IBM and Vision Solutions Align HA Distribution Resources
October 6, 2008 Dan Burger
High availability technologies come in a variety of flavors, including software with logical replication, hardware-based replication, cross-site mirroring, and switched disk. The options are not exclusive. Companies often deploy a combination of technologies that tie high availability, disaster recovery, and storage. Part or all of this, depending on the company strategy, fits into the category of clustering, and that leads to an announcement last week from Vision Solutions that it has a new distribution agreement with IBM for the i environment.
The focal point of this arrangement is Vision’s Cluster1 and IBM’s PowerHA for i.
IBM PowerHA for i was introduced with the i 6.1 operating system in April. Previous versions of this software were referred to as the High Availability Solutions Manager (HASM). It is a tool for managing hardware-based clustering for high availability and disaster recovery operations. It supports HA with either native disk storage or the IBM DS8000 or DS6000 storage servers.
Vision Solutions’ Cluster1 has additional monitoring and managing capabilities that include auditing and assuring all environments in the cluster remain switchable. “Cluster1 doesn’t care what underlying replication architecture is used,” says Bill Hammond, director of product marketing for information availability software at Vision Solutions. “It could be IBM’s or Vision’s,” which means it can be hardware or software doing the replication.
Although the high availability and disaster recovery products developed by or acquired by Vision Solutions are based on logical replication, Hammond says there are an increasing number of companies that use “hybrid environments.” In other words, part of the environment is being replicated within a hardware mirroring architecture and part is replicated with logical replication. In most cases this would involve different data sets and/or off-site locations.
Cluster1 “sees and understands the switch readiness of those systems,” Hammond says. It provides monitoring and management functions in the spectrum of clustering environments, including those where no replication takes place. Hammond also points out that Cluster1 is not limited to a two-node cluster like HASM.
The distribution agreement between the two companies puts Cluster1 into the conversation when IBM’s Systems and Technology Group makes its sales presentations. It provides Vision Solutions with visibility from the early stages of project planning rather than being considered an add-on later in the development of a clustering project. When IBM is driving the sale, this might bring visibility to Vision Solutions and provide a potential customer with some flexibility and some needed features in implementing a high availability environment.
From a customer standpoint, it might also be a better deal to buy through IBM rather than Vision Solutions, or it may work better the other way around. That’s a variable on a case-by-case basis. It also might benefit a customer by having one source to deal with during a clustering project rather than two. However, on the services side, Vision Solutions and IBM will have their own teams handling their own products.
“With ever-growing collaboration, both companies have agreed to share intellectual property, further integrate technologies, and align distribution resources more closely,” says Vision Solutions’ president and CEO, Nicolaas Vlok. “We continue to innovate with IBM to embrace and extend technologies throughout the world, enabling partners to bring improved availability solutions to customers of all sizes.”
The deal last week between the two companies harkens back to earlier days, in the V4 releases of OS/400, when Vision Solutions and IBM worked together to create the high availability plumbing that got pushed down into the operating system, below the machine interface, making it possible for HA to be done in a more standard way on the AS/400, iSeries, and System i platform.