Yesterday, my son (the tall one - roughly 6'4" or 193cm) and I went to see the new Hobbit (or as we say in our household, in light of the author's nationality, the 'obbit) movie yesterday. It was great - much better than the first installment of the trilogy. We paid extra to see it in 3D at an IMAX theater, and we both thought it was money well spent. The CGI was better, the plot was faster paced and more interesting, and the character development more realistic. In particular I was struck by how the dwarves were no longer portayed as buffoons, but rather as beings with dignity and worth equal to humans. My opinion is that to be faithful to the original Tolkien, the dwarves should not be portrayed in the same manner as Disney's Seven_Dwarfs.
To take the analogy from Middle Earth now to my work world, the DS8000 series of storage controllers keeps getting better as well. One of the selling points of the DS8000 line is its reliability. The DS8100/DS8300 was followed by the DS8700 and then the DS8800 and each of them learned from their predecessor and took an already high availability figure and drove it even higher. I get to see some of the field data for the DS8000 line, and I'm happy to say that although all of the models have great numbers, the latest (the DS8870) has the best. In fact, it is almost literally off the chart it's so good. Just what sort of numbers are we talking about? As the IBM DS8870 data sheet puts it, "six-nines availability that has made the integrated System z HyperSwap solution the gold standard for enterprise high availability".
Allow me to throw in a little technical discussion on the "System z HyperSwap solution". It typically refers to GDPS/DS8000 integration (basic HyperSwap is built-in to z/OS but let's focus on GDPS in this discussion). GDPS is a family of high availability and disaster recovery solutions. I'm going to explain System z HyperSwap. The setup here is an IBM System z mainframe connected to two DS8000s. Those two DS8000s are in a Metro Mirror (IBM-speak for synchronous replication) relationship. The mainframe writes to only one of the DS8000s, and those writes are mirrored to the second DS8000 before the write is committed to the server. Should the source DS8000 go down, GDPS quickly switches reads and writes to the second DS8000 with minimal to no disruption to the mainframe workload. How fast? For most clients it is 10 seconds or less - so fast that typically the mainframe workload just pauses, then continues without any disruption. What's the integration with the DS8000? GDPS is an open product - we try to work with everyone. Specific parts of the architecture are licensed to some of our competitors in the storage space (EMC and HDS, for example). When GDPS notices a pause in data flow to or from the DS8000, it has to make a quick decision whether to switch over or wait until the DS8000 recovers. Part of the integration here is that the DS8000 helps with that decision - it provides the GDPS code with information on how much longer the DS8000 thinks it will take to recover. This is a DS8000 exclusive and is one more reason why our DS8000 is the best choice to work with IBM System z mainframes.
Back in November, blogger Robin Harris posed the question of what workloads were appropriate for enterprise arrays. "Availability" was judged to be the best answer (though I would argue not the only one), and this is one area where the DS8870 stands head and shoulders above the rest.