Enhancing the performance and security of IBM TS7700 data replication

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Few events can have a stronger adverse business impact than an IT outage. Even worse is the negative publicity that such events often generate in today’s “always connected” news media world. The potential revenue loss from an outage and the damage to a company’s reputation can be costly. From finance, healthcare, transportation and retail to local, state and federal governments, data availability and business continuity offer a vital competitive edge crucial to an organization’s long term success. Clients, partners, and the market that a business operates in are driving the need for continuously available, resilient IT architectures.

A key component in a resilient IT architecture for IBM z Systems clients is the IBM TS7700 with its multi-cluster grid configuration. Executive focus on these resilient IT architecture solutions, such as the IBM TS7700 Grid, is increasing, because it is no longer enough to merely plan for recovery from a disaster. Enterprises that run IBM z Systems need a greater level of availability to deal with a range of contingencies. These contingencies can be as simple as inadvertent power loss or common configuration errors, or as complex as major natural or human-induced disasters.

The TS7700 Grid configuration is a series of clusters connected by a network to form a high-availability, resilient virtual tape storage architecture. Logical volume attributes and data are replicated by way of an Internet Protocol (IP) across clusters, which are joined by the grid network. To the host, the grid configuration looks like a single storage subsystem. This ensures high availability and ensures that production work continues, even if an individual cluster becomes unavailable.

Today, TS7700 Grid clients face challenges in planning and implementing a resilient mainframe data replication extension solution. Traditional IP LAN switches were never intended to meet the special requirements of storage and data replication. Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) based data replication was designed for those purposes and was used for many years when the TS7700’s predecessor, the IBM Virtual Tape Server (VTS), performed its replication by way of FICON. FCIP replication technology enhanced the performance of the VTS replication over distance. Today, the TS7700’s IP based replication using traditional IP LAN switches often does not meet the TS7700 Grid’s needs for high performance data replication.

Organizations across all industry verticals are also facing ever more stringent data security requirements driven by government regulation or internal audit requirements. Nobody wants to be “that guy” making the paper for the latest data security breach. Encryption of data leaving the data center, such as replication traffic, is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, the TS7700 Grid’s encryption capabilities, while providing robust security, can have an adverse impact on replication performance.

Fortunately, there is some great, exciting news for IBM TS7700 Grid clients. The IBM SAN42B-R (Brocade 7840) extension switch has introduced the same leading technologies used for enhancing FCIP replication performance to the IP replication used by TS7700. This new technology is known as IP Extension (IPEX). In joint IBM-Brocade testing, the IBM SAN42B-R testing was demonstrated to significantly enhance TS7700 Grid replication performance (particularly at long distances) while maintaining data integrity. The IBM SAN42B-R also offers robust 256-bit hardware based encryption (IPsec) without a performance penalty or additional license costs. Finally, the IBM SAN42B-R can also be used for FCIP based DASD replication, therefore allowing consolidation of replication switching onto fewer devices. For further details on IPEX technology, please take a look at these videos.


The IBM TS7700 Grid solution is a key component to highly resilient z Systems business continuity implementations. The IBM SAN42B-R offers an innovative, unique IP extension solution to TS7700 Grid with increased performance, availability, and security of replication traffic that can improve recovery time and recovery point objectives.

Principal Director of Product Management for z Systems Technology, Brocade Communications

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