IBM Bolsters Multi-Site Disaster Recovery In DS8870 Arrays
October 27, 2014 Alex Woodie
Organizations will be able to implement more complex data replication and protection schemes thanks to the new Multiple Target Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy (MT-PPRC) capabilities that IBM will be making available in DS8870 storage arrays. The capability to mirror data from a production environment to two target systems with MT-PPRC will give customers more flexibility in how they prepare for, and respond to, disasters. The company also bolstered its FlashCopy mechanism, and made various other enhancements to the DS8870s.
PPRC is one of the core underlying technologies that IBM exposes through DS8000 Copy Services. The technology is used in three primary ways, including as a synchronous data replication protocol for connecting pairs of DS8000s using the short-distance Metro Mirror service; as an asynchronous data replication protocol for long-distance pairs using the Global Mirror service; and as a long-distance, nonsynchronous data copying protocol for the Global Copy service. These services are sold by IBM with the PowerHA Enterprise Edition product.
Until now, one of the limitations of PPRC was that it could only replicate data from a primary DS8000 array to a secondary DS8000 array. If an organization wanted to replicate the same transactions to more than one backup site, it didn’t have great options. Granted, IBM did offer a three-site Metro/Global Mirror setup, where the target in a Metro Mirror pair is used as the source for a second Global Mirror pair, but it brought its own set of limitations.
IBM addressed this fundamental limitation with MT-PPRC, which allows an organization to mirror a production DS8870 volume simultaneously to two volumes on target DS8870s. According to IBM, MT-PPRC gives users more flexibility than the old three-site Metro/Global Mirror setup.
Here are the following supported implementations for MT-PPRC. An organization can replicate data from a primary DS8870s to:
MT-PPRC opens up the possibility of having multiple relationships of Metro Mirror, Global Copy, and Global Mirror. Customers can set their DS8870 Copy Services and PowerHA environments in a number of different ways now. What’s more, MT-PPRC will also support an “incremental resynchronization” capability between the two target volumes in both planned and unplanned HyperSwap situations. HyperSwap, you will recall, is a new high-end business continuity solution that is based on PPRC and allows a DS8000 customer to move and restart an LPAR on a different IBM SAN array almost instantaneously.
In this initial release of MT-PPRC, one cannot replicate from one DS8870 production system to two Global Mirror environments. While IBM didn’t make a statement of direction with its announcement, you can guess that it will be working on enabling that setup. It would also be a reasonable assumption IBM will be supporting MT-PPRC in other storage arrays in the future, not just the DS8870. As always, the most expensive high-end gear gets the newest technology, with the aim of helping IBM’s biggest clients first, but midrange customers (perhaps those running Storwize or SVC gear) may eventually see benefits too.
MT-PPRC doesn’t come cheaply. According to IBM’s published price list, it will cost a cool $100,000 for DS8870 machine types 2396, 2397, 2398, and 2399.
IBM also announced an enhancement to FlashCopy, another DS8000 Copy Services functionality that enables users to very quickly create point-in-time snapshots of their data. The new Multiple Increment FlashCopy will allows up to 12 incremental copies to be made from a single source. IBM says this will provide boost data protection from the physical or logical failures.
IBM is making several other improvements to the DS8870 firmware, including the new zHyperWrite technology, which accelerates DB2 log writes when using IBM Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS) technology in z/OS environments; new “easy tier” functionality; microcode enhancements that deliver up to a 35 percent boost in IOPS in Power7+ environments; the capability to use the High-Performance Flash Enclosure (HPFE) as the first expansion frame, not just the base frame; new 600 GB 15K rpm SAS and 1.6 TB 2.5-inch SSD encryption drives (not available until March 2015); system configuration and monitoring enhancements; and improved support for OpenStack environments.
IBM officially announced MT-PPRC on October 6. The capability starts to become available in December.