DSI Delves Into IBM i Backup Software
May 24, 2017 Alex Woodie
Dynamic Solutions International (DSI) may be best known as a provider of virtual tape library (VTL) solutions for IBM i and other platforms. But now the Colorado company is getting into the software space with a pair of backup offerings designed specifically for IBM i environments.
Conductor and Tracker were unveiled by DSI earlier this month prior to the annual COMMON conference in Orlando, Florida. The products were created to bolster the management of backups of the company’s VTL clients that are backing up from IBM i. But they don’t necessarily require a VTL at all, and, in fact, can be used with physical tape.
Tracker is an entry-level media management system (MMS) designed to work with VTL and physical tape environments. The software’s core functionality is to track where backups go, whether the backups are saved to physical tape cartridges or virtual tape drives stored in a VTL.
Tracker keeps a record of the movement and location of tape volumes. It gives customers the ability to define and enforce data retention policies and to block the accidental overwriting of data. It also supports an object-level search capability, which allows users to search for specific content that’s sorted and stored by particular libraries, object names, source member, and document library object (DLO) and IFS content.
DSI is targeting two types of IBM i shops with DSI Tracker MMS: those who are using paper to track tapes and need something a little more sophisticated, and those who are using full service IBM i backup products and need something a less sophisticated and less expensive.
Tracker is ideal “for those customers who feel HelpSystems is a little too expensive for their environment, or who feel that BRMS has too much complexity,” says DSI President Leo Salvaggio.
“It’s designed to be inexpensive,” he continues. “Entry-level pricing scales up and gives those customers the flexibility to have a media management solution in place, as opposed to a notecard or a legal pad.”
Tracker is sold independent of DSI’s VTL solutions, and can take over the MMS duties of RobotSave or BRMS environments, the company says. Pricing starts from “a few thousand” and ranges up to “tens of thousands” depending on the size of the installation.
Conductor, meanwhile, is fully dependent on DSI’s VTL solution. The product was designed to duplicate the sort of tape shuffling activities that would normally be performed by human operators or robotics in large physical library and autoloader environments.
The solution was necessary because the IBM i host doesn’t know it’s talking to a VTL solution. It sees the DSI device as an LTO tape drive connected over Fiber Channel, and therefore sometimes things can fall between the cracks.
“Conductor makes the IBM i host more aware of what’s going on on the back-end of things,” Salvaggio says. “It will automatically manage your tape pools and automatically allocate the resources inside and frees the operator to go do other things.”
Together, Conductor and Tracker will help ensure that virtual tape backups are being managed correctly from the IBM i server’s point of view.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure customers don’t shoot themselves in the foot and allow it to be more managed at the host level as opposed to the VTL level, where the host won’t be necessarily aware of what’s going on,” Salvaggio tells IT Jungle. “So if we run out of tapes, it will automatically grab another one, as opposed to waiting for an operator to key in a command and do something to initiate and activate a job. It’s all seamless from the end-user standpoint.”
DSI has one other piece of software that it’s selling into the IBM i installed base. Late last year, it launched Restore, which is a software version of its VTL solution that customers can run in their own Linux-based virtual machine, as opposed to running on the Dell-sourced hardware that comes with the DSI’s physical VTL solution.
DSI broke into the IBM i market about two years ago and has won its share of accounts since then. Salvaggio says DSI is the dominant VTL provider in the Unisys market, and it’s trying to extend that position into the IBM i marketplace, which resembles the Unisys market in many respects—particularly around its affinity for tape.
“We’ve been very busy trying to differentiate ourselves in this competitive environment and one of the ways we think we can do it – and has been in our pedigree – is to create some value-added software to wrap around our traditional virtual tape library products,” he says.
For more info see the company’s website at www.dynamicsolutions.com.