EMC and IBM Extend Pact, Unveil New IBM i Storage Technology
October 16, 2012 Alex Woodie
IBM and EMC yesterday announced an extension of their partnership concerning the IBM i server through 2017. The companies also announced a new D910 interface that allows IBM i shops to utilize the latest Virtual Partitioning and Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST VP) technologies in the EMC VMAX disk array, without running into limitations that previously were there.
IBM and EMC have worked together to support EMC’s external disk arrays on the IBM i platform since the companies laid down arms and signed a partnership deal in 2006. In 2010, the companies signed another five-year extension of that deal that keeps the companies working together through 2016.
Yesterday, the companies announced they have signed a two-year extension that is good through the end of 2017. This essentially keeps EMC from having to hack IBM i to support the IBM i platform’s unusual storage mechanism, which is what it had to do previously. EMC is still the only other provider of external storage that’s native to IBM i, and isn’t forced to use tape emulation to get access to the server.
What’s more, the new two-year deal includes some new technology co-developed by IBM and EMC. The D910 is a new and native IBM i device type that enables IBM i customers to take advantage of EMC’s FAST VP technology. FAST VP essentially enables customers to mix and match various Flash, Fibre Channel, SAS, and SATA drives in their EMC SANs, thereby increasing their performance and storage efficiency.
Here’s what EMC said about the new D910 technology:
“EMC and IBM engineers worked together to develop the new D910-099 device type, which is a native 512 byte block FBA (Fixed Block Architecture) interface that is supported by hosts running IBM i 6.1.1 and later, as well as EMC VMAX 20k and EMC VMAX 40k storage arrays running VMAX Enginuity software (v5876 and later). The D910 native IBM i interface eliminates the need for specially formatted 520 byte per block disks in the external storage array, without requiring the use of the IBM VIOS layer.”
What’s unusual about this announcement is that EMC already announced support for IBM i (and z/OS) with its FAST VP technology back in May, when it launched the huge new Symmetrix VMAX 40k at its EMC World conference. IBM i and z/OS support in Enginuity V5876 were detailed in a white paper accessible on the EMC website. Apparently, some more work needed to be done to make the technology.