Tiered Storage Upgrade Boosts BRMS
October 19, 2015 Dan Burger
IBM Backup, Recovery, and Media Services (BRMS) found a front row seat during the IBM i Technology Refresh announcements this month because of its new tiered storage capabilities. IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will made note of it in his most recent You and i blog, which featured Will’s picks for top news items among the early October IBM announcements. That tells me IBM i customers have been delivering a message or two about what BRMS needed.
From Will’s blog: “Until recently, there was a rather simple ‘tiered storage’ capability in BRMS that would detect how frequently a library was being used, and it could move the library to a user designated Auxiliary Storage Pool (ASP) if the usage was low, or back into the System ASP if the usage got higher. With this new announcement, the capabilities are greatly increased, allowing users to manage data with greater granularity and control, and incorporate all of their data, including IFS data, into the storage tiers.”
Storage tiering allows libraries to be moved based on frequency of use, giving system admins the capability to assign frequently accessed files to faster storage tiers and files that have not been recently viewed to slower storage tiers. After a designated period of time, those inactive files would be moved to archival tape. This is all done through automated processes that also take into account the presence of PCI-Express flash cards or SSD flash drives in a storage pool that also contains internal or external hard disk drives (HDDs). The BRMS migration function operates at a file or library level to automatically migrate frequently accessed database files in their entirety from HDDs to Flash or SSDs. The capabilities of the current BRMS tiered storage were limited to moving pieces of data to and from faster storage based on patterns of usage.
Although much automation has been built into the tiering, system administrators can choose to move a file or library to SSD even if the pattern of usage doesn’t trigger that action. This would occur in cases where the system admin knows the entire file or library will be needed in the future. A likely scenario where this comes into play would be month-end, quarter-end, or year-end processing.
The upgraded BRMS storage tiering is only supported by IBM i 7.2. It becomes available in the December 2015 BRMS PTF Group, scheduled for availability on or before December 15, 2015. Because of the official end of support for IBM i 6.1 on September 30, the final BRMS PTF for 6.1 was released on October 2. Starting with the December 2015 BRMS PTFs, only systems at release IBM i 7.1 or later will be supported in a BRMS network. All systems running on OS levels earlier than 7.1 must be removed from a BRMS network that has systems with the December 2015 BRMS PTF applied. Companies that have purchased the Service Extension for i 6.1 will have continued support in BRMS networks with 7.1 and 7.2 systems. Companies that have purchased the Service Extension for V5R4 will still be supported in BRMS networks with 6.1 and 7.1 systems.
Along with the storage tiering enhancements, the December BRMS PTFs include a long list of minor upgrades such as improved performance in many task-specific areas, support for new tape device D/T3592 model E08; support for LTO 7 tape offerings; incremental saves of spooled file lists; using compression for BRMS save files; BRMS GUI client support for more than 100 entries on the Enterprise Backup Status panel; and the capability to monitor save-while-active checkpoint messages.
BRMS is designed to support policy-oriented setup and execution of backup, recovery, archive, and other removable-media-related operations. The green-screen user interface is menu-driven, except when enabled through the optional IBM Systems Director Navigator for i, which has a graphical interface. It provides a view of removable tape media, its contents, location, and availability across multiple i servers or partitions. This common media scratch pool contains shared tape volumes that are accessible by other networked system.