Storage Networking Performance Matters For Mainframe FICON Environments

A flashback to working in a house of cards…

My first role in IT was working in a data center of a reinsurance company as a Computer Operator.  I was responsible for running the company’s reporting programs on the UNIVersal Automatic Computer or “UNIVAC” mainframe.   To run a program on the UNIVAC mainframe, I’d go to the “Program Closet” and grab the pertinent program, which was a stack of punched cards, and then I’d feed the cards through the UNIVAC card reader and the report would be created.  Fun!

punchcards stacked
Not fun…sometimes a card, which represents a line of code or an instruction, would get damaged and I’d have to recreate it using a keypunch machine.  If the card were severely damaged, I’d have to go to the “Source Code Closet”.  The Source Code Closet contained the source Program Decks.  Using the card from the Master Program Deck, I’d carefully replicate the damaged card by typing the instruction using the keypunch machine and then I’d rerun the operating deck through the card reader to produce the report.    Memories…

 Flash-forward to 2016; the cards are gone and the mainframe game has changed
Mainframe customers are expanding the role of their highly secure environments to repositories of enterprise data for web servers and web-based application services.  Every day more and more transactions originate from mobile devices that end up at mainframes for retail purchase transactional recording.   The number of transactions occurring daily along with traditional online transactions is in the millions and growing with no end in sight.

Bottom line–the mainframe has evolved to be the platform of record for 3rd platform applications.

Enter all flash mainframe storage
To keep pace with today’s mainframe application demands on the mainframe, customers are maximizing the performance of their mainframe storage systems with Solid State Disk technologies commonly known as “flash” storage like VMAX All Flash and VMAX3.  But, what about the network for flash storage?

All flash storage arrays need a high-performing storage network
An all-flash storage environment can transform your mainframe environment, but if you want to get the maximum benefit from your investment, include a storage network assessment to ensure the I/O infrastructure meets today’s requirements.  Your tuned-up FICON network will help you get the greatest value from your storage environment with better control over your critical I/O traffic.

Today’s FICON directors are designed to support up to 32 Gigabits per second speeds, which means that your mainframe data will keep pace with all flash storage and the demands of mainframe applications.  In addition, new features provide automated capabilities that can help to prevent performance issues, provide alerts to potential problems before they happen and insight to comprehensive reports.  Features include:

  • Forward Error Correction (FEC)
  • Inter-switch Link (ISL) encryption and compression
  • Virtual Channels
  • Control Unit Port (CUP) Diagnostics
  • Built-in failover
  • Secure storage replication over distance
  • Cloud Analytics Mobile Social Security (CAMSS) Support

An option for you to check out is the Connectrix mainframe offering. It includes an extensive selection of FICON certified directors and switches.

About the Author: Deirdre Wassell