Rocket Touts iCluster Commitment with Version 7.1 Delivery
August 7, 2012 Alex Woodie
Rocket Software is now shipping version 7.1 of iCluster, a high availability software package that enables IBM i server and applications to continue to run during outages and disasters. The delivery of the new release within six months of the product’s acquisition from IBM demonstrates the commitment that Rocket Software has made for the product line and the business, a Rocket executive says in an interview with IT Jungle.
“When we acquired the iCluster business from IBM back in January we stated . . . that we’re going to invest in the business, that we’re going to address customer needs and really focus on continuing to grow this business,” says Brian Starr, a Rocket vice president and general manager of the company’s Storage, Networks, and Compliance business unit. “The 7.1 announcement that we’re making right now is a big step on delivering that promise.”
Starr and his team–including product manager Mike Warkentin, originally from DataMirror, and managing director of the channel Elizabeth Thomas, who arrived at Rocket from IBM with the U2 database acquisition–have been working to complete the transition of iCluster to Rocket. As part of that transition, Rocket has retained the entire iCluster team at IBM, Starr says. On top of that, Rocket has bolstered the iCluster development, quality assurance (QA), and sales teams by making additional hires, although Starr would not discuss specific numbers.
The last six months has seen much work go into the “Rocket-ization” of iCluster, says Starr, who comes to the business from the Rocket side, and who reports directly to the CEO. That work included swapping out the IBM brand for the Rocket brand, logo, and type font. But more importantly, the entire ordering process for the product has changed. That is good news for existing and potential customers, as the IBM ordering process has never been accused of being simple or straightforward.
With that said, existing iCluster customers who have already mastered IBM licensing and ordering programs can continue to order licenses and upgrades through Big Blue. The current plan calls for continuing this option at least through the middle of next year, Starr says.
Rocket has also been reaching out to the channel of global business partners who were the boots on the ground when it comes to selling, installing, and supporting the high availability software, which at one point had 2,200 distinct customers around the world. When customers’ maintenance agreements expire, they will order new licenses from Rocket (if they are direct customers) or through their partners if they are channel customers.
“Customers are encouraged to continue to work through partners they are comfortable with,” Starr says. “We have encouraged partners to order new product as they need them directly from Rocket. Or as customers prefer, they can continue to order iCluster product through IBM.”
Version 7.1 brings enhancements in the areas of replication, performance, and administration. Data replication–the core of a high availability environment–has been enhanced with new sync check capabilities, including a file content check and repair function that automatically resynchronizes files by only sending the records that are out of synch. This release will also automatically fix differences in file authorities as it encounters them. The sync check can also now check for trigger status and ignore certain object attributes (such as creation dates) that are not a concern.
On the performance front, Rocket says it has improved its IFS replication, which will be welcomed by organizations that want to replicate items like PDFs that are stored on the IFS. Rocket says it has reduced the product’s latency by introducing multiple staging stores and it says it has reduced bandwidth requirements by adding the capability to refresh a single file member, instead of the entire file.
Administratively, iCluster 7.1 brings new features, such as automatic creation of remote journals; automatic registration of new libraries; automatically fixing RLE (record level errors); and a new command, DMSETMSTR, to move the master node. This release also adds support for journal minimal entry (*FLDBDY) field boundaries; optimally aligned user spaces; and WebSphere MQ 7.1.
iCluster 7.1 is the first release of the product since IBM shipped version 5.2 TL1 in 2010. Prior to that, IBM made two releases of the software, including iCluster 5.1 in 2008 and iCluster 5.2 (5733-ICL) and HA Assist (5733-HAA) in 2009. Rocket is continuing the HA Assist product. HA Assist is designed to augment IBM Power HA–which is a hardware-based high availability offering–with logical replication.
“Rocket takes this business very seriously,” Starr says. “We’ve been in this business for 20 years providing large scale enterprise software to customers. We want our customers and partners to understand that when they’re looking for IBM i HA and DR solutions, they don’t even need to worry about Rocket.”