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The IBM DS8900F Family Offers More Capacity and Increased Performance

The IBM DS8900F family of flash storage systems provides improved encryption, disaster recovery, uptime and scalability.

The new IBM DS8900F storage systems.

Storage is changing very quickly to stay in step with the demand of some of the latest technologies and cloud environments. As a result, there have been several recent advances in flash storage systems.

Let’s begin by defining flash storage technology. Simply put, flash storage can be a drive, repository or a system that takes advantage of flash memory. This is used to store data for extended periods of time. Today, flash memory is everywhere from small-edge devices to large enterprise-class storage systems. Flash is packaged in a range of devices, from simple USB drives to enterprise-class all-flash arrays. Flash is also better known as solid-state storage due to the fact that it has no moving parts. In the case of storage, no moving parts is great, and that fact is also the main contributor to storage latencies as low as 18 microseconds.1

The IBM DS8900F Flash Storage Family

Enter the IBM DS8900F family of high performance, high capacity flash storage. IBM launched the new IBM z15TM with the DS8900F2, enabling new, high-end all-flash array capabilities that pair well with the raw power of the z15 system. The DS8900F holds more data than its predecessor, the IBM DS8880.3 This is the home of mission-critical workloads due to the its enterprise resilience and availability. 

Cloud services play well in the equation with the capabilities of transparent cloud tiering, AI-powered array monitoring and advanced data encryption capabilities. The access method is via FICON versus fibre channel. DS8900F possesses more transactions faster at a top capacity of 5.9 PB, delivering a 50% reduction in transaction time for IBM Db2® workloads and a 60% increase in IOPS performance compared to the previous generation.4 

The DS8900F family provides two flexible configurations to meet a wide variety of workloads for different business needs. 

IBM DS8910F is designed to reduce complexity while addressing a wide variety of workloads at the lowest DS8900F family entry cost. This model can be delivered as a flexible, rack-mountable solution or in a convenient single rack. 

IBM DS8950F provides superior performance and higher capacity. It’s designed to consolidate all of your mission-critical workloads for IBM Z®, IBM LinuxONE, IBM Power Systems and various distributed environments under a single enterprise storage solution. Consolidation leads to efficiencies of scale. 

HyperSwap, IBM GDPS and zHyperLink

The DS8900F provides the ability to engage multisite data replication for disaster recovery processes. At metropolitan distances, IBM HyperSwap® technology can provide “no loss of data” peace of mind. At distances of over 1,000 miles, IBM GDPS® delivers rapid recovery of business operations within two to four seconds recovery point objective as well as 60 seconds recovery time objective.5 

In conjunction with HyperSwap, availability is 99.99999%, which is only 3.16 seconds of downtime per year for running storage.6 Using zHyperLink technology, the DS8900F can perform at speeds of less than 18 microseconds relating to storage latencies. This far outperforms distributed environments. zHyperLink can also reduce your Db2 transaction times up to 50%.7 

A New Encryption Mechanism

In addition to availability and workload consolidation, clients are also concerned about security. The constant news around data breaches has led to a greater need to provide secure authentication across all environments, including multicloud environments. Data must be protected both in flight and at rest. This is all about protecting your production data or making an unauthorized copy. 

The DS8900F family provides an encryption mechanism for data at rest, in flight and for cloud platforms. This is in line with pervasive encryption on the IBM Z platform. The encryption function is handled via hardware in the DS8900F and uses 256-bit AES Galois/Counter Mode technology for high speed encryption, which is a top industry standard. 

IBM Safeguarded Copy

With the DS8900F family of flash storage comes a new technology called IBM Safeguarded Copy. This solution offers immutability by creating secure points of data recovery. The points are protected and hidden from being modified by unauthorized users. The immutable copies can be used in a number of ways including forensic analysis and catastrophic recovery as the copies are trusted sources. 

IBM Safeguarded Copy allows up to 500 virtual backup copies per volume of data using immutable snapshots than can be stored on a nonproduction environment. This allows a point-in-time restoration of data pre-attack on a separate recovery volume. This is a very key security feature of this technology, and it plays well into data protection and disaster recovery plans. 

IBM Storage Insights delivers AI-powered monitoring and support from the cloud. Storage Insights can monitor the health, capacity and performance of the DS8900F storage arrays. Because Storage Insights is cloud delivered, there’s no native footprint for the software. 

Storage latency has long been one of the most important metrics for transaction-based systems that drive mission-critical workloads. This sits in the wheelhouse of the IBM Z platform. Utilizing zHyperlink technology, storage latency on the DS8900F can be up to 10x better.8 As with the DS8880F, the DS8900F can take advantage of transparent cloud tiering (TCT), which makes possible multicloud storage tiering to support long term data retention, archiving and backups for the data. More information on the IBM DS8000 and TCT can be found in the IBM Redbooks® publication titled “IBM DS8000 and Transparent Cloud Tiering” (

Security, Resilience, Uptime

In summary, the DS8900F family of ultra-fast flash storage arrays provides numerous benefits and pairs well with the z15. These benefits include:

  • Secure authentication, which creates trusted storage network for data in flight and at rest
  • Maximum system uptime: 99.99999% for storage availability
  • Cyberresiliency with IBM Safeguarded Copy
  • Transparent hybrid cloud integration for backup and archive functions
  • Ultra-low response times so storage latencies are reduced
  • Fits with “encryption everywhere” posture

Speed, accuracy and simplicity of operations are key to a successful storage strategy. The IBM DS8900F family of flash storage arrays is well positioned elevate today’s storage strategies in the data center. The DS8900F is perfectly positioned to support your hybrid multicloud environments as the new standard-setting storage tier for your future production, backup and archiving operations.

Explore new IBM Storage solutions for IBM Z.

1. Performance metrics based on internal IBM tests using zHyperLink technology (4K read) in a controlled environment 

2. Both IBM z15 and IBM DS8900F were announced on Sept. 12, 2019.

3. 28% more flash capacity in the same physical rack space

4. Performance metrics based on internal IBM tests in a controlled environment

5. Based on real customer metrics with IBM GDPS continuous availability environments

6. Better than seven 9s availability (99.999996%) with IBM HyperSwap and multitarget PPRC in MGM environments

7. Performance metrics based on internal IBM tests in a controlled environment

8. Compared to High Performance FICON. The projection was based on IBM z14 and zHyperlink with IBM DS8886 and IBM z13 measurements that provided results for I/O interrupts and dispatching.

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Traversing the Distributed/Mainframe Chasm: Smart Speaker Voice Recognition on IBM z/OS 

Smart speakers are nosing their way into myriad workspaces, with reports showing a growing market share expanding beyond 70%.1 However, IT professionals and DevOps teams worldwide are only beginning to scratch the surface. We are now seeing interest in numerous applications for how voice-recognition (VR) technology can interface with IBM z/OS® for alerts and simple queries.

Looking back at SHARE in Fort Worth, Texas, attendees are still dealing with the expanding complexity of their IBM z/OS environments carrying on by “doing more with even less.” We gathered a (surprisingly) large group of attendees in a forum to see how smart speaker VR could make their IBM z/OS lives easier. 

Smart speaker VR is never recommended for sensitive data, but we found great interest for its use to improve communications, and it’s not just relegated to distributed systems. While our surveys showed that other types of voice-based messaging and alerting could be useful, we found a new generation of mainframers were the most excited about linking smart speakers to accelerate IBM z/OS WIP while minimizing errors.

Will the future of IBM z/OS include VR? At SHARE Fort Worth, the marketplace gave us a resounding “yes!”

Steve Pryor

CTO, DTS Software Inc.

Steve has over 30 years in IBM z/OS software design, development and support.

1 Consumer Intelligence Research Partners study.

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Mainframe Virtual Tape Users Are Asking: Should I Leverage the Cloud for Archive Data?

Mainframe IT managers frequently ask for recommendations on the best way to manage their archive data considering the changing compliance landscape. With the industry having cut their tape backup teeth on physical tape being shipped to offsite locations, it can take conservative minded mainframers quite a while to get comfortable with the notion of handing over sensitive customer data to a cloud storage provider. As we all know, the elimination of physical tape in favor of 100% virtual was a bridge that was cautiously approached before it was ever crossed. 

Now that we’re there, keeping geographically dispersed copies of archive data on disk-based virtual tape systems works perfectly well for some. However, leveraging public cloud providers for “fixed content” data might just offer better value based on the management simplicity and potential cost advantages, depending on the amount of archive data that you have. 

Some of the key considerations are cost over time, SLAs to restore, and compliance requirements among others. Given the increasing importance and unique management requirements associated with archive data, being able to transparently move select data sets to the cloud from your virtual tape system may be a leap worth taking.

Sean Seitz, 

VP Technical Services, Optica Technologies

Sean has 30-plus years of sales and service management experience with mainframe infrastructure and storage solutions.

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