New DLm Enhancements Deliver Cloud Connectivity and Simplify Operations

Dell Technologies has a 30-year history of innovation and leadership in mainframe storage. That legacy of innovation and leadership continues today with Dell EMC  Disk Library for mainframe (DLm) virtual tape release 5.3. This release adds Amazon S3 cloud support, supporting IBM-compatible Transparent Cloud Tiering, 3-site automated tape failover and a new graphical user interface for the DLm8500.  These new features were announced at SHARE Virtual 2020: Power-on Reset, along with the new DLm2500 for feature rich, yet cost-effective mainframe storage.

In supporting IBM-compatible Transparent Cloud Tiering, we’re leveraging our award-winning all-flash, PowerMax 8000 as well as PowerProtect DD series of deduplication storage and optionally, object storage using Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS). All of these products combine to ensure that your physical (or virtual) tape requirements for mainframe data protection are exceeded, whether you need to stretch your tape to cover newer requirements, commit data to the cloud while saving on mainframe CPU costs  or simply,  finally, say goodbye to cumbersome, complex physical tape.

DLm Virtual Tape enables Amazon AWS and Amazon GovCloud via S3

Dell Technologies recognizes that your mainframe storage strategy must increasingly leverage your organization’s expanding cloud infrastructure in order to reduce costs. Ideally, this is done using capacity within an existing cloud infrastructure and offloading physical or virtual tape data identified as requiring long-term retention. According to Gartner¹, “by 2025, 35% of data center mainframe storage capacity for backup and archive will be deployed in the cloud to reduce costs and improve agility, which is an increase from less than 5% in 2020.”

In the years since DLm first wrote to the cloud, Amazon has expanded their cloud offering, tailoring AWS to include US government users with an offering known as “Amazon GovCloud” which DLm now supports in this release, making it easier for US federal agencies with mainframes and an AWS account to store their data.

PowerMax 8000 with DLm Virtual Tape and Dell EMC ECS helps eliminate costly mainframe CPU usage 

Until IBM created “Transparent Cloud Tiering,” movement of data across tiers of storage using Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) consumed a considerable amount of mainframe CPU cycles (aka MIPs) each time data was moved between storage tiers to (ultimately) the lowest cost storage, originally, physical tape, but now, ideally, the cloud. This movement of data has never been an efficient use of the mainframe. Transparent Cloud Tiering aligns with Gartner’s most recent recommendations for mainframe tape to:

“Reduce billable MSU consumption and license costs by offloading mainframe backup and space management functions to non-billable zIIP engines and cloud storage.” 1

Now, Dell EMC PowerMax 8000 and DLm users can also make use of Transparent Cloud Tiering², fully compatible in operation with IBM’s implementation. With Dell EMC IBM-Compatible Transparent Cloud Tiering, a Dell EMC Rest API Proxy running on the mainframe communicates with HSM and directs the movement of data on PowerMax storage to and from the DLm, and ultimately onto Dell EMC ECS cloud object storage while associated metadata is updated in the cloud. This implementation of PowerMax and DLm (and optionally ECS for the cloud repository) not only results in the elimination of mainframe CPU cycles (MIPS) to move the data from the storage tier to the tape tier and finally to the cloud tier, but also leverages a fast FICON tape interface while giving users an on-prem. vs. cloud option for data.

DLm automated failover is also enhanced with additional multitenancy and 3-site capability

DLm continues to evolve its support in a multiplicity of environments, helping to leverage your investment to be more than just “tape replacement”. Unlike other virtual tape systems, DLm’s “multi-tenancy” and “shared storage” capability enables your organization to use virtual tape to satisfy the simultaneous needs of multiple departments’ demand for their own “unique” tape, with their own set of specifications like RPO/RTO or tape addressing. If you’re a storage service provider, you’ll probably recognize that DLm can help you generate more profit with a single investment by meeting the individual needs of several customers.

Now, DLm 8500 and  Dell EMC GDDR automated failover version 5.3 expand on the ability to automate the failover of DLms to a 3rd asynchronous site, which is a common configuration for DR.

Simplifying mainframe virtual tape operations and sharing storage

Also being introduced in this release, DLm8500’s simple, intuitive graphical interface; the ideal operational interface for companies that may need to stretch their existing storage administration staff to cover more systems or may be re-assigning non-mainframe staff to manage mainframe tape operations. From the new “dashboard” to a consolidated view of tape volumes and tape libraries, the DLm8500’s GUI makes tape operations a simple matter of “point and click.”

¹ Gartner, Inc. | Cloud Storage Management Is Transforming Mainframe Data, September 2020

² Use of IBM-compatible Transparent Cloud Tiering is limited to non-production data; other restrictions on replication apply. Contact us for more details.

About the Author: Paul Scheuer

Paul Scheuer is head of Marketing for Dell EMC’s mainframe storage products. He has led the PowerMax & VMAX for mainframe and DLm teams through many mainframe product launches since 2013. Paul is also active in the mainframe industry organization SHARE, as a member of the Marketing committee.