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Innovation not only brings benefits; it quite often leads to new challenges.
Such is the case with the relentless increase in disk and solid-state drive (SSD) capacities. Only a few years ago, 1TB drives became available and we were appropriately amazed. Now, capacities offered per drive are rapidly rising past 10TB and more. The greater density provides real cost advantages, but it also exposes enterprises deploying these drives to increased risks.
Welcome to IBM DS8880
The IBM DS8880 family of data management systems is designed specifically for the most challenging storage environments on the planet. IBM DS8880 platforms are a leading storage solution for mainframe environments as well as for many distributed-data processing architectures. Today, mainframes process roughly 30 billion business transactions per day, including most major credit card transactions and stock trades, money transfers, manufacturing processes and ERP systems. It is estimated that 80 percent of the world’s corporate data resides or originates on mainframes.
DS8880 solutions provide more than “six-nines” system uptime, multiple high performance and all-flash configurations and mission-critical data protection and disaster recovery features. These systems have been demonstrated around the globe to illustrate their ability to support the most taxing IT scenarios. With this kind of reputation, the DS8880 family takes the increased risks posed by high capacity drives very seriously indeed.
Higher capacity drives experience more storage media errors. Rebuilding a high-capacity drive takes more time, stretching into many hours in some cases. During these drive rebuilds, storage performance can be adversely affected. Traditionally, RAID 5 data protection regimes have been employed in enterprise storage environments. RAID 5 stripes data and parity information used for data protection across multiple drives. But because RAID 5 employs only one parity stripe, it can protect against only a single drive failure at a time. With RAID 5, if two drives fail simultaneously, data can be lost.
Switching to a RAID 6 configuration
RAID 6 configurations using two parity stripes can significantly lower the risks data loss in high-capacity drive environments. The DS8880 family is moving to RAID 6 levels of protection for all scenarios except for those exclusively using 1TB drives or less. This move involves more than a change in the recommended default RAID setting, because we understand that RAID 6 brings some added challenges of its own.
First, the DS8880 family leverages IBM Smart Rebuild technology, which uses predictive sparing of drives to make faster drive rebuilds possible by creating copies of data rather than performing full rebuilds. In addition to greatly speeding up this process, Smart Rebuild technology actually reduces the probability of experiencing a double drive failure.
The DS8880 family expects additional technology upgrades and innovations that will help make the move to RAID 6 even more attractive. The overall trajectory is one where complementary improvements in related components more than keep pace with the challenges posed by ever-increasing drive sizes. This is not a journey of two steps forward and one step back. We can reap the benefits of larger drive sizes and not give some of this benefit back as we mitigate the accompanying challenges. And we can also do this while minimizing the risks of data loss by upping the level of data protection to RAID 6.
These business and technology win-win scenarios are what can result from innovative engineering on systems with very mature and stable foundational components. And that’s an excellent description of the IBM DS8880 family. The move to RAID 6 offers yet another example of how DS8880 storage solutions help you innovate with comfort. Learn more by clicking here.