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Volume 7, Number 13 -- April 3, 2007

Lakeview Adds More Autonomics to MIMIX

Published: April 3, 2007

by Alex Woodie

In a perfect world, high availability would be completely automated, and System i servers would fail over to backup machines without any input from operators. Obviously, we don't live in a perfect world, and failovers are often fraught with uncertainty. Just the same, while fully automated failovers are still largely a pipe dream, there is the potential for autonomic technologies to take some of the fear out of hitting the "go" button during failovers, which is the tact that Lakeview Technology is taking with the just-released MIMIX version 5.

Make no mistake: Lakeview could enable i5/OS customers to implement automated failovers. In fact, the technique has been available in MIMIX for years, and it has been tried. But the fact remains that people aren't comfortable enough with automatic failovers to trust that their vital business systems will remain available. After all, avoiding downtime is the name of the game in high availability. By definition, IT managers that implement high availability are cautious and wary of uncertainty.

"We could make it that simple, but now you're putting in a black box," says Bill Hammond, Lakeview's product marketing director. "You hit the button, and you're not sure what's going to happen. If you haven't done some of the things you need to do, you could have bad data or you can't bring it up."

Lakeview's answer to the problem has been to automate some of the information-collection tasks and audits that need to be done before initiating a failover, and to present the results of those checks in a clear manner to the operator. "The more interaction they can have, the better," Hammond says. "There are things that are happening where in some cases the operator is going to need to make a decision."

Many of the automated features Lakeview is touting with MIMIX version 5 first appeared in last April's release of MIMIX V4R4 SPC 7. That release introduced three technologies, called AutoGuard, IntelliStart, and Switch Assistant, that Lakeview labeled as autonomics.

Lakeview offers a browser-based GUI management console, as seen in these screen shots taken from MIMIX V4R4.

AutoGuard--perhaps the most powerful feature of the group--is a monitoring feature that informs operators about the health and switch-readiness of the environment, via a view on the MIMIX GUI or green-screen console. IntelliStart is a wizard-driven program designed to help users configure MIMIX according to best practices based on a question-and-answer session and an analysis of the user's application and database. Lastly, Switch Assistant was added to walk users, step by step, through the process of executing planned or unplanned failovers.

With MIMIX V5, Lakeview has built on these features, specifically with improvements to AutoGuard, which now offers about 200 audits that run under the covers. A new "audit while active" check has been added to AutoGuard's previous batch-oriented audit checks to provide more timely information related to the synchronicity of primary and backup machines, and also to ensure that the most important audits are run more frequently. Version 5 also brings more visibility into active and queued audits than previous releases.

When users run the IntelliStart process during the initial installation, that process will automatically use AutoGuard to ensure the integrity of the initial replication of data. IntelliStart has also been enhanced to automatically detect the addition of new libraries or IFS folders, which should streamline the management of MIMIX for those that have already installed the software.

Version 5 also adds a new autonomic feature called Dynamic Apply. In previous releases, all apply processes were multithreaded jobs, which was thought to increase performance. However, Lakeview has learned that multi-threaded does not necessarily equal high performance, particularly with customers running modern i5/OS applications utilizing large objects (LOBs) in the database, such as SAP mySAP applications on System i servers. Now, changes to these large objects can be applied using a single-threaded job, if MIMIX finds that it's more efficient.

Dynamic Apply is about using the right tool for the job, Hammond says. "For some of the objects that are big, Direct Apply makes more sense, as opposed to multithreaded jobs, which are better for smaller objects with a change here and a change there," he says. "We realized we could enhance performance on those LOBs by using a single threaded, direct apply process. It keeps that whole process together."

Lakeview has also broken out its i5/OS clustering capability into its own product line, called MIMIX cluster1. Customers that are interested in implementing IBM's i5/OS clustering services with their cluster-enabled i5/OS applications (there are just a handful of them out there) can license this product separately.

Lakeview sells two main MIMIX products: MIMIX ha1, and MIMIX ha Lite. Both products can use IBM's remote journaling technology as the underlying data transport mechanism. But customers that don't want to make the move to remote journaling (for reasons related to a constraint on bandwidth or other reasons) and want to stay with Lakeview's proprietary local journal replication method, must choose MIMIX ha1. The only other difference between the two products (besides price) is MIMIX ha1 supports active-active implementations, where two systems can share a single database.

Lakeview says it has also simplified pricing with MIMIX version 5. With this release, MIMIX ha Lite (which makes up the bulk of MIMIX sales these days) ranges from about $5,000 for a single P05 machine to about $50,000 for a P50 machine; a second license will be needed for the target machine. MIMIX cluster1 sells for about half of that, while MIMIX ha1 costs about 40 percent more than MIMIX ha Lite.

For more information, visit www.lakeviewtech.com.

RELATED STORIES

Lakeview to Add Continuous Data Protection to MIMIX

Lakeview Expands Information Availability Options

Lakeview Bundles High Availability as a Service with MIMIX Vault

Lakeview Crusades Against HA Complexity



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