Tape Still Isn’t Dead…Yet…But Now You Can Finally Eliminate Tape for Mainframe

Dell EMC has been a leader in mainframe storage for more than 26 years, starting with the introduction of the first Symmetrix disk array, and our legacy of innovation and enterprise storage market leadership[i] continues today with Dell EMC VMAX All Flash primary storage and Disk Library for mainframe (DLm) virtual tape, which has dramatically eliminated the need for physical tape.  Today at SHARE 2017, Dell EMC is announcing DLM release 4.5 for cloud-based physical tape replacement. We aim to put to rest any further arguments about whether physical tape should still be considered a go-forward long-term retention strategy.

At Dell EMC, we recognize that the mainframe data center of today must become even more efficient by utilizing resources already in common use, like public and private clouds. Until today however, there has been no broadly supported way to move mainframe virtual tape data to the cloud.

The Long-term Retention Problem Made Tape Stick

Tape actually predates disk; however, the faster pace of innovation in disk and the “virtualization” of tape forced rapid decline in the use of physical tape. Yet, physical tape prevails for static data retention, otherwise known as long-term retention or archiving, to store data over a period of five to 10 years or more.

Until Dell EMC invented the concept of 100% disk to replace tape, “virtual tape” actually relied on physical tape.  Led by Dell EMC, innovation with disk combined with de-duplication made what was physical, virtual, except for long-term retention. That use case still favored physical tape because of its “vault it and forget it” convenience, despite being much more difficult to use than a DLm virtual tape library.

Fast forward to today, where public, private and hybrid cloud storage are becoming the go-to options of choice for long-term retention. Cloud storage has proven itself to be very low in cost, operationally efficient, secure, and able to sustain required data transfer rates for archiving. In non-mainframe datacenters, many companies today, rather than dealing with the complexity and overhead of physical tape, are moving archives and data that they know must be retained four a very long period of time, to the cloud. However, until today, very few mainframe virtual tape systems offered any cloud solution for the long-term retention problem.

By placing our field proven, secure technology for connecting to any type of cloud, Dell EMC DLm enables mainframe data centers to take advantage of new or existing cloud infrastructures to eliminate the need for physical tape.

See for yourself in this short video how DLm 4.5 works with the leading public and private cloud storage providers to allow storage administrators to move their data with DLm’s built-in policy engine while continuing to place tape data requiring faster access on Dell EMC Data Domain, Dell EMC VNX or VMAX.

Additionally, we’ve added support for Data Domain DD6300, DD6800, DD9300 and DD9800 as well as support for Data Domain High Availability (HA). We’ve also added Dell EMC’s GDDR technology to DLm with a feature called GDDR Tape, which simplifies and automates DLm system failover, whether a DR test or actual data center failover.

If you’re at SHARE this week, please visit our booth #301 to talk with our experts about VMAX primary storage or DLm virtual tape. If you’re unable able to attend, learn more about all of our mainframe solutions on the web and consider joining the Dell EMC Mainframe Community. We look forward to talking with you soon!

[i] IDC Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker – Q3 2016 Historical Release – Dec. 15, 2016

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.