Mainframe concepts
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Clustering technique: Basic shared direct access storage devices (DASD)

Mainframe concepts

A basic shared DASD system is typically used where the Operations staff controls which jobs go to which system and ensures that there is no conflict such as both systems trying to update the same data at the same time. Despite this limitation, a basic shared DASD environment is very useful for testing, recovery, and careful load balancing.

A basic shared DASD environment is illustrated in Figure 1; a real system would have many more control units and devices. The figure shows z/OS® images, but these could be any earlier version of the operating system. This could be two LPARs in the same system or two separate systems; there is absolutely no difference in the concept or operation.

Figure 1. Basic shared DASD

The capabilities of a basic shared DASD system are limited. The operating systems automatically issue RESERVE and RELEASE commands to a DASD before updating the volume table of contents (VTOC), or catalog. The VTOC and catalog are structures that contain metadata for the DASD, indicating where various data sets reside. The RESERVE command limits access to the entire DASD to the system issuing the command, and this lasts until a RELEASE command is issued. These commands work well for limited periods (such as updating metadata). Applications can also issue RESERVE/RELEASE commands to protect their data sets for the duration of the application. This is not automatically done in this environment and is seldom done in practice because it would lock out other systems' access to the DASD for too long.

Other types of devices or control units can be attached to both systems. For example, a tape control unit, with multiple tape drives, can be attached to both systems. In this configuration the operators can then allocate individual tape drives to the systems as needed.

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