Vision Merges HA Products Into MIMIX Availability 7
September 14, 2010 Alex Woodie
Ever since Vision Solutions acquired rival Lakeview Technologies more than three years ago, Vision executives have talked about eventually merging the two companies’ flagship products into a single entity. That union officially started yesterday, when Vision announced MIMIX Availability 7 for IBM i, which combines elements of Vision’s old ORION HA product with MIMIX. Vision also unveiled MIMIX Global for managing MIMIX clusters and hybrid IBM i disk-based clustering environments.
Officially, MIMIX Availability 7 combines elements of the old MIMIX HA product with OMS and ODS, the names of the high availability products that Vision developed years ago, and which it recently sold under the ORION Solutions HA name. MIMIX Availability 7 is now the flagship HA product for larger customers, while Vision sells the iTERA HA product into the small and medium-sized business (SMB) environment.
MIMIX Availability 7 is a little more MIMIX than ORION, but maintains strong ties to both HA systems. “We took the best of both products and put them in this new product in MIMIX Availability 7,” Alan Arnold, chief technology officer at Vision, tells IT Jungle.
Vision will be encouraging users of both ORION and MIMIX to upgrade to MIMIX Availability 7. This will be a big, multi-year task for Vision, which has thousands of MIMIX and ORION customers across the world (the MIMIX customer base being slightly bigger).
MIMIX vs. Orion
The workflow in MIMIX Availability 7 is based on the MIMIX architecture, and will likely be a little more familiar to that group of users. The company has developed migration tools that will help ORION customers running one of the last two releases make the move to MIMIX Availability 7. The upgrade process for MIMIX customers is a little bit simpler.
Vision has also developed online training content (videos, papers, and webinars) to help ease the transition from OMS/ODS and ORION, and has already trained its business partners to perform the migrations. Simpler environments will migrate with the tools, while more complicated HA environments will require professional consultants, Vision says.
The important thing for ORION customers to know is that Vision is not forcing them to upgrade to the new product. “We’re not going to force anyone to move. If they don’t want to move, we’ll support them on Orion forever, if that’s what they choose to do,” Arnold says. “We’re hoping the Orion user base looks at this and goes, ‘Wow, this is a major step up in functionality to make high availability easier and simpler to use.’ If they’re not wowed, we need to do more work. We think majority of Orion customers will be wowed.”
The company chose to keep the MIMIX name in part because it has really good brand recognition, Arnold says. “This name is known world wide, and Orion was known world wide, but there were issues related to that name, and we have to give it up,” he said. Vision decided to cede the Orion name to the systems management software company Solarwinds, which has an Orion of its own.
MIMIX Availability 7 Features
Other enhancements rolled out with MIMIX Availability 7–including a slick Web-based management console, a role-swap architecture, and reporting, optimization, and management features–will help to entice MIMIX and ORION customers to make the upgrade.
The new Vision Solutions Portal (VSP) management console is the new face of the product for administrators and operators, and is one of the most compelling features in MIMIX Availability 7. Vision says the Web browser-based product will allow users to customize their view of their MIMIX environment through portlets that handle specific tasks, such as monitoring the HA environment, resolving problems, and initiating role-swap procedures.
“I’m very impressed with the results, and how it simplifies the management of complex environments, and makes it an easier user experience,” Arnold says. In particular, the new VSP will excel in virtualized environments. “Our interface allows you to manage those environments and to quickly see red, yellow, green. Is it OK? Is there any issue?”
Improving the role swap is another focus area for MIMIX Availability 7. The new MIMIX Switch Assistant feature, which is based on technology developed for ORION, helps to organize the procedures that customers must perform to maximize the chances of a successful swap. Vision says that common MIMIX operations like “planned switch,” “unplanned switch,” “end application group replication,” “switch pre-check,” “end target processes,” and “start application group replication” are automatically configured for the customer. Of course, they can be customized to fit exact needs.
Overall management of HA tasks will be simplified as the result of the new “application group” concept in MIMIX Availability 7. Vision says that, by introducing this concept, the new product enables users to consolidate multiple data groups under a single application group, which enables them to switch multiple data groups with a single command.
Data replication has been improved through a new caching technique in MIMIX Availability 7, Vision says. The technique, which is implemented on the target system, provides a “dramatic” improvement in overall replication performance, the company claims. Most customers should see up to a 20 percent improvement in data replication, depending on the type and volume of data, Vision says.
Vision has also built system optimization routines directly into the MIMIX Availability 7 product. The routines, which the company also sells through its Vision Director product, automatically makes adjustments to production systems to make storage more efficient, to improve the performance of applications and batch jobs, and to make backups run faster. Vision claims it’s the first IBM i HA product that includes system optimization as a core part of the offering.
Finally, MIMIX Availability 7 brings reporting improvements. Vision says the new reporting capabilities–including a new historical reporting feature–will give customers better insight into trends over time. It will also improve their audit reporting and make role swaps go smoother, it says.
Yesterday’s announcement also introduces MIMIX Global, Vision’s new IBM i cluster management product. Vision says MIMIX Global is designed to support the high availability clustering needs of IBM i customers, including homogenous MIMIX-only clustering as well as heterogeneous environments utilizing MIMIX and a mix of IBM’s disk-based clustering technologies, which go by the name PowerHA and System Mirror, and include all of the products that utilize Power Systems independent auxiliary storage pools (iASPs): Metro Mirror, Global Mirror, and Geo Mirror.
MIMIX Global includes something called “Sysbas Protection,” which Vision says provides replication of IBM i objects and applications that customers can’t replicate using a switchable iASP solution.
The launch of MIMIX Availability 7 comes at a critical time for Vision, which recently acquired Double-Take Technologies and is moving strongly into the Windows high availability market. The vast majority of Vision’s customers are IBM i shops today, and they have been made aware of Vision’s plans to eventually merge MIMIX and ORION into a single product and a single code base.
Vision executives have long said that the ORION and MIMIX products differed very little, that their individual strengths complemented each other, and that combining them would not be too disruptive.
Now, the company is looking at ways to leverage its Double-Take buy to simplify the management of high availability across Power Systems, Windows, and Linux environments. Executives say to watch for more information on this, which will be coming out soon.