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Taneja Blog / Cloud / Data Center Systems

Cloud-Enabling the Mainframe - Oracle VSM7 Unlocks Mainframe Storage Options

Today Oracle launches the 7th generation of its enterprise-class virtual tape library, the StorageTek VSM7. This new version delivers a 2X capacity increase over the previous generation VSM6. By using SAS-3 disks, it scales up to 0.8PB of native capacity per frame with a scale-out architecture that grows up to 256 on-premise frames, yielding a top end native capacity of over 200PB. Even at that scale, enterprise-class availability is assured via triple-parity RAID, end-to-end CRC, integrated SSD Flash cache and an active-active dual node architecture.

While this is news, it’s not THE NEWS from Taneja Group’s perspective. With the VSM7, Oracle is delivering the first mainframe-class storage system that has native cloud tiering, effectively providing a seamless integration of local storage with the public cloud. Even mainframe customers will now be able to join the modern computing era by using Oracle’s public cloud infrastructure as just another policy-driven storage class. This “Engineered Cloud Tiering” not only allows mainframe data to be tiered out to the cloud, it enables the VSM7 to also act as an open systems gateway to the cloud, providing both mainframe and open systems administrators with an enterprise-class cloud storage strategy.

One concern might be that Oracle’s cloud isn’t cost competitive to the other big clouds. But a quick comparison shows that Oracle’s public cloud storage services provide very attractive cost points. Oracle Object Storage is their AWS S3 equivalent and prices out roughly 20% below S3. Oracle Deep Archive, their Glacier equivalent for long term static storage, comes in roughly 80% below Glacier. How is this possible? Oracle tells us that it’s because of their deep “vertical integration” – the Sun Microsystems acquisition pays off by allowing them to use their own engineered equipment to power their own cloud, which enables key efficiencies that keep their costs to a minimum. With budget-friendly cloud storage available, the VSM7 truly opens up the cloud as a low cost enterprise storage tier and allows CIOs to avoid adding additional expensive, on-premises mainframe storage. Admins merely have to set up policies to, for example, keep the most recent 90 days or so of data on the local VSM7 and auto-tier anything older than that up to the Oracle cloud. 

Yesterday, EMC announced its Disk Library for mainframe, DLm version 4.4, and touted how its “breaking down the silos associated with tape libraries” and how it can offer “four times the capacity of its nearest competitor, leading to reduced TCO.” It looks like EMC is still thinking inside of the four walls of a box when the industry is transitioning to the infinite resources available with the public cloud.

We believe that the introduction of the Virtual Storage Manager 7 represents a shift in the mainframe-class storage world. Aside from raising the bar on enterprise archive/backup storage capacity, scalability and availability, bringing public cloud economics and flexibility to the mainframe environment is a game changer. CIOs on the quest for the holy grail of “doing more with less” need to take a long, hard look at it when the next equipment upgrade cycle rolls around.


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