Lakeview Expands Information Availability Options
Published: April 4, 2006
by Dan Burger
Information is not much good without availability. So how available do you want it? How available can you make it? That depends on software, infrastructure, business requirements, and workforce skills. For more than 90 percent of the iSeries shops, information availability is only as good as the most recent tape backup. Lakeview Technology makes information availability software and its latest software and service enhancements provide an opportunity to talk about what's new in the availability market.
Much of the news originates in the small- to mid-size business (SMB) market where new customers are choosing to decrease their planned downtime and increase their information availability by installing software such as Lakeview's MIMIX dr1, which completes multiple recovery points--while active and without disrupting business--to disk during the day instead of the single tape backup. Without being specific, Lakeview officials say dr1 has been well received in the SMB market. Two months ago it launched a hosted service based on the dr1 technology that looks like it could be a popular alternative to owning and maintaining the software. This concept, which is referred to as a vault and comes under the heading of software as a service (SaaS), is being lauded by many (perhaps all) of the major analyst groups as a developing trend. Lakeview has set it up through a partnership agreement and is happy supplying the software to ISVs and VARs who provide the data protection and recovery service.
One of Lakeview's high-profile partners is Avnet Partner Solutions (APS), the master server distributor arm of electronics supplier Avnet. According to sources at Lakeview, APS has recruited several partners to the MIMIX vault program.
At the COMMON Spring 2006 IT Education Conference and Expo last week in Minneapolis, Lakeview announced two enhancements to MIMIX dr1 that pertain to vault environments. The first is Library Name-Mapping Support that allows different library or directory names on the target server. In a vault environment, this allows multiple customers to use the same library or directory names on the production servers.
A second feature, Enterprise View, provides a single-screen glance of multiple companies' vault environments. Lakeview officials say this is an important benefit for partners hosting MIMIX Vault because it allows them to view the status of each hosted customer without logging in and out of separate installations.
Both enhancements will become generally available in April.
Lakeview also announced enhancements to its MIMIX ha1 and ha Lite information availability products that make installation, use, switching and maintenance faster and easier. The changes, which are part of MIMIX SPC 7, are designed to add intuitive and automatic system monitoring that can identify and repair replication issues, according to Ken Zaiken, Lakeview's vice president of research and development, service, and support. Users will only need to be notified under the most unique and extreme circumstances leading up to switching to backup systems during planned or unplanned circumstances, Zaiken says.
The new autonomic features in MIMIX ha1 and ha Lite SPC 7 are called AutoGuard, IntelliStart, and Switch Assistant.
AutoGuard builds upon previous MIMIX capabilities by monitoring and maintaining the replication process. Zaiken says it defaults to "best practices" and automatically configures and runs audits. The at-a-glance monitoring feature provides a status report pertaining to the health and switch-readiness of the environment. Users can view their HA environment by using either the Availability Manager GUI interface or the 5250/green screen.
IntelliStart is an installation simplification feature. It automatically configures MIMIX and follows best practices based on the answers users provide to a few questions and an inventory and analysis of the user's application and database. Zaiken says IntelliStart will "guide users through the interview, discovery, IT analysis, modeling, deployment and start-up." He says users' installations are guaranteed to be current because MIMIX checks Lakeview's Web site for updates and automatically applies them during the installation process.
Switch Assistant has been designed to simplify switching from the production server to the backup server by providing step-by-step guidance through planned or unplanned switches while it validates the replication status. Throughout the process, users are informed what the Switch Assistant will do next, as well as what steps the user needs perform. It will be available in either the graphical user interface or the 5250 green screen.
The company plans to make these enhancements, which also bring support for i5/OS V5R4, available in early May.
All software companies are focusing on ease of use, ease of management, and ease of installation issues these days, particularly for products that are designed to assist smaller IT departments in the SMB market where the number of bodies devoted to IT issues is far less than what's typical at large enterprises. Information availability software, which at one time was difficult to install, manage, and maintain, has turned to autonomic procedures to decrease the degree of difficulty. Automating procedures is something to take a close look at when buying software. The features can easily be overstated. It's a highly competitive market our there and ease of use carries a great deal of weight in the purchasing decision.