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Tape-On-Disk Data Gives Greater Access for Enterprises

For budding enterprises, data management in a mainframe environment is a chore to most and a headache to others. But, with a new tape solution, for some the process has been a feat of epic proportions.

Burlington, Mass.-based Bus-Tech released its Mainframe Data Library (MDL) earlier this month, enabling users to bundle up to four Mainframe Appliance for Storage (MAS) units—a solution said to lower tape processing costs, improve end-user service and provide more disaster recovery options in the mainframe environment.

The MDL isn’t the first Bus-Tech product that’s simplified life for enterprises and developers. Just ask reps from the Striva Corp., a London-based software developer who resorted to an earlier product, the MAS, to satisfy its disk storage shortage.

“Developers spent a lot of time and energy scrambling to find a few spare gigabytes,” says Chris Harris, technical architect, Striva. “We were caught between IBM’s solutions, which are aimed at big users, and an open systems solution that we couldn’t find. We were scratching our heads for awhile.”

Harris was charged with finding a product that could handle a heterogeneous IT environment that included an IBM Integrated Server, a MP3000 IBM mainframe, AS400 systems, several UNIX systems, Windows systems, Linux Systems, a handful of disparate operating systems, and a partridge in a pear tree. A tiered storage management function, cost effectiveness, and automated backups were a few reasons Striva chose the MAS, which enabled the company to back up data on the open system to disk and move the files to tape.

Striva was one of many businesses that Jim O’Connor, director of product marketing, Bus-Tech, says cannot handle the weight of IBM virtual tape systems—or the cost. “They’re very expensive and they take up a huge amount of real estate in the data tape.”

Sectors bound by data compliance are taking the most interest in Bus-Tech technology, as businesses in financial and insurance industries seek ways to make data more accessible. One example, says O’Connor, is banks looking to put online apps (like account statements) up on their sites for longer periods of time. And these businesses, largely using mainframes, are working with tape data to do just that.

“The amount of data that these companies need accessibility to is growing exponentially,” O’Connor says.

Bus-Tech’s answer to this growing need is MDL, a product that mimics the tape drive writing process for mainframes, but actually writes the data to disk—not tape. Reps say the tape-on-disk method reduces the threat of data corruption, requires less floor space and eases the way in which developers can access and exchange data, thanks to its single back end.

MDL’s “tape eject” function allows users to cut mainframe tapes for auditing, and its IP-based data replication means enterprises no longer have to duplex tapes or ship offsite. A full MDL configuration integrates four Connect Nodes, eight FICON (or 12 ESCON channels) and up to 1,024 tape drives.

The MDL was spawned by a partnership with EMC and NetApp, and a growing enterprise need for larger tape solutions. The product is compatible with EMC, IBM, Sun and other storage solutions.

“Mainframe tape libraries are still an integral component of a large enterprise’s storage strategy, and providing a faster, more reliable disk-based solution for back up and disaster recovery should be well received in the marketplace,” says Dianne McAdam, director of enterprise information assurance, the Clipper Group.

Bus-Tech’s MAS product has close to 300 users. The MDL, which starts at $110,000, is available now.

About the Author

Jason Turcotte is an assistant editor at Application Development Trends. He can be reached at jturcotte@1105media.com.

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