symmetrix Remote Data Facility asynchronous and synchronous replication software, as well as VNX Replicator and DD Replicator. The 8100 is for mission-critical applications with short recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives.

Rob Emsley, senior marketing director for EMC backup products, said the DLm8100 and DLm2100 cover all the functionality and capacity points that were offered in the discontinued DLm1000 and DLm6000 models.

"The models we had before were variations of each other," he said. "As we refreshed VTEs, we realized that by expanding the flexibility of the DLm2100 and 8100, we were able to cover all the use cases the four DLms were covering before."

EMC is the disk backup leader for open systems with Data Domain, and IDC Research Director Robert Amatruda said there is also a large market to convert mainframe users to disk. Amatruda said IBM TS7720 and Oracle Virtual Library Extension systems are the main competitors for EMC in the mainframe virtual tape market. IBM has more than 50% of the market -- but that dropped from more than 60% a year ago -- and EMC has been taking most of that share.

"You have to consider there are quite large deployments of physical mainframe tape out here nearing end of life or end of support, and it's costly to upgrade or replace physical tape," he said. "Since EMC acquired Bus-Tech, there's been an evolution with its mainframe products. We've seen more integration with Data Domain, more scale and more performance."

Credit Suisse, a Zurich, Switzerland-based financial services firm, migrated 100,000 tape cartridges to three DLm6000 systems. In a YouTube video created for EMC, Credit Suisse Technical Team Lead Ian Gregory said tape upgrades cost the company $8 million in new tape cartridges and it took more than a year to migrate to the latest tape technology. He said the DLm allowed Credit Suisse to get rid of tape completely for its mainframes, and takes little more than a month to migrate between libraries. He said the average recall time for data went from six minutes with tape to less than a second on disk.

"Our biggest problem was tapes," Gregory said. "Now we have a full disaster recovery scenario. Both sites are active-active and we can fail over to either site in seconds."

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